Children and Dog

Dog safety tips for kids

Dogs are not always in the mood for play or interaction. There is a time and a place for play, petting or just sitting quietly and at other times the dog just wants to be left alone. Dogs communicate with body language and kids and parents can learn to read these subtle signs so that they know when the dog is asking to be left alone.

Most dogs are extremely tolerant, but if a dog is pushed too far by unwanted attention from kids or feels that the child is threatening him is some way he may feel he has no choice but to growl or snap.

A dog who licks his chops, yawns, suddenly begins to scratch or bite at himself, turns his head away, gets up and leaves or looks at you or the child with a half moon of white showing in his eye is telling you that he is anxious, unhappy and has had enough. These signs will precede the more well-recognised signs of a dog who is warning by growling, snarling, barking or snapping. Teach kids to recognise the signs of a happy dog (panting and wagging his tail) compared to a dog who is anxious or busy with something else (mouth closed and the other signs listed previously). Teach them to interact only with happy dogs and to leave a dog alone who is busy with something else or is showing signs of anxiety.

Safety tips

Here are some other tips from Dog gone Safe to help parents and pet parents keep kids safe around dogs:

The three most important things to teach your kids

  • Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses – Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or face-to-face contact are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.
  • Be a tree if a strange dog approaches – Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs and anytime the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.
  • Never tease a dog – and never disturb a dog who’s sleeping, eating or protecting something.

The two most important things parents can do

    Supervise – Don’t assume your dog is good with kids. If a toddler must interact with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog too. Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten – why take a chance?

  • Train the dog – Take your dog to obedience classes where positive-reinforcement is used. Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down or roll the dog over to teach him a lesson. Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on weaker family members. Involve older children in training the family dog while supervising. Don’t allow children to punish the dog. Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.

The three most important things pet parents can do

    Spay or neuter your dog – Neutered pets are calm, healthier and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering prevents unwanted dogs who may end up in shelters or in less than ideal conditions where they may grow up to be poorly socialised or aggressive.

  • Condition your dog for the world – Give your puppy lots of new positive experiences. Train using positive methods such as clicker training.
  • Supervise your dog – Supervise your dog at all times around children. Do not allow children to hug and kiss the dog. If visiting children are bothering your dog, put the dog away or send the children home.

Safe games for kids and dogs

Showing your children how to interact safely, playfully and positively with your puppy or dog not only strengthens the bond between them, but also enhances the training process by teaching the dog to respond to commands. Here are some fun and simple training games your children and dog can enjoy together.

Hide and seek: This activity is a hit with both two- and four-footed family members. Have one child distract the dog, while the other hides and calls for him. At first, instruct your kids to hide in easy places so the dog can’t go wrong. When the hider is found, he gives the dog a treat. Once the dog gets the hang of the game, the hider can make it more challenging by going out of sight or into another room while the other child encourages the dog to “go find Jordan!” This game exercises the dog and is also mentally stimulating.

Fetch: This is another good game that gives the dog exercise and is fun for kids. It is important, however, that the dog is taught to give back the fetched object and to step back and wait for the next throw. If the dog tries to engage in a game of tug of war, or refuses to give up the object, the kids should end the game and ignore the dog for awhile. “Any game that pits the strength or speed of the dog against those of the child could lead to over-excitement and even a biting accident,” says canine behaviour consultant Teresa Lewin of Milton K9 Obedience in Milton. “Adult supervision and proper training are essential.”

Stay inside the rope: Clicker training is the best way for kids to get involved with training, and this game gives them a good opportunity to try it. Place a circle of rope on the floor and give each child a clicker and some small dog treats (the kids can make a clicking sound with their tongues if no clickers are available). Toss a treat into the centre of the circle to get started. When the dog has eaten the treat, click before she steps outside the rope and toss another treat into the circle. The goal is to click and reward as often as possible while the dog has all four paws inside the rope circle. Once the dog has the idea that the place to be is inside the rope, the children can start moving around the room, still clicking and tossing treats into the circle. Play this in various locations and eventually the dog will learn to go and lie within the rope. You can then take the rope into any situation where you need to establish a boundary for the dog.

