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Home alone!

Separation anxiety is one of the common problems faced by pet parents but each pet is unique and so is how they are handled. Here, our Hyderabad friends share their experiences on dealing with separation anxiety.

Anjaly with Gavin and Dollar

Anjaly with Gavin and Dollar

Giving him a comfort zone: “Dollar, my five-month-old Lab, has no issues with separation anxiety. It’s Gavin, my four- year-old Dachshund,who does. He is very devoted to my mom and starts howling in her absence. Whenever she starts packing for an overnight trip, he gets very nervous. But he has never been destructive. When we all go for a vacation, we make sure we leave him at our cousin’s place. He is initially a little nervous, but settles down by thenext day.”

Love is the way: “Whisky is a desi stray I adopted. She has always been a true desi – fiercely independent. She has never really been anxious about being separated from me. Stepie, my Retriever cross, is the exact opposite. He is high strung and has serious abandonment issues. He was also a rescued dog.  I
try to reassure Stepie the best I can and he is rarely left alone at home.”

Training is the key: “Donny is my two-month-old Lab. He is visually handicapped and cannot see clearly

Shruti with Stepie

Shruti with Stepie

beyond three feet ahead of him. He is extremely obedient and well behaved. But he suffers from separatio

n anxiety. He does not howl much, but when I come back from my night shift, my house is in a mess. Wires are chewed up, papers and books are strewn on the floor, slippers and carpets are shredded. We are now working with his trainer to find a solution.”

Love and comfort do the trick: “We all love Caesar at home. He is the apple of my eye. We have a large family and he is rarely left alone. But he does miss me when I go to work. My mom tells me he keeps staring at the door and gets startled at every noise and expects to see me coming home. He always gives me a huge welcome every evening. The problem usually is when I leave for overnight trips. He gets cranky at night and howls a little. When mom and I are both away, he takes comfort in other family members and needs a lot of attention from them. Of course, we get a good scolding from him when we return.”

 

Shashi with Caesar

Shashi with Caesar

Wants to be in his comfort zone: “Bruno is just eight-week-old, but misses me terribly when I am at work. He startsgetting nervous when I am getting ready for work. He looks me with his large eyes, as if pleading not to be left at home. My family tells me that when I am away, he haunts my room and curls up in my clothes. There has been no destructive behaviour so far, so we are grateful.”

Dog-sit when alone: “Jason can be a handful when left alone. He is equally attached to all the members of the family and is alright if any one person remains home with him. So, we find someone to dog-sit for us if we are expecting to leave longer than a few hours.”

 

Chandrashekar with Csar

Chandrashekar with Csar

Training dealt with separation anxiety problems: “Being a professional dog trainer, I made sure neither of my pets – Peach nor Csar suffered from separation anxiety. As puppies, of course they did. But they were properly trained. Basic training at Progressive Kennels includes training to deal with separation anxiety. There are many ways of dealing with this. You can increase separation time in small increments until the puppy/dog is used to being away from you for about four hours – not longer. You can leave treats and toys hidden in the house so that the dog remains entertained in your absence. The last method is to burn all their energy before you leave, by giving them a long run or a high energy play session. This makes them sleepy when they get back home, when you are leaving. A combination of these techniques works best for most dogs, including my own.”

(Inputs from Dr Kadambari of Olive’s Pet Clinic, Hyderabad)

Home alone… DOs & Don’ts

All pet parents face the issue of leaving their pet alone at home – sometimes for a shorter duration and sometimes for a longer one. Here’s how to make home alone a pleasurable time for your pooch.

Leaving your pet home alone leaves the pet parent with a series of ‘Oh-I-Am-Not-Comfortable-About’ pet peeves. One, being the emotional guilt of keeping the doggie alone with no one to give him company while he’s probably feeling scared or insecure. Two, the thought that after a long hard day at work, you might return to a littered house owing to the fury of your furry mate, a house that awaits strenuous corrective work. Three, your stay in your neighbourhood might be threatened, thanks to neighbours’ cribbing about your dog barking incessantly in your regular absences. What should and should not be done to keep everyone happy and content?

