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Making summers comfortable for your dog

With summers setting in, the need to care for your beloved canines has become all the more important. Dr. Nehru gives tips for summer care.

We’ve all heard the warning, “Never leave a dog alone in a parked car in warm weather,” but every summer, dogs suffer and die in vehicles that become ovens in a matter of minutes. Many people don’t realise how quickly the temperature can rise inside a car in warm weather. Temperatures do not need to be extremely high outside to reach dangerous levels inside.

Short-nosed breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, who can’t pant as efficiently as other dogs, young puppies, senior dogs, over-weight dogs, and dogs with respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are even more susceptible to heat-related stress than other dogs. Take extra precautions to prevent over-exertion and keep them cool and comfortable.

Heatstroke:

Dogs become less efficient at cooling themselves as the humidity rises. Just like people, dogs are cooled by evaporation. The problem with high humidity is that it decreases evaporation and slows down the cooling process. There are some factors that hinder canines’ ability to cool themselves. They only have sweat glands on the pads of their feet and on their nose, which are inadequate for cooling during hot and humid days. Panting helps dogs cool themselves but they still aren’t as efficient at cooling themselves as people are. Some of the most common signs of heatstroke include: heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, profuse salivation, vomiting or collapse. It should be treated immediately to avoid fatal consequences. If your dog does become overheated, you must take measures to cool and lower her body temperature immediately. Move the dog to a cool place, out of the sun and give her water. Pour cool water on her and place ice packs on her head and neck. A fan, placed in front of the dog, will aid in evaporation. Consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Rodenticides:

Ingestion of mouse and rat poison is another common danger. These poisons come in cardboard containers filled with poisonous pellets. Since dogs can obviously chew through the cardboard to get the tempting bait, their owners carefully place them in spots their dogs can’t reach. When things are moved for cleaning, the dog is right there to grab the poisonous traps. Rodent poisons may not cause vomiting or other typical symptoms of poisoning. They contain a compound that causes a life-threatening bleeding disorder.

Stinging insects:

When a dog gets stung, it’s usually around the mouth, on the nose or on the front paw. Signs of a sting are – scratching her head, rubbing her head on the ground, bumps or a swelling around the head, face, mouth, tongue, or paws, excessive salivation, or finding a stinger. If you can see the stinger, carefully remove it with a tweezers, and then apply a cold compress to the site. If possible, apply a paste made from a mixture of baking soda and water. Some dogs, like some humans, can be allergic to stings. If your dog has a severe reaction, get veterinary treatment immediately.

Fleas and ticks:

When outdoor temperatures reach 40 degrees, ticks become active and feed. They thrive in warm weather. Apply topical, spot-on products once a month, or as recommended by your vet, for protection from fleas and disease spreading ticks. Use flea and tick protection year round in warm climates. Never use multiple types of flea and tick repellents on a dog at the same time. A mixture of different chemicals can make a dog very sick. Now that the summers have set in, take care of your canine friend. And I bet, you can have an enjoyable time indoors.

(Dr. Sanjeev Nehru, B.V.Sc. & A.H. is canine dental surgeon from GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology. He has been practicing veterinary science since last 10 years and dentistry since last 2 years. He can be contacted at Nehru Bhawan, Indrapuri, Dayalbagh, Agra–282005, Tel.: 0562-2854000, 9897161000, 9837022777 or e-mail at drsanjeev_vet_agra@yahoo.co.in)

Are you a responsible dog owner?

Dog ownership demands a lot of love, commitment and time. There are certain things which should be kept in mind, before bringing home a pup. Adite Chatterjee outlines ten tips to a responsible dog ownership.

Cocoa’s story is sad, but unfortunately, a common tale too. Very often, parents give into their children’s tantrums and bring home a pup. Little or no thought is given to the fact that every pup has his needs; he is a living being who needs to be fed, house-trained, exercised and taught things so that he becomes a member of the family. After the first few weeks of excitement, taking out the pup for walks becomes a chore. The child, at whose insistence, the pup is brought in the first place quickly loses interest, the parents are too busy with their own lives, and the pup is often left at the mercy of helpers.

