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ASK POOJA: Emotionally Ready for a Pet?

September 01, 2021 14:19 IST
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'Please remember that the responsibility of the pet is ultimately going to come on you.'
'Think carefully if you are ready to give time to the pet for the next 10-12 years.'

Woman with dog

IMAGE: Kindly note this image has only been used for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Samson Katt/

Can you feed your pup the food you eat?

Is your pup too aggressive?

Is it facing separation anxiety?

Does it refuse to mingle with other dogs?

Canine lover and dog trainer Pooja Sathe Gawande answers your queries.


Dear Pooja

My daughter desperately wants a pet and is very keen on a Shih Tzu.
I feel we should adopt a dog that needs a home.
My husband is not keen and has made it clear he will not take any responsibility.
Because we don’t want to disappoint our daughter after such a difficult year, we may get a Shih Tzu.
What should we know about it before we decide?
Thank you
Sweety Singh

Hi Sweety.

Thanks for writing to us.

During the lockdown, a lot of kids were demanding pets as they were home all the time and comparatively free and bored.

One must get a pet when and only when everyone in the family is ready for such a long-term commitment.

Please remember that the responsibility of the pet is ultimately going to come on you. Think carefully if you are ready to give time to the pet for next 10-12 years.

This year has been difficult for all of us.

Many people have rushed to get pets and have started abandoning them once their work and regular routine started.

I strongly advise you to think seriously before getting a pet.

Please make an informed decision.

Dear Pooja
I have a seven month old Indie. She’s very sweet in every way.
The only problem we have is that she is biting the walls and the furniture.
We give her toys but she does not want them.
How do we change this behaviour?
Ravi Sharma

Hi Ravi.

Thanks for writing to us.

Your pup is young and can be biting walls/furniture due to teething/boredom.

You will have to provide details about her daily routine and exercise.

Just giving toys is not enough. We sometimes have to teach pets how to use those toys.

You can try using doggie puzzles, activity balls, kong toys in which you can stuff his daily meals and keep him engaged.

We’ve posted some videos here that might help.

Young pups need a lot of mental stimulation in combination with walks, exercise and other activities.

Dear Pooja,
We adopted a 2.5 year old Maltese terrier last year.
He was quite aggressive when we took him in, to the extent my kids had to take tetanus injections due to his bites.
We realised this was because he had separation anxiety as he was in and out of five houses before us.
He has cooled down a lot with time but occasionally he gets aggressive when he approaches people at the door.
He tends to growl and bite and it is when we least expect it as these people are known to him.
Please advise how to train him.
Neetu Nelson

Hi Neetu.

Thanks for writing to us.

Your pet's issues are serious.

You will need a detailed consultation with a trainer so that you can understand his routine and bite history behaviour.

Advice regarding aggressive behaviour can’t be given online.

Dear Pooja
We have a one-year-old beagle and we plan to add to the family with one more beagle.
How do we prepare our elder one for the new arrival?
What if the two don’t like each other?
Our elder one is a female. Should the younger one be male or female?
We are very keen on a beagle only.
Please do advise us.
Rajesh A

Hi Rajesh.

Thanks for writing to us.

May I ask why you wish to get one more pet?

Since your pet is very young, you will need to think seriously before getting another one.

Having two pets is time consuming and a lot more effort is required. Are you prepared for the additional time commitment?

It’s not advisable to get another pet just to give company to your current pet.

Beagles need a lot of mental stimulation together with daily exercise and activities to keep them busy.

We would advise getting another pup once your first pet is at least 2-3 years old and has settled down well.

Deciding on whether to select a female/male, the age of the new puppy, etc, depends on your routine, the pet’s temperament and many other factors.

Dear Pooja
We have one-and-a-half year old Alsatian.
Once the lockdown norms ease up, we want to take a short weekend holiday.
She has never travelled in a car before.
We cannot leave her behind.
How do we prepare her for this?
Kavya Mansir

Hi Kavya,

You can start by short rides near your building 2-3 times a week.

Avoid feeding her a full meal just before or after the ride.

Start by taking her for a ride to fun places such as a beach/park/walk to create good association with the car. She will get used to it very soon.

Hope you have a great holiday.

Pooja Sathe Gawande is an internationally certified dog trainer and behaviourist and the founder of Crazy K9 Campers.

Understanding and communicating with dogs comes naturally to her and she has trained over 2,000 dogs till date. Her specialty is getting pet parents involved in every aspect of having a pet at home and helping them create a special bond through training and parental behaviour modification programmes.

She also runs an agility training centre in Mumbai.

Pooja lives with her enthusiastic young Dalmatian, Ollie. You can follow their canine adventures here.

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