Dr Aradhana Pandey

Dr Aradhana Pandey

Separation anxiety…
Pet dogs when left alone commonly tend to display ‘separation anxiety’ which literally refers to ‘anxiety in dogs when they are separated from their pet parents or environment’. Scientifically, it leads to the secretion of stress hormones leading to hyper excitability which is followed by stress and immunosuppression. Dr Aradhana Pandey, pet parent & canine specialist at Doggy World, sheds light about its manifestations, “Initially the dogs become hyperactive and indulge in barking, biting, running around, damaging and throwing objects.  The longer duration of separation leads to dullness, sadness, refusing food and becoming sick.” But, she says, dogs can be trained to deal with it, let’s see how.
Training them for the ‘wait’
Dogs can be trained and gradually conditioned to be at home without feeling stressed out. “Train the dogs by leaving them alone for short durations and gradually increase the time duration.  Try to leave the dog in a familiar and comfortable environment.  Make arrangements for an attendant who can speak and play with him. The dog’s regular routine of feeding and walks should be followed. Love and pat the dog when you are back. Offer him some treats and take him for walk and play,” says Dr Aradhana.
When left for short durations…
Leaving pet dogs alone at home, even for a short duration may not be as harmless as it seems like, if certain precautions are not followed. The emotional well being aside, the pet’s physical well being may also be threatened. It may cause hyper excitability that may lead to increased heart rate, respiration rate, rise of body temperature, etc.  In severe cases, it can even result in cardiac arrest. Your canine pals might injure themselves or ingest toxic and dangerous objects. However, with suitable remedial measures, these hazardous occurrences may be avoided. And most of these measures revolve around controlling the environment the doggy has been placed in.
Tips to follow

  • Leave the dog in familiar environment (where he normally lives).
  • Provide him with some toys to play.
  • A Kong filled with his favourite treats works well.
  • Give him some chewable treats (artificial bone, etc.) that he likes.
  • Make drinking water available at all times.
  • Take care of room temperature. It should not be too hot or cold.
  • Keep away toxic and hazardous objects.
  • Take care of electric wirings.
  • Keep the radio on.

When left for long duration like a vacation…
When you wave a temporary ‘goodbye’ to your pet, while going for a long break, a series of concerns from the pet’s diet to a possibility of depression onset in the pet may trouble you. You may either choose to leave your pet dog in the company of known people at home or at a relative’s (whom the dog is accustomed to) or even leave him under ‘professional care’ at a pet boarding organisation. Whatever be the chosen option, certain things to be followed would be the same. Says Dr Aradhana, “Leaving the pet for a longer duration leads to separation stress, loss of health condition, immunosuppression and diseases.”
Some important DOs

  • He should be kept in a familiar place and his routine of feeding, walking and playing should be strictly followed.
  • The person in charge should pat and love him.
  • Talking to the dog makes him stress free hence often talk to the dog and remain in his company.
  • No drug therapy is recommended,however, if necessary small dose ofsedatives can be given.

Some important DON’Ts

  • Never keep dog in hot environment as this may lead to heat stress that can be fatal.
  • No toxic and dangerous objects should be in the vicinity of dogs.
  • Don’t chain the dogs as it can at times lead to choking.
  • Don’t keep the dogs in balcony, roof top from where he can jump and injure himself.

Also, once you are back, do not forget to pet him and praise him for being good boy…that too home alone!
(With inputs from Dr Aradhana Pandey, Doggy World, New Delhi).

Home alone… a trainer’s guide

Wish it was that easy to tell our pooches that all is well and we’ll be right back! Their depressed face and destructive ways make going away all the more difficult. Here’s how to deal with separation anxiety in dogs.

Malaika Fernandes

One of the most common problems that pet parents complain of is that their dog is destructive when left alone. Their dog generally howls, digs, chews, barks, urinates, defecates or tries to escape from the house. Although these signs indicate that the dog has not been trained in a constructive way to be alone at home, they can also be signs of distress. When a dog displays the signs and is accompanied by other distress behaviours such as drooling and showing anxiety when the pet parents are about to leave the house, it shows that the dog has separation anxiety.
Why does separation anxiety develop?
A dog can develop separation anxiety issues because of either being abandoned or handed over to a shelter, abrupt change in schedule, not being trained systematically to be left alone at home, etc.
Common symptoms of separation anxiety…
Urinating and defecating: Dogs suffering from separation anxiety either urinate or defecate when left alone but if this happens in the presence of the pet parent then he’s probably not toilet-trained well. Also get your dog checked for incontinence by a veterinarian.
Barking and howling: It is often triggered in a dog when he gets upset because people he’s attached to are about to leave.
Chewing, digging and destruction: Dogs with separation anxiety issues often chew and destroy household items and can injure themselves.
Escaping: A dog with separation anxiety issues may try to escape when he is left alone and also cause injury to his teeth, paws, etc in the process.
Pacing: Some dogs walk or trot in a specific pattern when left alone. Some move in circular patterns, while others walk back and forth in straight lines.

Dealing with separation anxiety…

  • Counter conditioning: If your dog has a case of separation anxiety, counter conditioning might reduce or resolve the situation. Counter conditioning is a treatment process that changes a dog’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant one instead. It is done by associating the sight or presence of the undesired situation with a situation that the dog loves. For instance, every time before you leave the dog alone you could give him a puzzle toy stuffed with treats that will take him some time to finish.
  • Tire him out: Another trick is to exercise him just before you leave so he is too tired and will just sleep before being left alone.
  • No predeparture cues: Also predeparture cues like getting ready to leave like dressing up, etc can make a dog anxious causing him to pace, pant or whine. One solution to this approach is to teach your dog that when you get ready to leave, doesn’t always indicate that you are going to leave. This will reduce your dog’s anxiety because these cues won’t always lead to your departure.
  • Mentally exhaust him: Also exhausting him mentally before you leave with an activity such as ‘treasure hunt’ where you either hide his food treats or favourite toys would also be a good exercise.
  • Safe place: Crate training is also a good tool for dogs if they are taught that the crate is their safe place to be in when left alone.
  • Take professional help: However in some extreme cases of separation anxiety, it is always best to get in touch with a certified canine behaviourist who will help you modify your dog’s separation anxiety behaviour.

(Malaika Fernandes is a certified canine behaviourist & trainer (Northern Centre of Behaviour, UK) and is the director of Walk Romeo – Canine Training, Behaviour Modification, Grooming & Pet Sitting Services in Mumbai).

The right treatment…
“Separation anxiety among pets is commonly seen but not correctly understood. It is generally known that a pet parent tries to resolve such problems by hiring a dog trainer, assuming a fix lies in teaching the pet a new habit. But one also needs to consider the possibility of distress. To understand how one needs to deal with separation anxiety, it’s important to focus on underlying problems especially when an emotional reaction is triggered.
Treatment instead of teaching a new trick is a good way to start. For example – doing things that make a pet feel better rather than trying to teach him a different command. Techniques such as counterconditioning and desensitisation are known to be used by psychologists to treat separation anxiety. Here one tries to eliminate underlying issues or re-teaching things which require time and patience.  One also needs to rule out any medical problems or medicines as a cause of the same.”
– Sonya Kochhar, director, Canine Elite, New Delhi

Bringing a Pup Home: A First Day Guide

Bringing home your little bundle of joy is definitely a lot of fun and excitement, but there’s a lot more of work that goes along with it than play. But with a little preparation and patience you can make your lil’ one comfortable and happy.

First things first, we all know we get very excited to see the cute new family member and the pup is bound to get a lot of attention but it is also important to know that she has left familiar surroundings with a warm, comforting pile of siblings to enter a completely new environment filled with unfamiliar objects and new people and she is obviously vulnerable and impressionable.

Sachin Rawte

Sachin Rawte

Visit to the vet: Take her to a veterinarian for a physical examination. Take your vet’s advice on health, nutrition and grooming needs. It is best to make a list of all your questions pertaining to the little one’s well being.
Puppy proof the house: Before you bring home the pup, puppy proof your house. Do not keep valuable things on the floor or unattended. Also please note the wires or extension boards to be wrapped and kept in a safe place as you never know the pup can bite it off, leading to some medical emergency,” says Sachin Rawte, Canine Behaviourist, Schutzhund/ IPO and KNPV Training Specialist from Mumbai.
Be patient: Just as humans do, puppies have a similar closeness toward their family. “They prefer the safety and comfort of their family’s company, hence can feel uncomfortable in a new environment. Do not be worried if your puppy is scared or apprehensive on the first day,” tells Hrishika Basappa of Anvis Inc, Bengaluru.
Exploration spree: Let her sniff around the house. “On arrival at home, let her get acquainted

Hrishika Basappa

Hrishika Basappa

with all your family members and the rooms of your home,” says Dr Natasha Couto of Cuddle Pet Shop & Clinic, Mumbai.
Watch her continuously: Keep an eye on her constantly. “Give your puppy space to explore if she wishes, but don’t let her out of your sight for too long. Think of her as you have a child who can’t be left unwatched,” tells Sachin.
Fun with toys: Toss a few squeaky toys and teethers to make her feel more comfortable in her new home, tells Dr Natasha. “They keep her busy, especially if she’s teething and in the mood to sink her teeth into something,” adds Sachin.
Let her sleep: Play with her quietly and gently. Don’t flood her with attention and activity.” If she looks like she wants to sleep or seems to be tired or timid, leave the pup for a while to rest. Puppies need lots of sleep,” advises Sachin.
Give her space: Give your little pup some quality space. Let her do what she wants to do. “As it’s a new place, let her explore around,” says Sachin.

