About Me

My photo
Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. I'm also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. I worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai for 14 years.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Training your INDog

Thanks to their owner Dr Manik Godbole, INDogs Tommy, Blacky and Chinky don't lead the largely repetitive humdrum life most dogs are doomed to in cities. A few days ago I posted a photo of Blacky jumping over bars, an exercise he and Tommy really enjoy. I asked Manik to tell us how she trained them. Here is her step-by-step description of the process. It doesn't seem very difficult if done properly. Other Indi owners should try it too. It's sad in a way to see our alert, tough and energetic dogs reduced to overweight couch potatoes, even though we have rescued them from the dangers of life on the street. I'm sure our dogs would all love this!

After adopting Tommy, I decided I didn't want him to remain a mere toy to be shown off to guests, with only his basic needs like food and shelter being met. I wanted a companion, lively and cheerful. I was indeed worried when the vet told me that my dog would get sluggish after neutering....fortunately this prediction didn't come true.

I read books on dog psychology, training, health, nutrition, from which I realized that to keep dogs fit and lively I would have to spend some quality time with them. I'm not a certified trainer. I have trained my dogs by reading books, and would be happy to share my experiences with others.

I feel there are two ways of getting close to your dog and winning his trust: grooming the dog and playing with the dog.

My dogs rush to me the moment they see a brush in my hand, they love the touch of a comb and my attention! They also come to me by themselves to be patted dry after a bath.

In order to have safe and decent play experiences (we don't have teeth and muscles to match their's in play), you must teach your dog some basic commands: sit, stay, down, come, no. Whenever Tommy loses control over the game he shows play aggression. That's when the "down" or "sit" command plays an important part.

In my personal opinion, every dog and every owner has a different individual personality, so the same pattern of teaching commands doesn't work for everyone. The owner should understand the dog's character and choose ways to teach him. I read in one of my training books that all dogs of the same breed don't become guard dogs, or sniffer dogs! Every dog has his own unique nature. I found Blacky learnt very quickly; but I kept wondering why it was taking me so long to teach Tommy?

Tommy was not obeying the "down" command in the way written in the training book, so I revised my way. I would make him sit, then after saying "down" I would literally take a "sit on his back" position, and slowly, holding his forelegs, place them in front, till he was sitting in the "down" position. He learnt it this way!!

For the "jump over" commands: Initially I placed a stick in the doorway, at a very low height, so that whenever Tommy or Blacky had to go to other room they had to clear the obstacle. I would say "jump!" every time they did that in the begining. I myself crossed a few times over the stick saying ''jump." Then I slowly raised the height of the stick, and they got used to jumpng over bars! Given a treat every time they jumped without dropping the stick, they did it willingly and lovingly.

Then I set up bars on my terrace. They were suspicious when I first assembled the whole kit (they are PVC pipes joined together, the kit of three bars cost me around Rs 600). But shortly after that they sniffed the kit and realized it was harmless. I called one dog close to the bar, showed the treat and said "jump," and slowly moved the treat across the bar. The dog jumped following the treat.

It just needs patience and an understanding of your dog's mind. Try it for yourself!

Manik Godbole
Mumbai

No comments: