Canine behaviourist Shirin Merchant’s tips for pet parents during Deepavali

Follow these dos and dont’s to ensure your pet is comfortable
Shirin Merchant, India’s first certified canine behaviourist, has worked in this field for 24 years. In 1998, she conceptualised – Canines Can Care – an organisation dedicated to pioneering a variety of canine-related activities in India. The organisation has pioneered the use of assistance dogs in the country. In 1999, Shirin began canine training and behaviour courses for dog lovers in India, advocating kinder, positive training methods as opposed to intimidation and punishment. In 2018, Shirin was among the 112 women felicitated as ‘First Lady’ by the President of India for having transcended barriers to achieve a milestone and declared to be the ‘first’ in their respective fields. On a recent visit to Bengaluru, MetroPlus asked Shirin for tips that pet parents can use.

Tips to ensure your dog is comfortable during Deepavali
Feed your dog earlier in the day. Very often, if they are frightened, they won’t eat later in the evening.

Exercise your dog earlier so that you are not out at a time when the firecrackers are going off. It is a dangerous time because your dog could run away out of fear.

Put your dog in a room where the noise is lowest. Shut all the doors and windows and close the curtains as well. Very often, the dogs will connect the noise to what they see in the sky. Then you can start something that generates white noise such as a TV or AC to help drown out the sounds of the crackers.

People need to also realise that when frightened, dogs go into tight corners. It makes them feel secure. Allow your dog to go under the bed, behind a cupboard. If there is no space like that, create one.

For your dog’s mental and physical well-being
Most people don’t think enough. Do a lot of research about the breed. The most important thing when bringing a dog home is to be ready to give the dog your time. Without that, the dog can get stressed and/or depressed. Give breed-specific exercise that will help it feel that it is living a full life.

Try to reduce your dog’s day-to-day stress level.
With a bit of training, your dog will learn how to behave and be well-mannered. Without that, one many constantly be shouting at the dog or disciplining it for naughty behaviour.
Patience. People need to know it’s not an overnight process and they need to be involved.
Let your dog be. A lot of people take the dog out and make them see the firecrackers and that always makes it worse. Some dogs like it if we sit next to them and comfort them and some don’t. So do that accordingly.

When a lot of guests come over, there is a lot of noise and chaos in the house. A lot of dogs may not like that. If your dog is like that allow him/her to be in a room where he can be quiet. Don’t force him to come out.

Keep an eye on your dog. Ensure that his routine doesn’t go for a toss because it is Deepavali. Spend time with your dog like you usually would.

A lot of people also feed their dog festival food. That is not good for the dog. If you want to treat your dog, just give them a healthy dog treat. Or play with your dog. Sometimes, that is the best option.

Dogs don’t understand that the noise is outside. They think it is in the house and panic and run out of the house. If your dog has a tag attached to its neck with your phone number, that can help get your dog back.

Don’t put diyas down at the dog’s level. The dog can get burnt or tail can get burnt if it gets caught by mistake. Some dogs even like to eat up the oil

Source : The Hindu

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