Pet Owners need to be TRAINED to become Pet PARENTS

A pet parent thinks that his dog is an obedient dog, but does things at his own will. This is not the case. Here, a dog trainer shares what the actual problem is.


A typical conversation that happens between a pet parent and a dog trainer: Pet parent: Hi, I have a dog to train.

Pratheek Premkumar

Pratheek Premkumar

Trainer: Sure, how can I help you? What breed is the dog?
Pet parent: I have a Labrador. She is 8 months old.
Trainer: Fine. Could you please let me know your requirement?
Pet parent: Well, my dog is super cool. She does everything I ask her to do. She is obedient.
Trainer: Good to hear that. How can I be of help to you?
Pet parent: Yeah, the issue is that she does everything only when she likes.
Trainer: Don’t worry. I will help you. Before that, please let me know your actual requirement. For what purpose you bought the dog? How much space do you have in your home for the dog?
Pet parent: I bought this dog for guarding purpose. She is good at that.
Trainer: Oh! Really? Then why doesn’t she bark while seeing me? Have you trained her for that?
Pet parent: No No… But she does bark when a stranger enters home.
Trainer: Are you keeping the dog inside a kennel or inside the home?
Pet parent: Inside the kennel. My wife doesn’t like dogs and can’t keep her inside.
Trainer: How many hours a day is she free (released from the kennel)?
Pet parent: We release her occasionally. May be once in five days or a week.
Trainer: Oh!


This conversation – I have frequently with people. What is important is pet owners should become PET PARENTS- and understand that their Dogs are Social BEINGS- they have emotions, and want to be loved and cared. Dogs should be kept in homes- as family members.

dogsTrust and respect the dog: In the ideal world, the dog should obey the pet parent. For that the dog should have the feelings of respect and attachment towards the pet parent. This can’t be done overnight by hurting them or intimidating them. This can be achieved only with patience. Dogs, too, are prone to making thousand mistakes. But we should patiently correct them with the proper training methods. Also the word “trust” is an important keyword when it comes to dogs. If all the above are done without “trust,” then dogs would just try to escape from the pet parent.


Match your requirement with the breed: Before selecting a breed, we need to reconsider our requirements – such as the purpose of having a dog, the space in the house for the dog, the capacity to spend for the dog etc. Only after giving proper thought to all these, select a breed which is suitable for the home.


Mental stress: Another mistake is that the dog gets a release outside the kennel occasionally. A dog needs a minimum of 3 hours to be left free outside his kennel every day. Otherwise there are chances of mental stress for the dogs, as in humans. In the above case, the dog barks because of that. Actually, he is pleading even to the strangers, trying to get their attention and to release him. But the pet parent can’t understand or communicate with his dog. Pet parent is content that the dog is doing his duty.


Family@pet: Pets should be kept at home as an another valuable and precious member of you family. Also all the members in the family should agree before getting the pet in. The responsibility of taking care of a pet is of each member.


Positive Training & Partner with your Trainer: be the leader of your pets pack- this will make her look up to you. Treat her kindly with love and respect. Train Positively, set a desired action of good behavior- and whenever your pet does it reward her with her favourite treat. Always partner with your Trainer and work together in training. Depending on your dogs age initially keep training session short and ensure to have fun with your pet. The pet responds to the tone of your voice and excitement level. Be patient with your pet. Look at the world from your Pets perspective. Always make her HEART HAPPY, in return you will get years of unconditional love, joy, happiness beyond compare.


Exercise, Walks, Play is a necessity: This is mandatory without it the dog gets depressed. Spend quality time with her and physically and mentally keep her active. You have the world but for your pet you are her world. Become her world and become the PERFECT PET PARENT!

(Pratheek Premkumar is professional dog trainer based in Kerala; since early years he has been fascinated by animals of all types and sizes).

Learn how to nurture a positive world view in puppy by Socialisation

Rohini Sankar

Rohini Sankar

Not socialising your pet is the number one reason for dogs being abandoned in shelters. Here’s how to socialise your pet and give him the required skill set to live harmoniously in this world.


Charlie was a two-year-old Labrador Retriever, who was well-behaved and friendly. He was the apple of the eye of his family and always led a sheltered life. He used the huge backyard in his home, as his personal bathroom and playground since childhood. When Charlie’s master got transferred to another city, they were forced to live an apartment. From being accustomed to relieving himself in an open yard, he was taken for walks on leash on a very crowded street filled with people and different noises. Charlie was not used to all this commotion, so he started withdrawing. He used to cringe every time the pet parent used to leash him to take him outside.
One day, while he was on a walk, a ‘scary-looking’ stranger with an umbrella in his hand, approached Charlie and his pet parent. As the man came closer, Charlie withdrew but the stranger did not back – he petted his head instead. The scared dog looked at this gesture as a threat and bit him. The pet parent was shocked by the sudden behaviour; Charlie did not know how to react either. They thought it was isolated incident, but within few months, neighbour, watchman, milkman and pet parent himself had become victims to the dog’s bites. This got him a one-way ticket to the shelter, where he passed away in a few weeks due to mental trauma.
This catastrophe could have been prevented, had Charlie been socialised from an early age. He was brought up in a very constricted environment, and was not exposed to outsiders, noise, chaos, other pets or kids. He never gained the skill set that is required for any dog to be sociable.


