If you are proud of your dog for being able to sit, stay and shake hands, you underestimate him. Jay Biswas, a veteran trainer who held a session at Animel Planet recently, assured pet owners that their dogs have the potential to achieve much more.
“It’s just that pet parents lack knowledge,” says Biswas, who has over 20 years of experience at Tata Motors’ dog squad in Jamshedpur and at his own centre Burning Eyes K9.
While you may have a trainer teaching your dog, Biswas asks pet parents to do it themselves. “Trainers are not always updated with the latest techniques and since it is you who will be with the dog the rest of the day you need to up your game,” he says.
To help pet parents, Biswas will be coming for weekend sessions at Animel Planet’s BD Block and New Town’s Swapno Bhor centres. Here is the second installment of the tips The Telegraph Salt Lake picked up from his orientation session recently-
Where you go wrong
Train your dog yourself
Biswas cited some common mistakes that pet parents make-
Feeding: Many complain that their dogs refuse to eat unless hand-fed but this is your fault, not the dogs’. If you fuss over him and offer to hand feed him, why would he bother eating by himself? Similarly, if he barks constantly and you give him a biscuit, his logic tells him that he must bark for a snack. So you’re spoiling him.
Walking- Some owners don’t take their dogs out to parks fearing tick infestation but
this is unnatural for the dog. He needs to build his immunity, socialise and get familiar with new environments so he’s not scared of the unknown. Ticks are indeed a concern and after his walk, you must check his feet and ears for them. If the ticks get too many, get him treated medically and call for pest control.
The right age to train
There is no such thing. “Even an old dog can learn new tricks and I’ve taught eight or nine-year-olds with great success too. But of course, the sooner you start the better it is,” said Biswas, who adds that one should never hit the dog. “It is counter productive as it confuses him and will affect his behaviour. Rather, use repeat commands and rewards.”
Every breed can learn
If you start hand-feeding your pet, he will refuse to eat on his own
Every dog has a specialty. “Many say toy breeds cannot be trained but I’ve found Shih Tzus to be agile and obedient,” said Biswas. Even your friendly Golden Retriever who plays with every passerby can be trained not to let anyone into the house without your express permission.
Get your puppy only from an ethical breeder as he will have studied five to six generations of a dog and bitch before mating them. This will prevent genetic problems in the puppies.
The choice of breed is of utmost importance. Do you want a dog to guard your factory, play with your kids or win breed shows? Here are some pointers to keep in mind before zeroing in on a breed —
Beagles: People find Beagles cute and think their size is manageable but these dogs have boundless energy. Senior citizens will not be able to keep up with them.
St Bernards: Most apartments these days have tiled floors and this is terrible for large dogs whose paws slip when trying to get up. They get hip and joint problems. There are St Bernards living in such flats who are only able to walk up to their feeding bowls and back. Families living in such homes should get dogs weighing less than 15kg.
Tarun Gupta of Animel Planet shared how a customer bought a St Bernard from him once, only to leave him tied in his driveway, panting in the heat and getting barked at by street dogs. “I swore that day never to sell another St Bernard in Calcutta,” he shook his head sadly.
Small flats also must not get giant breeds like Great Danes who have no space to move about.
Malinois: Breeds like Belgian Malinois are much coveted but they require professional-level workouts. “When other dogs retire after a run, these guys have just warmed up. Dobermans and Dalmatians are similar and if you cannot channelise their energy they’ll get aggressive,” said Biswas. “I discourage people from keeping Belgian Malinois as pets at home. They are working dogs.”
Huskies: Siberian Huskies are another breed Biswas advises people not to adopt. “You may tell yourself that the breed has adapted to Calcutta climes after several generations here but that’s a lie. Even 16°C— the coolest our ACs can provide — is hot for them. And these dogs are meant to run miles in the snow pulling sleds, not sit in a room all day,” he explained.
Indies: Indies make great companions — Biswas himself has two rescued ones — and to an extent they are trainable too. “The issue with them is that their gene line cannot be determined and so characteristics can’t be predicted at birth. I’ve found most of them to be fearful, which is a problem if you’re trying to train them as working dogs like Belgian Malinois or Rottweilers.”
Indian breeds: Indian hounds like Rajapalayam are gaining popularity these days and Biswas has trained some too. “While they are best suited to local climates, their gene pool needs to be stronger. I’m sure this will happen in the years to come with selective breeding. As of now, the armed forces had started using them but had to discontinue due to their drawbacks,” Biswas said.