Prepping for a pupper
A seven-week puppy class for owners, new and experienced, will provide guidance on what to expect and how to raise your pooch
A week after completing her masters in clinical animal behaviour from the UK, 21-year-old Amanda Tong is back in her hometown, Mumbai, and hosting a much-needed workshops series — a puppy workshop for owners and their little ones with her new venture, The Animal Behaviour Academy. With small batches of four puppies, the 90-minute weekly classes offer ample attention to each participant as well as time to practise what's taught at home. Spread over seven weeks, these classes cover everything that to-be pet parents need to know about bringing home a puppy. They even have reading material and a set schedule that walks you through everything from how to pick a pup to communicating with them, besides post-workshop guidance.
Amanda Tong with three year old Joey
The first session is a talk for parents only, where they will be acquainted with what it takes to raise a pup, including why you should meet the pup and connect before picking him/her up. "Never rely on pictures. It's always better to meet the puppy upfront for an insight into their surroundings and check for medical conditions. Unfortunately, social media plays a big role in influencing how people choose a dog today. But it's crucial to figure out how much time you can devote to your dog because even a small dog with high energy levels, like a beagle, requires a lot of effort and energy to raise," advises Tong.
But even someone with a small home can adopt a dog as long as they are taken for a walk four times a day for at least half a km when they are younger, and a couple of kms a day as they grow up, recommends Niloufer Irani, founder of animal rescue NGO Animals Matter To Me. But she suggests that it's best not to buy a puppy from a breeder, primarily because the belief of getting a dog mated for him/her to be healthier, isn't true. "Dogs mate only to reproduce. So, if you have a dog, it's best to get them neutered as it helps prevent uterine issues and testicle cancer. There are no ethical breeders, which means puppies will continue to have medical issues. It's advisable to adopt from a person whose dog has accidentally had puppies or to adopt an abandoned dog," Irani says. These include expensive breeds like huskies who are unsuitable for Mumbai's humid weather. "Keep their coats trimmed and ensure they drink enough water and stay in a cooler part of the apartment. Also give them time as you need to form a secure bond with them," adds Tong.
Niloufer Irani with her fostered husky
And hence, pet parents bring their pups in the second week, where the focus moves to obedience tactics. "Owners believe that just by asking their dogs to sit, it works. But you could use hand gestures that work better. More so, it also helps in case the dog loses his/her hearing at a later stage," she adds.
This is followed by a session on impulse training where you learn how to make your pooch feel safe and comfortable and not eat stuff lying around. The fourth week focuses on leash walking to make sure walks are relaxed and calm, followed by a lesson on exposure to new situations such as traffic, a crucial factor in a city like Mumbai, and different objects. Week six will teach the pups to play games like fetch, which also helps in their mental development, while the last week will focus more on understanding their body language. Parents and their puppers end the course with a ceremony, where the pooches get a certificate. And treats, of course.
FROM February 9
AT Mahim. (Details on booking).
Cost Rs 8,000 (for seven weeks)
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