Sonya Kochar

Food facts: Keep your pup on her accustomed food. You would have to consult the breeder or the shop/vet you picked up your pup regarding her diet and feeding schedules. “Do not overfeed the dog as it can upset her stomach which can again put her in little trauma,” advises Sachin.
“It’s fine to switch her to new food in a few days, as long as you do it gradually. Some time on account of separation anxiety, your puppy may refuse to eat the first night,” advises
Dr Natasha.
Fresh drinking water: “Make sure there is easy access to water, as it is important to keep her hydrated,” says Hrishika.
Dealing with separation anxiety: Day one in the new home would be the most frightful day for the puppy since

Dr. Natasha

she has spent all her days surrounded by warm bodies of her mother and siblings. As a result, she may not sleep at all. “Separation anxiety is a normal part of acclimatising to a new home,” says Dr Natasha.
Place to sleep: Importantly keep her close to you but do not allow her to sleep on your bed. “If possible, let the puppy sleep in your room with you. I feel that this lets your puppy feel as though she is part of your pack. The puppy should have her own bed or in a crate if you are crate-training,” advises Sachin.
“Please take care the puppy’s room is cosy,” adds Dr Revathi Gotety of Pet Clinic, Bengaluru.
“The puppy’s bedding should be easily washable. Remember to have a crate proportionate to the puppy’s size” advises Dr Revathi.

Dr. Revathi

“Many experts advise setting up a crate in your bedroom or just outside the open bedroom door. This way you will be able to hear each other in case the pup cries at night. You can make the crate cosy with a blanket and a toy. You should also spread newspaper around the crate so that the puppy can relieve herself outside and not soil the bedding,” adds Sonya Kochhar of Canine Elite, New Delhi.
Making bedtime comfy: You also can put a hot water bag wrapped under the cloth with a small clock wrapped in cloth and keep it in the place where puppy is going to sleep as it will give the warmth to the puppy and ticking of clock will resemble the heartbeat of the litter-mates which he is going to miss for a while. “A good idea is to keep a toy, preferably with the smell of her littermates for the pup to snuggle with,” adds Dr Revathi.
Handling relieving issues: “Take the pup to relieve herself after each meal. After the last meal in the night, play with the pup for some time and allow her to relieve herself at a convenient spot in the house like the terrace/balcony/bathroom or even a strategically placed newspaper. This interaction helps the puppy settle better,” advises Dr Revathi.
“Puppies tend to relieve themselves in small amounts several times, so be patient. Afterwards, reward the pup with a pat and words of praise,” adds Sonya.
Puppy diapers or puppy training pads may also be used for any night calls. In spite of all the measures, be prepared for any untimely and misplaced puddles or dog poop 13in the room.
“The puppy will wake up several times during the night to relieve herself and will whine and whimper,” adds Dr Natasha. “Sometimes simply talking/cuddling the pup for a few minutes may help allay her loneliness,” further adds Dr Revathi.
“Your puppy will bond best with you when she is surrounded by your scent and knows you are right there. When she wakes you in the middle of the night, which generally means she needs to potty, and you should take her word for it. Take her outside, and wait for her to squat and do her business, and then take her back to her crate, turn out the lights, and go back to sleep. Always remember one thing that dog never likes to mess her own area where she sleeps, she will rather choose another place than her own place,” adds Sachin.
Training tips: “Once the puppy is accustomed to the place, you can reward her with treats after her responding to your calls or given names,” advises Sachin.
Positive reinforcement: Do not, at any cost, yell at your puppy or rush at her if she does something wrong. “You can gently deter her from bad behaviours, but don’t frighten her. Teach her. She’s exploring a new place. The whole world is new to her, and her early experiences make lasting impressions,” advises Sachin.
Introduction to other pets: If you have other pets, introduce your puppy gradually. “If you have other dogs at your home it is advisable to introduce them outside the premises of your house/apartment. Allow the older dogs to sniff the puppy. Allow them to get to know each other. Let the introduction be no longer than 10 minutes,” advises Hrishika. “It’s best to keep kitties and your puppy in separate rooms for a few days,” insists Sachin.
Train the family:  Training the family is also very essential. “Make sure all the members of the family understand the rules and routine, such as no sleeping on the bed and no jumping up. This is difficult because everyone will be very excited at the pup’s arrival. Routine is as important for puppies. It’s a key part of creating a secure environment for your new canine member!” advises Sonya.
Always remember bringing home a new puppy is truly one of life’s joys. “Your first day with your puppy marks the beginning of your life together-the beginning of the bonding process that establishes your lifelong relationship with your dog,” concludes Sachin. “The handling of the puppy by the family members in a gentle, patient manner in first few days helps to forge a strong bond of trust and love between them,” adds Dr Revathy.
Good luck, as you are starting on a fantastic journey with your new best friend!
(With inputs from Dr Revathi Gotety, Pet Clinic, Bengaluru; Sonya Kochhar, Canine Elite, New Delhi; Dr Natasha Couto, Cuddle Pet Shop, Mumbai; Hrishika Basappa of Anvis Inc, Bengaluru and Sachin Rawte, Canine Behaviourist, Schutzhund/ IPO and KNPV Training Specialist, Mumbai.)

