Know your Pooch
The writer is former director, GSI, and an avid animal lover. His understanding of man's best friend comes from over six decades of dedicated association with it…
Grooming is considered only as an aid to improve the beauty of your dog. No doubt it does and that is why a number of dog parlours have mushroomed in our country. Well, I am not against the dog parlours, but just wish to share the advantages of self-grooming your dog.
Do you know that dogs groom each other? If you don’t, then just observe any two friendly dogs. You will find that they will be busy grooming each other constantly. Dogs groom with their tongue and when doing nothing your dog is busy grooming himself. And look at the bitch with her new born litter. She is all the time busy grooming them. As soon as a pup is delivered, she licks open the bag and then cuts the cord with her teeth and then begins to groom the pup vigorously. She does it so fast that at times a novice breeder thinks that she is going to eat her puppy and tries to stop her or snatch the puppy. No bitch wants to eat her own new born. With her rapid licking she manages to clean the mouth of the pup which is often filled with after birth material and is not able to breathe. Once the pup gives a cry, she licks it all over.
As long as she is nursing the puppies, she licks all male puppies on the tummy from back to front and the female puppies from front to back. This ensures that they pass urine. She licks the puppy’s urine and stool both. At that stage there is no bad odour from the litter box. Once the breeder starts weaning the puppies, a bitch can make out from the smell of their stool and stops licking the urine and stool. That is a tough time for the breeder as he has to clean up the mess to keep the surroundings neat and clean. We will discuss the details of that some other day.
The moment you bring home a new pup, while holding him in your lap, just run your fingers on his body from head to tail. You will find that the pup enjoys this action. Repeat this action daily at some particular time and while doing so whisper sweet nothings in his ears. You will find he will gradually stop being frisky at that time. Gradually replace your fingers with a doggie brush and lo, you are already grooming your dog!
The combination of your fingers and a brush or sometimes a steel comb is ideal to develop a secure bond with your pet. Watch a dam groom her eight-week-old puppies. She licks clean their faces. They raise their chin for their necks to be cleaned. She does it one by one with all the puppies. All the puppies are not alike. Some are naughty and frisky. They come running and nip at the tail of the one being groomed, or even try to mount the dam to stop her from whatever she is doing. She doesn’t get perturbed at all. If the pup is really a nuisance, she just growls at him and he either runs away or sits quietly. You will observe that she deals with such puppy at the end. By then generally the pup is tired and drowsy and she easily begins her job and the pup surrenders.
In other words, while grooming your dog you should have the patience like his dam, and instead of shouting and running after the pup, just ignore him and act as if very busy. He will come back running to you and like a good dam you can start grooming the pup again. This way grooming becomes a fun for you as well. Of course, it may take a few minutes longer, but the pleasure lies in seeing a well-groomed shinning dog.
Many people say that they are so busy that they don’t get time to groom their dog. The job is done by a servant or the dog is frequently sent to a dog parlour. No harm in that. But as explained earlier the bonding between you and your dog develops as you caress and groom the dog. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru had a Golden Retriever named Madhu. Being the Prime Minister, he was extremely busy. Madhu had a lush coat and naturally she was groomed by servants daily. But Nehru ji, unless he was out of station, never forgot to caress and groom Madhu for a few minutes daily.
It was just to explain the point that howsoever busy you may be, if you cannot spare even five minutes daily for your dog, then you might as well keep some other pet! Another advantage of regular grooming is that in the process of grooming you indirectly examine your dog’s skin regularly and a tick or flea, if any, is detected. Else you may not know that your dog has external parasites and may develop tick fever, which can be fatal. Sometimes these ticks climb on to humans too and bite to suck blood. Likewise, fleas can also infect the dog and may even start living in your beds and suck blood. Please note that fleas often carry tiny tape-worm eggs and dogs have a habit of catching and gulping them down. The eggs reach his system and infect your dog, which is a still bigger nuisance. Fleas, in fact are more dangerous than ticks. They can suck your blood too and cause many health issues. My advice is just snatching a few minutes of your hectic schedule and daily groom your dog and see the bonding he develops with you.