Dog Training

Making your puppy feel ‘at home’

This is when life really gets exciting… the day you bring home your new baby puppy. Here is how to make the transition away from his mother, keeping his feeling and grief in mind.


Preparation for the D-Day

To make this separation little easier for your puppy, try to arrange with your breeder to allow you to visitTraining your puppy a couple of times before you fi nally collect him. A few days before you bring your puppy home, give your breeder a small cloth or towel, which can be placed with the mother and other siblings. You can take it home with the puppy as it will contain their smell for a number of days.

If your puppy
makes a mistake

  • Never shout at or tell your puppy off. Your puppy cannot do anything wrong, at least not deliberately. There is no need to shout ‘No’ to your puppy as he will not understand this, it may only get him stressed. If he is stressed he is not likely to learn and is likely to make more mistakes.
  • Take him gently out of the situation.
  • Never grab or shake your puppy by the scruff. Wild or domestic dogs only grab their prey by the scruff in an attempt to harm by shaking and breaking his neck. A mother will not do this to her puppies. If you do grab your puppy by the scruff it may be sending the message that you mean him harm. This could have a devastating effect on your relationship with your puppy.
  • Stoke him gently and slowly. If you find it difficult to stroke gently and slowly, using the back of your hand may help. Your puppy is just beginning his life with you. Keeping things slow and calm; respecting one another; communicating and understanding your dog’s body language; meeting your puppy’s needs; and allowing him to make choices, explore and use his senses are the keys to having a happy puppy and an enjoyable relationship together.

Allow the puppy to have this cloth as much as he likes and to sleep with it. It may be dirty and smelly but to your puppy it will be a comfort and you can throw it away or wash it after a few days when he is more settled.

When you collect your puppy, try to have another person with you who can sit in the back of your car with the puppy, especially if you have a long distance to cover, and stop a few times in safe places to allow the puppy to relieve himself and drink some water if he needs.

Your puppy may be a little worried and cry or bark, especially if this is his fi rst time in a car or away from his mother and siblings. He may or may not settle on the journey, so try to be patient with him; after all, this will be a very traumatic time for your puppy.

Exploring his new home

Once you get your puppy home, take him out into your garden area immediately so he can relieve himself. Allow him to walk around and explore the area – he will need to check things out. Open the door into your house and allow him to go in when he is ready and check that out too.

Speak softly to him and walk very slowly with him so you do not frighten him with quick movements and keep everything calm. Show your puppy where his bed is and where his water and toys are.

Try not to leave your puppy alone during the fi rst week, give him adjustment time and time to bond with you. If you need to go out for any length of time, take the puppy with you if it is safe to do so, or have someone else stay with your puppy for the time you are away.

Activities in the first few days

Allow your puppy to become involved in your daily routine so long as he is calm. Keep all activities calm. Fast, excited high activity may only cause your puppy’s adrenalin to rise. This adrenalin may take up to six days to come back down to normal, providing nothing else happens in the puppy’s life during that time. This means your puppy will be unable to relax and enjoy the rest and sleep needed. Your puppy should be resting or sleeping at least 18–20 hours per day. If your puppy is unable to do this, perhaps look at calming things down a little in his life and be careful not to overdo the exercise.

Symptoms of a puppy that has too much activity in his life may be destructive behaviour, biting ankles, chasing anything that moves, inability to settle, barking, training diffi culties and many more.

Give comfy bedding

Bedding should be warm, dry and comfortable for your puppy. There are many suitable and comfortable dog beds in the market, you will need to fi nd one that suits your puppy. Be aware that puppies will chew, so using bedding that can be chewed without too much damage to the bedding may be most suitable. A good stock of old blankets from charity shops can be used, chewed and thrown away or replaced when fi nished with.

You may want to have two beds for your puppy. One in the living area where he can settle during the day and one for night time, next to your own bed so the puppy knows you are around and you can be there if he needs you or needs to be taken out in the night to relieve himself. You can also reassure him if he is feeling upset or lonely in the night. With a bit of time, patience and understanding your puppy should settle within a few days.

It may also help your puppy to settle at night if you place a few of his toys with him and also a quality chew or a kong stuffed with nice soft foods he likes. Kongs are very calming for a puppy. It may help him settle more easily. Make sure he also has fresh water near his bed.

(Nicole Mackie has over 14 years of experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying, and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifi cations over the years such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience veterinary nursing. She is a regular radio speaker and writer for magazines, works with behavioural problems in dogs and runs socialising groups for dogs with social problems.)


