Essential training techniques for the Smart Puppy

Dogs are fast learners. You can begin teaching simple commands for everyday use by employing vocal instruction, treats or other methods like Clicker Training. These essential training techniques will ensure the overall well being of your pup .

Nitin and Snoopy

Nitin and Snoopy

Bringing home a puppy is such a joy. But most pet parents give up training their dogs or some don’t start at all because the task of training seems so daunting. You don’t need to teach your puppy a bag full of tricks and commands for competitions or shows. Some simple commands, early housebreaking training and teaching your dog to leash walk are the only things for your everyday needs. Rest all is a bonus.
The following basic commands can be easily taught using verbal instructions and using healthy treats as rewards.
Sit: This is one command puppies learn the fastest. It requires hardly any effort on your part. To begin, just put your hands gently on his haunches as you command him to sit. And he will know what you mean by the word ‘Sit’. Else, stand up straight in front of your dog and hold a treat in front of his nose. As he will try to grab the treat with his mouth, his rear would go down and he will ‘Sit.’ Once he sits, give him the treat.
Stay: Sometimes, you want your dog to stay where he is. Here, ‘Stay’ command comes into play. When your dog is in the ‘Sit’ position, stand on his left, facing the same direction he is looking. Hold his collar and give the ‘Stay’ command, with your plam over his head. Let him stay in the position for some time. Then, give him a pat or a treat. Important point to remember is that when you walk away from your dog, use the right foot so that he does not get confused and starts walking with you.
Down: This is another but stronger form of ‘Stay.’ When your dog is in the ‘Sit’ position, give the ‘Down’ command, with a treat in your hand. Lower the treat enough that the dog’s elbows touch the ground. Release the treat. Repeat until he learns to go on a ‘Down’ position on a command.
Come: Your puppy should come to you when called. Place a treat near your feet and give the ‘Come’ command followed by the name of the puppy. When your pooch reaches you, praise him and let him have the treat. Repeat this command several times in a day.
Heel: This helps you and your dog have a pleasant walk when your puppy knows that to heel means to walk to your left without pulling on his leash. To teach the ‘Heel’ command, make your dog ‘Sit’ beside you on your left, with his leash in your hand. Give the ‘Heel’ command while putting your left foot forward. If he walks past you, tug his leash gently and repeat the ‘Heel’ command.
Once he learns these commands, you can also teach him the following:
No: Teaching your puppy the meaning of ‘No’ can be a life-saver. It can substitute for ‘Drop’ or ‘Away’ commands. If your pooch is about to put somethingUntitled-2 in his mouth that can be toxic or jump on a guest, a simple ‘No’ from you should make your puppy to stop doing whatever it is that you want him to stop doing. This command is worth a thousand tricks.
Wait: This comes in useful when you need your dog to ‘Wait’ while you need your pet to pause or delay any activity, or for any other reason. The fastest way to teach your puppy to ‘Wait’ is his feeding time. Simply ask him to wait while you put food in his feeding bowl, and once done, say okay to signal him to know that it’s now okay to start eating the food he is salivating for. This leads us to the ‘Okay’ command.
Okay: This lets your dogs know that it’s ‘Okay’ to start doing whatever you asked him not to. It’s fairly simple but quite useful and easily taught to a puppy if used every day in various situations.
Stand: This one comes in handy if your playful puppy becomes a lazy adult.
Out: Useful for house-breaking training.
Off: A substitute for ‘No’ command when your dog tries to jump or goes into areas of the house forbidden to him.
You can teach him any command that you feel your puppy needs to learn. Remember to reward your dog with praise words like ‘good boy’ (or ‘good girl’) followed by the puppy’s name or with healthy treats. This teaches them positive reinforcement. It is also imperative that you use each command word in various situations for your puppy to learn it effectively.

Housebreaking… not to worry!
Puppies are adorable and cuddly and it’s important to teach them where to go about their business. With some efforts on your part, your puppy can be housebroken within weeks and even days. Yes, it is possible if you follow certain steps, and follow them regularly.

  • Schedule a fixed time for feeding and walking your puppy so that he knows his routine.
  • Take your puppy outside immediately upon waking up or just after you feed him. 
  • If you have a garden or a backyard that can be used by your puppy for his daily breaks, then fix a spot for him by putting some wood shavings or newspapers on the designated area and take your puppy to that spot after his feeding or first thing in the morning. After a few days, your puppy will know his potty area. 
  • Keep your calm if your puppy has accidents! if accidents happen at least a few times, immediately take your pooch outside to his potty area so that he understands not to mess indoors.
  • In the cases of messy indoors, immediately clean the affected area as puppies associate the smells of their urine or faeces to mark their own areas, and will mostly use the very same space to mess with the next time! 
  • The time your puppy will take to be housebroken totally depends on your efforts. But always be patient. They really do learn fast.