Keep it positive: Variations on this method can be used to teach the dog to prefer a certain room in the house, lie on a mat or in a crate, shake a paw, jump over a stick or just about anything else you and your kids can think up. Just remember to teach your kids never to scold or use physical force. The word ‘No’ is never used, and there is no need to try to ‘dominate’ the dog. If the dog does the wrong thing, the kids ignore him; if he responds correctly, he receives a treat reward.

Dogs and kids can be great together. It is the parent’s and pet parent’s responsibility to ensure that the needs of both are met and that happy interactions are the norm between kids and dogs.

(Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin are co-founders of Doggone Safe, a non-profit organisation dedicated to dog bite prevention through education and dog bite victim support ( They are also the creators of the Doggone Crazy! board game, Clicker Puppy dog training DVD, the Be a Tree teacher kit and several online courses (

Driving the monsoon blues away the KPS way!

  •  When it rains, exercise them indoors. Play Frisbee or with a soft ball to keep her active indoors.
  • Feed her a fibre rich food. Consult your vet for a balanced diet.
  • Make sure her food is not contaminated with rain water as it can result in food poisoning and gastroenteritis.
  • Give her clean drinking water at all times, it should also not be contaminated with rain water.
  • Do not let her sleep outdoors. Instead give her a warm dry area to sleep indoors.
  • Ensure that her vaccination and deworming status are up to date. Take her for regular health check-ups.
  • There are raincoats available, do contact your petshop for one.
  • Beware and keep a look out for the dreadful ticks.
  • Always clean your dog’s paws after a walk.


book review

Dog Speak

Recognising and understanding behaviour

Author: Christiane Blenski
Publisher: Hubble & Hattiebook review
(Pp 80, ISBN 978-1-845843-84-7)

If you are a pet parent or a dog lover who wishes to understand canine behaviour, then this book is for you. Dogs use their body to communicate – teeth, ears, eyes, fur, tail, body posture – all are used in expressing themselves. The book focuses on these gestures and what they mean. Written in an easy-to-understand language, with colourful images, the book makes for an extremely informative and invaluable guide to understand their behaviour and communicate with them.

The book is divided into three major sections – the polite dog, the aggressive dog and the talking dog. Tip boxes, checklists and instructions make it an interesting read while beautiful pictures of the dog make it a treat for the eyes. In all, it is a useful resource for all pet parents.

The magical power of my dog

My pet dog was the secret behind my education strange but true. We attribute our education to our teachers and institutions so do I; besides them I attribute it to Sultan my dog, who was the reason behind my getting the most prestigious award for Spanish Language, The Rafal Izubita, my Scholarship and my job in IIT New Delhi.

Sultan had come in my life after an incidence in my college days of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). When I had missed a Sunday afternoon weekly exam, due to cynophobia, a fear of dogs which was embedded in me since my childhood, for me they were humongous, blood drinking, flesh eating monsters of the Mesozoic Era of the dinosaurs and I felt time had dwindled them into dogs. All prepared I was, to give the exam, as I pulled the lever to open the car door, in the deserted parking of JNU. Three dogs who sat at a little distance caught my eye. Hoping that they would go away, with no movement from their side, I called up all my class mates but as it was destined for me, I could not reach anyone, with all mobiles switched off due to the exam; like a prisoner I sat, waiting for some divine help but nothing happened and already half an hour into the exam, feeling helpless I decided to drive back home.

First meeting…

My parents were surprised, when I returned home early, I narrated to them, that as usual my fear of dogs


Natalia and Sultan

had triumphed over me, so to find a solution to it, the next day I saw my mother carrying my biggest enemy a puppy in her arms, before I could realise, he was on the floor, running all over making me shout and cry. My reflexes had already started the rescue operation for myself, by making me climb on the study table and screaming my lungs out, but unperturbed by the frenzy which was griping me, my rival the black Labrador puppy stood there on the floor with his eyes staring at me, till the maid my rescuer carried him away to the study room. When he left the room, I could feel my nerves calming down. I pleaded my mother to leave him back, but on the contrary she insisted that I should give him two biscuits, my spontaneous reaction was never. My mother’s coaxing forced me, to be on the mission which was no less than a war for me, only with my head peeping inside the study room and my army of two maids standing besides me to shield me, in a fraction of a second I threw the biscuits towards him, while he was tightly leashed to the window knob.