I feel so alone!

Ticks are carriers of various canine diseases and ehrlichiosis is one of the most fatal diseases caused by them. The greatest challenge in battling ehrlichiosis is in detecting and accurately assessing the clinical signs.

Doggies’ depression

If our bundle of energy is lying clumsily or looking sad or not eating well and losing drastic amount of weight, most probably he is not well…as he is not in his actual spirits. No matter how hard we try to bring that lovely smile back…we fail. And medical tests do not show any pathological cause for a change in his behaviour. In such cases, it would be foolhardy to assume that depression in canines does not exist. Like a child they do crave for love and affection. We have observed several positive changes in our dogs by just following some simple lifestyle changes (no medication). By doing so, we are fighting against this invisible enemy – DEPRESSION. Here’s some more to help you avoid the pitfalls that let your dog get the blues in the first place.

kNOw more… saddening

Literally speaking, depression is a “pathological state in which there is a general diminishing of all psychic activities and that specially affects affective behavior.” Hence depression has direct links with behavioral changes. The depression in dogs can be broadly classified into two – endogenous and exogenous.

Endogenous depression :

It is caused by genetic predisposition; some inherited genes might cause it. Selective breeding is the only way to weed out this problem. However in most cases it is just a lack of sensibility on the owner’s part, which makes us overlook the underlying reason for the dog’s change in behaviour. A visibly normal situation for us can sometimes be distressing for the dog…so be extra careful, while dealing with our furry angels.

Exogenous depression :

It is caused by external factors, which can be of various types, like moving to another house i.e. change of place; changing owners; lowering level of family’s affection; isolation or separation from other pack (family) members; lack of socialization with other dogs; chaining for many hours a day; continuous breaking of rhythm sleep/watch; loud noises (like crackers) or other changes in the living environment.

Precaution…always better

Many of the causes mentioned above can be avoided with little care and pampering; a sensitive parent can easily read the dog’s mindset.

It would be better to let the dog get friendly to a new owner or changes (if you are going on a vacation leaving the pet behind) and gradually increase the time spent rather than making overnight changes.

If you have to leave your pet alone at home while you are at work, train him accordingly, so that he is used to a few hours of confinement every day.

Similarly socialization with other dogs and humans is something you need to do regularly, once your dog has finished his vaccination shots.

Introduce your dog gradually to loud noises like vehicles, pressure cooker, crackers etc. Make a cassette/CD with these sounds and play it at a low volume when the pup is around. Gradually increase the volume over a period of time till your dog gets immune to these sounds.

Never be harsh to him. A dog is a part of the family, chaining is a complete no-no.

Curing canines…

Stimulate him : Reduced physical activity is a major reason for depression in some dogs. So, you can help your dog perk up by providing him with more attention, affection and activity, keeping him occupied by doing things that he likes, taking him to the park, car trips, buying him a toy that provides mental stimulation, teaching him easy games or setting up play dates with a friend’s pet etc. Spend 15 minutes a day brushing him or giving him a massage. These measures will surely work wonders and soon he’ll start looking forward to this new routine, and it may help him feel a lot brighter.

Be patient : Time heals all wounds and your dog may need time to feel the positive impact. So, be patient. Give him his time.

Good timing : Never overprotect or console him when he is whining, as it will only reinforce his fears and lead him to believe that it is the best way to call you. Instead give him attention when he is sitting or resting quietly. During your dog’s depression, don’t give him attention when he’s exhibiting behaviour you don’t like, as it will reinforce this negative behavior.

Medical help : In severe cases of depression, your vet may advise anti-depressants or other treatments. But remember such medication does not work without active involvement from the owner in administrating the medication, giving feedback to the vet and helping the dog through lifestyle changes.

Love ‘n’ care : Most importantly, give your dog lots of love. If you feel he is depressed but not sure, you can go ahead and incorporate these changes. After all an overdose of love won’t harm your dog…and as they say love conquers all.

So, help him come out of this bout of depression and your bundle of energy would again light up your life…like before. (Philip A. Butt is a renowned dog trainer and chief trainer at Commando Kennels, Hyderabad ( He can be contacted at:

Pawspective: What Childrens feel about their pets

Dogs and children together are often showed in an obviously trusting and loving relationship. This relationship has also been honoured in children’s literature, ranging from Lassie to Peter Pan, and generations have grown up not only having experienced wonderful times with childhood pets, but wishing their own children to have the same experience and, with a few simple considerations, they will.