A bored dog – or one who is not exercised enough – can also be a destructive dog. Dogs are intelligent and often try to grab your attention by doing the most maddening things. When my dog was just about 10 months old, he took to this extremely annoying habit of jumping on to the bed, lifting his leg and peeing, even as he looked straight into my eyes. At first, I was truly appalled and upset by his behaviour but soon I realised that my dog was communicating to me in a manner that needed no words! Action, attention and involvement were what he wanted. At 10 months of age, he had boundless energy and being cooped up in a flat, while I was busy attending to my home-office was not his idea of fun!

With dog ownership comes a responsibility. Dogs are meant to share our homes and be our companions and for that we need to become more responsible dog owners. Here are ten easy ways of being a responsible dog owner:

Don’t get a dog for the wrong reasons?:

Myths and truths about dog keeping

Many people wish to keep a pet dog but are surrounded by certain myths that stop them from fulfilling their wish. Not only this, some of the dog owners go to an extent of abandoning their pet dogs because of these myths. Dr. S.K. Pandey addresses certain common myths and truths about dog keeping. In this changing world, each one of us strives for betterment and have very little time left for our family members. In such a situation, pet dog is the one who gives unconditional love and loyalty. However, many people are hesitant in keeping a dog as they believe in certain myths about them, which are infact baseless.

Here are some myths about dog keeping:

Every dog bite causes Rabies: Rabies is a dreadful viral disease that is transmitted to human beings through the bite of rabies infected dog, monkey or rodents. It is to be clearly understood that bite of a normal healthy vaccinated dog does not cause rabies. This bite is just like a normal injury that may be treated normally. The pet dog remains totally free from rabies until bitten by a rabid animal, which happens only when the pet dog is left to stray out.

Dogs cause asthma and allergies?:?Asthma and allergies are primarily genetic in nature that may be triggered by certain allergens. Amongst many other allergens, certain secretions from dogs may also trigger the problem. But, this happens only if an individual is allergic to this secretion, which is a rare possibility. Hence, it is to be clearly understood that the presence of dog in the house is not the cause of asthma and allergies. On the contrary, the incidence of these problems is less in families where dogs are kept. This happens because the presence of low-grade allergens makes the body immune.

Dogs transmit many diseases to human beings?:?A well-kept dog does not transmit any disease to the human beings. The serious and dreadful diseases of dogs like parvo virus, canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine influenza etc are not transmitted to human beings. Other problems that may be transmitted by dogs are skin problems and tape worm infestation, both of these happen only if the hygiene conditions are compromised with.

Dogs will harm the new born babies?:?It is a pity to see that many pet dogs are abandoned with the arrival of a new born baby in the family since they feel that dogs will harm them. This myth is totally baseless as it is invariably seen that a well-behaved and socialised pet dog in the house is very protective towards the infants and never harms them. There are many instances when dogs have come to the rescue of infants and children through their guarding and protective instinct. However, it is advisable to watch the attitude of the dog towards the new born baby before a close proximity is maintained.

Dog recognise only one master and may attack other family members?:?Dogs are very sensible and they easily recognise all the family members. They enjoy family life. Aggression in dogs is however due to various other reasons like provocation from some family members, lack of training and exercise. It should be ascertained that the dog is properly socialised during the initial phase of life to avoid any untoward incidence.

Infact, dogs change the outlook of a person and you can lead a fulfilling life if you have one.

Here are some of the benefits of keeping a dog at home:

Dog brings discipline and joy in your life?:?A dog in the family can change the lifestyle of the owner and suddenly you become more disciplined, happy and healthy. This is because health and joy goes with their normal temperament.

  • You need to take your dog for morning and evening walks which are good for your health as well.
  • With this furry bundle of energy, you cannot throw things around as he can chew it up. So, your house is more organised.
  • When you are feeling low, your pet dog will pull you out from it through his love, affection and mischief. Best companion : Dogs provide excellent company to old, children and other disabled people who find their life more meaningful when they spend their time with them.

Dog acts as a stress buster?:?Today, life is full of stress, which may lead to health hazards such as insomnia, anxiety, high BP, heart problems, low immunity, gastric ulcers, etc. When you spend quality time with your dog, you are able to detach yourself from the mundane problems of life. Interestingly, there are reports that people with dogs live a healthier life. They are found to have fewer incidences of heart ailments, blood pressure problem, psychological disorders and stress induced aches and pains.

(Dr. S.K. Pandey, M.V.Sc. (Medicine), apart from his specialisation in canine medicine, holds special interest in dog behaviour, nutrition and lifestyle. He can be contacted at: Doggy World & Fish Planet, B-6/147, Sector-8, Rohini, Delhi, Ph: 011-27942285, 09811299059, 09811299055.)