Teaching safe leash-walking…

  • The first step here involves getting your puppy familiar with his collar. Put a collar on him as soon as you bring your puppy home. A light weight and soft collar is ideal to begin with.
  • Distract him or use the ‘No’ command when your puppy tries to dislodge or bite the collar.
  • When your puppy is comfortable wearing the collar, then it is time to introduce the leash. The puppy will no doubt will try to bite the leash too, so make sure it’s made of material that is not harmful to him. It is better not to buy too expensive ones or leather ones as your puppy’s first leash.
  • Once your puppy is familiar with the leash, walk him around the house in regular intervals.
  • Praise your puppy when he walks alongside you on a loose leash. Stop walking when he yanks or pulls.
  • If your puppy sits while walking, just stop and use the ‘Come’ or ‘Stand’ or ‘Walk’ commands to help him resume the walk.
  • Once the puppy is comfortable with leash walking, introduce the ‘Heel’ command. ‘Heel’ means your dog walks alongside you and not ahead of you pulling and yanking. This not only ensures stress-free walks, this is also a nice practice for the safety of your dog. Ask your puppy to heel when he tries to walk ahead of you. If he doesn’t pay heed, stop walking immediately. This will help your dog understand what not to do if he wishes to continue on his walks.

Training a puppy is not a difficult job. The early you start, the faster your dog learns. Dogs actually enjoy training sessions. For them it’s more quality time they are spending with you. And puppies have amazing learning capabilities. So, use this to your advantage and introduce fun ways to teach your pup what you need him to learn. Get creative. There are no hard and fast rules. Teach him the way it best works for you and your darling pup.
(Rakhee Maloo works as freelance writer and is extremely passionate about animal welfare.)

Getting the right breed

You’ve decided to get a dog, great! But have you decided on a breed yet? Before you decide to get a breed of dog based on the look or image, you need to think about what the breed was originally bred for. For instance, can you handle a Terrier digging in your garden, or an Australian Cattle Dog chasing other animals? Here’s how to choose an appropriate breed.


Megan, a purebred Australian Cattle Dog, was taken to an animal shelter at 12 years of age because her behaviour was completely unacceptable. She was on ‘death row’ for the ‘crime’ of chasing livestock – a task that she was genetically designed to do. In the world of canines, this scenario is common. Many dogs are unfairly classified as behavioural ‘misfits’ when they reveal the qualities they were designed to carry out. Terriers who dig holes, Beagles who howl at the moon, and Retrievers who catch birds are all good examples of dogs who are condemned for displaying perfectly normal, but often unacceptable behaviour.


Prized and despised
Ironically, most of these behaviours are prized and despised by humans. A Terrier, living on a farm, who kills small animals, is highly valued while the same breed of dog, living in the city, embracing the same actions, may be branded as ‘vicious’.


The real culprit in this dilemma is probably not ignorance, but fantasy. A common reason for choosing a particular breed is not the reality of the animal’s behavioural traits, but the image it will project to others.
Most often, basing the selection of a dog based on reputation leads to problems. The regal looking Mastiff may eventually weigh in the region of 170 pounds, and splatter long tendrils of drool on the walls and sofas while casually eyeing the neighbour’s cat as his next meal. The Border Collie, without daily opportunities to chase sheep, may keep himself amused with irregular activities such as chasing shadows or nipping the heels of small children. Each animal will offer perfectly normal behaviour that represents the reality behind his image. The unprepared pet parent will be frustrated and disappointed that the dog does not live up to unrealistic expectations.


Factors to consider
Selecting a dog based on real, rather than imagined, qualities is the first step toward building a successful relationship. There are factors that every pet parent should consider, such as matching the breed of dog to your lifestyle. Think about your lifestyle objectively, considering physical aspects such as space, and emotional aspects such as how you will keep your dog mentally stimulated.


Research the type of pet you want before you buy or adopt. Speak to other pet parents and breeders. Go back to the history books and study the purpose of the breed to understand the genetic traits you may have to put up with in the future. If there is a local club or organisation for the breed you want, see if you can attend a meeting or get to know some of the members.


It’s all about awareness
Parenting a pet is all about awareness, so as a future pet parent, it is your duty to find out about the dog you are going to own. This does not mean you should put up with dangerous behaviour from your dog, but it does mean that by being aware of their breeding and personality traits, you can keep them on the straight and narrow. So next time you find your Terrier digging a hole in your garden, don’t punish him, find something else to occupy his mind, and remember it’s in his genes!