Dogs can provide children with companionship and loyal friendship and in return children can provide their dog with affection and endless opportunities for activity and interaction. A family dog plays a key role in a child’s formative years, teaching him responsibility, besides developing nurturing and caring skills. Children with pets also generally have higher self-esteem and better social skills. Birthday parties, holidays, treats… children pamper their four-legged friend to the paws. But they are also aware of what are the important requirements for their pet. They might forget to take their own medicine but will remember Simba’s doctor appointment for sure.

When we interacted with few children about a feature on their relationship with their pet dog, there was immense excitement. One common request that we had from all these children was that Bollywood film industry should stop dog baiting insults and warned that wag-a-bon-ders like them might set their hounds loose. So scriptwriters beware, the younger generation is much better turned out than we might have expected.

D&P : What do you feel about animals and who do you like most? What do you learn from pets and how do you take care of them?
Sahil (Std 7, Sanskriti School): Animals have a very different world of their own. If you want to see what nature and power is, you have to understand the brilliant instincts of the animal world first. I had different kinds of pet but I like dogs most and especially my pet buddy Burney. He is totally my responsibility. My previous pet – a GSD Zaious – taught me what it involves in keeping a pet. It is not just about having a lovely expensive breed with who you can play with and then you completely forget him the next moment. I pay special attention to him since he cannot express his feelings. Burney listens to me and tries to read my mood and behaves accordingly. We get along like a house on fire. Sometimes when I am studying and he wants to play, he would come near me and try to show that we should actually go out and not sit at one place and get bored.
Having pets is a full-time responsibility and commitment to give them a great life. I know how to give basic first aid to an injured animal as I am a member of  Friendicoes and I do whatever little I can. I have 11 stray puppies at my farmhouse. I wish all of us
could give every needy dog a home. Animals are great companions and it’s just superb having and getting to know them. All animals have moods and we should always look out to listen to them since they cannot talk in our language. If they are unhappy, we should always try to find out what’s wrong with them. I wish I could have a lot of dogs around me but I am happy that I have Burney and I am being able to give him all my care, love and attention.

D&P : What is the importance of pets in your life?
Sunny (Std. 9, GD Birla): I have four Rottweilers and one Dachshund at home. It’s just too amusing to see a huge and a tiny dog together. What I admire about dogs is that they are honest with you and let you know their feelings. They never hurt or are ignorant to your feelings. I feel they have an extraordinary power of understanding, just like God. They just seem to know it all. They are great fun, and you can spend hours and hours with them, without getting bored. They will follow you from room to room, always doing what you are doing.  This four-legged friend is a true companion. My dogs are my family and most important for my life.

D&P: Do you love pets? Which pet animals do you like the best?
Kirat Gulati (Std 3, Ryan International): I am born and brought up amidst a lot of funny and cute Pugs and I can proudly say that I have company of four wonderful Pugs 24×7. They are Yoda, Figaro, Shasmo & Paris, of which Figaro is my favourite. I also love fish and have them at my home but my dogs are my actual friends. My Pugs think that I am the best and with them around, I can just spend hours indoor. They are my best friends and give me unconditional love. My friends are really envious of me since most of them want to keep pets but their parents don’t allow them to. It so happens that my entire family loves dogs.
I feel very sad for the stray dogs and I wish I could get all of  them home and give them a  healthy life like my Pugs.

D&P: How concerned are you about your pet animals? Do they form an integral part of your life? Do you always have time for them?
Abhishek Swarup (Std 10, Pathways World School): I had my first pet in 2000, which was a Golden Retriever. In 2003, we got our second pet and that was just the beginning and today I have as many as 12 dogs. They are Boxer (Brindle), Labradors (Mr. Black and Mr. Brown), Cocker Spaniel
(Mr. Patch), Pug (Oscar), St. Bernard (Lord Saint),
Great Danes (Lord Alexander and Lord Napoleon), German Shepherds (Caesar and Kaiser) and Golden Retriever (Mr. Gold). I have gathered a lot of knowledge about their health and diet. My whole family loves them immensely.
We keep a track of their medical records and all of them are looked after properly with utmost care. They never let us feel lonely. When my mom is not there, they take care of me just like she would. Watching them basking in the sun or playing around with each other is so “cool” because the amount of love they generate is amazing. We love them to the core and ensure all their needs are met.
Pets tell me a way of life  and have made me a better person.