What is socialisation?
“Socialisation is the process of installing a positive world view in puppies, by exposing them to a variety of people, places and things. Ensuring that he has good experiences in different environments is essential. The most important period, to socialise your pet is as young as four weeks through 12 to 14 weeks of age. However, it is a continual process – so if your pet hasn’t had exposure as a pup, remedial socialisation later in its life, can repair some of the damage done by lack of early socialisation. Chances are high that the dog will be somewhat significantly neophobic (fearful of new things) throughout his life, if early intervention isn’t done, in cases where the animal hasn’t gotten sufficient exposure,” says Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, CDBC.
In simple words, socialisation is the association of two different stimuli and the reaction when interacted with. Many dog behavioural scientists have identified that puppies’ social development period is from 4 to 14 weeks of age. If they are exposed to different environments, living situations, people, dogs, sounds and objects within this time period, he will grow up to be a happy, confident and social adult dog, who believes the world is a safe place, which he loves living in.
If the exposure is not done within this time frame, they could grow up to be under-socialised or orneophobic – fearful dogs who are afraid of their own shadow. This could result in fear-related aggression as adults – Charlie’s case (as mentioned above) is an example of this. While, under or non-exposure to different stimulus is one thing, over exposure to stimulus can also have a negative impact.


The right ways
“Socialisation does not mean flooding the puppy with new experiences all at once. It is a gradual, positive process of exposure that encourages confident behaviour in the pup,” explains Dr Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian, animal behaviourist, author and public speaker. He’s also the creator of the world’s first off-leash puppy classes and founder of the APDT (The Association of Professional Dog Trainers).


Meeting new people: The puppy must meet at least 100 people of different ages, personalities, height, size and faces. By theUntitled-17 time he is eight weeks old, make him mingle with another 100 people, and 100 more by the time the social development windows closes at 14 weeks of age.
Throw as many parties as you can – ‘meet my new pup parties’, kids birthday parties, office get-togethers, weekend interactions and so on. The little one has to be handled, passed around, carried and petted by as many people as possible, but monitor his safety carefully.
You have to make the pup feel that people are fun beings to play with and that they don’t mean harm. You could request your friends to give him his favourite special treat (in small quantities only) when he is being handled or played with. After few of these parties, he will start seeking out people he can be around.
Introducing new stimulus: Make a socialisation plan for the puppy. Each day introduce a new stimulus – be it another animal, a new child or the common area in the apartment complex. The number one rule to remember is it has to be an enjoyable experience, so shower praises and special treats (in moderation) to reward their confidence and curiosity. If they scrounge or try to hide behind you or jump on you to be picked up, resist this behaviour. By trying to comfort him, you will only be encouraging and rewarding this nervous behaviour. Instead, be neutral and move away from the situation, which is eliciting a fearful response. Once the puppy calms down, praise the puppy.


Untitled-16Making it a life-long process: A pet parent’s tendency is to become over-enthusiastic and push the puppy too hard, if he behaves well or listens – ensure this doesn’t occur, from day one of training. Always end on a positive note. Remember, socialising is a long-term effort, so even when your puppy becomes a teenager or an adult, they will still need ongoing socialising from time to time, to new as well as old stimulus and environments. Puppies who are socialised well from the beginning turn out to be adult dogs who are well behaved and adjusted to our human world.


(Rohini Sankar has done Diploma in Canine Behavior Counselling, Therapy and Training from The Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors (ACABC), USA; she has more than nine years of professional experience as a canine behaviour counsellor, trainer and therapist.)

do you walk your dog well?

Many modern day dogs don’t get opportunities to do what their breed instincts tell them to do. In addition, it’s a rare that dog exercises on his own, and your backyard doesn’t provide the variety of sensory stimulation most dogs need to ward off boredom. That’s why dogs need walks for both exercise and mental stimulation.


Garima Singhal with Bruno Boo

Garima Singhal with Bruno Boo

According to a clinician’s brief, people generally walk their dog for four reasons: i) Elimination, ii) Mental stimulation, iii) Exercise, and iv) Training. Dogs like to go for walks to get outdoors,sniff and engage with their environment, exercise, and perhaps socialise with people and dogs outside the home. There is no reason that a walk cannot encompass and meet all the needs of both pet parents and dogs. Because time is often at a premium, it is useful to help pet parents understand and find creative ways to meet these needs.


Walk easy
A dog who walks well on the leash gets to walk a lot more, and his life is that much more refreshing and rewarding. A dog who pulls gets fewer walks, is bored, doesn’t eat well, is stressed about being cooped up indoors for too long, misses out on opportunities for socialisation with other humans, dogs, cats, puppies, the plethora and the wonderworld of smells that the outside world is. This mental stimulation keeps the dog occupied for the rest of his day and he looks forward to this aspect of his life. So, it is critical that your dog walks, and he walks well. Why and how to walk your dog may seem like a ‘no brainer’ topic to many of you, but the fact is there are lots of pet parents who: i) Don’t walk their dogs at all, or don’t do it routinely, ii) Don’t make the most of the activity, and iii) Dread walks because their pet actually walks them, or exhibits other bad leash manners.


Basic leash lessons
The best way to develop a positive dog walking habit is when your pet is a puppy. As soon as his immune system is strong enough to protect him from communicable disease (discuss when it’s safe to take your pup outside with your vet), he’s ready for walks. If your puppy is fighting your collar, as long as you’re sure it isn’t too tight (you should be able to easily slip your fingers under it) or uncomfortable for some other reason, distract him from fussing with his collar until he gets used to it. It shouldn’t take more than a couple days for your pup to forget he’s even wearing it. Don’t try to take your pup for a walk if he protests wearing a collar.
Once wearing his collar is second nature to your dog, you’re ready for the next step. Attach about four feet of light line – light cotton rope will do – and let your puppy drag it around the house under your watchful eye, of course. He’ll get used to it being attached, as well as the tug of it when he steps on it. Once your pup is used to the four feet line, swap it for a 10 to 15 feet line of the same material, and head outdoors.