A Home for Gori

Memoir of a beloved canine

Habib Rehman’s A Home for Gori is not merely a book but an outpour of timeless romance he keeps affectionately in the corner of his heart for his beloved Gori who died on 27 July 2005. The author shares the joy and anguish of his canine friend with Dogs & Pups at his New Delhi ‘home’ that was built as a memorial to Gori in sight of her grave in the courtyard.

book review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Home for Gori will remind dog-lovers of the canine companions they have loved, and lost. To the rest, it will tell an extraordinary story of a dog and a human being, and a bond that endures, quite literally, beyond the grave.

Ever since he worked as a major in the Indian Army in the remotest area of Arunachal Pradesh, Habib Rehman began to realise what love lies between humans and canine partners. He left army to join the hospitality industry where he spent three decades with ITC. He recently retired as director-in-charge of ITC’s hotels, travel & tourism and food businesses.

The love story…

In the mid-nineties, Gori was smuggled by his wife into their home. Habib refused to do anything with the six-week-old Gori in the first place. But it didn’t take long for him to be smitten by Gori’s charms and she soon wormed her way into his heart.

For a span of ten years, Habib and Gori had become inseparable companions. They walked together, played games, shared the same pillow, talked on phone when he traveled out. “The first time when she snuggled with me on my pillow was the turning point after which we never looked back. I was more demonstrative so that got me in her better books not to forget the games and walks which strengthened our relationship more. She took me as her pack leader. She was very sensitive to everyone’s needs,” says Habib.

Gori… the heart stealer

“Gori was always full of life and love, her gentle ways and antics never ceased to amaze me, the cow she made an enemy of, her love for kebabs during a party, the best part is she knew exactly when she would be given a delicacy, just made me love her every moment. Gori was very intelligent and by judging the size of my suitcase she would exactly know for how many days I would be gone. In my absence, everybody in the family, particularly my wife, took good care of Gori,” tells Habib.

Tough time…

He mentions, “Agnes really helped us a lot in taking care of her when she was ill. My veterinarian Dr Pradeep Rana was gently urging me to let her go but I was determined to see her survive. It was big emotional loss for us. Now, I have my life filled with so many canine members.”

A note…

People should adopt for the right reason only for love. And once you have your pet in, it’s your responsibility to understand their needs and behaviour. Because when people don’t understand a dog’s behaviour, frustration arise and they vent their anger on them (dogs)–which is very wrong. More love you give, more you get.

6 tips to bring home the pawfect bundle of joy

For many households, bringing home a puppy is an impulse thing. Let’s get a puppy, which breed, the discussion starts and finally the hunt begins and ends in no time. But there is much more to it…

Puppy Care

Akbar & Oscar

 

  1. Match the puppy with your lifestyle: Each breed is different, not just in size, colour, coat etc, but in their unique traits which enable them to do a particular type of work. You have to see if those traits match your personality and lifestyle. A mismatch is always uncomfortable, more so for the dog. So don’t just go by the looks of the dog, choose the right breed keeping in mind his requirements and yours.
  2. Choose a responsible breeder: If you are going for a pedigree puppy, choose a reputed breeder who has time to talk to you regarding the breed, his needs, the parents and of course the puppy and his care. A responsible breeder will and should also be interested in the person buying the puppy and how he or she plans to keep him and if it will be a good match. The breeder should not just be interested in selling the pup.
  3. Do not just pick up the puppy on impulse: Most people see a litter of adorable pups and choose the one who looks sweet, without even realizing if that puppy is suitable for them or not. In fact, you can determine the personality of a puppy by seeing how he behaves in the litter. For example, an over-confident pup may be a handful for some to handle.
  4. Get him home at the right age: Age does play a vital role in the pup’s/dog’s personality to be developed in the coming months and year. I have been noticing that when pups are taken away at about six or less weeks of age they mostly tend to have some behavioural problems. The right age to get a puppy is at least eight weeks. The reason for this is that the mother and the siblings teach the pup a lot during this time and it is very important for them to be together.
  5. Weaned off: Pick up a pup only when he is weaned off mother’s milk.
  6. Be ready to pay the right price: Another important observation is that generally breeders tend to try and sell their pups as soon as possible. This is because as the pups grow, they need a lot of care and the cost of feeding them can go up quite a bit, especially in giant breeds. At times, this is also heightened by the prospective puppy owners as they want a cheap puppy, so if you cut out the rearing part of the puppy which should be done by the breeder, you can get a cheaper puppy as the cost is then transferred to the new owner. But that is not right. Quality does come for a price and prospective owners should be ready to pay for it as the puppy they buy will generally live for the next 10 plus years with them and hence they should get a mentally sound, pure bred and genetically healthy puppy rather than an unhealthy one who may have problems later on in life, whether medical or behavioural.

