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An untrained pet can land you in jail!

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.

An untrained pet can land you in jail!

If a guard dog is properly bred and trained, he is an asset. The same breed may have a specimen that is shy or nervous and in the hands of an ignorant owner can cause havoc...

An untrained pet can land you in jail!

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

I am not joking. A majority of dog owners are oblivious to the law and become irresponsible pet parents. To make it simpler, let me express it with a different kind of example. Suppose your teenage son becomes rowdy, may be due to your mishandling, or he falls into bad company without your knowledge, and one night at 2 AM there is a knock on your door. You open with caution, after asking several questions. The person outside turns out to be a cop and informs you that your son has fractured the skull of another youth who is now in a precarious state in a hospital. The apple of your eye is behind the bars in the police station and you are asked to rush there immediately.

You try to ring up some lawyer friends and relatives, but in vain at that hour of the night. After six hours of running from pillar to post, you manage to bail out your son and face the stress of more rounds to the courts and whatnot, apart from social stigma. This just happened because of your ignorance!

Now coming to the pet dog. All of a sudden you or your loved ones decide to acquire a pet. You have either never kept a dog as a pet or have kept an Alsatian who was very docile, loyal, and almost human, as per your assessment. Thus, once again, you decide to go for an Alsatian. This time it is also a prestige issue because you have built a ‘kothi’ on a 10000 square feet plot and need a dog as a guard and also for the newly acquired ‘status’.

Since you don’t know the difference between a guard dog and a watchdog, I can’t blame you. A guard dog seldom bites, he guards the premises and in case of an intrusion gives a warning growl and if the situation is out of control, he attacks. Such breeds of dogs are more intelligent than many others. They can use their intelligence to guard you or your home and they may even use it for their benefit! A watch dog on the other hand is an incessant barker, he barks at any sound, even at his own shadow!

If a guard dog is properly bred and trained, he is an asset. The same breed may have a specimen that is shy or nervous and in the hands of an ignorant owner can cause havoc. Rottweilers, for example, belong to the working group of dogs, they are excellent with family and may even become friends with the friends of the family. Some individuals may remain aloof. Both types need constant training and socialization. If left to themselves, their agility, highly muscular body, and extra-powerful jaws can land you in trouble. Recently I came across a woman, whose leg had been virtually chewed off by a Rottweiler of the house, where she worked as a domestic help. I don’t blame the breed; it is the fault of the owners. Since the dog is extra-powerful, roughhousing by the owners turned him aggressive. Till six months of age, he was a playful gem.

Out of 27 lakh odd people who were bitten by dogs in 2023, about 20% were cases of aggression by pet dogs. The rest were of course street dogs. As a pet dog owner, it becomes obligatory for you to keep your dog under control. I may add here that in section 289 of the IPC, a victim can file a complaint against you for negligent conduct concerning an animal or under IPC 337 for causing hurt for an act endangering life or personal safety which can land you in jail for six months or bear a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh. It is a different matter that the majority of the people in the society are ignorant of these provisions and dog bite cases are resolved by the members of the society in their own ways. But if your dog’s victim is an enlightened person, then you have had it.

After reading this you may be thinking, ‘What can I do now? My dog is already four years old and whether good or bad, he is my pet!’ Or you may be intending to get a dog for the first time. You are in two minds whether to adopt one or whether to buy a highly pedigreed pup!

Let me dispel your doubts. An even-tempered dog can be trained at any age. However, you must understand what is meant by an even-tempered dog. Such dogs are playful, they sometimes welcome even strangers. They don’t slink under the bed, or tuck their tales between their hind legs, or bare their teeth with a growl, or raise their hackles on meeting a stranger or a guest in your house. Another fact that you must know is that whether pedigreed or a street dog both can be even-tempered or bad-tempered.

In case you own an even-tempered dog, more than half the battle is won. You have just to turn to the back issues of this magazine and learn the skill of training a dog for basic manners and also how to socialize him. But if you have a shy or a nervous or a vicious dog then the training and or socialization will take time. You may have to consult a dog behaviourist.

Some breeds, especially the toys, are often nervous. They have a reason for that. Just lie down on the floor and see the world from their height. The movement of your legs around you will make you nervous too. For such breeds socialization from Day1 is important. In case you have not socialized your Miniature Pincher and he is already two years or more old, with lots of love and patience you can do that even now. I had a Miniature Pincher and due to my job conditions, I was not able to socialize her till she was two years old. I observed that she would hide if there was a guest in the house and she would rush after the guest as he left the house and try to bite the ankle. The problem had compounded because no part-time maid was willing to work in such a house. I began to socialize her very slowly and rewarded her after each step forward. In about a month her temperament had completely changed and she began to come to the room where the guest sat. Finally, after another three month’s effort, she began to welcome people into the house and stopped attempting to nibble at the ankles.

The crux of the story about temperament is that minute observation and immediate correction are required on your part. Also, when you acquire a new pup, whether pedigreed or otherwise, ascertain his temperament. You may take the help of an experienced person or a known dog breeder. However, always remember that an even-tempered specimen can be ruined due to mishandling/cruelty. Keep your dog under control and avoid handcuffs.


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