The persuaded regularity of throwing biscuits towards him, by my mother, had narrowed the gap between us and time had made the loathing enemy, whom I had named Sultan, my best friend, switching off all the buzzing panic alarms in my brain and wiping out all fears.

Inspiring friend…

Little did I know when I had seen him for the first time, that he would be my best friend and companion in my JNU days, where every day was a battle against the unending exams, and term papers, he would sit for hours underneath my chair in my room, giving me company, at times we both enjoyed our late night drinks, a hot cup of coffee for me and some milk for him, while I was awake all alone late at night, busy burning my brain cells, he would wake up with me when the early morning alarm rang and snuggle in my blanket, while I had to mug up the answers of Latin American history in Spanish Language.

The pressure of reading unending Spanish novels, which he always motivated me to read them aloud, making me feel that he was the most interested audience to them, while he sat next to me completely motionless, with a deep engrossed look on his face as though he was enacting a role from those novels, my grammar was practiced by giving him orders, before the oral exam I would exercise Spanish with him, as he was the mute listener who always gave me the confidence that whatever I said was right. May be without his company I would have never studied hard enough to get the scholarships and the awards.

Final adieu…

The day after my Masters exam, Sultan had passed away in my room, where my beautiful journey with him had begun, where I was introduced to his world of canines. He was destined to go away from my life, my heart felt his absence and the vacuum he had left when I held the scholarship and the award in my hand, in reality it was because of him I had received those awards. He is no longer there but the imprints he has left in my life have taught me that dogs are as human as we are, they experience the same pain and emotions with the only difference they don’t have words in their mouth to express them, the magical power of my dog who had walked into my life as an enemy had changed my heart from it being a dog hater to a dog lover. Today, I can proudly say dogs truly define their breed which spelt backwards means “God”. I wish to open a hospital for dogs and work for them; I owe it to my best friend Sultan.

Dog Health Problems – Common Health Problems of Dog

Your dog may live a long and healthy life, and never experience any health problems. However, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common canine health concerns so that if he should develop a problem, you will know what to do. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common complaints your dog may face, and what you can do about them.

Allergies: Dogs can be allergic to a variety of things including grass, flea bites and, less commonly, food. Allergies in dogs usually cause skin problems – although food allergies can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. If you see your dog scratching, licking, and biting himself, take him to your vet to diagnose the problem. Your vet can recommend treatment products and procedures, and you may also need to keep your dog away from allergy-causing substances.

Diarrhoea: There are two types of diarrhoea that dogs experience: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhoea strikes suddenly and doesn’t last long. It is often caused by food allergies, infection, or if your dog eats food from the garbage can. Acute diarrhoea can be managed without too much trouble. However, with diarrhoea, there is always a risk of dehydration, so you will have to ensure that your dog takes in enough water, even if he’s not eating. A day of fasting, followed by a special, bland diet should restore his health. Call your vet if the diarrhoea continues, or if your dog has a fever, abdominal pain, starts vomiting or seems depressed.

Chronic diarrhoea is a longer-term problem that is often caused by an illness such as Colitis or pancreatic problems. Your vet will need to diagnose the problem and direct the treatment.

Ear problems: Ear mites are parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs and they can cause a bacterial infection or inflammation. If your dog has ear mites, he may excessively shake or tilt his head. Your vet can easily diagnose ear mites – they leave behind a distinctive brown discharge – and prescribe anti-mite eardrops. You will have to administer the drops at home for four-to-six weeks. It takes some persistence to get rid of these parasites.