Happy hunting!!

(Dinkar Singh has kept Rottweilers for about 20 odd years with occasionally showing and breeding. He has recently introduced the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for the first time in India. Dogs are his passion and hobby, not his business.)

Grooming

Sibling rivalry : bringing home asecond dog

Most pooches love to have friends from the same species but that is not enough ground to assume that bringing home a new dog is going to be a cake-walk! Striking a balance between your two furry friends is important, if you don’t want either of them to feel hurt, threatened or left out. Here’s how to make things easier for both pooches.

Two doggies living under the same roof (especially if one of them has been there for long enough) can lead to agrooming complex scenario with one turning hostile towards the other or feeling insecure. But once you succeed in your endeavour to make them cool buddies, you will be pleased to see your two pooches reveling in each other’s company. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind before you make the big decision to expand the family and how to go about introducing the new pet to the old one.

Understanding is the key: Don’t bring in a new dog just because you think it’s the right thing to do. Keep in mind your first one’s feelings – he may not be too keen on the idea of sharing space and your affection. Give it a second thought, if your dog is over-possessive and insecure. In case you are planning on a second dog just because the first one is old and unable to play around, it would be the worst thing you could do to a friend who has been there for you all his life. Your old friend needs special care and as a pet parent, that is the least you can do to give him his due for all the loyalty, love and friendship.

Choosing the new pet: If you must bring in a second dog, try choosing one from opposite gender. Dogs from opposite sexes are less likely to be competitive and more likely to be polite to each other. Also, size them up so that one is not too small to be bullied by the other. Some breeds are inherently intolerant of canine company. Make sure you discuss these issues with the breeder or kennel owner before zeroing in on a particular breed. A dog’s personal characteristics also go a long way in determining how she would gel in with other canine inmates in a new home.

The first ‘hellos’: This may be the trickiest part of all; if you get past this, pat yourself and heave a sigh of relief. Make sure the introductions take place on a ‘neutral ground’- an area that does not belong to either. When dogs are in an unfamiliar territory, they are more receptive and open to strangers because they are not worried about protecting and defending their land. Once they are well acquainted, you can gradually introduce the idea of ‘going home together’.

Handling them right: If your first pooch is unpredictable and fussy, it is best to put both of them on leash and gradually bring them closer – carefully judging their individual reactions. If either of them growls or bares teeth, slow down and put it off for another time. If the tails go wag-wag, it is good news and you can let them sniff up and introduce themselves. From what I have observed over the years, grown-ups are usually softer around puppies. Make sure you encourage the older dog as she gets to know the little one. This works as a positive reinforcement as the dog is “rewarded” for being nice to the new member of the family. As much as you may be tempted, refrain from excessive doting on the pup so that your first dog does not feel hurt or left out.

Personal space: Do not expect your first dog to share stuff like toys, bedding, feeding bowls, etc. Most dogs are possessive about these things, so make sure that both have a separate set of toys and bedding. Their feeding and sleeping areas should also be kept separate at least for the first few days or weeks. Unless you are very sure of how they will behave, keep them out of each other’s reach while you are not around.

Buddies: Once both dogs are comfortable with each other’s presence, they can be allowed to interact freely and play together. However, if one of them is a puppy, you may need to supervise so that she doesn’t accidentally get injured in the over-enthusiastic play.

To forge a healthy relationship between your two furry friends, treat them with equal love and attention. Just like us, pooches with a social life are happier, healthier and are likely to live longer too. There are few things in life that give more joy than a double dose of doggie love and seeing your beloved pet in the company of a new-found friend.

puppy care

Bring home the right pooch, the right friend

Abandonment and re-homing have become very common. Imagine the stress, tension and trauma a poor dog goes through when the family whom he considers his own abandons him..

puppy care

Rashi Raghav and Rio

 

They say that adopting a dog is no lesser than a process of self-discovery, whereby you get to realize and identify traits and attributes of your lifestyle and personality that perhaps you would have never thought before. This is because choosing a dog is known to be a lot about getting home a pet whose personality and breed characteristics are compatible with your own personality and everyday routine. Any clash in the same leads to unhappiness of both the pooch and pet parent. Choosing a dog whose social personality is the kind that matches yours will make things a lot easier, a lot more comfortable and defi nitely a lot more fun. While a Beagle, Golden Retriever, Bearded Collie, German Shepherd, Brittany Spaniel or a Labrador would make for an ideal socially active and friendly pet to have, a Chihuahua, Toy Poodle, Giant Schnauzer and Pekingese are more socially reserved.