Starting off on right foot Initial walks should be short for most puppies – the main goal is to get your dog used to being attached to you by a lead. Find a safe environment. Allow the puppy to drag the line behind him for a bit, then pick up the opposite end. Let him lead you around for a few seconds while you hold the line just off the ground. Slow down so that he’s forced to slow down, ultimately to a stop. Take a short break for praise and a little playtime.
Next, let him trail the line again, but when you pick up your end this time, call him and stand still. If he pulls, hold your ground without pulling him in your direction. The goal is to teach him to put slack in the line himself by moving toward you. When he puts slack in the line, praise him and call him to you. The idea is to teach him taut leash versus relaxed leash and the benefits of being on a relaxed leash.


If he comes all the way to you, more praise and a training treat are in order. If he stops on his way to you, tighten the line just enough to apply a tiny bit of pull to it. Immediately call him to come again. Give praise as he moves toward you and treats when he comes all the way back. Two or three repetitions is all many puppies need to understand lack of tension in the line is what earns praise and treats. When your pup has learned to come towards you to relieve tension on the line, you can begin backing up as he’s coming towards you to keep him moving.


Next, turn and walk forward so he’s following you. If he passes you, head in another direction so he’s again behind you. The goal is to teach him to follow on a loose lead. Always remember, loose leash is rewarded, and taut leash is ignored. Depending on your pet’s temperament, 5 to 15 minutes sessions are sufficient in the beginning. Practice controlling your dog on the lead for 30 second intervals during each session. Exercise patience and don’t engage in a battle of wills with your pup.


After each short session on the lead, liberally praise your dog and spend a few minutes playing ball or some other game he enjoys. Remember, you’re building the foundation for an activity both you and your dog will enjoy and look forward to throughout her life.


Problem pullers

If your puppy freezes on a tight line or routinely pulls against it, my first recommendation is to use a halter or harness rather than a collar attached to the lead. Your dog can create serious neck and cervical disk problems by pulling on a collar/leash combination. Make use of an expert in these cases to show you how to appropriately use these tools.

Next, make sure it’s not you creating the problem. Our human instinct is to hold the leash taut, so you must also train yourself to keep slack in the line. I must reiterate what I already said in this article before—you are going for a walk, not war.

  • Maintain the tension on the line and turn your back on him. Allow time for it to occur to him, he can’t win by pulling against you.
  • Remain still with your back to him holding the tension in the line – don’t jerk the line, don’t pull or yank him toward you, and don’t put slack in the line yourself, which will teach him the way to get slack is to pull at the line.

The message you want to send your pup is pulling on the lead doesn’t accomplish a thing. It doesn’t change the scenery and it doesn’t earn praise or treats. Eventually, your puppy will stop doing what doesn’t work – especially when he is consistently rewarded for desirable behaviour.

Simple Techniques to De-stress your Pooch

Pets can get stressed in unpleasant situations. Here’s how to de-stress your pooches through various simple easy-to-follow techniques.

Nicole Mackie

Nicole Mackie


As responsible pet parents, it is imperative that we keep our pooches stress-free. Here are ways to keep your pooch happy and calm at all times.


Non-threatening approach – When approaching your dog, always approach sideways without looking directly at your dog’s eyes. Try to look smaller and never use threatening postures or noise such as arms in air, running towards the dog, leaning over the dog, high excitable or raised voice. Keep your voice calm and gentle, keep arms down, body slightly sideways and head turned to side and your dog is more likely to approach you without fear or feeling threatened. If the dog does not come to you when you crouch down, do not force him but respect his wishes to be left alone.


Noise level – When your dog is afraid of something such as loud noises, fireworks, thunderstorms, loud humans, etc do not try Untitled-22to comfort him while he is showing fear (or you will be rewarding the fear); ignore him, yawn, keep on yawning and only praise the dog when he is not showing any signs of fear, this should help him to feel a little calmer.


Visitors’ time When visitors come, make sure they do not make a fuss of the dog. Tell them to just ignore the dog until he has calmed down. Have the dog sit in the same room as you and the visitors but give your dog something to do such as a stuffed Kong or treat ball (can be noisy), chew, raw hide or something your dog really likes. Make sure children leave the dog alone when he is eating or resting.


Use the right harness – Try using a harness (unless there are medical reasons not to) and wide soft, flat collar when walking your dog. Never attach lead to collar if your dog pulls, as this put your dog at risk of spinal damage, thyroid damage or blindness. Use the harness and teach your dog not to pull before using a lead on the dog’s collar. Collar should fit to cover two vertebrae and harness should also be wide, comfortable and well fitted.


Caring while walking – When out walking, be careful if you see other dogs or people walking towards you. If your dog is insecure about others approaching, you may need to help him out a little. Cross the road or turn around and go in the opposite direction. This will help your dog to learn to trust you to help him out when he needs it. Lunging, barking and pulling, trying to get to another dog or human is often mistaken for wanting to play but the dog may be fearful or very insecure about the approach, best to help him out and go in another direction.


A happy and safe environment – Enrich your dog’s environment (indoor and outdoor) with plenty of toys and things he is allowed to play with, chew up and destroy if he wants to. Things that are safe such as old shoes, toys (hard and soft), cardboard boxes, old containers or bottles (you can put treats in these), paper, plants to smell, make tunnels out of chairs and blankets, etc, anything to make your dog’s environment enriched, fun and safe.


Untitled-23Nutritious diet – Make sure your dog is on a good diet. See a canine nutritionist or a veterinarian with an interest in nutrition. Hair or blood analysis can be performed on your dog to determine if there are any areas of lack or too much of any particular nutrient, and it will also tell you the toxin levels in your dog’s diet.