Keeping “Paw-mate” Content & Comfortable!

Senthil Kumar

Senthil Kumar

A pup is a commitment for life.

Space is vital, so you choose the breed as per the space available, advices Senthil who further mentions that first time pet parents must always ask to see the pup with the mother and littermates. “This way you get to know the hygiene factor and if ethical breeding standards are followed. Follow your heart to find your PAW-MATE,” he adds.


Know your pup
“Your pup should be KCI registered. Learn about the Pedigree. You should also consider to adopt Indian breeds or abandoned pets,” advices Senthil Kumar. The pup should spend adequate time with the mother who teaches him skills. According to him, once you have brought the pup home, it is important to give him a friendly atmosphere. He can be depressed due to separation anxiety. With patience and love show him your care and teach him to do the right things. Give the puppy a good name as early as possible.


Dr Naveen Pandey

Dr Naveen Pandey

Pawfect homecoming
Bringing home a new puppy, playing with him brings some unparalleled joy and excitement. But Dr Naveen Pandey says, “At the same time, it can be most horrifying experience if you are not adequately prepared, both mentally and physically.” He adds, “If you are having a new puppy, prepare yourself to have few weeks of interrupted sleep pattern.”


Where should your puppy sleep the first night?
“Of course in your bedroom! Your puppy is in a new unfamiliar place, and he was taken from his mother and siblings; he is suffering from separation anxiety. Your bedroom is the best place for the first night,” says Dr Naveen. He however restricts, “Do not let him sleep in your bed. If you wish to keep your puppy in another room, you can do so, with some music and fan on as the sound may help him to soothe and relax. Your puppy’s sleeping quarters should be in a small crate/dog bed.”


Bipin S Parmar

Bipin S Parmar

Welcome to the first night
Bipin S Parmar says it’s better to bring home the puppy in the day time. “Take all the feeding and other advice from the breeder, get the pup examined by your vet. Also, take a towel when you collect your puppy. Rub it on the mother and littermates so that you can bring home some of their scent on the towel to help familiarise the puppy’s new environment.”
“It is important to introduce the puppy to his bed as soon as he arrives in the new home and to insist that the bed is where he sleeps. Make sure the dog uses the bed,” says Bipin adding that young puppies will surely miss their littermates and mother. So, he advices to comfort him with some chew bones, a ticking clock, hot water bottle and keep away all harmful objects like electrical cords, garden medicines, etc.


How to manage Fido’s overnight potty trip?
“First couple of nights you might consider putting newspapers. Then if you maintain a potty schedule for your pup, it will be easier for you to predict the furry kid’s potty timing. Always be consistent and never be into variations while maintaining the schedule,” suggests Dr Naveen. He further explains, “Pet parents must be consistent to take the pup through the same door while heading to the potty spot. Always feed him two hours before nap and take him to the designated spot to poop.”


Dr Tridib Kakoty

Dr Tridib Kakoty

Let him feel at home
Your pup is home, the ordeal and suffering of the little fellow of being uprooted from familiar surroundings is now over. Now let him feel comfortable in his new surroundings. “Hold the pup gently and close to your body for some time, giving him warmth, affection and a sense of safety and security. Talk to him gently in soft tones and let him get used to the sound of your voice. Animals can sense our feelings and state of mind, so let him feel the love flow from you,” explains Dr Tridib Kakoty.


Feed him cautiously
Keep the food and feeding timings constant – take your vet’s advice on nutrition requirement. According to Dr Tridib, a bowl of fresh water must be always available. “If you have children in the house, teach them to talk softly and don’t allow them to handle the pup on the first day though it is certainly a very difficult proposition. At the most just teach them to gently stroke or pat the new one and that too under the adults’ supervision. He advices, “When the pup is sleeping do ensure the pup is not disturbed and he gets his adequate rest. This hard work and patience will give you a lifetime of Magical Memories.”


(With inputs from Dr Naveen Pandey, a freelance writer and vet, headed DGAS, a dog centric hospital in Darjeeling and worked as senior vet at Help In Suffering, Jaipur. Currently, he is working as veterinary consultant for The Corbett Foundation, guiding veterinary work in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Kaziranga and Kutch; Dr Tridib Kakoty, MVSc in surgery and radiology from College of Veterinary Sciences, Assam Agricultural University, Khanapara, Guwahati. He is currently proprietor and practicing since 1996 at Animal Concern, Lumdiengsoh, Motinagar, Shillong, Meghalaya; Senthil Kumar, Shekas Dogs International in Chennai where all kinds of dog training facilities are available; and Bipin S Parmar, dog trainer/show handler at Axiom Kennel/Pets Shop, Ahmedabad).