Toilet training for your dog

Nicole Mackie brings an easy method of toilet training, which is sometimes called house, or potty training your dog and can be taught to puppies or dogs of any age. Of course, the sooner the toilet training process is taught, the better for everyone.

 

You can start this training the moment your puppy or dog comes into your home. When you bring the puppy home, take him straight outside, preferably on a collar or harness and lead. Wait with the puppy until he does the business. Just as the puppy squats, say the word you have chosen for his business such as busy, pee pee, or get going. I will use the word busy as my chosen word here. Say ‘busy good dog busy’ and pat the dog with soft gentle strokes (not hard or fast strokes or slaps as this is stressful for dogs). Make sure the word chosen is the first word you say and also the last word you say i.e.’‘busy’ good dog ‘busy’.

A puppy will need to go every hour or two for those first few months, so there are plenty of opportunities each day to train your puppy to busy when you ask him. The puppy will also need to go soon as he wakes from a sleep, just after exercise or play and after each meal, so these are good times to take the puppy outside to busy. There are also other signs, which may indicate your puppy needs to go out for a busy. The puppy may start to circle in the room or he may start to walk a little faster than usual sniffing the floor. The puppy might even make a little whimper or scratch at the door.

Make sure you take your puppy to busy on a variety of different ground such as grass, concrete, hay, soil, woodchips, etc so that the dog does not begin to think he is only allowed to busy on grass and nowhere else. Dogs who think they cannot busy on other types of ground may hold on all day until they get home to busy only on the ground, which they have been, taught to go on. It is very stressful for dogs to hold on all-day.

If the puppy starts to do busy indoors, firmly but quietly say “no” and take the dog straight to his toilet area. Do not yell or chase him. At this point, it is up to you to be observant of your dog. Any mistakes that are made by them may be due to your not paying attention.

If the puppy does a busy inside the house, when you see him doing it or when it has already been done, just ignore it, accidents do happen. Wait a few minutes, clean it up and be careful to watch out for the signs next time. Do not shout, hit the puppy or rub his/her nose in it. This will only stress the puppy (dogs cannot learn properly when they are stressed) and he is most likely to hide from you the next time he wants a busy.

Your puppy will learn that doing his busy indoors gives no high reward as the puppy is ignored for this behaviour (dogs hate to be ignored thus helps in extinguishing the behaviour). The puppy will learn that doing his busy outdoors gets him a wonderful reward of praise (thus increasing the behaviour). From time to time, give the puppy a treat when you praise him for doing a busy outdoors but not every time. This helps to reinforce the behaviour.

Never rush your puppy or dog in toilet training. Some dogs may learn in days or weeks, yet some may take months depending on the dog and the breed. Every dog learns at a different rate, as every dog is different just like humans are all different. Be patient and calm and your dog will learn in due time.

(Nicole Mackie is a dog-training instructor at the Sheila Harper Canine Education Centre in the Midlands of England. She also takes clicker training seminars in New Zealand.)

How your dog communicates

Humans domesticated dogs more than 12,000 years ago, and we have been closely associated ever since. One of the reasons dogs make wonderful pets is their ability to communicate with us. Dogs see us as an extension of their canine family. However, they are very different from us and they communicate using dog-specific signals. Learning to interpret and understand your dog’s signals will help you to understand your dog, and what message he is trying to convey.

Dogs communicate through a series of signals, including a variety of facial expressions, body postures and vocalisation. Here is what you need to know to accurately interpret your dog’s signals.

Body language :
Dogs are descended from wolves, and they still maintain many wolf traits. Like wolves, dogs are pack animals, and they like to know where they stand in relation to other pack members — including their human family. If your dog is feeling brave or aggressive, he will try to appear larger and more powerful by standing tall with his ears and tail erect and his chest thrust forward. He may raise the hair around his neck and along his back (his hackles) and he may also wave his tail slowly and growl. If your dog is exhibiting this kind of behaviour, he is essentially challenging another dog, or human, for higher status in the “pack.”

At the other end of the scale, your dog may exhibit submissive behaviour by trying to appear smaller and younger. He may approach a more dominant dog, or human, from the side, crouching near to the ground and holding the tail low while waving it enthusiastically. He may also try to lick the dominant individual’s hands or paws and face, and roll onto his back to expose his stomach.

