A Man's Guide To Dogs
Whether you already have a pooch or are looking to get one, there are things you need to know to avoid barking up the wrong tree. We enlisted the help of animal behaviour expert Helen Stone from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to provide us with her doggy wisdom…
You might have heard that people in flats shouldn’t get dogs, but as long as you’re willing to put in the time and you give it exercise, the size of the house – or dog – doesn’t matter too much. It’s more about the breed than the size, as some are a lot more active than others. Siberian Huskies, say, aren’t huge, but they’re used to pulling sledges all day in the snow. If you get one of those, you need to be walking it a lot.
A dog’s breed plays a huge role in its behaviour. German Shepherds and Rottweilers are historically bred to guard and make noise when people come to the house. If you don’t want a dog that’s going to bark at certain noises, you may want to consider a different breed. Training has a massive impact too, and most things can be taught, no matter the breed.
Pretty much all breeds have associated health issues – Labradors can have problems with their hips and arthritis; Pugs can have trouble breathing and be prone to epilepsy because of the size of their head. If you’re going for a pedigree dog, you want to find out about the parents and whether they suffer from problems. Mongrels tend to be healthier than pedigree dogs, but again that depends on which breeder you get it from.
Some new dog owners compare getting a dog to having a baby. Suddenly their life has changed. You have to plan your day; you need to know someone’s coming home at a certain time for the dog, and someone’s always responsible for making sure that it’s fed and it’s OK. You need to be taking it out for a walk twice a day, and your social life will be impacted quite heavily – if you normally come home and go straight out with your friends, you’re often going to need to stay in and spend some time with the dog instead.
The financial cost is something that people often don’t think about. Buy a puppy today, and it could cost you around 2 lakh (13 years, on average). You can expect to pay `15,000 upwards for a pedigree pooch, and then you’re looking at veterinary costs, insurance, neutering, food, toys. You can ask the guy who cleans your car to take your pet for a walk, but he will charge `600-700 per month for the job.
All dogs need a leader to show them what to do; they need guidance on how to behave in a human house because it’s a strange environment for an animal. But if you’re using force or punishment, it will just create a problem between you and the dog where they feel they need to defend themselves. Those sorts of techniques can create a lot of detrimental problems for the dog. It’s about respect both ways. If you show them what to do, you should be fine.
If your dog’s being annoying, chasing your feet and chewing everything up, it’s probably just boring because it isn’t getting enough exercise. Dogs aren’t spiteful animals and they’re not doing things to annoy us or to try to get a reaction out of us; they’re doing things because it’s what they need to do to cope in that situation.