Suitable to family: If you have children at home, you can choose from children-friendly gentle and lovable breeds like Pug, English Cocker Spaniel, Boxer, Beagle, Basset Hound, Labrador, German Shepherd and Golden Retriever amongst others.

 

Be aware of maintenance costs: When you’ve set your heart on a particular breed, do spare a few thoughts to consider whether you’d be able to afford the upbringing costs of that breed. Keeping the purchase cost aside, every dog has his own needs of food, grooming and health care.

Choosing a breed whose monthly maintenance costs can meet your budget will keep you worry-free and ensure quality upbringing for your pet. Compatibility with multiple pets: If your household has more than one pet, adopt a breed who is known to enjoy company and get along well with other animals.

Bulldog, Retriever, Poodle, German Shepherd or a Doberman are some breeds who are known for their adaptive intelligence and therefore can make for a good choice in cases of multiple-pet household.

How active you are: Exercise or other forms of physical activity being an extremely important need of every dog, this is one responsibility that you as an owner cannot avoid.

However, what you can do is to make a choice between a breed who requires intense exercise on a daily basis and one who can do with a few rounds of leisure walking 3 to 4 times a day; depending on your lifestyle regime, personal levels of preference for activity and the amount of exercise you are willing to give your dog on a daily basis.

Size up your house: While this is one aspect that is not given as much signifi cance as it should be, the size of your house is an important factor in deciding what kind of dog you should get home. While small dogs can adjust well in both big houses as well as apartments, in case of larger breeds on the other hand, it is a must to provide them with open spaces to play and move about freely without feeling restrained and suffocated.

Adaptability to climate: A fact unknown to many is that the pure breeds who are largely popular amongst dog owners are of foreign origin and hence made by nature to feel suited and comfortable in a particular climate, which might be alien to Indian conditions. Densely coated dogs such as a St Bernard, Golden Retriever or Cocker Spaniel therefore, if not kept in an air conditioned environment for most of the day, will tend to produce symptoms of illness, depression and dullness.

E1K1 (Each one keep one): Give our great Indian dogs a home as they are best suited for our climatic conditions – do open your heart and home to them.

What is unfortunate is that hundreds of pet dogs worldwide are abandoned on roads and animal shelters with the excuse of them being ‘problem dogs.’ The truth however is that, while one dog might seem troublesome and uncompromising in one household, in the other he could get appreciated and rewarded for his ‘adorable’ behaviour and become everyone’s favourite pal. What come into play in both these situations are compatibility issues. Also it is important to remember theirs is never a bad dog but a pet parent who has been unable to understand the need of his dog and match them to his own.

So, when you do go out looking for that perfect, lovable pooch to bring home, don’t just go by the angelic looks, the majestic gait or the furry coat of the puppy. Or for that matter, not even by the wants of your child who insists on buying the same dog that his or her best friend has. Bring home a dog who matches your personality and your lifestyle and you’ll rejoice your decision for a long time.

Details on various aspects you need to consider for a few breeds available in India:

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.)

Choosing the right breeder: a key to bring home the perfect pooch

While the decision of adopting a dog and pledging responsibility of his wellbeing for the rest of his life is quite a testing matter; what can be equally challenging is the entire process of fi guring out just where to adopt one from. During the course of adopting a puppy from a breeder, one must not, in any way, encourage or give support to a cruel, illegal and inhuman breeding system which treats dogs as nothing more than mere money making products and produce them by the dozens for maximum profi t. Not only does the physical health of dogs suffer severely in these ‘puppy mills’, but also their psychological health in addition gets bruised and dented.

So, if you’ve decided its time to bring home a pooch and welcome a new member into your family, here are 10 guidelines to help you head toward the right place for adoption:

Know a puppy-mill when you see one

Puppy-mills are places where female dogs are bred repeatedly without any concern for their pups’ health and overall wellbeing. The dogs and pups in these areas look neglected and unhealthy and will commonly carry a lazy, depressed and tired physical demeanor.

Count on recommendations

Do your homework beforehand, when you take recommendations of a reliable veterinarian, a pet shop of repute or a kennel club.