Ear infections are also common in dogs, especially dogs with floppy ears. If your dog has an ear infection, he may scratch his ears or shake his head. Treatment consists of a visit to your vet, who will clean out his ears with a special solution, and may prescribe antibiotics.

Fleas: Fleas can cause a range of health problems in both dogs and humans. They are difficult to spot and are usually diagnosed by the presence of flea dirt – black flakes or specks. Your dog may scratch and bite himself if he has fleas. However, even if he doesn’t scratch, the presence of fleas should still be of concern. To rid your dog of fleas, treatment will consist of a flea control program that includes treating his environment -your vet can recommend the appropriate flea control program.

Obesity: Excess weight creates a high risk for medical problems and can shorten a dog’s life. Obesity is probably the most common nutritional disease among adult dogs. It is estimated that 40% are overweight. A quick way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel his ribs with the flat of your hand. If you can only feel the ribs with difficulty, your dog probably needs to lose weight.

Occasionally, underlying dog health problems can make a dog overweight. But overfeeding and under exercising are much more common causes of excess weight. If your dog is overweight, take him to the vet to rule out any medical problems. Your vet will set a target weight for your dog and select a proper diet. You will also need to give your dog regular exercise.

Worms: They are a common problem for dogs health and must be controlled for his safety and yours. The most common worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Although they may not seem to cause your dog problems, worms can stress his immune system, cause diarrhoea and vomiting, and, in rare cases, spread to people. A preventive program of regular worming should be a part of your dog’s health routine.

The good news is that there are more ways than ever to eliminate worms and other internal parasites, and your vet is your best resource for treatment. A thorough worming program includes flea control because fleas may carry tapeworm eggs. Some heartworm medications also prevent intestinal parasites.

The road to health Don’t be overwhelmed by all of this information on common health concerns in dogs. Your dog may never experience any of these conditions – and he certainly won’t experience them all at once. However, if you are prepared, you will be better able to give your dog the care and attention he will need. After all, he deserves your help in achieving the best health possible because of all the warmth and companionship he brings to your life. And if your dog is healthier and happier, both of you will have more time together – and that makes it all worthwhile!

Is salt really bad for dogs?

It is assumed that salt products are bad for dogs, causing problems such as high blood pressure or kidney failure or even skin diseases and hair fall. But, is salt really bad for dogs?

Diet for the moms-to-be and new moms

Diet during pregnancy…

The average duration of pregnancy in the she-dog is 63 days, but her energy requirements do not increase appreciably until the last third of gestation when most foetal weight gain occurs. It is important, therefore, to avoid overfeeding in early pregnancy, since this will lead to the deposition of unwanted fat and may predispose her to problems at whelping. A gradual increase in food allowance over the second half of gestation is all that is required and a satisfactory regimen would be to increase the amount of food by 15 percent of the dog’s maintenance ration each week from the fifth week onwards. At the time of whelping, she will be eating 60 percent more than when she was mated.

Caring for the pearly whites

Just like people, dogs need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. Regular veterinary dental cleaning along with specially designed pet toothbrushes and toothpaste and chew snacks designed to eliminate plaque, can help reduce build-up.

Unquestionable benefits of neutering

Changes in sexual behaviour – About twice a year, when females come on heat, males and females are strongly attracted to each other and show great ingenuity in finding ways to get together and mate. This behaviour is highly likely to lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Figures also show increased risks of straying and car traffic accidents at this time. Neutering a female dog stops her having seasons and so rules out the risk of her having a litter. Remember that some can have over 10 puppies! As for castrated males, they will no longer be attracted by surrounding on-heat females and will tend to display less territorial urine marking.

Common signs of aging

Your eight-year-old Toy Poodle is still hyper, fit, and happy, while your six-year-old St. Bernard is beginning to lag. Why? A dog’s breed and many other lifestyle factors affect whether or not your dog is actually a senior.

There are common signs of aging to look for, to determine whether your dog is a senior:

Moving more slowly: Like humans, dogs can develop orthopaedic problems, like arthritis, that are more common in older pets. If your dog is taking longer to get up or has problems with stairs, take him to the vet to determine the cause and talk about medications that can make him more comfortable.