KPS guide to prepare your home for a pooch

Once you have decided to bring home a pup, it’s time to make your family and home ready for the tailwagger. Here’s how…

  • Get the essentials: If you wish to crate train your pooch, bring a crate as per his size. Also, get all the essentials ready like his food and drinking bowls, leash, bed and bedding, ID tag, etc.
  • Determine his ‘own’ place: Find a corner in the house which your pet can claim as his own. This is where he can lie undisturbed but under supervision. Designate this area as your pet’s place.
  • Dog-proof the house: Get down on all fours and check all the potential dangers. Tape loose electrical chords, store chemicals and detergents away from their reach, fence garden, etc.
  • Create a list of dog commands: One important principle of training is do not confuse your dog. So, create a list of dog commands you would like to use and let all the family members understand them.
  • Make him a family dog: Let each member of the family understand the responsibility of keeping a dog. Divide their duties to avoid your pet being a one man’s dog.

Happy Homecoming For Your New Pup

This may be used as a guide for anyone wanting to adopt a pup. This will also give an insight to the readers regarding their own dogs.

David Davies

David Davies

Let’s say I have decided I want a new puppy and have decided to own a female Labrador Retriever. Before I actually want the pup I will begin searching for reputable breeders. I don’t need them to have litters ready yet as at this point I want to know the knowledge of the breeder, their experience and the parents who are going to ‘make’ the litter! I need to have a few options so will source more than one breeder.


Why a particular ‘BREED’?
Well in my example – Labradors are usually beautiful characters so long as properly raised. They are gun dogs so bred to be sociable, gregarious, non aggressive, like to interact and pleasant to pet parent. Of course, we must choose a breed we desire but always consider what the breed was originally bred for, what his job was. This will give you a huge idea as to how the adult dog is likely to behave and what his requirements will be.


Right age
I want a puppy ready to come home with me in the spring time (bear in mind I reside in the UK, so I’m considering the weather), so she will need to be eight weeks old at this time. Younger and she’s too young in my opinion to leave her mother and siblings. Much older and I’m losing time to bond appropriately with the puppy so it looks to me rather than other dogs.


Background check
When I go to see the puppies I must see the mother and if possible the father because my puppy is the product of both these dogs. She is their DNA. The mother has been her first role model and will have been instrumental in shaping my puppy’s behaviour so far. I want to see that the puppies were raised in a clean environment with an area for them to defecate. If she has had to defecate in areas her bedding, food and toys are situated she may be hard to house train.


Happy homecoming
Her journey to my home must be free of anything frightening or unpleasant. I want her to enjoy the car journey. Bear in mind I am taking her away from her home, and all she knows and understands. When I get her home I will encourage her to defecate in a spot in my garden. I will use a leash so she will use an area I prefer. As she toilets I will say good girl, empty. This is what I will say every time so she will learn this is the signal to empty out when trained. This spot will be her toilet area from now until I start walking her out.


Crate training
She needs to be crate trained so that she will always be happy to go into a crate later in life. This being the case we will go indoors, the family will gently meet her and then once she is settled I will place her in her crate on a soft bed with interactive toys, water and feed. She will sleep. When she begins to wake I will take her out to the area selected as her toilet and stand with her on a leash and wait for her to empty. As she does I will use the signal – good girl, empty.


Health care
The breeder will have given us a feed guide and I will follow this for the next few months. We need to arrange with the vet to see the puppy. I like to take a puppy to the vet well before she needs her inoculations. This is so the first visit is none frightening. The staff can talk to the puppy and give her treats. In this way she will learn the vet clinic is a great place to be. If we drive her there in the car she will not associate the car with taking her to a frightening place but rather a great place!


New environment
For her first couple of nights I will sleep downstairs in the same room as she is but she will sleep in her crate. I will take her out to her spot in the garden every few hours to empty. In this way she will be a clean dog indoors except for the odd accident. We need to arrange for her to see plenty of different sights and sounds, smells, anything really. All non-frightening and as much as we can before she is 12 weeks of age. If we don’t see to this she will be apprehensive of new environments and experiences when she grows up. We must be guided by the vet with this as she needs her inoculations so that she is not vulnerable to diseases, but this socialisation is vital for her mental state as an adult. This doesn’t mean a puppy who has missed this is beyond hope, but it may well be much harder to train and work with.