If your dog wants to play, he will try to get your attention by raising a front paw, or performing a play bow, which is often accompanied by barking.

Tail wagging :
Almost everyone knows that when a dog wags his tail loosely and freely, he is feeling happy and friendly. However, your dog uses his tail to show other emotions as well. To indicate subordination, a dog will exhibit exaggerated tail wagging which extends to the entire rump. If your dog is angry, he will wave his tail slowly and stiffly, in line with his back. If your dog is afraid, he will clamp his tail over his hindquarters. If he is anxious or nervous, he may stiffly wag a drooping tail (as a sign of appeasement). In general, if your dog holds his tail straight up — higher than 45 degrees to his spine – he is expressing interest and alertness.

Facial expressions :
Your dog’s facial expressions can tell you a lot about his mood, and reveal the vast range of emotions he is capable of expressing. If your dog pricks up his ears, he’s alert and listening intently. To indicate submission, pleasure or fear, your dog will hold his ears back, flattened onto his head. If your dog narrows or half closes his eyes, he is indicating either pleasure or submission. But when he opens his eyes really wide, he intends to be aggressive. You should not try to outstare your dog if he has nervous or aggressive tendencies as you could provoke an attack. However, regular, gentle eye contact with him is very reassuring and will help reinforce your relationship. To indicate aggression, your dog will snarl by drawing back both lips to expose most of his teeth.

Vocalisation :
Dogs make a wide variety of sounds, including barking, whimpering, whining, yapping, growling and howling. Your dog uses barking to communicate a variety of different messages, such as a warning, a greeting, an expression of playfulness or as a general call for attention. In different situations, he will emit a different barking sound. Your dog will whimper or whine when he is in pain or feeling submissive, and as a greeting. He will express excitement as high-pitched yapping.

Dogs growl to signal a warning or threat, or they may growl in defence. Be wary of a growling dog because he may attack if provoked. Dogs can also growl in non-aggressive situations, such as when playing with another dog or when petted.

If your dog howls, he is likely to be alone and seeking social contact. A dog’s howl can be heard much further than a bark, and is therefore used as a long-distance call.

If you pay close attention to your dog’s facial expressions, other body language signals and vocalisation, you will be able to accurately gauge his mood.

What entertainment does my dog like?

Entertainment adds zing to our lives. And while it seems hard to believe, it’s true that the same holds for our dogs. They need to be kept well entertained too! However, their preferences of course are far different from ours. Find out what interest them!!!

Can dogs watch television?

Yes, dogs do look at the television. It may be due to the movement, the sound, the music or perhaps another animal on the screen, but this usually only lasts a few seconds, so the dog may quickly get bored. Sometimes the introduction or ending music of a television programme may be the conditioned trigger that tells your dog that he is about to get his dinner or go out for a walk etc. However, what your dog would prefer to do is to be mentally stimulated, i.e.?–?out sniffing around in a forest, a casual walk with his owner exploring the environment, searching for some hidden treats, chewing on a Kong stuffed with food, playing with a treat ball, or chewing a big meaty bone, using his senses and brain.

What entertainment do dogs like?

Dogs usually have a very strong exploration streak, and they love scanning new environments to see what may interest them. They may even stop to watch something interesting out of curiosity or to work out if the situation is safe or dangerous, but it would only be for a few seconds and the dog may go and investigate or ignore it completely depending on the breed. They are most entertained using their instinctive behaviours such as nose work, exploring, digging, chewing and playing. It may be worth researching your own breed of dog and finding out just what they were originally bred for, this will help you to understand your breed and their instincts better.

What games do dogs like to play?

You will be surprised to find how many mentally stimulating games there are that dogs like to play. Physical games such as ball games, tug games, swimming are okay if kept short. Other games for your dog are games that will challenge his brain and teach him to think such as finding hidden treats, food stuffed Kong’s, old cereal box with boxes one inside the other and the last box with treats, etc. You can even train a few tricks such as rolling a ball, retrieving named objects to you, finding toys or even another person. It just takes a little imagination to think of fun and interesting ways to stimulate your dog’s brain. Care must be taken not to encourage behaviours such as chasing. This is a natural instinct that can become very strong and very hard to stop.

Do dogs get bored?