Your dog is thinner or fatter: A dog’s metabolism will naturally slow down as he ages, and he may be exercising less now. Dental problems can cause weight loss if it’s painful for your dog to eat. In either case, see your vet to rule out serious problems and to find out how to adjust his diet and exercise schedule to something more age-appropriate.

Obesity in the Dog

What is obesity?

Obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat at the adipose storage areas of the body leading to increased body weight above the optimal physiological weight. Dogs weighing 15-20% or more than his optimal physiological weight are overweight; over 30% they are obese. Unfortunately, one dog in four is overweight and obesity is a rapidly growing phenomenon.

We have to be particularly careful with neutered dogs whose energetic need reduce by 30% as soon as the day after the surgery. We also need to be careful with very sedentary dogs and with some breeds known for their tendency to put on weight, like the Labrador Retriever for instance.

Taking Care of your Dog’s Ears..

Dogs have great ears. Your dog can hear sounds over a wider range of frequencies and at a greater distance than you. Unfortunately, dogs pay a price for their superior hearing abilities. A dog’s ear design contributes both to his advanced hearing and to many ear problems he may experience. Ear mites, infections and aural hematoma are the most common conditions. Read on to discover the symptoms of ear disorders in dogs and how to prevent and treat them.

Ear mites

Also called ear mange, ear mites (otodectes cynotis) are tiny crab-like parasites that live in the ear canals, and sometimes on the body of dogs. They feed on earwax and other secretions in the ear canal. Ear mites do not usually bite, but they can cause a bacterial infection or severe inflammation in your dog’s ears.

Symptoms: If your dog is suffering from ear mites, you may find he excessively shakes or tilts his head; or rubs and scratches his ears. You may also notice hair loss around his ears or odor emanating from within his ear canal. To check for ear mites, look inside your dog’s ears for a thick, dark brown substance. Mites can sometimes be seen as small, white moving dots.

Adopting an adult dog

Adult dogs are available for adoption in many sizes, breeds and temperaments, and not every breed is right for every lifestyle. Think about your lifestyle, family size, the size and location of your home, and the time you are willing to spend with the dog. Accordingly, bring home happiness in the form of your four-legged buddy.

How do you choose the right dog for you?

First, take your time. We recommend asking friends or visiting a local vet, breeder or animal shelter to find out about different breeds, and which would best match your lifestyle.

It’s easy to fall in love at first sight, but you should spend time with a dog before adopting him. Look for a dog who is calm and has basic obedience training, and avoid aggressive dogs. Find out everything you can about the dog including:

  • Why is he available for adoption?
  • What is his temperament?
  • Does he have any behaviour problems?
  • l How is he with children, cats and other dogs?
  • Is he neutered?
  • Are his vaccinations up-to-date?
  • Does he have, or has he had, any illnesses?

Preparation time…

Once you have made the decision to adopt an adult dog, the key to successfully welcoming him into your home is preparation. Before bringing him home, select a veterinarian, buy all the toys and equipment you will need (such as collar and leash, bowls, brush and comb) and choose a nutritionally complete adult dog food.

Dog proof your home and upon bringing your new dog home immediately get him an identification tag. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of him. The photo may come in handy in case you need to make a “dog missing” poster – and this can happen to even the most diligent pet parents.

House rules…

Make sure everyone in the household knows what the house rules will be now that you’ve brought your dog home. For example, decide whether he will be allowed on the couch – and stick to your rules at all times. Your new adult dog will be happy for the chance to become part of your household, and giving him clear behaviour guidelines will help him understand what is expected of him so he can settle more easily into your home. Most dogs take about a month or so to feel comfortable in a new home – establishing and following a routine are the best ways to make this happen.

Advantages of adopting an adult dog…

  • Most adult dogs are already house-trained, know basic commands, and they tend to be calmer than puppies.
  • There is usually a variety of adult dogs available for adoption through shelters, breeders and private individuals.
  • A senior dog makes a great companion for an older adult because these dogs tend to be less active, and require less exercise than a younger dog.
  • Adult dogs will bond with you and your family just as easily as puppies.