Close companions
I want my dog to be reliable and trustworthy so for this to happen she must see me and her human family as being all important. If I encourage her to run and play with other young dogs at this stage rather than have fun with humans, then she will become overly interested in other dogs and not enough in humans. This will mean she will be difficult to manage when walking her later in life if dogs are about. She therefore needs to spend time with humans learning useful things in a fun way; she needs to be in the presence of suitable older dogs who behave appropriately. What I want is for my puppy to think other people and other dogs are ok, nothing to be afraid of, but actually not as fun as Dad (me) because he is fun and is the key to all I need and desire.
I will take my puppy/young dog to as many places as I reasonably can with me using a leash for safety and to show my dog how to behave. That said every day starting with for a few minutes and building in time I will leave my puppy totally alone so she learns to accept this. Her Mom will have begun this process when the litter were a few weeks of age. If this isn’t done the pup will develop insecurity issues when left alone.


Basic training
Basic training can be started in the home and garden. Calling her to me and getting down on my knees to interact with her when she comes to me and feeding her some tasty treats. Taking a fun toy from my pocket and playing with her using this for a short time and then placing it back in my pocket. This is my toy to interact with her using, NOT hers! She can have some toys of her own that dispense food, etc so that she can self amuse with these. But I need to be fun; I need to provide her with her needs for her to see she needs me later when she is grown up. All this is taught when the dog is young.
As she grows it is my job to see she learns to do appropriate things. We need to provide activity on a daily basis. This needs to be satisfying for the mental and physical needs of the dog. She needs quiet times with us so she learns to be still and quiet when we desire this. By being there for her and providing her with fun useful activities the bond between the family and the puppy will be strong. If she does her own thing she will be independent and find her own amusement and not need us in her own mind.


Perfect guidance
Her diet is important. We must see she gets good food. This can be used to help the bond or relationship between us. Make food times a great event; use some of the food to reinforce training. As she develops it is my job and that of immediate family members to make sure we all teach her in the same way, otherwise we will confuse her. We have to be her guides in life and show her how to behave. She doesn’t understand right from wrong, good from evil. All she knows is when she does something it either results in a good experience or not so good. So, if we want her to do something, show her and reward her for doing it. If we don’t want her to do something, make it difficult for her to do because if she can’t practice it she can’t learn to do it! However, this isn’t always possible, so in this case distract her by some means and get her to do something else more preferable and reward her for doing this.


Notice their innocence
No wrong I am always astounded that humans will punish a puppy for something like chewing or stealing. If we don’t leave things lying around the puppy can’t do it. If the puppy is found doing this, distract her and redirect her onto a suitable alternative. If my dogs steal something of mine I just get them to retrieve it to me and reward them for helping me!
Please above all things, remember a dog does not know she has done anything wrong! The cringing behaviour a dog displays when we find her chewing or has messed indoors is nothing to do with knowing she has done wrong. The dog has observed we are unhappy and is now displaying a submissive body position because of the humans’ emotional state, NOT because the dog realises she has done anything wrong.
A dog, especially one we have pet parented from around eight weeks of age, will only behave like a dog. It is up to us to show her how to behave. The behaviour we then have is either because we have trained the dog to perform this way, or we have allowed her to behave in this way. It is down to us, the pet parent.
Happy pet parenting!


(David Davies is director, David Davies Dog Training ( and CFBA (practitioner)-GoDT (master trainer)-BIPDT–DTIA-BPSCA).

Tick off the Ticks

Tick off the ticks

Pet care during festive season

-Even the most confident dogs can be scared of fireworks!

Yes, your happy go lucky pet could be trembling, shaking and barking more during the coming celebrations at your home. It is important to understand that dogs and cats have stronger hearing power. So what we perceive to be loud is even louder and unbearable for the pets. In addition, dogs are also sensitive to vibrations caused by loud noises. Therefore, one needs to take extra care of pets during Diwali season.

Signs of stress or fear may include shaking, trembling, barking, howling, excessive drooling or hiding when fireworks are
being let off.

The best way to prevent problems
Make sure that your dog is well socialised as a puppy, allowing him to hear lots of different sounds and have lots of different experiences, always in a positive way. This will help to prevent the problem in the first place. However, some dogs will still develop fears of fireworks and so it is up to their pet parents to ensure they do everything they can to make their dog feel safe and secure when fireworks are being let off.
According to Dr Kallahalli Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, South Asia, Mars India, “Diwali is a crucial time when our pets get a bit confused with the sound and light changes happening in the surroundings. As we make our kids understand the new activities around them, same goes with our pets also. We need to help our pets to be comfortable with these changes and get rid of their fear.”

