Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

June 16, 2021

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains dog’s behaviour and how to make friends with dogs

By Maneka Gandhi

Can I let my dog share my bed at night?

Letting your dog share your bed might not pose too much of an inconvenience if you would normally sleep alone. However, if you then decide that you no longer want it as your night time companion, getting it out of your bed might prove harder than you think.

How can one at an individual level help street animals?

The first thing is to feed the animals in your area. Make sure they are vaccinated and sterilised, and look after their health needs. You need to keep them safe from poisonous neighbours who will attack you and them.

You can help by directly donating funds to the shelter as a sponsor. Another way is to organise fund-raiser events, like fun runs or walk-a-thons, for your cause. Getting the whole community involved not only helps in reaching the monetary goal but also helps to create awareness for animals in need, that leads to helping more animals in the future. Volunteering in rescue centres is a proactive way to make a huge impact on the animals. Caring for animals is a challenging task and any help would be very much welcome. Talk to these shelters and see if they are accepting volunteers. Even just a couple of hours every week can provide a shelter with the assistance they need. 

Donating funds and supplies to animal shelters is also one of the best things you can do for animals in the shelter. Old blankets, toys, and other supplies can greatly help the shelters to save what limited resources they have. Ask your family and friends to participate in a donation drive for the benefit of your local shelter. 

Fostering is an effective way to help homeless pets in shelters. By fostering, you help rehabilitate pets and teach them how to live with humans. Elderly and special needs pets need more intensive care due to their condition. The shelters may not be able to provide the care they need in-house, and fostering is a great way to accommodate those special needs. This also helps the shelter because they can channel their limited resources to the animals that need the most care. Even the smallest things can have significant effects on the lives of animals in the shelter. If you are not able to volunteer or foster, you can still help with money. You make a huge impact when you donate to save animals. The funds will be used to buy supplies like food and medicine, and to improve the shelter’s facilities.

Why do dogs lick people?

Licking is an instinctive behaviour that dogs are born with. Dogs not only lick out of affection, but for variety of reasons, such as taste, communication, reward/ attention, to show submission, enjoyment, investigation and licking helps them release dopamine endorphins that help them calm down.

Do dogs prefer to be alone or with another dog?

As a species they have an instinctive, deeply ingrained compulsion to gather with other members of their own species. However, some dogs prefer the company of human beings instead of other dogs. And while dogs may be pack animals, new research shows that as dogs became more domesticated, they may have bonded more with humans than with other dogs. Your dog and second dog, keep each other company when you’re at work, school, or out running errands, so they won’t resort to boredom. Bringing a second dog into the family will also reduce your dog’s separation anxiety. The dogs will keep each other company while you’re away from your home, and give each other the emotional support and attention they need to stay calm, cool, and collected. Plus, they’ll have a new playmate. 

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If the family members are not free, and don’t give much time, he will get bored and prefer to have another dog as a friend with whom he can play. But if he is getting proper attention in the house, he will prefer to be alone than to have another dog, because he would feel that the love and attention he is getting will get distributed. 

Do dogs really feel sleepy when they yawn?

They could just be tired, but often there’s something deeper going on. But the yawn is often used as a calming signal. It may indicate anticipation or stress. Your dog may yawn repeatedly, when it’s waiting in the vet’s office, as a way of dealing with nervousness. Sometimes dogs yawn in anticipation of something enjoyable, such as a walk as a way of controlling enthusiasm.

Why does my puppy sit on or inside my slippers?

The scent that comes from the slippers/ shoes is your scent and this is very comforting for the dog. When you are not around, your dog might go into your room and lie on your slippers/ shoes as a way to comfort himself while you are gone.

How to comfort your dog when he is afraid?

If the dog comes running to you for comfort, don’t hesitate to give her lots of pets and love. If she hides, don’t rush to coax her out of its safe place, as that may only increase her anxiety. Instead, maintain a calm, quiet, happy environment for her to emerge into when  ready. Here are a few other suggestions for how to comfort a dog depending on the situation. 

If your dog is nervous, but you know they’re obsessed with playing fetch, try distracting them with the tennis ball. Focusing on something else can help them ignore the stressor. Scent can be a powerful calming agent for nervous pups. Pet your dog, or just sit beside it and let it feel your calming presence.

Physical contact helps lower stress in both humans and dogs. Just be sure to maintain your own calm, positive attitude. Anxiety can sometimes be relieved by physical activity. If your dog has been pacing a lot at home, or acting like they have a lot of pent-up energy, try adding an extra, brisk walk to the daily routine. Sometimes, dogs just need a break in a quiet place. If your dog is over-stimulated, more stimulation may make matters worse. Offer them a quiet room or comfy                                    area to calm down in.

Is it okay for a dog if he is not eating anything for the whole day?

Dogs can go a couple of days without food with no significant bad effects, but loss of appetite can indicate illness. First check the quality of food, if it has been changed. Dogs may lose their appetite if they are ill, have dental disease, recent vaccinations, unfamiliar surroundings, or even behavioural issues. Make sure that he is drinking water. It is normal for a dog to turn one meal every once in a while.

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Why do dogs vocalise, chew, defecate and urinate when they are separated from owners?

These are symptoms of separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety generally do not feel comfortable if separated from their owners and may begin to pace, circle, bark, whine, or display other signs of anxiety, as the owner prepares to leave. Distress vocalisation, salivating and destructive behaviour are more common signs of separation anxiety, and one or more are usually seen along with the house soiling.

Why do dogs love looking outside the window?

Same reason as you do: To see the world outside. Most of the dog owners leave their dogs in isolation at home, so this is the only way they can stay interested. Some dogs bark at passing vehicles, animals and humans, probably to get a reaction out of them and possibly to communicate. A few dogs even whine as they try to alert their owners of some unusual happenings.

How to make friends with stray dogs?

By feeding them. Do not go near them until they are ready to make friends, otherwise you will get bitten. They have been hurt, abused and chased so often that your gesture will be seen as aggressive and hostile. So, wait till they make the moves. Until then give them food at the same time and place twice a day. 

Look to one side of the dog rather than staring it down. Dogs consider this to be a sign of domination. They interpret it as a kind of challenge, and it can cause the dog to think you want to fight. 

Making a soft clicking noise with your tongue, or talking to a stray quietly, will be effective in getting a stray dog’s attention. It is imperative that you do not startle or scare a stray dog, as they can become defensive and potentially attack you. Move slowly, remain calm, and use a soothing voice, doing so should keep you from scaring the dog, and thus help keep you safe too.

You might be able to get the dog to come to you by calling to it in a soothing voice and putting out your hand with food in it if it shows interest, such as by wagging its tail. Hold out your hand palm down. This is less threatening to most animals, and also lessens the chances of your fingers being bitten. Allow the animal to finish its examination of your hand, then slowly move your hand to its shoulder. Do not pet its head, as it may scare them or cause them to bite. Remember that many animals have areas that they do not like having touched, so go slowly and allow the animal to tell you whether what you are doing is okay with its reactions.

Why do dogs sniff each other’s rear?

Dogs sniff each other’s rear as a form of greeting and to obtain vital information from anal secretions: If the dog is aggressive, ill, or if they have met before. That aroma emanating from the anal region is a unique form of canine identification. In addition to chemical communication, dogs smell rear ends as a calming mechanism, which soothes them and serves as a stress reliever.

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