Welcoming an adult dog into your home may take a little time and patience, but it’s well worth it. If you are careful about choosing your dog, and follow these basic guidelines, he will make a great addition to your family for many years to come.

Dog training classes… for pettiquettes

You have undoubtedly experienced frustration with your best buddy, from time to time. And, even though you know it’s not always your dog’s fault, blame is easy to cast when your emotion runs high. Behavioural problem with our canine companions is considered to be a common trouble faced by almost every dog owner.

The dog’s mind…

All dogs have evolved from wolves. The dog’s mind is filled with the hierarchy in pack system. The dog willDog Training always obey the leader of the pack in which the trainer normally turns to be the leader. Hence it’s very important for the owners to train their dogs.

It is for reasons like these, Dog Training for Owners emphasises training you too. Being your dog’s best friend, you are the best person to teach him because, believe it or not, he wants to please you, and looks at you for guidance. Working closely with your canine companion also strengthens the bond between two of you, which makes communication with him much easier. Before you know it, blame will become a thing of the past.

Dog training for owners…

The key to success in any dog training programme begins with the owner of the dog. Dog Training for Owners knows that each dog is different. Not only do dogs vary in breed, size and age, they are unique individuals with different personalities, energy levels, likes and dislikes, so on…

Obedience training – a must…

Housebreaking… solution at hand

  • get several complaints from the owners that their pup relieves in their absence or in a secluded spot when no one’s watching. Here’s how to handle this situation:
  • Start toilet training as soon as your pup reaches home.
  • Take the pup to the designated place after he wakes up from sleep or after food.
  • Whenever your pup is doing his job at the wrong place, say a loud ‘NO’.
  • Take the pup to where he should do it.
  • Timing is very important; there is no use in pointing at the pee later.
  • Give him a treat if he does his business at the right place. A treat may be anything easily available – a piece of biscuit. Remember treat goes into the mouth while the pup is peeing, not before or later.
  • Do not use that particular treat for anything else.
  • Be patient and positive.

On a continuous practice, the pup understands that if he dirties inside, he gets a ‘NO’. But if he goes outside to pee, he gets a treat. The whole thing looks very simple but needs patience and practice.

Obedience training is very important in dogs. Dog training classes is not only aimed at dogs alone but also lay emphasis on teaching the owner or handler. The dog handler should use the techniques taught as often as possible. If the dog does not obey, he must reinforce his techniques. The dogs and their handlers learn more about each other when they attend the classes together.

What dog training classes teach…

The dog training classes teach them how to work in synchronisation with each other. Dog training classes are considered important because it helps the dog socialise with fellow dogs and the people around. Otherwise, a dog would be barking mad every time the neighbour comes to your door. The six basic instructions are heel, sit, stay, recall, down and close. These instructions are enough to get a dog under control when he is agitated to do something. Hyperactive dogs need these instructions, to prevent themselves from turning the house upside down. Dog training classes lay stress on use of positive training.

Remember, a well-trained pooch implies a happy and well-behaved pooch and a proud pet parent as well.

(Amrut Sridhara Hiranya is a canine behaviourist trained at UnitecAuckland, New Zealand. He runs Dog GuruKull in Bengaluru).

book review

‘How Cheeka Became a Star’ and other dog stories

Remember the cute little Pug in the commercial for a telecommunication service provider? How did it becomebook review India’s most treasured dog? The book How Cheeka Became a Star gives answers to all these questions and more.

Celebrities reveal their love for their pooches. This book is made all the more interesting with beautiful sketches, funny files and quotable quotes on our dear pooches. Funny anecdotes keep the reader glued to the book. Like Cyrus Broacha, a VJ, television anchor, columnist and humorist, says, “When you’re eight years old, how many friends do you have who can perform the most exacting of tricks, like sniffing their own behind or digging their ear with their leg or walking around without a stitch of clothing all day?”