Few tips to help your dog cope with fireworks

  • Take your dog for a good walk during the day before fireworks start.
  • Keep your dog inside when fireworks are going on. Never walk him or leave him outside at that time.
  • Keep windows shut and curtains drawn to mask sounds and flashes from fireworks.
  • Turn up the volume on the television or radio to help mask the sounds of fireworks.
  • Keep your dog distracted by playing with him or giving treats like Pedigree or Dentastix.
  • Do not comfort your dog if he is showing fearful behaviour as this may actually reinforce the behaviour. Act normally, as if there is nothing at all to be afraid of and reward your dog when he is calm and not looking afraid.
  • Never punish your dog in any way for being afraid.
  • Provide your dog with a suitable safe place where he can hide and do not disturb him when he goes into this area.
  • If your pet is extremely sensitive to noise then slowly accustom him to have cotton in the ears.
  • Prefer using natural therapy to calm your dog. Bach flower extracts and lavender oil are helpful in milder cases.
  • Some people force their pets to be close to the sounds that are frightening. Don’t do that you will only end up frightening your pet even more.
  • It may help in more serious cases to seek expert advice to help deal with these problems. The best way to find help is to ask your vet who can then give you an individual treatment programme tailored to you and your dog.
  • In extreme cases, your vet may suggest prescribing drug treatment to help your dog cope with his fear of fireworks.

Desensitisation programme…
Once you get past Diwali, it is a good idea to start thinking about desensitising your dog to fireworks so that he can cope better the next time. You can buy CDs or tapes of fireworks sounds to help with this. These should initially be played at a very low volume so you can barely hear them. While playing the sounds, give your dog something enjoyable such as his Pedigree food, a treat or simply play with him. Repeat this for short periods several times per day. As long as your dog shows no negative reactions, you can very gradually increase the volume over progressive sessions. With time, your dog should stop associating the sounds with something scary and will begin to associate them with pleasant experiences such as eating.

Dos and Don’ts for stray animals during Diwali

  • Do not let children tease them by tying crackers in their tails.
  • Do not throw lighted crackers on them. Also do not flung puppies or kittens into burning crackers. They can suffer significant burns and body damage.
  • Bring to the notice of local/concerned authorities in case you find an injured animal in your locality or on road.
  • Help any animals on the road into your garden or garage and give food and water to them.
  • Burst crackers in a limited and a centralised location so that animals can be restricted or kept away from the place during the fireworks.

Are you ready for a pooch?

If you are planning to bring a pooch home, pause and think – are you really ready for a pooch? Here’s KPS way of knowing whether you are ready to bring that cuddly little one home:

  • Reason for getting one: Think of the reason for getting a dog home – is it just because your child wants or it is the latest fad? Bring a dog only if you are looking for a companion, a buddy, a loving and lovable being.
  • Does every member of your family want a pet? Pet parenting is not task of a single member of your family who is close to the pet. Everyone in the family must be willing and responsible to take care of the pet’s feeding, grooming, plays, exercise, vet visit, etc.
  • Check your routine: Before bringing a dog, look at your routine. Does your work keep you out for most of the day? If so, you have to think of how to take care of his feeding, walk, grooming, playing, etc. Once you have an arrangement in place, go on.
  • Patience is the keyword: Keeping a dog needs a lot of patience, specially while housebreaking, training, etc.
  • Take care of finances too: Keeping a pooch is a responsibility and you need proper diet, nutrition and veterinary care too.
  • Do your homework: Before bringing home a dog, do your homework first – check which breed would best suit your lifestyle and preferences.

Be on Guard and Watch out for common mistake

Learn about common mistakes which are better best avoided.

Health and wellness is always top priority. Read on and find out about advices on Health, Training and Grooming – some common mistakes which are must watch out for.

Common ‘HEALTH’ mistakes to watch out for
Wrong food: “Sometimes adult food is fed to puppies, which leads to indigestion and they suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea,” advices Dr Sarkar.

Wrong quantity: Quantity matters! “If they are fed lesser than the normal quantity or in big gaps/intervals, they are bound to remain hungry all the time and gorge on any dirt lying around,” tells Dr Sarkar. “Most dogs are over fed and sometimes eat as much as the pet parents, sometimes adult dogs are fed 4-5 meals a day. Adult dogs should be ideally fed just twice a day with a well balanced diet. Also make it a habit to feed your pet well before your meals to discourage your dog from begging at the table for table scraps,” adds Dr Natasha Couto.

Feeding vegetarian food to dogs: Some people who are vegetarian themselves start feeding vegetarian food to their dogs. “They have the feeling that if they start feeding vegetarian food to their dogs at an early stage their dog will become a vegetarian ignoring the fact that dog is a carnivorous animal,” tells Dr Sarkar.