Untitled-24Clean fresh water – Always have clean fresh water available for your dog. Filtered water is preferable as most of the harmful chemicals are filtered out. Dogs can develop behaviour problems if they have too much of any chemicals or toxins in their body, i.e. a symptom of too much manganese in the body – aggression, stiff limbs, fear, shyness, etc, while too  much arsenic causes grumpy problems.


Grooming – a happy experience – Keep grooming regular, very slow and rewarding for the dog. Make sure you do not leanUntitled-25 over the dog or brush fast or with a painful brush. If you are not sure if the brush is painful, try brushing your own arm with it, if it hurts you, it hurts your dog. Kneel by your dog, brush slowly and give dog treats from time to time while brushing.


Kong – This can be stuffed with yummy food your dog enjoys. When stuffed, place in freezer and give to your dog frozen as this will keep him occupied for hours (though some dogs prefer it not frozen), after eating it, your dog will be very tired and most likely sleep for an hour or two. Things you can put into the Kong are: fish, cream cheese, cottage cheese, meat paste, peanut butter, mashed potatoes and gravy, your dog’s meal, etc, or a selection of food.


Treat balls– These are balls or cubes in which you can place dry treats inside. Your dog has to find ways to get the treats out of Untitled-27the ball. This can be very mentally stimulating for your dog and can keep him busy while you are busy with something else.


Sniff to de-stress– Teach your dog nosework games. Hide treats such as hotdog sausages, preferably outdoors around your yard but indoors is also fine. Do not show your dog where the treats  are but just say find and leave the dog to find the treats, his nose will tell him where they are without any help. You can also throw a few treats such as dry biscuits, cut up sausages or cheese, etc into your yard, preferably on a lawned area and tell your dog to find. Your dog will love this game as he is doing what he is born to do, and that is use his nose. Nosework games are very mentally stimulating for your dog and also very tiring; your dog will need plenty of rest after playing these games. Keep it limited to just a few minutes a day with young puppies.


Rescue remedies– A few drops of Rescue remedy can be placed in the dog’s water or food if he is feeling a little stressed or Untitled-29worried. DAP diffusers are also available from veterinarians which help to calm highly stressed dogs. Calm spray is another way to help calm dogs. This can be taken anywhere you go or even sprayed in the car to help calm dogs.


Use smells he likes – Before placing air fresheners in your home or burning incense or oils, first make sure your dog likes the smell. A dog will get a headache from smells well before we would get a headache. To find out if your dog likes a smell, show him the object of smell and if your dog sniffs it and maybe even tries to lick it, then he probably likes it. If your dog turns his head away, then he probably does not like it and it is cruel to expect him to live with the smell without escape, Untitled-30remembering a dog’s sense of smell is many times stronger than ours. Hot head may mean your dog has a headache or is perhaps stressed about something.


Safe play – Keep play to a minimal as this triggers the hunting instinct, especially chasing games. Play is very likely to cause your dog stress which is often mistaken for excitement. Play will increase and strengthen the hunting chasing instinct and in a breed where this instinct is already strong, such as in some Terrier breeds, problems can develop, i.e. chasing cyclists, children and runners. Perhaps throw and ball a very short distance only two or three times and then stop. If your dog has a ball obsession problem then it may be best not to throw a ball or any object for him at all.


Make car rides a happy time – When taking your dog out in the car, make it a good experience. Make the car an enrichedUntitled-28 environment. Place in the car with him a stuffed Kong, some toys, chews or anything you know your dog likes. If your dog is in a crate in the car, cover most of the crate with a blanket (leaving a gap to see you) so he does not feel the need to bark at people, dogs, motorbikes and other threatening things he may see out the window.


T-touch – Use this gentle form of light massage. Slowly stroke your dog in small circular movements, starting at the head and moving slowly down the dog’s body. This should take about 10 seconds to get from the top of head to tail. Do this for about 20 minutes a day for the first week, 15 minutes a day for the second week and then 10 minutes a day for the dog’s entire life. This will also help your relationship with your dog.


(Nicole Mackie has experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifications, such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience veterinary nursing).

Fun with Family @ Flyball!

If you are looking for a fast paced, fun and interactive activity for you and your dog in a family friendly environment, Flyball is where it’s at! It’s truly a sport for all dogs and abilities.


Dogs love to run and be active with their pet parents and that is what the game is all about. It is the adrenaline sport of the dog world where dogs are encouraged to bark, play tug and just all around act crazy and excited. To say the dogs love it, would be an understatement, they go absolutely nuts for it.
What’s flyball?
Flyball is a game run in teams of four dogs as a relay where two teams race each other. The course consists of four hurdle jumps, 10 feet apart from each other with a box that releases a tennis ball when the dog presses on the spring at the end. The dog must return all the way back across the start line before the next dog crosses.


Who all can play?
All breeds are welcome! Dogs of any size can play, from Chihuahua to Great Dane and everybody in-between. As each team has four dogs, it is actually an advantage for the team to have a smaller dog. The heights of the hurdles are determined by the shoulder height of the smallest dog in a team.
All dogs are ‘seeded’ against teams of similar speed. This means that your dog would be running against a dog with similar abilities. Although a winner will be determined for each game, all dogs are encouraged, cheered for and celebrated. There is even a class of racing called Multi Breed where each team is required to have four different breeds of dogs running and another class called Veterans where all the dogs must be at least seven years old.


Since Flyball is played off leash, you must have very good control over your dog off leash so that no one gets hurt, so basic obedience is a must. You cannot compete with your dog until he is one year of age which is about the same amount of time it could take to train your dog to play Flyball.


