Confidence comes with early socialisation

Socialisation for dogs isn’t the same thing as humans interacting with one another. In the case of humans, just interacting with fellow humans is often perceived as socialisation. Since dogs are meant to comply in our habitats, all forms of exposure to stimuli are counted as socialisation.
Expose your dog to a plethora of new stimuli like objects, sounds, humans, other dogs and other small animals. The main aim is to make the dog more comfortable in the environment around him/her. We can never guarantee that the dog will be sensitised with everything he is to encounter in the future but more socialisation always ensures he/she will be more confident in new scenarios.

Why it’s important

For a dog to be comfortable in their human habitat, we need to interact with them daily and set out a plan of action where they get to meet young children, friendly dogs in the neighbourhood, adults and other pets. Exposing them to new sounds and sights like doorbells, umbrellas, hats, wheelchair, etc would be an added benefit for them to have a stable temperament.

A well-socialised dog is calm, even-tempered, friendly and generally happier.

Tips for socialising

Most effective age for puppies is 4-12 weeks. This is when they learn the most and go through their first ‘fear period’.

Introducing the dog to one new experience every day can be the most effective strategy to follow.

Make sure the dog meets and plays with at least 3-4 different pets every week which are not regular pack members.

Allow the dog to be handled by young children and promote feeding and sharing of toys to the young visitors at home. This also helps in educating and motivating children to handle dogs appropriately. But always supervise them.

Ensure regular reinforcement in the form of praise during all these encounters so the dog associates the experiences with happiness.

Ideas for socialising

Seeing that human lifestyles have developed to an overwhelming pace where most people do not have time for themselves during the week let alone their dogs, all these things may sound time consuming to many. Here are some ideas that pet parents in cities can try for a more joyous socialisation journey with their pets.

Play dates: Call over a dog from your friend circle or neighbourhood.

Group class: Join your local obedience instructor for training classes in groups where your puppy gets to socialise and enjoy the training.

Dog parties: Throw parties on regular occasions inviting all dogs for dog-friendly pleasantries like cakes, treats, swimming pool, etc.

Dog parks: Dog parks are still not a very prominent feature in India, but do book a place in your neighbouring parks for a highly enjoyable day for your pooches.

Involve your dog: Try and take your dog along to as many new places as possible – market, in your car, to open fields, etc. This will also give you a chance to strengthen obedience in your dog.

Why do dogs tilt their head?

It’s one of the cutest things dogs do – tilt their head from side to side, and drive everyone mad with happiness. But why do they do it? Science says...

Dogs tilt to see better and hear better. Unlike humans, who have a flat face, dogs have a muzzle, which blocks their vision – unless they tilt their heads.

Regarding hearing, dogs have earflaps that move, making it easier for them to locate the source of a sound – and how far or near it is...

-Adnan Khan

Banned food for cats

We usually extend a little piece of whatever we are eating to our pets. But for cats, some food items are best avoided or are a complete no-no.

Onions: Giving onions to your cats increases chances of anaemia as it breaks down the RBCs inside the cat’s body. It can also cause indigestion or stomach upset.

Raw meat or eggs: Raw eggs and raw meat contain salmonella or E.coli bacteria, which can cause vomiting or diarrhoea. Raw eggs also contain avidin which interferes with absorption of biotin in body; deficiency of biotin leads to hair loss and skin issues.

Mushrooms: It contains toxins which can lead to systemic shock or complete organ failure.

Raisins and grapes: It can cause vomiting, sickness, kidney failure and hyperactivity due to the toxic effect of raisins.

Fish: High amount of fish can cause thiamine deficiency, which leads to seizures. Moreover, the bones of fish can get stuck in the throat and cause lacerations.

Chocolates: Theobromine, a chemical compound found in chocolates, is toxic for cats and can cause seizures, tremors, abnormal heart beat, even death. Never feed chocolates to cats.

Chicken bones: It can get stuck in the digestive tract and cause internal bleeding, puncturing or tearing of intestinal lining, infection and death.

Dairy products: Most cats are lactose intolerant; it causes diarrhoea.

Candy and gums... contain xylitol which causes seizures.

Prevention: Many cases of toxicity of human foods in cats are accidental. Best way to prevent such cases is to keep the listed items in closed storage — where cats can’t reach them — and by maintaining vigilance on such items and activity of the cats. If your pet shows signs of tremors, diarrhoea, take him/her to your veterinarian for immediate medical attention.

(Dr Madhurita Gupta, veterinarian);

End of the article

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