Dr. Sarkar

Dr. Sarkar

Feeding sweets, chocolates and table scraps to dogs: “This kind of mistakes are usually made to miniature breeds – who most of the time are sitting on children’s lap and eat whatever the child eats. These prohibited food on later stages cause kidney failure, haemorrhagic gastroenteritis and food poisoning,” warns Dr Sarkar. “Chocolates can cause chocolate toxicity and could be fatal,” adds Dr Natasha. She further mentions that feeding the dogs sweets, chocolates and buffalo milk, which is rich in fat, makes the pets overweight and leading them to suffer from severe obesity. Obese dogs are at high risk for arthritis and other orthopedic issues and cardiac problems. Let your vet recommend a specific food schedule.
Treats are not foods: Using treats as food, some households over feed dogs with treats. “Overeating leads to various health problems in the long run,” warns Dr Natasha.
Soft food worries: “Gum disease is more common in dogs on soft food diet. Teeth and gum diseases can eventually lead to various organ diseases,” shares Dr Natasha.
Diet chart: “If your vet recommends a specific food, there’s usually a valid reason behind this. Always follow his advice,” tells Dr Natasha.
Vaccination and deworming
Inaccurate vaccination: “Not following vaccination, deworming schedules leads to health issues,” tells Dr Sarkar. “Pets who are not vaccinated regularly on time could succumb to fatal diseases like gastroenteritis, leptospirosis and distemper. Also regular deworming can prevent anaemia, diarrhoea and other problems. Please follow the vaccination schedules as provided by your veterinarian,” adds Dr Natasha.

Dr. Natasha Couto

Dr. Natasha Couto

Over the counter medicines: “Medicating your pet without consulting your vet can cause severe adverse reactions. For example: Crocin given to cats for fever/pain can be fatal while Brufen/Combiflam in dogs can cause severe gastritis,” shares Dr Natasha.
Vet care: “Any minor deviation from routine pattern should be noted and consulted with the veterinarian,” tells Dr Natasha.
Lack of proper exercise: “Most dogs are not walked and are at home all day leading to overgrown nails, obesity and unsocial behaviour owing to being locked up all day indoors. Dogs need to be walked at least twice- thrice a day for a min of 15-30 minutes,” tells Dr Natasha.
Neutering: Not neutering/spaying your pet can lead to incidence of pyometra/mammary tumours in females and prostrate enlargement in males later in life. “Neutering your pet also prevents indiscriminate breeding, makes your pet more controllable and will also curb the progression of genetically transmitted diseases, such as hip dysplasia, cryptochidism, etc,” advises Dr Natasha.

Common training mistakes to watch out for
Inappropriate techniques or methods while training their pets, inconsistency, tone of voice and indulgence are to be avoided, advices Sonya Kochhar.

Sonya Kochhar

Sonya Kochhar

Being regular: “The mistakes we make here are being inconsistent with the training. Regularity in training is important. Pet parents have to be very patient while training and practice as much as possible,” tells Sonya.
Treats: not always good: Treats are a good way to start training but once your dog starts to get the hang of the command we must start cutting down the treats before it become a habit, according to Sonya.
Emotion and tone check: Sonya says “Another very common mistake pet parents make is to not keep their emotions in check while training. Being focused and having the correct tone is important during a training session. Training in anger and frustration will leave a negative impact on your pet. One must have a calm mindset while training. Keep the right tone as much as possible.” The right ambience and duration: Sonya advices, “The duration of the training session is also very important. Parents must ensure the pet is being trained in the right weather conditions, keeping the general well being of the pet in mind. Keep the training session short and enjoyable for both your pet and you.”

facebook postCommon grooming mistakes to watch out for
Brushing troubles…
Brushing not a routine: “The most basic and common thing in Grooming is ‘BRUSHING’. Regular brushing is must, regardless of the length of your dog’s coat, because it removes dead hair, distributes the natural oils for a clean and healthy coat, stimulates the surface of the skin and helps you become very familiar with your dog’s body. No brushing means unhealthy skin and coat and it also leads to matting (tangling of hair) of your pets,” shares Savita.
Choice of combs and brushes: There is a huge range of pet grooming equipment available now days. “Each comb or brush is designed for specific purpose. Pet parents need to know which equipment does what and use it accordingly. There are de-matting combs, rack combs, slicker brushes, long combs, etc… all having their specific function,” tells Nipun Biyani.
Cutting mats: The common mistake that follows because of no brushing would be cutting the mats using a scissor, one must be careful doing this, so as not to nip the skin. “In that case, a pet will always end up having a negative association with scissors. Every time he sees the scissors, he will respond in a very negative and aggressive manner. Also, watch out for cutting the fur in an uneven manner. So, if your pet has thick matting then you should seek help from a professional pet groomer,” advises Savita.

