Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

September 18, 2019

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how to teach a dog to ‘speak’ and to be ‘quiet’ on command

By Maneka Gandhi

What should I do when a stray dog is removed and repositioned to another location?

According to the ‘Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001’ and the ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960’ (PCA, 1960) and the Supreme Court orders, relocation of stray dogs and other animals is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). People committing such a crime will render themselves liable for action under the ‘CCS Conduct Rules.’ You can also reach out to your area’s local Police Department to enforce the law.

It is foolish to relocate dogs. More dogs will come to take their place almost immediately and these will be less friendly. Dogs will keep coming as long as there is food available. The relocated dogs will be a nuisance where they have been sent, as they have no idea where to find food and will be hostile to the local people, as they have themselves been victimised.

Can the Residential Welfare Associations (RWAs) ban people from feeding animals residing                                     in the Colony?

There is no law in India that prohibits people from feeding stray animals. RWAs, or any other general body, cannot legally ban people from feeding animals residing in the Colony, nor can they frame or amend bye-laws in manner that contradicts the laws of the country (even if there is a general consensus). In fact, under the article 51A of the Indian Constitution, it is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to have compassion for all living creatures and, therefore, such associations would be meddling with the fundamental freedom guaranteed to all India citizens — ‘freedom to choose a life they wish to live.’

However, they can designate exact feeding spots instead of letting the animals be fed all over the place. This is good for the dogs and for the residents.

How can I be trained to provide first-aid to an animal in distress?

The best way to learn is with a local vet or animal shelter, and work during the weekends or the holidays. For instance my shelter, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (SGACC), India’s oldest and Delhi’s largest all-animal shelter, offers free training and internship opportunities. Get this book ‘First-Aid for Animals’ by Gautam Grover & Maneka Gandhi. For more information, visit People for Animal’s official website, or click on the link provided below: https://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org/first-aid-for-animals.php

As an animal lover, why can’t I just be vegetarian and not vegan?

Vegetarianism is an intermediate step. It reduces the animals that are killed. But the milk and egg industry — which is what vegetarians take part in — is equally massively cruel. And both lead to animals being killed for slaughter after they have stopped giving milk and eggs. Also, it does not help in bringing down the slaughter. If an animal is grown for milk/ eggs then obviously it will go for slaughter. Therefore, both these industries — which contribute massively towards global warming, floods and desertification — should be avoided. It is difficult to be vegan, because milk and eggs hide in so many products — sweets, baked foods etc. But once a large number of people become vegan, these will stop being polluted.

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Why are Elephants important?

In a self-sustaining ecosystem, all species, within a habitat, are inter-dependent on one another for their survival and all species are, therefore, interconnected. While each species contributes towards the overall integrity of the system, some species perform unique, yet indispensable, duties to maintain biodiversity and a proper balance in the ecosystem. Elephants, the largest terrestrial animals in the world, are one such ‘Keystone Species’ and have a significant bearing on the rate of survival of surrounding species. They create grasslands by pulling down trees and thorny bushes. They dig waterholes with their tusks in dry riverbeds, which become an important source of water for other creatures. Elephant dung is an important source of food for many organisms, and plays a crucial role in enriching nutrient-content of soil and dispersing seeds.

Will a plant-based diet increase the levels of protein deficiency in the human body?

The recommended protein for the human is about 8 gms a day. Any more than that affects the kidneys. Which is why meat eaters have such a large percentage of kidney problems. Vegan diets are more than capable of fulfilling these requirements Soy and quinoa are thought to be sources of complete proteins. Beans, lentils, tofu, nuts (peanuts, almonds, etc.) and green and leafy vegetables, are all protein-rich, plant-based, sources. Even a potato is capable of providing protein nourishment.

What kind of questions to ask yourself before adopting an animal?

Are you giving the dog a home or a jail? Animals adapt and submit to anything. Treating them with respect and compassion. Good food served on time. A place to sleep. Physical care. No tying up or beating. Caring for animals is a commitment that requires an investment of time and love.

Is it right to euthanise extremely sick animals?

Mercy or murder? This is the controversy that surrounds animal euthanasia. If a pet is suffering, a vet will advise that putting them down is the kindest thing to do. But, in cases where the animal can die a natural death it is not right to euthanise the animals. It is ethically wrong for someone to take away the right to live from another living being. Many times the Municipal Corporations euthanise street dogs and cats, in the name of sickness, with a hidden agenda to control the populations of these animals. Euthanasia can be seen as a necessary evil when the pet is in too much pain to live a normal life. But the destruction of animals becomes a much more controversial issue when it is used as a way of controlling population sizes.

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What if a dog suddenly becomes a biter. Can we have the dog killed?

No dog suddenly becomes a biter. Either the dog is not well, and you should have a thorough checkup done immediately to see whether he is wounded anywhere, or has internal organ failure. Or, the dog has been treated badly by someone in your house. Or, the dog is tied up most of the time. Or, the dog is severely underfed and hungry. First check all these and then see if you can get a trainer to retrain the dog.

My street has a watch guard. Every night for security purposes he whistles, which has started to irritate my dog to no end. He is barking in the dead of the night. What should I do?

There are certain things you need to know before you attempt to train your dog on his barking.

Your dog gets some kind of reward when he barks. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it. Figure out what he gets out of barking, and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behaviour.

If he barks at people or animals passing by the window, manage his behaviour by closing the curtains, or putting your dog in another room.

If he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard, bring him into the house. Never leave your dog outside unsupervised. Also, ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. Do not give him any attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to him, don’t touch him, and don’t look at him. When he finally quiets down, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat.

To teach your dog to bark on command, give him the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”

Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

Make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A well exhausted dog is a good dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks, as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

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