Rules of the game…Untitled-2
Basically the rules are to send your dog down to the Flyball box to get there ball and bring it all the way back across the start/finish line without having an early pass, going around any jumps or interfering with the other team.
Each lane is 51 feet and there are two lanes per ring. Six feet from the start line is the first jump and every 10 feet after that is the next three. Fifteen feet after the last jump is the box line. There is four jumps in each lane which can be anywhere from 7 to 14 inches in height.


Each team needs a minimum of four dogs and can list six (so two backups). There always has to be one dog who is declared the height dog who runs in each race. Points are awarded with every heat the dog’s team runs without faults. Any time less than 24 seconds are worth 25 points. Time under 28 seconds are five points and times under 32 seconds are worth one point.


Training regime
Starting with basic obedience training, the first thing we teach the dogs is how to do a recall to their toys/treats. Then we teach them the Flyball box after which time we start introducing the jumps. Once they can do it all, we then start introducing the other dogs in the other lane as well as passing. We take a full year to train our puppies and practise twice a week. Most teams practise once a week or maybe just a couple of times a month. We start training our puppies at 10 weeks of age with some simple things like recalls and target work. Some may just take a bit more patients to train.


NAFA titles
To standardise the rules, keep records of tournaments and guide the development of Flyball racing, the North American Flyball Association, Inc (NAFA) was formed in 1985. There are numerousUntitled-3 Untitled-4 titles a dog can earn in NAFA based on how many points he has. They start as low as 20 points and go all the way up to 100,000 points. The dogs receive a certificate, pin and/or plaque with every title.


Flyball facts

  • The current North American Flyball Association Regular Class world record is held by the Rocket Relay team from Ontario, Canada. The record time is 14.93 minutes.
  • The current North American Flyball Association Multi Breed Class world record is held by Spring Loaded team from Michigan, USA. The record time is 15.36 minutes.
  • Flyball started in Southern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • The first tournament was held in the USA in 1983.
  • To standardise the rules, keep records of tournaments, and guide the development of Flyball racing, the North American Flyball Association, Inc (NAFA) was formed in 1985 by a group representing 12 teams from Michigan and Ontario.
  • NAFA has over 700 registered clubs with more than 16,000 registered dogs.


(Dave Walt is a member of Rocket Relay Flyball Club (, which is the fastest club in the North American Flyball Association. The club has 26 members and 72 dogs in it. They have won numerous championships as well as run many world records. They also do Flyball seminars and run a Flyball training website with members worldwide. He is also a NAFA Supervising Judge.)

Steps to make your pup Happy, Healthy & Harmonious @ Home

It’s an exciting time when you get a new puppy home. Everyone wants to pamper the puppy with new things such as toys, treats, beds, fancy clothes, etc. Among all the fussing, it’s also important to understand importance of training the puppy & starting early. Here’s more on house training your pup.


Pooja Sathe

Pooja Sathe

Training is an art of communicating with animals. As a pet parent, it’s our responsibility to teach them how to behave in the home, around people, etc. Some normal doggy behaviour can’t be acceptable in our perfectly social world, such as toilet habits, chewing, barking, digging, etc. That’s why we need to teach our puppies what is acceptable and what is not. Training is the best way to teach your pet good manners and avoid any behaviour issues.


Right age to start
It’s always better to start the training as early as possible, once the puppy comes to your home. The best time for the puppies to learn new things is between 3-4 months of age. Even when the puppy is not fully vaccinated, one can always start basic training at home such as toilet training, controlling teething issues, getting used to wearing a collar & leash. It’s better to teach them good habits from the beginning rather than worrying about bad behaviour later. If you are taking help from a professional trainer, it’s always good to ask them to provide guidance on basic habits which you can practice at home and then start more formal training once the puppy is fully vaccinated.


Tips for toilet training
At the age of 3-4 months, it’s natural for puppy to pee 15 – 20 times and poop 3-4 times in a day. It’s also normal to pee little quantity frequently. You need to give him place to pee in the house as well as outside, at least for 2-3 more months. As he grows his peeing will reduce and he will have better body control.


  • Every pet parent must start toilet training from the pup’s 1st day at home.
  • Decide pup’s food quantity and timing (as per your vet’s advice) and maintain that routine for days to follow. This will help you understand pup’s body routine. Fix his food timing and accordingly observe his toilet habits for a week to 10 days (you can note it down as well).
  • Pet parents need to decide a particular area for puppy to pee and poop and let the puppy have access to it on regular intervals. Set up 2/3 toilet training spots inside the house, mostly in rooms which he has access to.
  • You can use newspapers, doormats, old clothes, puppy pads, etc. Soak the paper in his urine and keep it in the designated area for a few minutes every day, thus that spot can get his smell. Smell of the puppy’s urine and surface of the designated area play an important role in toilet training. Puppies prefer to pee at a spot where they can smell their own urine and also prefer different textured surface other than home tiles.
  • Praising the puppy at the right time i.e. when he decides to pee in the right spots, increases the chances of the puppy learning faster. If the puppy makes any mistake, please avoid harsh methods such as locking pup in the bathroom, rubbing the pup’s nose in the pee. These acts can only make the puppy scared of you but doesn’t teach him anything about toilet training. Initially avoid pushing him to the bathroom, etc that won’t help.
  • Encourage him verbally to pee around the designated area. It means saying ‘Good boy’ every time he pees on that spot or at least closer to that.
  • If you catch him in the act of peeing in the wrong place, only then verbally scold him but do not hit him. Don’t yell at him if you notice this after he has peed. This scolding will not help at all.
  • Look for his body signs i.e. he may start sniffing floor, scratching, turning round, etc. As soon as he shows any signs take him to the designated pee area or encourage him to go closer to that.
  • Usually puppies pee after they eat, get up from sleep, after playing/running around for few minutes, etc.
  • When you are out of the house, it’s better to give him access to only particular part of the house and keep a pee spot in that area as well.
  • Follow this for at least 2-3 weeks to notice any changes in his behaviour. It will happen gradually so don’t expect quick results. Your patience and regular timely praise will help achieve results faster.
  • Together with this you have to give him 2-3 walks outside, so continue with your current routine.


