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Groomer’s Glory

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Preeti Agarwal

Preeti Agarwal runs pet villa in Pune. She has started her journey on 10th may, 2010. She choose to be part of the Pet industry because of her love for animals. She has grooming & training facility with a wide range of pet products at pet villa.

  1. After bringing home the pup, Begin house training immediately.
  2. Grooming is essentials for your pet, make sure you give them bath, clip the nails and clean the paws.
  3. Brush them regularly. Touch their ears & paws so they become used to.

Glory of the German Shepherd

Which breeds come to your mind when you hear the words ‘king of dogs’? Undoubtedly, the name that flashes in our minds is ‘German Shepherd’ or ‘GSD.’ People all over the world prefer to be owned by a GSD because of his royal look and an equally loyal and passionate attitude.

If you have never owned a GSD, you have missed one of life’s greatest pleasures.

If you are looking for a superb companion dog, then GSD is for you. For here’s one dog who will be devoted to you at all times. I still remember the time when I got married into a dog-loving family. I knew that they have a GSD at home but I never had a chance to meet him before marriage. Once I stepped into the house, I was welcomed by a strong and handsome GSD, who conveyed a sense of strength and intelligence. He did not bark at me but gave me a warm welcome. Very soon, I developed a strong bond with him.

German Shepherd or GSD, also known as Alsatian, is one of the most versatile dogs, who has excelled as a sentry and guard dog, police and army dog, tracker, drug detection dog, guide dog for the blind as well as a search and rescue dog. Apart from these utilities, he is an excellent show and companion dog.

As Sasikala Giri of Ginzberg, Bangalore, a reputed breeder of GSDs, puts, “A GSD is probably an international favourite of all breeds. He differs from other breeds as he fills in many different jobs. Since the earliest dates of history, he has been employed by armies to aid in fighting, as sentries, guards of prisoners, defend camps from enemies, detecting mines, working with rescue units, to find wounded soldiers and carry medicine.”

General appearance

A GSD is a handsome and well-proportioned dog. He is strong with a sturdy, muscular and slightly elongated body with a light but solid bone structure. He has a harmonious development of forequarter and hindquarter. “Position and setting of limbs harmonise in such a manner that a far-reaching endurant trot is assured. The gait is supple, smooth and long-reaching, carrying the body along. His croup is long and gradually sloping,” adds Giri.

His head is proportionate to his body with average size ears, which are wide at the base and high on the head. His almond-shaped eyes are slightly slanted and their colour matches that of their coat. His eyes radiate intelligence and confidence, full of life. His tail is bushy and his coat is thick and dense, comprising of straight, rigid hairs, tightly layered on the body. There are different colours of coat found in GSDs, which include black with tan, all black and steel grey.

According to Giri, he has a beauty which is undisputed. “He is stamped with a look of quality and nobility, which is difficult to define, but unmistakable. He gives an impression of perpetual vigilance, liveliness and watchfulness, alert to every sight and sound, with nothing escaping attention,” she adds proudly.

The average height of dogs is 24-26 inches while that for female dogs is 22-24 inches. Their weight ranges between 35 to 40 kg. They have a life expectancy of around 13 years.

Temperament

GSD is an intelligent dog and his intelligence should be utilised in a positive way. You can teach obedience training or else keep him involved in the family activities. GSDs are often used as working dogs as they are alert and fearless. They are bold and cheerful and are easy to train. A GSD is full of loyalty, courage and confidence. They love to please and demand companionship of their families. You should never isolate a GSD for long period of time. Their protective nature towards their family makes them wary of strangers but proper training and early socialisation prevents this problem to surface. They possess highly developed senses, mentally and temperamentally. Besides, he is strongly individualistic. They are good with children and other pets in the family. “A GSD loves and craves for human companionship and thrives on love and affection, without which he is a miserable and neurotic dog. When you have a GSD as a companion, he is a guardian, protector and your children’s playmate,” adds Giri.

