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Routine is important for dogs

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Routine is important for dogs

Therefore, if you want your dog to be happy, try to mend your ways and get into the habit of following a routine...

Routine is important for dogs

Know Your Pooch

VK Joshi

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

Dogs are creatures of routine. Their biological clock is more precise than a Swiss clock! Likewise, the moment a pup is born till he dies, if left on his own he follows a strict schedule. For example, after the dam cleans her newborn, she feeds him at two-hour intervals. After each feed dam licks clean the pup.

This licking has two objectives. At that stage, the evacuation muscles of the pup are not yet formed. Therefore, a bitch licks to help the pup in passing urine and faeces. At this point in time her smelling power comes in handy. She ingests the pup’s faeces. Sounds dirty, well yes, but nature has its own ways. As long as she nurses the pup, she licks him clean. The day either she or the breeder gives the first meal, which is generally when the pup is around 21 days old, she stops licking. By then the rectal and the bladder muscles of the pup begin to function. And instinctively the bitch knows how to go about it. In case a pup is hand-reared due to any contingency, the dam stops licking him-then it is for the breeder to ensure that the pup evacuates after each meal.

An experienced breeder knows a pup’s schedule and rears him in the desired manner. Good breeders always inform the new owner about the feeding schedule etc. of the pup. In the new home pup gets gradually used to new sounds, smells and food. The pup is genetically programmed to follow a routine. Unfortunately, the novice owner is generally ignorant of this programme. The problems begin to crop in when there is a clash of schedules.

For a novice owner, it is difficult to grasp the nature of the biological clock of the pup. In fact, it is the other way around. After initial hiccups, the pup begins to make adjustments. I have seen in my kennel the litter would get up early, demand food, play etc. In case a pup went to a late-rising family in no time he would begin to get up late. But still, he would expect at least some kind of schedule, especially for his feed etc.

Dogs are gifted with an uncanny power of observation. These dumb-looking creatures do remember the sequence of daily events. That is how your dog learns that in the morning when you start putting on your walking shoes-it is time for him to go out. He waits for his first meal of the day when he hears the clang of a particular bowl in the kitchen. Similarly, he seems to have a watch in his brain and awaits the children at the door from school. Often walk happily in front of them as they go to their room. Sits patiently and awaits them to come and pat him or sometimes have a quick bout of play.

Again, in the evening though his hearing power aids him in knowing your arrival, much before any of the family members know because he can hear your car’s horn at a distance. But it is not that simple. He does not sit and try to listen to your car horn all the time. His clock tells him that now it is time for you to arrive.

I had trained my Labrador Goldy to fetch my walking shoes and socks after I had my tea on return from the office. Even on a Sunday, she would wait for the cup of tea in my hand. The gleam in her eyes showed the happiness she was experiencing as the moment for her outing was getting closer! During my last sip, I had just to point towards my feet with my eyes and she would jubilantly rush to get the shoes and socks and also her leash. At that point in time her gyrating waist and fast-moving tail could put any salsa dancer to shame.

Having observed the dogs for years, I tried to follow a particular traverse in the evening. And Goldy or for that matter any other dog knew where to look for what. They knew where the enemy would be lurking and also knew by instinct which pole to mark more. This is common for all domestic dogs. If the owner keeps changing his traverse many dogs do not feel comfortable. Being animals, they are always scared of imaginary foes and on a new track they always suspect a dog behind every bush and every nook and corner.

During the walk, a dog seems to know that now it is time to return and he prefers to walk ahead, leading you back home. In case you change your mind and try to go back, he will resent you for lagging behind or maybe refuse to walk further! Similarly, if you cut short your walk for some reason, the dog will show his resentment. Because he knows that as per his routine, the walk is not yet over.

Dogs are great sticklers for routine. Therefore, if you want your dog to be happy, try to mend your ways and get into the habit of following a routine. You will see life becomes easy thereafter. It does require a bit of sacrifice of getting up early at the same time every day. You cannot afford to have that ‘little extra sleep’. Feed, walk and play with the dog at the same time daily. Even the duration of play or walk has to be the same every day unless the dog is sick. It sounds difficult but believe me, if you start following a schedule regularly you will be able to mould yourself into it smoothly and your dog will begin to mimic you easily.

Yet another significant point to be kept in mind is to understand the mental phobias of your dog. For example, a sudden attack by stray dogs on the road creates fear in the mind of the dog. Next time onwards he resents walking through that area. If you are more powerful and overpower him, next time he may not budge out of the house or may cling to the road like a lizard and refuse to move. If such is the case try to avoid taking the dog through that part of the road, and change your direction so that he enjoys his outing.

Your dog must have his schedule and it is for you to understand that and follow.

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