While this is something none of you will be prepared for, the truth is that dogs do get very bored sometimes. A bored dog is like a bored child and will need to find a way to stop the boredom by looking for something to do. A dog who is tied up or placed in a kennel all day with nothing to do and no mental stimulation is very likely to develop behavioural problems, just as we humans would in the same situation. Dogs love to use their nose. Rather than ‘blocking’ inappropriate activities, develop your own relationship by sharing activities such as tracking and other types of nose work. Each day dogs need to think, play and exercise both physically and mentally, to explore new environments, and to be understood and loved. With a good balance of these, your dog will be a happy healthy dog.

Why do dogs sleep so much?

In the wild, dogs need to conserve their energy for hunting. Hunting requires a lot of energy for a dog and a lot of stress is placed on them as they are using their physical and mental energy. Time between hunting is spent resting, calming down and lowering the stress levels. Apart from puppies and adolescents, dogs in the wild very rarely play, conserving energy for hunting and rearing puppies. In living with humans in urban areas, this natural instinct to save energy still applies. The dog will sleep most of the day, saving energy for play, walks, nose work, exploring etc. It is a case of “old habits die-hard,” and it’s up to us to see that they get their share of rest, and all the love and care they deserve.

(Nicole Mackie has a certificate each in canine psychology and behaviour along with many short courses in clicker training. She is a dog training instructor at the Sheila Harper Canine Education Centre in the Midlands of England. She also takes clicker training seminars in New Zealand.)

Teaming up with your dog

Here’s good news for all those who are looking for fun and excitement with your pet dog as a team. Team up and enter the world of obedience and agility.

Relationship with one’s pet is taking new dimensions and a partnership team is emerging. Working dogs, such as sheepdogs, guide dogs and sniffer dogs have long had this slightly elevated status over the household pooch. But this common household mutt has been striking back in spectacular (and fun!) fashion in the form of obedience and agility trials.

So what do the events consist of? There are two categories of competitor for each event of agility and obedience. The first is for dogs smaller than 50cm (mini) and the second for dogs larger than 50cm (maxi) (measured at the shoulder). Obedience is to test the level of control the handler has over their dog, to see how obedient the dog is. The test consists of 6 or 7 commands. There is no equipment involved. Tests include walking to heel, sitting on command, staying sitting, coming when called by the handler and send away. As its title indicates, obedience requires the dog and owner to be concentrating on each other and for the dog to be obedient and keen to work with his handler.

In the agility event, the dog is timed against a 90 second clock over various obstacles. Both mini and maxi class dogs must complete the course in or below 90 seconds. The mini dog class includes 7 obstacles, the maxi class 11 obstacles. There are things such as the see-saw, weaving poles, pause table and hurdles. One thing for sure is that you cannot succeed at agility unless you also have succeeded with obedience! The time is quite tight and your dog will have to pay a lot of attention to you in order to take the right course and finish in time. There can be some pretty tense moments! From January 2005, the Obedience and Agility Trial Club will be in full swing and its first competition will be held in Gurgaon in February. The Club has been set up by Rajesh Bhatt of Gurgaon’s ‘Kennel 1’ (Dog Boarding and Training Centre) with the vision of happy, healthy, obedient dogs working with their owners.

Rajesh says agility trials are highly enjoyable for dogs and their families. He also emphasises that mixed breeds have all the potential that pure breeds do for this type of event. It’s about seeing what they can do. Their aptitude, the way they work with their owner, the strength of the human/animal bond are what matters. It’s a complete teamwork. The Club’s focus is on fun and inclusion of all types of pets and owners. The only requirement is that the dogs are properly vaccinated. There’s another aim too – to fulfil social obligations, they would like to see younger people getting involved and also promote adopting a dog from a shelter.

Training your dog is very simple. All you need for the obedience part is your living room or a nearby park. For agility, you may well want to seek the advice of a trainer (The club will have a set of trainers). Within the Club, there will be a system in place where you can register yourself and your dog. This will be free of charge and enable you to seek advice from trainers and practice with the agility obstacles set up at the club. This again is all part of the inclusive nature of the Club’s mission. The organisers acknowledge that, unlike in some other countries, dog owners here are unlikely to be able to set up their own agility obstacles at home. So they are making the Club an “open house” for their members to come and practice.