Always ask to see the mother

An ethical and caring breeder will happily and readily have you meet the mother of the puppies. According to veterinary experts, a mother dog should be at least 18 – 20 months old before she is made to deliver her fi rst litter. It is therefore important to ask the breeder the age of the mother before deciding to take one of her cute little pups. If the mother is old enough to be bred, check to see if she looks healthy, happy and active. If you doubt whether the dog shown to you is in fact the mother and not some random healthy dog that is made to pose as the mother, observing the interaction between the pups and the dog should help you out.

Take a tour of the breeding facility

At visiting a dog kennel or individual breeder, always ask to see the breeding area and facility and check for hygienic surroundings, proper housing, adequate food and clean water as well as suffi cient free space for the dogs and pups to play and move about. Unless you are satisfi ed with the conditions in which the dogs and pups are kept and bred, do not adopt from that breeder.

Check for signs of physical health

At your own level, you can check that the dogs and pups have clear skin, a tidy coat and clear eyes and ears. Additionally, make sure that they are out-going and playful, since a dejected, lazy, unhappy and worn-out conduct can be signs of various forms of physical illnesses. Reputed and caring breeders in fact will usually have the pups duly vaccinated and de-wormed before their sale and will readily present their medical records before you. A good breeder if asked will also tell you of the veterinarian doctor looking into these pups’ medical check-ups and will readily give you his or her contact information for further cross-examination.

Check for signs of mental health

Try to gauge the behavioral traits and temperament of the dogs as well as the pups housed in a breeding centre. While some of them might be lively and energetic, others might be reserved or shy. But in general, all of them will show clear signs of a distinct personality trait which will help you to judge their mental soundness and emotional stability. If in case the dogs show signs of being extra aggressive or abnormally timid, there is reason for you to doubt the quality of care being given to them. This, since in the absence of basic social, emotional and health needs being fulfi lled, dogs tend to demonstrate abnormal behavioural traits and a disturbed psyche.

Ask the breeder a lot of questions

A good breeder will be able to aptly answer all your questions regarding the breed, its healthcare needs as well as its social and emotional needs. Reactions and responses to such questions would help you distinguish between a cold hearted businessman and a genuine dog lover. A good breeder would also, in addition, be willing to openly discuss with you details of the breeding facility run by him or her. Amongst the questions you must ask breeders, the more important ones include: How many different breeds of dogs do they breed? How many litters of each breed do they have each year? And at what age do they breed their dogs?

Trust a questioning and probing breeder

If you come across a breeder who is hesitant in giving away a pup to you for adoption and shows signs of doubting your abilities as a responsible pet owner; you can be confident about being at the right place. A genuine breeder will always be sure about the parenting skills of a prospective owner and will throw at you question after question about your general lifestyle, previously owned pets, members in the family, your knowledge of pet care as well as your opinions on pet adoption. Such breeders would hang on to the litter for as long as they cannot fi nd a loving and caring home for the puppies. So, don’t be surprised even if the breeder tries to talk you out of taking one of the pups.

Consider the age of the pup before adopting one

Ideally, a pup should not be adopted before he is 7 to 8 weeks old. There are in fact some states in the world where it is illegal to sell pups before they are at least 8 weeks old. It is during this time that the pup goes through one of his most important stages of socialization, wherein he learns a lot about behaviour and communication from his parents and siblings. A good breeder therefore will never separate a pup from his family before he is at least 7 weeks old.

Observe the breeder’s relationship with his dogs

The way a breeder interacts with his dogs and similarly, the manner in which the dogs respond to their owner, can speak volumes about the genuineness of the breeder. If a breeder is in fact emotionally attached to the animals and concerned about their well being, it will come across well through his or her interaction with the mothers and the pups while he or she introduces them to you. In the same way, dogs will openly show their affection and fondness when approached by the breeder by ways of wagging their tails, playing or licking the breeder’s hands. All these signs only point out to a healthy relationship between the breeder and his dogs, wherein all the basic needs of the dogs are being taken good care of by the breeder.

If however on the other hand, the dogs look unusually scared and try to avoid contact or interaction with humans, there is all the reason for you to be suspicious about the breeder’s actions towards the dogs as well as the care taking facilities of the breeding centre. On the whole, a responsible and genuine dog breeder will take upon himself: (a) the provision of quality health care to the dogs and their pups, (b) the moral obligation of not breeding dogs too often, and (c) the search of a loving home for all of their pups. And it is these values and qualities that you must go out looking for in a breeder. And when during your course of adoption you do come across those careless, insensitive and money-minded breeders who are more concerned about their profi t than the well being of their dogs, as a responsible animal welfare supporter, make sure to report such unhealthy and sloppy breeding centers to the local SPCA (Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals) or to a reliable animal welfare NGO.

– by Manta Sidhu