GSD puppy

Giri tells that the best age to acquire a pup is about 8 weeks, as by then the pup would have been dewormed, vaccinated and weaned. She advises to follow the feed chart given by the breeder. Also, the pup should be kept in a dry, clean place with lots of ventilation. It is not advisable to isolate him. He should be kept on a rough surface so that he will get a firm grip. “The bones of a pup are very supple, if they are on smooth surface, their movement gets affected,” explains Giri. Give him good nutritious food at regular intervals. “He needs a lot of calcium, Vitamin B and multivitamins,” tells Giri.

A GSD puppy should be socialised from an early age to avoid behavioural problems at later stage. They should be trained lovingly but firmly.

Upkeep

GSDs are easy to maintain and you can keep them in your apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors but a large yard to run around is an excellent option. “He is not a cage or kennel dog and requires freedom for his mental and physical development. In turn, you get protection and companionship. He will share your joys and sorrows and will never ask for anything in return except to be at your side,” says Giri.

Giri also tells that GSD make wonderful pets in city apartments as well as country homes or farms, because they are so easily trained.

Exercise

A GSD needs regular exercise. Physical activity benefits mental and emotional health. He loves strenuous activity, combined with moderate training. They love challenges and perform well. According to Giri, “Exercise is as important as food. To keep him fit, healthy and happy, he needs at least 8 km brisk walk or trot daily. A game of fetch, swimming, Frisbee disc, etc will be equally welcome by a GSD.”

Grooming

A GSD sheds hair constantly and is seasonally a heavy shedder. A quick daily brushing is an excellent idea. But, they should not be bathed frequently. “Start grooming when he is a pup and he will enjoy it for the rest of his life. Daily brushing will give the coat a healthy appearance and sheen,” adds Giri.

Health

A GSD is prone to hereditary diseases such as hip dysplasia, dermatitis and ear infections.

GSD shows

Sieger Show in Germany is an exclusive event for German Shepherd dogs and their breeders and handlers. Here, more than 3,000 dogs compete and are watched by over 70,000 spectators. The dogs are put to real test not only for confirmation but also for their working abilities, since GSD is a shepherd dog.

(With inputs from Sasikala Giri, a reputed breeder of German Shepherd dogs for nearly 30 years. She can be contacted at: Ginzberg, 710 Shyama Kamal, 47th Cross, 5th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore -560041, Tel: 26632671, 26647648.)

Sniffing their way to glory

Do you know that with security officials, dogs also play an important role in the overall security of the airports? Dogs & Pups recently visited one such training centre.

Airports are vulnerable places and their security is prime consideration. The security force and custom authority also relies on dogs for sniffing out explosives and narcotics.

Dogs & Pups recently met Dr. (Maj.) T V Narayanan, Deputy Commissioner of Security, Bomb Detection & Disposal Squad (BDDS), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and G R Yadav , Sub Inspector, In-charge of Dog Squad team at the Delhi airport. They gave an insight into the working of these special canines.

Dr. Narayanan informed–“The most important breed for us is the Labrador, though other breeds are also considered. Apart from Labrador, we also take Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel and the German Shepherd. Each pup for the Dog Squad is carefully examined. We adopt the pups from reputable breeders in Delhi. We have a special committee that checks their respective parentage and certifications. We only take dogs who are registered under the Kennel Club of India, Chennai.”

Once the pup is selected, he undergoes tremendous training, which is divided into two parts: the basic obedience training and the special training. The Dog Squad team does not train the pup until he attains 6 months of age. “The pup is a baby at that point of time and needs complete care and love. Excessive training for a pup who is under 6 months of age, can make him dull instead of being active,” said Dr. Narayanan. The duration of obedience training is 3 months (12 weeks), it covers basic commands such as sit, get up, come, go, down, heel, walk etc. “We train our dogs on Hindi commands, some of which include bolo, dhundho, utho, betho etc,” informed Yadav. They are given short names and are trained on short commands so that they do not get confused. Obstacle training is also given at this stage.

Each dog is then given one programme. “There are different types of training given to them according to their capabilities. We analyse their nature. Some sniff at ground site more, so we consider them for explosive, tracking or mine detection. We enhance their skill by training. Some are more capable for guarding, so we train them accordingly,” said Yadav.