The agility obstacles will also not be as complex as in some countries overseas. The Club is aiming to generate interest and have fun rather than create international level competition. As the Club grows then this could be something for the future… that is not being ruled out, but initially the aim is to get people involved and enjoying a new sport. Besides, there are some cash prizes as well.

The emphasis is on proper training through kindness. This is again in accordance with the Club’s ethics of best health and well-being for the dogs. The organisers are convinced that if the dog is healthy and well trained then there will be no tension between him and his owners. In India often dogs are left untrained and unruly. The critical early months are ignored while the puppy is “cute and mischievous”. But the right training and outlet for your dog’s energy can save problems later on when that 30kg hound knocks you over!

So get your dogs and get ready for a whole new relationship with them! Go out, get fit, get trained and have fun!

De-stressing your dog

It may come as a surprise for some of you to know that dogs, just like humans, also get stressed out. They too need to be rejuvenated. A simple T-touch, a Kong or making him yawn, can do wonders to your stressed out dog. Read on to know more about these simple calming techniques. – by Nicole Mackie He seemed totally irritated, and did not respond to my cootchie-cooing, that otherwise gets him all excited and always manages to lift his spirits up. But something was not right. He was not himself. I had to actually sit down and wonder what it was that was really bothering him. After all, I wanted our relationship to have that “zing” back. And then it struck me. He was stressed out. And after much cajoling and sweet talk, I managed to calm him down and we were back to being “the happy twosome”.

In case you are wondering who and what I am talking about, it’s none other than my dog — my very best friend, who needs to be calmed down once in a while. It might come as a surprise but dogs and pups are as easily stirred up and stressed by their environment as we humans are. If we pay attention, we just might be able to identify what it is that really excites and provokes our pets. After that, one will just have to take care to avoid the situations which increases their stress levels.

Sometimes dogs can’t cope too well with places of high activity if they get too stressed. If your dog barks, salivates, holds tail low, cowers, whines or becomes highly active, then it is probably because your dog is under more stress than he can cope with. It is up to us as their owners to help them out in these situations and intervene by taking the dog away from the environment. It would be better still if you could avoid placing your dog in situations where you know he cannot cope.

Interestingly, stress has almost the same reactions on dogs as it does on us. When in extreme anxiety, dogs face similar problems such as loss of weight, fears, phobias and edginess. So when one is aware of the problem, it’s best to follow the policy of ‘‘prevention is better than cure”.

The T-touch

The one novel method of helping your dog cope with stress is the use of T-touch. This Swedish massage of the skin is an excellent form of relaxation for your dog. The massage is not a deep muscle massage but is done by massaging the skin in very slow circular movements from the top of the dog’s head to its tail. If your dog does not lie or sit, then just massage the dog standing, eventually the dog will learn to lie down and enjoy the therapy. This is very calming for your dog. At first you will need to massage your dog for about 20 minutes a day until he gets used to it. Then reduce the time down to 15 minutes, then 10 minutes and then you can eventually bring it down to just 5 minutes a day to do the therapy. You don’t have to take out time especially for this. It can be done even when you yourself are relaxing, such as while watching TV.

The Kong technique

Another calming tool is the Kong. This is a toy, which you can stuff with yummy food treats. These are great pacifiers for your dog. We use fish and cream cheese to stuff in them, as most dogs seem to like these. However you can fill in whatever you want. After all, as owners, you have the best idea of what your dog loves as a special treat. After stuffing the Kong, put it in the freezer. When you give the Kong to your dog, it will be frozen. This frozen Kong will keep your dog amused and mentally stimulated for an hour or two. By the time he is finished with it, he will be so tired that he will sleep tight for a while. This will definitely relax his nerves and rejuvenate him. Most people also use the Kong technique to deal with the problem of having dogs hang around the dinner table, begging for food. With stuffed Kong to occupy all his attention, you can have your meal in peace, and gradually your dog will end up looking forward to his Kong-time whenever he sees you heading towards the dinner table.

One of the most practical uses of the Kong is when you have to leave the house for a couple of hours. You can easily leave your dog with a stuffed Kong to keep him busy while you are out without feeling jittery and tensed about what he might be doing at home while you are away. This also helps in keeping his stress levels low and prevents anxiety.

It also helps when we have visitors. At such times, most people face problems about keeping dogs away from sniffing around or jumping on the guest, which often can be embarrassing for both parties. But more importantly, it can be stressful for both the dog and the owner. And so, keeping a dog busy with the Kong can be of great help. However, make sure the children understand that they must never take the Kong or anything from the dog.