Tips to control
chewing habits

  • Understand that teething is a natural process and all pups will go through this phase no matter what breed or gender.
  • Use toys (wherein you can put food) to keep the puppy occupied. Using food from pup’s daily diet can be very useful.
  • Giving the puppy access to limited areas in the house can help to stop damage to furniture.
  • While interacting with puppy, it’s necessary not to encourage biting of hands, clothes,
    shoes, etc.


Tips to perfect
eating habits

  • Consult your vet about pup’s daily diet.
  • Fix quantity of each portion and maintain regular feeding times.
  • Do not encourage begging or stealing human food.
  • Strictly do not encourage hand feeding.
  • Do not entertain fussy eating habits.
  • Take professional help to teach your pup to be calm around food.


Tips for making play
time always a fun time

  • Daily play sessions are very important for each puppy.
  • Keep them short and interesting.
  • Use variety of textures in
    toys such as rubber, wood, plastic, etc.
  • Pet parent’s presence and involvement is very important during these play sessions or else pups can get bored of the same toys very soon.
  • Do not encourage pups to play with old shoes, door mats, etc. They may not understand difference between old and new stuffs and may continue to bite things which are otherwise off limits.


Tips to being comfy with
collar & leash

  • Get puppy used to soft collar initially in the house, while he is still not allowed to go out for walks.
  • Put the collar on and distract the puppy with something interesting i.e. during food time or play time.
  • Put collar on only for small duration initially and then gradually increase time.
  • It’s normal for puppy to scratch the collar and feel uncomfortable for initial few days. He will get used to it eventually.
  • Once the puppy is used to wearing collar, put the leash on and get him used to walking on leash for few minutes every day.
  • Use well fitted and gentle collar and leash. Never choke chains or hard metal collars.


Tips to control 
separation anxiety

  • Practice ‘being alone time’ when the puppy is tired or sleepy i.e. after walk/meal.
  • Make this quiet time part of pup’s daily routine and not only when you have to actually go out of the home.
  • Start by leaving puppy alone in separate room while you are still in the house. This will help build pup’s confidence gradually and pet parents can supervise the activity as well.
  • Do not encourage puppy to follow you everywhere in the house all the time. This only makes the puppy over attached to you.
  • Give lots of chew toys while leaving puppy alone to keep him occupied. For example, Kong!
  • It’s pet parent’s responsibility to first teach puppy to be alone and not to expect miracles without putting any efforts.


It’s always better to get professional help from the beginning. You should consult your trusted vet and a genuine professional trainer if you have any doubts. It’s beneficial to take help of professionals at early age rather than to consult them only when the behaviour issues start popping up. Pet parents’ involvement in every vet visit and training session is also very important.
Happy pet parenting!!!


(Pooja Sathe runs CRAZY K9 CAMPERS in Mumbai providing pets and pet parents unique opportunities to spend quality time together through weekend pet camps).

Cohen the dog who knows 200 tricks!

Everyone thinks that their dog is the best in the world, and no one is wrong. You can also make your pooch a wonder dog, just like Cohen.


Cohen – the wonder dog…

Cohen is a five-year-old female Australian Shepherd from Canada. She is a jack-of-all-trades type of dog. She has done agility, flyball, obedience, rally, freestyle and disc. Her specialty is tricks. She knows approximately 200 tricks and behaviours, from the basic sit, paw and roll over to the more advanced walking handstand, hugging her toys and rebounding off my foot. Her favourites are the ones where she gets to run and jump (and bark!). She’s always happy to learn something new because it means she gets to work her body and mind and bond more closely with me. At the end of the day, despite all the crazy things she’s known for, she’s happy to curl up at my feet (sometimes directly on my feet) and sleep.


Training your dog…
One can teach a lot to a pooch if the trainer has a passion and a bit of know-how and inspire people to try the same. I like to extol the virtues of relationship-focused motivational training, using food, toys and other reinforcers to help build behaviours. And these aren’t just tricks for sport or for fun, but every day, practical behaviours for family pets too.


Tricks! Untitled-14
Working on simple tricks to start is a great way to bond with your dog. Tricks are fun for you to teach, fun for the dog to learn and they’re low-pressure! If people focus primarily on obedience, there is the pressure that the dog must obey, and that pressure can deflate enthusiasm for both dogs and people. For tricks, it doesn’t really matter if your dog can roll over or shake, so trainers are more likely to relax while teaching them, which results in a relaxed and happy dog. And the best part is that behaviours like sit, down and stay are as much a trick as spins and bows. Trainers just need to approach their obedience training in the same way they approach tricks. Training is meant to be fun for all parties, both human and canine!


Teach ‘spin’…
A great starter trick is spin. It’s relatively easy to teach, dogs tend to learn it quickly, dogs can perform it easily and they have fun while doing so! To teach it, place a piece of food in your hand that is visible to the dog. Place it by the dog’s nose so she can smell and lick it and slowly lure them around in a circle. The treat should be no more than 2-3 inches from the dog’s nose at all times, so don’t move it too fast. Once the dog is about 1/2 – 3/4s around, mark it with a ‘yes!’ and give them the treat. Do this a few times until they’re reliably following the lure. Start saying ‘spin’ (or whatever you want your cue to be) as you start moving your hand. Then begin to fade the lure so your pup is following your empty hand, but rewarded with a treat at the end. Once you have the dog reliably turning one way with no lure, start working on the other direction!
So, make training fun and see your dog amaze you with her prowess.

