Bringing home a friend

When you have finally made up your mind to own a dog, you must seriously consider which breed you prefer and would like to have. Choosing the right breed :?One of the major factors that need to be considered before bringing a pet home is the space factor. If you have plenty of space available, a large garden, and adjacent fields or greens in which he can exercise, then your choice need not be restricted. If you fancy a Great Dane or a Saint Bernard, there is no reason why you should not have one. However, if you decide on a large dog, you must realize that it will need a good deal of food. On the other hand, if you live in a flat or in any densely populated area, then for obvious reasons, you will choose a dog of fairly small breed like a cocker spaniel, or a Lhasa Apso, or a Dachshund or one of the many others you can choose from.

But if you are looking for a particular breed to suit your needs, then the best way that comes to my mind, is to get in touch with a reputable breeder. It would be preferable to have one that stays close to your area. You can also take a look in the newspapers under ‘Kennel & Livestock’ column and or you could get in touch with the ‘Kennel Clubs’ in your town.

Checking out :?When taking delivery of a puppy, make sure that you are given its Kennel Club registration certificate, which describes the pup’s pedigree and a signed Kennel Club transfer form. The transfer form should be forwarded to the Kennel Club along with the fee, after which the puppy is transferred in their record to your ownership.

Good breeders, like most thorough professionals, take great pride in the quality and condition of the stock which they are dealing in. So there are better chances of getting a healthy puppy from a good, sound and pride-winning stock that is well-reared in a hygienic, scrupulously clean and disease-free kennel.

The age factor also comes into play while choosing a pup. It’s advisable not to pick a pup less than eight weeks of age, by which time it will be a strong little creature, will be able to stand on its own four sturdy little legs, and face life under its new conditions.

Money factor :?Here, I would like to sound a note of warning. While it may be tempting at times, do not buy a puppy simply because it is advertised cheaply. It must be noted that breeding and rearing dogs and pups, are costly business, if done properly. Most dog foods are expensive, and needless to say, the dam during the period of gestation and while she is feeding her pups must be well fed. She needs nutritious food, plus the necessary vitamins and minerals supplements. When the pups are three weeks old, they are partially weaned on baby milk and baby foods. And when finally and completely weaned at between five and six weeks old, they need 5-6 small meals a day.

All this only goes on to show that a strong, well-reared and healthy puppy cannot be produced cheaply. A poorly-reared puppy is a very bad investment indeed. It will not have the stamina to stand up to any illness, and you will probably be faced with veterinary bills and might even lose the pup, if you have gone ahead and bought it in the cheapest market.

The right training :?Once the choice of a dog is made, it’s very important to train it properly. Dogs learn very quickly. All training and teaching must be done by word and by tune of voice. They should never be smacked; the tune of the voice will convey to them adequately your pleasure or your displeasure. You will never succeed if you lose their confidence and make them nervous or afraid. They love to please you, and they are gluttons for praise; so be lavish with it.

Remember, an obedient and well trained dog is a happy dog. It has no fear of anxiety complexes, wondering what is expected of it and what is not expected. The comparatively few hours given to training will pay you a dividend and last you all its life.

The soft touch :?While I had dealt only with pedigree puppies in this article, please do not think that I despise a mongrel puppy. Very far from it! He makes an equally charming and ideal a companion as any of the aristocrats I have mentioned. One thing, however, must be clearly understood. Even such a puppy needs the same good food, the same care and training as does a pure pedigree one. The only difference is the initial outlay in the cost of acquiring your pet.

But once you have acquired a puppy, it’s important to be kind to him. Never pick him up by the scruff of the neck. It is both wrong and unkind. Place your right hand under his tummy, lift him up, then form a crook with your elbow. Then hold the puppy close to your body with the right forearm, so that the elbow and forearm make a kind of cradle in which the puppy will be safe and secure. That would surely be the touch that binds the two of you together for life.

(Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.)

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