The Kong is also great for pups who like to chew a lot. The frozen Kong helps to num the sore gums of the new teeth pushing through and will also keep your puppy chewing on something he is allowed to chew on. This will keep him happy and amused for many hours of the day. More importantly, it will keep your slippers, shoes and other things safe, which are sure targets of a teething dog.

Yawning factor

One last tip to help your dog to calm down is yawning. You have probably seen how dogs yawn when they are a little stressed, in order to calm themselves. We can also use this simple behaviour to help calm our dogs. If you want your dog to settle down with you, but he is unable to do so, due to the activities around him, then you can help by sitting with him and yawning for a few minutes. This will immediately make him settle and lie down. He may even start yawning to help himself settle. There are many things we can do to help our dogs to calm down and these are just a few tips to help you. When applied, these tips will actually reflect a change in your dog’s behaviour as he becomes more content, more mentally stimulated and more relaxed. And just as we need time to play and time to rest in peace, with these calming tips, you can help your dogs do the same.

 

(Nicole Mackie has a certificate each in canine psychology and behaviour along with many short courses in clicker training. She is a dog training instructor at the Sheila Harper Canine Education Centre in the Midlands of England. She also takes clicker training seminars in New Zealand and is currently producing a video with Sheila Harper on ‘Understanding your dog’.)

Celebrating festivals safely with your dog

I have always been a die-hard fan of festivals. They add colours to our otherwise grey and drab lives. My countdown actually begins days before the actual festival, and my shopping list comes out with ferocious intensity, as I tick off items like crackers, sweets, candles, cakes, decoration items etc. I always presumed that my dog, who was always with me with his four trotting feet, was having as much fun as I was, until I figured otherwise. It took me some years to realize that come festival time, my dog would become a hyper-active, out of control and snappy creature who was forever barking and whining. When I realized that the poor thing was trying to tell me in his own way what a tough time he was having with all the noise, frenzied activities and guests etc, that I sympathized and decided to make sure that he is safe and secure during what was ‘fun-time’ for me, but apparently one of his ‘rough days.’ We need to keep a few things in mind vis-à-vis our pets:

Crackers

For dogs, the sound of crackers is most unnerving, since they have a more sensitive sense of hearing than humans. As a result, they react to the sound of crackers with utter confusion and panic. Believe it or not, most dogs are so badly affected that they go in a state of daze and sometimes even get close to a nervous breakdown. Of late, many voluntary and non-profit organizations like People for Animals (PFA) are working to create awareness about the effect of crackers on pets. However, with certain care, one can see the pets through these nerve-shattering days. These tips are:

  • Make sure your dog is safe inside, when the crackers are being burst outside.
  • Don’t scold your dog for being scared.
  • Keep checking on your pet to see that he is doing fine and keep giving him water to ease him up.
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended at all, since he will get more panicky if alone.
  • Make sure there is no way he can run out of the house, since dogs have the tendency to react to fear by running away.
  • And most of all, keep hugging him and patting him to let him know that you are there with him. That will immediately put him at ease.

Losing a dog

It’s sad but true. Many people have lost their dogs during festivals. There are so many activities, and so many visitors in and out of the house, that often because of small carelessness, the dogs manage their way out. These are shattering experiences not just for the dog, but for their owners too. This is why, it is imperative to ensure that your dog is secure. For precaution, make sure there’s an identifying tag on your dog’s collar, so that God forbid, if he manages to run out, there are more chances of his being found.

Decorations

Much as we like to indulge in decorating our house on festivals, one needs to be responsible if you have a dog in the house. They are usually very curious and want a taste of everything. One needs to be careful about all the candles, lights, ornaments which the pets invariably want to chew on—all these have to be made out of reach for your four-legged family members. Some pets even step on to the rangolis and later lick the chemicals off their paw, making them sick. Most vets have had to deal with emergency cases around this time when pets are reported sick and serious by either chewing on candles, adhesives, bulbs, cords, decorations and sometimes even jumping on the strings of lights hanging. Care needs to be taken so that your pet is safe from burns and electric shocks, caused by wires, candles, diya’s and miscellaneous decorations. All these mishaps can be prevented by a little care and utmost strictness about keeping you dog away—and safe.

