Dog biting cases on rise; dos and don’ts for pet owners explained by a canine behaviour specialist
A string of recent dog biting cases has put pet owners in the firing line in housing societies and colonies. A canine behaviour specialist on dos and don'ts for pet owners.
A string of recent dog biting cases has put pet owners in the firing line in housing societies and colonies. A few days back, a child was bitten inside a housing society lift even as the dog owner looked on as a mute spectator. In another case, an 11-year-old boy was attacked by a pitbull dog and got 150 stitches in his face. In yet another incident, a Zomato delivery executive was attacked by a German Shepherd. (Also read: Dog biting in elevator: Love for animals sufficient to overtake compassion?)
Pet experts point out that this has less to do with pet’s behaviour and more to do with little or no investment in training of dogs which could be one of the key reasons for the rise in dog-bite cases.
What makes adult pet dogs attack somebody without provocation
“As far as I could see, these dogs as well as their owners were not trained. They had no clue about the right way of raising their dogs plus their selection of the breed was wrong. Most importantly, the reason for such attacks in addition to lack of proper training is also lack of proper exercises. They just take the dogs out for a few outings and half-a-km walk inside their colonies. Every breed has very high exercise requirement be it pitbull, beagle or german shephard and their frustration in not being exercised mentally or physically is clearly exhibiting in all of the videos that I have seen of the incidents,” says Adnaan Khan, Canine Behaviour Specialist, Founder, K9 School, in a telephonic interview with HT Digital.
How to ease pet’s anxiety
Khan says the best way to ease anxiety of pet dogs is by giving them as much physical and mental exposure as possible making sure the natural requirements of the breed are met by finding out how much a breed should be physically exercised; how much mental exercise or training is required for that breed.
“So, these breeds will really benefit from doing things like sports, otherwise it's an empty mind and boring life for the dog and they have to have an outlet to take out that frustration,” says the canine behaviour specialist.
Signs that your pet is getting aggressive
Khan says one must connect with the dog trainer or behaviour specialist to find out how to keep their dog happy.
“Dogs are so adaptable that they adjust into monotonous and mundane life they are exposed to by pet owners. Owners are not able to figure out if the dogs are happy or not. Basic signs are being too hyper, too jumpy or being too depressed or barking too much or being restless. If your dog is lying down but not sleeping, not resting and they will essentially display all the problem behaviours that could be due to lack of physical and mental exercise,” says Khan.
What to do if your dog has bitten someone
“What constitutes a responsible pet ownership is sending a copy of your dog's vaccine records (to the person who is bitten), enrolling your dog in strict training and rehab programme; all the medical care and funds for the recovery of the subject must be taken care of by dog's owner among other things,” says Khan.
What to do before getting a dog
According to Khan, it is important to go for the right breed as per one’s lifestyle and invest in the right training programme for them to avoid any untoward incidents in future.
“Most important thing is that people make a right decision in pre-puppy consultation before they buy the dog. They should connect with a dog behaviour specialist to understand what breed they should go for according to their lifestyle and where they should get it from. Once they get their puppy enrolled in early classes, most of the battles can be won in first 7-12 months if the right behaviours and habits get established. None of these incidents are bound to happen. I raise and train extremely dangerous breeds which are considered to be most aggressive and most brutal but they are trained very well in the first two years and they easily excel and exist in social environments even in the most chaotic ones like railways stations, airports and other such places,” says the founder of K9 School.
Khan warns that one must not consider training the dog early on as a luxury expense. He adds that due to neglect in trainings the dog, there is bound to have some damage later on which might lead to abandonment, some legal law suit or social resentment on the basis of the dog's dangerous behaviour.
Kalhan Kaul, dog trainer, K9 School and who’s also attached with Friendicoes says: "You learn driving before buying a car, they why do you get a dog without learning about it?"
Half knowledge is dangerous in the dogs' world, so know and read about the breed before bringing the dog home. Train the dog as per the breed requirement (Pitbull requirements are different from Labrador or Retriever)
Kaul adds that no dog should be allowed to walk off leash, irrespective of the breed. The dog trainer also advises one to pay attention to the body language of the dog and the surroundings.
“Keep your phones and other distraction away. Keeping phones at home while walking the dog is advisable. Also, relationship with your dog should be - training > discipline> love in that specific order,” adds Kaul.