In all, an interesting and well written book for all dog lovers! The book has been edited by Dhiraj Nayyar and published by Etch, an imprint of Natraj Publishers.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog loving all the way!

Happy, jovial and loving – a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (GSMD) craves attention and human company. But, this is not the breed for everyone as they need a master with strong leadership skills. If you have the skills to handle him, bingo…you have an ideal family pet.

Perhaps the most striking aspect about the GSMDs is their size and beautiful three-colour coat. But, beforebreed profile you bring home a GSMD, think do you have enough time to bring him up, do you have enough place for dog weighing 60 kg and as high as 72 cm, and this shepherd dog be with his herd (family). You should not isolate these dogs from the family as they need to be near human all the time.

Strong and handsome…

GSMDs have a strong and proportional body. Their skull is flat and broad with a slight stop. The backskull and muzzle are approximately equal in length. The muzzle is large, blunt and straight, and most often has a slight rise before the end. His eyes are almond shaped and may vary in colour from hazel to chestnut, medium-sized, and neither deep set nor protruding. His medium-sized ears are set high, triangular in shape, gently rounded at the tip and hang close to the head when relaxed. When alert, the ears are brought forward and raised at the base. His tail is thicker at the base, tapering to a point as it reaches the hocks and is carried down in repose. But, when alert and in movement, the tail may be carried higher and curved slightly upward; it should not curl over the back.

Their topcoat is black, with markings in rich rust and white. Their average height is 60-72 cm and weight is around 59-61 kg.

Intelligent GSMDs…

They are intelligent and familiar. Since they are shepherd dogs, they are close to their guide and territory. They have amazing quality to converge with good people and they can be used in dog therapy. They love to be near humans, they learn easily, but not always get through commands. It happens that they are independent and timorous.

They like children but you should not leave them alone with children. Sometimes GSMD doesn’t realize his size and can unintentionally hurt. They give everyone the incentive to play biting nipping, which is a shepherd dog’s quality. It isn’t aggressive, but it is good when you teach your dog that it is undesirable behaviour.

Life with them…

GSMDs have moderate temperament; they are caring and sociable. They do well in low temperatures. They are friendly to other animals but may sometimes be bolshie and disobedient. They need to be trained, right from puppyhood to be obedient. GSMDs are very intelligent and positive training brings effects quickly. They are really gourmands; they love to eat. So, it is the responsibility of the pet parent to feed him a well-balanced diet in the right quantity.

Puppy care…

During the time of growing, till the age of 18 months, their joints should not be overstrained with strong move or weight. Let the puppy move as much as he wants. Puppy grows very fast till the 5th month and gets heavier, even two kg weekly. They need to be fed with high-protein diet, containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin to make their joints stronger. During the next two years, the dog still grows, not as fast as earlier but systematically and gains muscles till the 4th year. Feed them a high quality, balanced diet, specific to their age and breed. Puppy shouldn’t be made to walk long distances and up and down the stairs.

Grooming care…

They have short coat with undercoat and don’t need special treatment. Brushing during moulting twice a year (spring and autumn) is enough. Use a furminator for brushing undercoat.

Exercise and play…

Adult Great Swiss Mountain Dogs can be trained for agility; you can even give him truck to pull and jog. But they shouldn’t run next to a bicycle as they aren’t sprinters. They like pulling cloth or cord, pursuits, etc. However, they don’t like swimming and retrieving.


GSMD suffers from eyes genetic diseases, epilepsy and just like other giant breed dogs they have problems with dysplasia hip joints, elbow joints and shoulder joints.

In all, a GSMD is an ideal family pet who thrives on love and attention…in fact a small price for the unconditional love and companionship they provide!

(Magdalena Miloszewska-Scislek is a breeder of Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and runs a professional kennel (Caveat Actor, Polska). She also provides a dog hotel to help people while they are travelling or are unable to take care of their dogs.)

Dog Training

Is your dog a spoilt brat?

