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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Why your dogs are thinks like a doggie?


You say your pet is your baby. But when you speak human, it thinks in doggie. Here's how to get on the same page
Aneesha Rai, a pet groomer, admits to being a "paranoid pet parent who used to humanise my pets and treat them as my babies". She cooed enthusiastically when four-monthold Elsa and five-year-old Bubbles played rough and tumble games for hours. She allowed Bubbles to sleep up on the bed and get away with disobedience, putting it down to her being a brat.
Slowly, as the disobedience issues got worse, she realised the problem was of communication. She was sending them signs, which in doggie language, meant they were the boss and did not have to listen to her.
This gap in language is usually the root of a lot of parent-pet discord. According to canine behaviourist Shirin Merchant, the best thing you can do for your pet is understand (s)he is a dog and relate to it as such. Here are a few behaviours that we could think are cute but mean something more serious in the doggie world.

Rough play
If you have two or more dogs, they tend to play rough games that involve nipping with each other, especially if one or both of them are puppies. They are practising dog-to-dog aggression, and are most likely to carry it on to other dogs, or even humans. This would pose a problem with socialisation. Aneesha figured this out and now lets them play together only when they are too tired to play rough games. The aggression is channelised into chew toys, walks or runs.

A hug is a greeting gesture for us, but dogs only stand on their hind legs and hug each other when they attack. While pet dogs may have been bullied by our affections into accepting this behaviour, strange dogs find this very intimidating. So if you are going to greet an unknown stray with an embrace, don't blame it if it bites.
Sleep on the bed: You think its love; the dog thinks its promotion. In animal packs, the leader usually sleeps in an elevated position. So when you allow your dog on the sofa or bed, and (s)he does not climb off when you tell it to, it's because (s)he thinks (s)he's the boss. Usually, such a dog with also show other signs of disobedience, such as not coming when called, refusal to give his/her toy to you or growling when you touch his/her food. That's because it can't understand why (s)he has to listen to underlings like you.

Playing tug
Playing tug by itself is a fight for dominance, but it can be a game if you set the rules. You should initiate the game, not it; and it should let go of the toy when you ask. Pull in an up-down motion, or backwards and forwards; never side-ways. This mimics the motions of killing a prey, and you don't want it to make that association with the toy.

Mild reprimands
If your dog barks at another dog, and you just reprimand mildly by saying, "No baba. Don't do that. You're a good dog, na?" the dog is hearing, "Good job. Go, get that pest." When dogs display attention, they glance back at their owners or elder dogs to confirm support. They wouldn't take on another dog without being assured of back-up. The first step is to not make eye-contact with a dog when there is mild barking (while still sitting down), and when it gets out of hand, give a sharp tug and say 'No' in a very loud, sharp voice. Dogs catch on to tone more than the meaning of words. Soft tones mean encouragement and if you sprinkle the words 'good' or 'nice', they do not get the meaning and perceive it as encouragement.

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