After basic training, they are analysed for explosive detection. This specialised training is for 6 months. This training is imparted at different places, weather and situations. “We train them under all situations, so that at the time of duty, the dog remains focused and detects the explosive. They are capable of detecting nanogram level of explosives and can smell 40 times better than humans. This aspect makes them reliable for explosive. In this training, we take them to search aircrafts, vehicles, buildings, stages etc so he becomes confident under all situations. We train them in all areas of the airport so at the time of duty they are used to the ambience, noise and activity level. This enables them to be confident and not scared of any situation,” he added. “After advanced training, we test them. Most of our dogs pass the advanced training test. There may sometimes be 1 or 2 percent who do not pass the test,” he said. As per him, if a dog is trained in detection of 9 pure explosives such as RDX, PETN, CE, TNT, nitro-glycerine, gunpowder, ammonium nitrate etc, he can detect most of the terrorist bombs. They target detection of 3gm of explosive during the training. There are more than 19,000 types of explosives today in the market.

The handlers are also given training, they are educated about the various characteristics of the canines. They are given both theoretical as well as practical training.

“Our major achievement currently has been in reducing the overall training time. Now our basic training takes 10 weeks and our advanced training takes 8 weeks,” told Dr. Narayanan.

The Dog Squad team is very sensitive towards their dogs. They train them with love and care and never use negative methods for training .

Dr. Narayanan further informed that they have a system of testing. The testing is not done by the Dog Squad officers but by the other code of officers. Those dogs and handlers who score less than 90 percent detection rate are not taken for operational purpose. For this, they have a detailed performa, which comes out every 6 months.

“We interview our handlers as against the performa,” he added. The dogs are sent to the airport for random checks everyday for 2 hours. They are always ready to be on duty to trace the explosives, if such a need arises. In case of any bomb threats, we take additional dogs with the bomb squad people along with all the latest equipments.

Once the training is completed, they are not at rest and have a fixed routine. Their day starts in the morning at 5:30 after which they are taken for half an hour of running, then they are given some rest. The 7 to 9 slot is set for training while the 9 to 9.30 slot is set for grooming. The food time is from 9.30 to 10 and they simply look forward to it. They are well fed and are given a well balanced diet.

“We have a medical sanction for the dogs,” told Yadav. After food, they are given some rest. They are kept on alert to check any unidentified object or sniff out particular areas.

They are also sent to other parts of Delhi to trace live bombs at certain occasions, when Delhi Police requests for services of the bomb squad. The Dog Squad team at Delhi airport does not have one dog one-handler system. “We have a multi-handler system so that, from the very beginning, they are used to most handlers. So that if one handler has to go on leave or is taken ill, will respond to the other people present there,” he added.

According to Dr. Narayanan, the detection rate after they train is 95 percent. “We have carried out a research and developed our own programme. We really focus on the dogs and ensure that they prove themselves. We give rigorous practice sessions for detection, which makes them more experienced and confident,” he added. Dr. Narayanan also stated that they are working on a new technique called “Remote Air Sampling Canine Olfaction (RASCO).” The explosive vapours are collected from the areas where dogs cannot go. The sample collection filter papers are then given to them. By this way the bomb hidden in a bigger packet, roof, ceiling etc can be detected. Experiments show that this technique is ideal for conducting anti-sabotage checks for VVIP security, cargo complexes and other sensitive areas.

If you happen to see a ‘detection’ dog at the airport, you will see the zeal, the charm and the confidence yourself. In a way, we owe our safety to these four-legged friends.

(Inputs from Dr. (Maj.) T V Narayanan, Deputy Commissioner of Security, Bomb Detection & Disposal Squad (BDDS), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). He is responsible for formulating technical specifications/standards/testing protocol of security equipments deployed at airports in India. He is also in-charge of training and technical division of Bureau of Civil Aviation Society and in this capacity has widely travelled for conducting training programmes at all airports. He is also a member of International Explosive Technical Commission (IETC) and represents India as member of Adhoc Group of Specialists on diction of explosives, at International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Montreal, Canada. He has a doctorate in Canine response to terrorism and training of dogs in explosive detection from Nasik University.)