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Dilemma of a First Timer
V. K. Joshi (Bijji) Bookmark and Share


Dogs are such creatures that some or other member of the family falls for them. If that member happens to be a child and more especially a girl-child then parents succumb quicker and get a puppy as soon as possible. The decision is often so hurried that the parents bring home a puppy of whichever breed they are able to lay their hands upon, irrespective of the consequences.
Recently a daughter of a Doctor couple made it a condition for her birthday that ‘no puppy no birthday celebrations’. Under such a situation it is always prudent for a doting parent to bring home a puppy in time. My friend and his wife both are doctors and work for long hours. Their two daughters are school going and the puppy lives alone with a maid in the house for quite some time each day. In one of my earlier blogs I have mentioned that being a pack animal they cannot live alone for more than two hours at a stretch.
A lonely puppy looks for something to do. He has to spend his energy. While in a pack they play games of mock hunting, chase each other and attack and bite and bark. It is normal play for a puppy. At four months when the milk teeth are being shed and permanent teeth emerging a puppy needs something to sooth his gums. In the absence of his mates (here the doctor’s daughters) the puppy finds it difficult to spend the day. He sets out on an exploration spree of the house. Since a puppy does not have fingers to hold things and being a curious baby he begins to mouth objects he fancies. In the process sometimes infective or injurious stuff reaches his digestive track.
Electric wires are their fancy. May be they think it is a snake like animal and bite at it with a vengeance. By chance if the wire is a live one then that bite may be his last one!
The dilemma new owners face are, how to house train the pup, how to keep the pup busy, how to administer medicines, how to groom, how to control the pup especially when he tries to bite. Although all these points I have dealt in my blogs earlier. But here I would like to dwell upon them more for the first time owners.
Smell is one of the most developed senses of dogs. They are able to sniff in parts per billion. So powerful is this sense that a dog can almost sniff owner’s mood and condition. Dog can sniff an intruder in the house much faster than a burglar alarm. Dogs instinctively identify and mark their territory by their urine. Thus urination in a domestic dog is not only to satiate his biological urge, but he uses the opportunity to mark the territory. One has to understand the intricacy behind this. In nature dogs live in lairs-they prefer kind of shallow depressions which have some covering at the top with an entry or escape route. Go to any dogs’ lair in the wild and you won’t get the murky, doggy smell inside. On the other hand while standing in front of a cave in the wild if you get a terrible stench then be careful-it could be the residence of a bear!
In a nutshell, doggies are more careful about the hygiene than other animals. If dogs too start soiling their lairs then they will perish due to bacterial infections. They have not studied science, nor do they know what hygiene is, they have this instinct to move out to do their job. When puppies go out of the door of the lair and urinate there, the dam on return sniffs the place and is assured that no dangerous beast visited the place in her absence. Because she can not only analyze the smell of her brood and visitors but also make out the physical condition of the visitor! Her brain stores all this information as it also helps her in locating her own lair and also to trace her strayed puppy.  
Armed with this information a first timer should be able to teach his pup the ‘house manners’. Obviously the pup won’t go to the loo to do his job, but you can always create a space for him to do his job. In case you are in a ground floor house, your job is simplified. Place a sheaf of newspapers on the floor soiled by him. The mess will be absorbed and only a moist patch would be left. Now place the soiled newspaper at the spot you want him to do his job. And next time (You have to keep observing in fact and guess his need) carry him to the newspaper. 99 out of 100 chances are that he will mark the newspaper, guided by his own smell.
Even the puppies have such an uncanny sense of smell that if you wipe the moist patch left on your shinning floor due to the misdeed of the pup, with a few drops of vinegar, the pup will not use that spot again. Because his brain tells him that some more powerful animal has marked the spot!
Repetition is the key of success for any kind of dog training. Each time he does his job at the spot selected by you, praise him a lot and soon you will find your pup rushing to the spot on his own to relieve. In case the spot can be approached in the night as well, you can be assured that the pup will never commit a mistake in the house.
In nature dam marks the spot outside her lair and all the puppies once they start walking, wobble down to the spot and do their jobs one after another. The instinct to go away is so powerful that even with their eyes yet to be formed, three day old puppies wriggle away from the dam when they feel the urge. Dam takes it as a signal and licks them to help them pee. The licking also kind of assures the puppy that everything is alright.
The purpose of this long narrative was to make you understand your puppy better and instead of rebuking, thrashing or even rubbing his nose on the soiled floor if you indicate the right spot to the puppy and praise him a lot when he does his job there, he picks up the cue fast.
The next major problem a first timer is likely to face is the biting or gnawing habit of the pup. Many pups get beaten for chewing the costly sandals or whatever they can hold in their mouth conveniently. Sandals are their favorite, as the puppy gets lured by the smell of the leather and the straps are easy to chew. From four to eight months age puppies shed milk teeth and get permanent ones. Like our own infants they need ‘teething rings’. If you provide them ample chew toys your shoes and sandals are spared. But still you have to keep every chewable item except his own toys out of reach of the puppy.
Leaving the puppy alone, tying the pup, restraining him, medicating the pup etc. are the issues which I have covered in my earlier blogs. The first time dog owners should go through them. All their queries if given in the space provided in the blog will be promptly answered.
Enjoy the company of your pup.
Image (c) Gettyimages.com

07/21/2011
More by :  V. K. Joshi (Bijji)
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Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan 


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