Simple Steps

Bathing woes…
Getting shampoo and conditioner in your pet’s eyes: “Sometimes it goes unnoticed as the pet parent is busy scrubbing the pet. Always shampoo with utmost care,” tells Savita.
Using human shampoos on pets: Never use human shampoo on pets. “Shampoos and soaps made for humans have much higher pH levels and that will be (in most cases) very harmful for your pets’ coat and skin,” tells Nipun. “Human shampoo can be too harsh for your pet’s skin and coat. So make sure you buy pet products available,” adds Savita.
Not rinsing your pet thoroughly after bath: “During the bath if shampoo or conditioner is not washed properly, it will leave a dull residue on the pet’s fur and can lead to skin diseases and infections,” tells Savita.
Letting your dogs dry up naturally: “During rainy or winter season, as the pet may take a lot of time to dry up, this may increase chances of skin infections and redness,” tells Nipun.
Using personal hair dryers to dry your pet: “This is also not advisable since personal hair dryers emit heat that may affect the coat and skin of your pet. Professional hair dryers are ideal for using for drying pets and are used at most pet grooming salons,” shares Nipun.
Using human perfumes and deodorants on pets: This should never be done. “Use products designed specifically for pets and look out for natural products rather than those with high chemical concentration,” adds Nipun.
Using human shaving clippers: “Not only they are of no help but can result in burning and damaging the pet’s skin,” warns Savita.
Bathing your pet too frequently: “Bathing your pet too frequently will dry out her skin and strip the natural oils from her coat, making the skin flaky and itchy,” tells Savita. “This may also lead into excessive hair fall and irritation,” adds Nipun.
Cutting ‘The Quick’: “This is very painful, that is cutting The Quick (which is a nerve in the nail) while cutting your pet’s nails,” tells Savita. Always get this done at your groomer veterinarian’s place.



(With inputs from Sonya Kochhar, Canine Elite, New Delhi; Amrut Sridhara Hiranya, Dog Guru, Bengaluru; Dr Natasha Couto, Cuddle Pet Shop & Clinic, Mumbai; Dr Sarkar, Dog Care, Ranchi; Savita Raghuvanshi, Scoopy Scrub, Indrapuram, Ghaziabad; Nipun Biyani, Paws 2 Think – Premium Pet Products and Pet Salon, Jaipur; and Priti Chauhan, canine behaviourist and trainer, Pune).

How to become a marvellous pet parent

Here are some vital tips to become a marvellous pet parent.

Dr CS Arun

Dr CS Arun

  • Adopt a country or pariah dog as your pet. He is more disease resistant and easy to manage.
  • Puppies have to be periodically dewormed and fed a balanced diet to refrain them from eating rubbish.
  • Obedience training is very essential to have a good, life-long relationship with your pup. Start early when he is 3-4 months old.
  • Any new food for the pet must be introduced gradually in small quantities.
  • Dog’s dental health can be maintained through regular brushing and dental treats.
  • Walking the pet on rough surfaces will trim his nails automatically.
  • While bathing a dog, take care to avoid water entering inside the ears.
  • When your pet is left alone in the house, play soft music or your recorded voice to keep him calm.
  • To administer tablets to dogs, powder and mix with his favourite treat.
  • Before travelling with your pet, put him on the light meal. Take your vet’s advice.
  • Micro-chipping your dog will help in easy identification.

    Rashee with Boss

    Rashee with Boss

  • When two dogs are fighting with each other, do not try to separate them manually. Throw a bucket of water on them!
  • Control of external parasites on your pet is very essential to avoid anaemia and life-threatening diseases.
  • Maintain a proper bodyweight of your pet as obesity leads to diabetes, arthritis and cancer.
  • Dogs living in farms are prone to snake bites. So, it’s always better to take precaution by stocking Polyvalent Antisnake Venom in advance.
  • Avoid spraying your garden with toxic insecticides. Your pet may get accidentally poisoned. Use safer, eco-friendly insecticides.
  • In case your pet bites you, wash the site of bite with soap and running water. Apply an antiseptic. Do not bandage. Consult your vet.

(Dr CS Arun is Masters in Veterinary Science (Avian Diseases) from IVRI, Bareilly. He is private veterinary practitioner at My Pet Hospital, Mysore).