11 Ways to Bring Up The Best Pup

Bring out the best in your pup and make her comfortable. Let’s learn how to do it.


Sonya Kochhar

Sonya Kochhar

1. Visit the breeder: A good breeder not only takes care of the hygiene part of raising but also makes sure that there are enough toys in the puppy pen for all the young fellows to play with. A happy and friendly mother often has puppies who are friendly and social. Spot the one who looks friendly. Remember a big part of puppy behaviour would also depend upon his upbringing in the coming years with his human family.


2. Bringing home: Pups are not furry little humans, they are different species and hence have to be raised keeping that in mind. Bring home the puppy riding in the back seat of the car. It’s easier to teach right behaviour from the very start than learning wrong first.


3. Quiet warm place to sleep: Provide a quiet warm corner for your puppy. Give him a soft bed. The best way is to put him in a crate for some time.


Priti Chauhan

Priti Chauhan

4. Diet change…make it a gradual process: While your breeder will happily give you the diet chart for your puppy, it is important to remember to start new diet one at a time rather than changing full day’s diet in one go. That ways puppy can adjust to the change and it’s easier to pinpoint the problems due to diet change.


5. Socialise early: Socialising the pup is very important because the socialising window shuts at five months of puppy age. So as and when you get a chance, let the pup meet other dogs and people. Since the puppy’s vaccinations come during the same period most of the pups are not exposed to outdoor life. You can always carry your pet around or take your pups for car rides and socialise them with others, even tempered dogs and pups, but always under your supervision.


6. Positive training: Since dogs learn by association, negative and positive reinforcements are the best way of teaching any behaviour.


7. Outdoor session: Training outside of the home is just as important as training inside the home (home routines, etc.)


8. Daily practice: Be gentle while training your pet. Remember to praise appropriate behaviour. Pet parents should try and train/practice with their pet every day.


9. Address behavioural problems: When you are focusing on obedience training, you should address behavioural problems. You should use both verbal and visual cues while training.


10. Let them sniff more: A dog’s brain is much more dedicated to smell as compared to the human brain, so your pet can have a lot more sniffing fun.


11. Make training fun: Training pet parents is just as important as training a pet. Incorrect training can be very harmful; therefore it’s your duty as a pet parent to ensure the same is done in the right manner. Make training fun for your pet. Create an agility course keeping your pet’s age, height and weight in mind. Teach the right thing at the right place.


(With inputs from Priti Chauhan, canine behaviourist & trainer, who has been helping dogs and pet parents for the past one decade in Pune and Sonya Kochhar of Canine Elite, a New Delhi-based professional kennel specialising in boarding and lodging of dogs and cats in their very own suites).

’Do it right’ essentials of Pet parenting

Before you adopt a pet, a good first step is really thinking about your daily routine! How much free time do you have each day that you are willing to devote to the care, training, and attention of your dog.

  • All your family members agreed with the idea of bringing home a pup?

    Dr. Munmun De

    Dr. Munmun De

  • Will you give up your holidays or functions if your dog is ill at home?
  • Do you have place where you can leave your dog while you are away?
  • Are you ready to deal with chewed chapals, shocks, etc?
  • Are you ready for cleaning job while your dog is under potty training?
  • Will you allow your dog to be involved in your day-to-day activities?
  • Will you give your dog freedom to move around?
  • Are you ready to spend time with your dog when he gets diseases or weaker due to age-related syndromes?

If your answer is ‘no’ to three or more of these questions above, think again before you come to the final decision on bringing home a pup. Dogs are meant for life, not just temporary beings or for holidays!


What all pet parents should know: A pet parent should always be an animal lover, as a pet needs a family who is not scared of animals and a family who genuinely wants to keep a pet as a family member and not just for show or status.
What a new pet parent should know: When you get a new puppy at home, determine where your pup will be spending most of his time because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment. Learn how to provide emergency first aid if your pet is suffering from poisoning, seizures, broken bones, bleeding, burns, shock, heatstroke, choking or other urgent medical problems as it can comfort an injured pet and can help minimise your pet’s anxiety. Always keep your veterinarian’s emergency number handy.


Making homecoming stress-free: Just like us, dogs need order and leadership. They seek order, which you must provide. Your dog needs to know that you are the one in charge and that you have a set of rules to live by. This makes the transition from the previous accommodation to your home easier, faster and more rewarding. Purchase your essential dog care items such as ID tags, a collar and a leash, food and water bowls, dog toys, a crate and bedding, and basic grooming tools. The next step is to plan a trip to the vet in order to make sure your dog is healthy.


Finding the right vet: The best way to find a veterinarian is by word of mouth. The animal shelter or rescue group or the breeder from where you got your dog may have a good recommendation for you. For proper preventative care, your dog or cat should be examined by a veterinarian thrice a year.


Getting the most from your vet: Taking your dog to the veterinarian should be your first priority. It’s a good idea to make sure your dog is healthy

Wille and Raksha

Wille and Raksha

and doesn’t have any diseases or viruses he or she could transmit to other animals or pet parents in the house. A typical vet check-up includes searching for fleas using a special flea comb, taking your dog’s temperature, and a physical examination which will include checking your dog’s ears, eyes, nose, teeth, skin, legs, joints, and genitals, and lymph nodes and listening to the heart and lungs. It will be common for the veterinarian to stress the importance of avoiding parasites, and will suggest options for flea and tick prevention and control. Get a proper diet chart from your vet based on the type of breed. Ensure your dog is up to date on all his de-worming and vaccinations. Make a list of questions which need to be asked. Mark the dates in calendar and set a reminder for appointments for vaccination and de-worming.