Guests

One of the highlights of the festival is the array of guests visiting the house. While socializing is fun for us, it can be rather disconcerting for our pets. The constant doorbells, opening and shutting of doors, loud noises emanating from the drawing room, disrupted schedules, the incessant eateries being placed on the table—are all exciting and taxing for them. At such times, make sure your pet is safe and comfortable with the toys he loves the most. Keep him away from the noise and the activities, and make sure to check on him often, with regular doses of patting and cuddling, so that they don’t feel neglected and deserted.

Food

What is a festival without delicious food that includes sweets, chocolates and various other food items that are a treat to our palate? Unfortunately, it is not the same for our dogs. While most pet owners like to feed their pets with tasty food items on festivals, it might not be very good for him. Fatty or spicy food might lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people share their joy by sharing their favourite chocolates with their pets, little knowing that theobomine, a chemical used in chocolates, is dangerous for pets. If these few things are kept in mind, while planning and celebrating your favourite festivals, there is no way your dog will not be a part of it — but without the hazards that go with it. Remember, it is not the dangerous indulgences in food, the terror of crackers, the pain of gulping decorations that will make him remember those days, but your love, care and concern that will make these festivals enjoyable—and memorable for both of you. When you see him hale and hearty, jumping with joy at the sight of you, totally oblivious to the chaos outside—that will bring a million dollar smile on your face that even the most expensive cracker string won’t be able to.

Monsoon blues Help your dog fight skin diseases.

Lustrous fur and skin free from any problem is the dream of every dog owner. But, this dream is invariably shattered during monsoon months. Most of the times, the owners do not know the reason why it happens. Inspite of the best of care, dog owners are often worried by numerous skin and coat problems that crop up during monsoon. It would thus be important to understand the root cause of these problems and find out the ways and means to keep such problems at bay.

Why majority of skin and coat problems crop up during monsoon?

High humidity and moderate to high temperature during monsoon is a very good environment for the growth of ectoparasites and other infectious agents that are responsible for skin diseases. The ectoparasites include ticks, fleas, lice and mites while infectious agents consist of bacteria and fungi. Moreover, the environmental conditions are excellent for fungal infections. Mange is another skin problem that can happen in rainy season. This is because Mange is associated with poor skin condition and the stress to the animal. Both these conditions are present during this season. All of these skin problems are responsible for itching, excess fall of hair, rough hair coat, lesions over the skin, etc. Further, small lesions can turn into serious infectious wounds because of scratching and licking by the dog.

Common skin infections encountered in monsoon :

Ectoparasite infestation- Ticks, fleas and lice have high incidence during monsoon. These ectoparasites can cause itching, loss of hair, bite spots and lesions that can further catch infection. Ticks are blood-sucking and can transmit a disease called Babesisosis. Flea bite cause irritation and inflammation and can transmit tapeworm infestation. Lice are a cause of irritation; leading to scratching, itching and biting. Fungal infection- Ring worm and other fungal infections are very common due to high humidity and moderate temperature conditions. The problem can be in a small area (localised) or the infection may cover whole body (generalised). The infection may be dry or moist. Irrespective of the type of fungus involved, the skin bears lesions, fall of hair, redness, itching. Dry form can be associated with dandruff and excess fall of hair.

Bacterial infection- Commonly this happens as a secondary infection due to contamination of any skin lesion or wound. A variety of bacteria may be involved. Bacterial wounds can further be contaminated by other infectious agents. Mange- It comes as an opportunistic infection if the skin health is compromised and the dog is under stress. Mange can be of various types. The mange lesions are often contaminated with the other infectious agents. Certain type of Mange is very difficult to treat. Mange often shows relapse after treatment.

Maggot wounds- This happens when any open wound is contaminated with fly eggs. The maggots formed eat the animal tissue and as a result can cause deep wounds.

How to prevent the skin problems during monsoon?

Dog owners are often unaware about how to prevent these problems. The DO’S & DONT’S would be helpful in the prevention of skin infections during monsoon.

( is Marketing Manager with Ayurvet Limited. Post Graduate in Veterinary Medicine from GB Pant University, he is an ardent dog lover. He believes proper management could avoid majority of the diseases. He can be seen giving tips on proper management and dog breed behavior in the late evenings or weekends at Doggy World- the pet’s paradise run by his wife Dr. Aradhana at Rohini. He can be contacted at 9811299055, 011- 27942285.)