When both partners are dog lovers and working too, the problem of rearing a dog is always there. To acquire a dog, the question, ‘Should we or should we not’ dogs them all the time. In majority of cases the couples succumb to emotions and go for a pup. Initial two days are bliss, because a such couples usually brings home the new pup on a holiday or a long weekend only. The pup meets his new ‘pack’ (owners), develops a strong bond of friendship and fraternity. The new owners are spell bound by the antics of the pup, the way he sleeps and the way he indicates his need to go out.
The Monday morning begins to tell upon the couple, in addition to their hectic schedule for the day, they have to arrange all the meals, comfort and also toys for the new arrival. The mute pup watches everything with curiosity, doses off in between. The couple leaves, the pup being blissfully asleep. He gets up, there is a strong urge to relieve. The bladder control of the puppies is extremely weak. He needs to go out. He wobbles his way towards the door, tries to attract attention by crying, but there is no one to respond. Finally he can’t hold any longer and does his job near the dinning chair. He manages to retrace few of his steps, still drowsy. A moving cockroach attracts his attention and with is inbuilt hunting instinct the pup tries to chase the cunning pest.
Soon the pup forgets everything and begins to look for his pack leader and pack mate. They are no where around! He feels completely lost and begins to howl. Tired of crying, he staggers back to his corner. The smell of food there is relieving; he tries to lick it, but feels desolate and scared without any one around. Minutes turn to hours and hours seem to be endless, his throat aches with howling and finally after making several puddles he falls off to sleep under the sofa. He feels more secure there, as the place offers an ideal hiding and shuts off all those scary sounds of cars and vendors on the road.
Long last the masters arrive and make a search for the pup. He hears the footsteps. Chary of the noise and hullabaloo he pokes his head out of the hiding and sees his masters back home. He wriggles out jubilantly, wagging his tail and rushes towards them. He gets all the love and hugs. The pup is happy and so are the masters. No one except the pup knows about the trauma he underwent during the solitary confinement.
Time flies, the pup grows fast. Now he sleeps less and plays more. He being a creature of routine, soon picks up the difference between a working day and a weekend. On a weekend the masters laze around, they have to be virtually pulled out of the bed for his morning requirement and also for a bout of play. While on a working day everything thing is done with clock-work precision. The puppy and the owners wish there was a holiday 24x7! Alas, if wishes were horses beggars would ride!
A growing pup is full of energy; it needs to be released with lots of play, lots of work. Being instinctively of clean habits, no pup wants to soil his lair. It wants to go out. These outings also give him a chance to explore, to find out more about the surroundings, dogs etc. Alas, all that is not possible, his owners need to work to earn enough to buy more toys for him.
The owners fail to understand that no toy can replace the camaraderie with the pack members and the leader. Being a pack animal a pup is genetically not designed to stay alone. He needs to hear the sounds of his owners, feel the smells and also feel their touch on his body. The sounds can be recorded and smells can be apparently transmitted from used clothes, socks etc, but alas nothing can replace the human touch. A pup brought up in isolation becomes a weird kind of creature. He can become destructive to the extent that he may destroy anything in the house and injure himself. He may become an impulsive chewer first and then a biter.
Such puppies are hardly socialized. They do not know how to behave in presence of other children/dogs/people. The instinct tells him that anything that walks fast or runs; could be a game. Therefore the moment such a dog finds the neighbor’s five year old daughter romping in the park on the weekend; he goes after her and tries to catch her. Poor girl’s skin is too soft for the brute’s fangs and she begins to bleed. There ensues the trouble for the dog and the owner. For no fault the dog is branded a biter and the owner if he sides with the dog then he had it. Per force the owner starts getting harsh with his dog.
With the daily addition of dog’s mischief the owner begins to reprimand him and even punish him severally more and more. The affectionate bond between the owners and the dog seem to be lost in social milieu. Some friends advise hiring a trainer. A weekend trainer is located and agrees to train the dog against a hefty fee.
The priorities of the owners are their jobs and the dog. Thus a trainer is welcome. Soon the dog seems to be better behaved and begins to respond to commands effectively. Soon his attitude towards the children in the park also changes. Owners heave a sigh of relief. But their relief is short lived.
The hours of loneliness begin to tell upon the dog heavily now and one day while attempting to release his pent up energy in the sitting room of the owner, he begins to dig the sofa. His claw got stuck in the fabric of the tapestry and in no time the chunks of foam were all over the room. They made ideal toys to tear apart further. By the time the masters returned the dog lay exhausted after a good days hunt. Rest need not be written, the corporal punishment the dog must have received must have been terrible!
Question is should the working couples rear a dog or not? If you ask my frank opinion, the answer is NO. A dog being a pack animal needs the company of the pack throughout the day. Just try to peep in to a dog’s world, you will never find a working dog and a bitch! They all work and play, eat and sleep together. The concept of nuclear family is simply not there in their society. When a pup laves his litter mates and dam for the new home, he takes the new owners as his leader and pack members. As per his genetic make up, he expects the pack members to be around all through. But the sudden isolation makes him go haywire. Some turn vicious biters and others turn shy. All of them try to take their wrath on the household goods.
If at all acquiring a dog for a working couple is a must then my advise is to please ensure that the pup/ dog is not left alone for more than two hours at a stretch. For those two hours too the dog must be trained from the very puppy hood to stay alone and behave. Being a creature of routine and fast learners by experience, it is not difficult to teach a puppy to stay alone. Suitable rewards when he behaves well while left alone makes him soon understand the sanctity of training. However, this does not mean that he will remain sane even after two hours. As this is usually the maximum limit of his patience to remain away from his pack. In addition to training providing toys that keep the dog occupied, playing sound tracks of household sounds, leaving an old sock or two in his kennel are nice ways to keep the dog in good humor while left alone.
In case the couple can phase their jobs in such a way that one leaves two hours before the other and returns likewise and also have a maid or an assistant who remains in the house after the last person has left, minimizes the dog’s trauma.