Weaning process of a puppy: Weaning can be started when a puppy reaches the age of about four to six weeks. Some puppies can’t be weaned until they are nine weeks old. Each breed and litter is slightly different. You must ask breeders about proper procedure weaning and right amount of food. Vets can also guide you on the same. The first step in the weaning process is that the puppies must be kept away from the mother before you feed them. The mother dog should not be around when it is time for the puppies to eat. By doing this they will be more inclined to try the food you offer them. When the puppies begin to eat more solid food, the mother’s milk production will decrease.


How to train a puppy: Be patient; remember that your puppy is just a baby. Consistency is the key to keeping your puppy from becoming confused in taking commands. Treats are the best training trick. Discourage your pup from biting. Replacement theory is a way to keep your puppy away from chewing on inappropriate things. When you catch him with your shoe, firmly say ‘no’, take it away, and replace it with something your puppy is allowed to chew on. Toilet training is a must from the start. Use discipline and patience to train your cute pups.


How to train an adult dog: Learn to listen to your dog. Forcing the issue can often result in bigger problems down the line. Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. Have realistic expectations as changing your adult dog’s behaviour takes time.


Taking care of oral hygiene: Pet can suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth pain. Oral cleanings help keep your pet’s teeth strong and healthy. Dogs show dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. Pet parent’s care includes brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats. Your vet is a good source of information about brushing techniques, oral rinses, and dental treats.


Handling a greedy dog: Once your dog tastes human food, he will want it again, so, it’s best to just keep it away from him all together. Be firm, as a family and have a good command control. Control access to the table and put food in their dog bowl only. If after all these tips your dog is still begging at the table, simply ignore him.


Caring for pets in winters: Keep the door and windows shut. Make your pet wear a warm dog coat. A warm soft bedding is always recommended on the floor. Brush your pet regularly as no bath is given. Avoid cold water for drinking. Exercise is must.


Caring for pets in summer: Give your pet a lot of water to drink. Take your pet for walk in the early mornings or late evenings to avoid direct sunlight. Keep the house cooler by shutting all the door and windows. Give him a proper bath in regular intervals depending on the climatic condition. Swimming is advisable.


Caring for pets in monsoon: Keep your pet dry. Brush him with a nice antifungal powder daily. Keep the ears clean and moist free. Always check for fleas and ticks. Keep the paws clean from any debris.


Making travelling with pets safe: Never leave your dog in your car. Aside from being against the law in many states, even a few moments in the heat will turn your car into an oven. This can lead to dehydration, brain damage or even death. While travelling with your pet make sure he is not full stomach. Always carry his bowl and water even if travelling a short distance.


Never shave your dog: Often pet parents shave down their dogs during the summer time, thinking this will help keep them cool. But ironically, shaving down dogs inhibits their ability to deal with the temperature change. So keep your dogs well groomed by removing all dead undercoat hair, but remember not to shave them. Always clean the ear and anal gland.


Caring for a geriatric dog: For your senior dog, always schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Ask for a body condition evaluation during each vet visit. Choose a diet that is appropriate for your dog’s age and lifestyle. Consider a special diet if your older dog has heart or kidney disease. Exercise your senior dog. It can help keep your older dog lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles.


Rearing dog on a vegetarian diet: Dogs are strictly carnivorous but some pet parents feed them vegetarian diet due to social and religious boundaries. Many vegetables are rich in protein but that is not enough for pets. Consult your vet with regard to dog food in relation to your dog’s breed, size and age.


Tips for breeding your pet: Both male and female should be healthy and possess no genetic faults. Make sure the female is very healthy so that her pregnancy and birth are easier. You should also have a good working relationship with your veterinarian who can be a very helpful resource throughout the breeding process, during the pregnancy, during the labour and of course, once the pups are born. Male dogs have less reproductive problems than female dogs but they can be more difficult to correct. Anatomical defects, low sperm, and infection of the reproductive organs, shy in behaviour, aggressiveness are the most common problems in a male dog. With the female, the main reason for failed breeding is wrong timing.


Caring for a pregnant female dog: Pregnant dogs go through emotional phases and changes during their pregnancies as well. The first thing that you can do to help your female dog through her pregnancy is to offer your unconditional love. Dogs love to be loved as it is. Speak to her often in a soothing and gentle voice. Give her proper nutritious diet in consultation with your vet. Give her plenty of water to drink and increase the diet and frequency of the meals. Proper medication will be carried on as the vet prescribes. Regular check-up and timely ultrasonography is recommended. Mark the dates of parturition and be prepared.


Caring for mother dog and pups: Taking care of your female dog after pup birth will also help to ensure strong healthy puppies. Make sure to walk her frequently to avoid accidents on the floors. Keep the pups together in a small bucket or basket or a proper soft bedding where the mother can go from time to time to lactate the pups. Clean the pups regularly and keep a sharp observation to see they don’t get stamped by one another.


When adopting a second pet: If you already have an older dog at home just having the new puppy in the house will stress Untitled-1your older dog. Begin by keeping the puppy in an isolated area from the older dog. As for the first introduction, choose a neutral and unfamiliar territory, such as a street or a park you don’t usually visit. For a very young puppy, start by having a friend holding the puppy in their arms and letting your friendly adult dog take a good sniff. Walks make future meetings an excellent bonding activity.


(Dr Munmun De, BVSc and AH (Gold Medalist), MVSc, is a PhD scholar-surgery and radiology at West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata).

Teaching Fido to shake hands…