You may hear many dog owners starting sentences of complaints as: “My dog does not know how to behave” or “My dog is a spoilt dog”. But when you ask them if they ‘helped’ the dog to learn or not, they look at you with questioning eyes. They expect the dog to think and act with a ‘human brain’. If you just bring the puppy to your home and let him decide how to behave, he starts behaving proper to his ‘doggy mind’.


Thus early training is very essential and important, it starts from ‘day one’. Positively teach your dog what Dog trainingyou expect.

Training by mom dog…

Despite some old and wrong beliefs, learning starts on ‘day one’ of each living creature’s life. For a puppy, at least the first 8 or even better if 10 weeks, are spent with the mother and the litter-mates. The puppies who are taken away from their litters earlier than that, most probably develop some behaviour problems. During the first month, the mother gives the pup the first understanding of ‘toilet training’. At first, she helps and also cleans the puppy, and then teaches her ‘not to do it’ where she sleeps. During her second month, the pup plays with her litter-mates and learns how to use her mouth, control her jaw muscles and experience ‘soft mouthing’. If the puppy cannot spend this precious time with her mother and litter-mates, she might take a little bit longer to learn toilet training and the valuable lesson of not to bite while playing.

Training by breeder…

A conscious breeder should also be giving enough time and effort to the puppy during these days. It is great for the puppy to have ‘human contact’ even before she leaves her litter to start a new life in her new home with her new family.

Training at your home…

Ankita and her bundle of joy

It is the pet parent’s responsibility to help the puppy learn the rules of her new life shared with humans and this responsibility of yours will definitely start on her “day 1” with you. It will be even better if you contact a Positive Trainer for consultancy even before you bring the dog home, cause if you do so, you may choose the ‘right dog for you and your life-style’ and prepare the house for her to start with ‘zero-mistakes’.

Shaping your pooch’s behaviour…

The period between the ages of two months to four months is called as the ‘critical socialization period’ for the puppy. During this time, her character and behaviours is shaped. It is not that important to hurry to give the dog ‘obedience training’, which means to teach how to sit, how to come, how to wait etc as she can learn these at any age. But it is very important to teach her ‘how to behave’ or ‘shape her character’ as after her first four months are over, it will be too late for that. After that time, you can only ‘correct’ her mistakes, ‘rehabilitate’ her behaviour problems or try to ‘control’ or ‘reduce’ her characteristic faults.

Between 2-4 months, the puppy should be exposed to any kind of experience that she will face in the future. But this ‘exposing’ should be done very carefully, slowly and gradually. We should be very careful to watch her limits, never to force her but let her do and experience things with her own will. Some people misunderstand the word ‘socialization’ and think ‘it is to experience anything possible’. But, when it is not under a careful supervision, it may even cause harm instead of helping the little puppy. For example, it does not mean to ‘let her play’ with any dog you meet. The new dog friends that she will experience should be dogs who are healthy and well-mannered dogs and you should be 100 percent sure that they can tolerate the hyperactive puppy.

The basic instinct…

When a puppy starts living with humans instead of her mother and litter-mates, in fact, this becomes a very confusing situation for her. In her natural life, she never shares the environment with humans. Even if she does, it is still her environment, which is “nature”. Unfortunately many people expect only proper human behaviours from puppies, without helping them to learn anything. If you just bring the puppy to your home and let her decide how to behave, she will start behaving proper to her ‘doggy mind.’ When you examine ‘unwanted dog behaviours’, you may also see they are only unwanted by humans, but on the other hand they are so ‘wanted’ and natural for dogs.

Adopting from a shelter…

If you are adopting a dog from a shelter she might be of any age. And when we emphasize ‘the importance of early training’, do not think it is not a good idea to get a dog from a shelter. Positive training can be used for any dog, regardless of the age or breed, and even it does not matter if the dog is pure-breed or a mixed dog. So always be understanding and compassionate to give a dog a second chance.

Learning should start early – but it’s a never ending process. Remember, ‘every dog deserves an education – and for sure, the earlier, the better.’

(The author is managing director, Positive-S Training & Communications, StarDogs Positive Training, Turkey).