March 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment
This coming Saturday will be the last puppy afternoon at Stanley, at least for a while. Weighing up my lost day off against the hope of getting more puppies into homes, my own time won, but the Sunday adoption “parties” at Whiskers’n'Paws will continue of course. I think most Stanley residents can make it over to Ap Lei Chau without too much difficulty, and the terrace at the Horizon Plaza makes it possible for me to take a large selection of puppies of all ages rather than the few babies that can be accomodated at Pacific Pets. Nevertheless, I want to thank everyone concerned for letting me give it a try and being so supportive.
One of the (many) benefits of adopting from Hong Kong Dog Rescue is our follow up support, including training help and advice from our own super-duper trainers, Foster Wong and Eddie Choi. However, bearing in mind that they are both very busy and may not be able to respond immediately, either myself or our Education Manager, Cactus Mok (also a certified trainer) will try to answer questions. While I don’t have any qualifications, with well over twenty years of experience I think I can advise on most behaviour issues and FAQs (frequently asked questions). The main thing is not to expect too much in the first week of taking a new dog or puppy home, and allow time for settling in before asking for help. Your new family member may have toilet accidents (or not go at all) and may not want to be your immediate best friend, but that’s all perfectly normal.
One of the things I always recommend to new adopters or to those who are experiencing minor training problems is to check out the website www.dogstrust.org.uk, as just about everything you could want to know is here, including fantastic videos covering all aspects of training and behaviour. If you follow the advice given in these short clips you will know just how and what to do. Dogs Trust is the biggest dog rescue and rehoming organisation in the UK, and they know all about the problems encountered by new adopters and what to expect of dogs that may have been in their centres for some time. If you visit their website there’s an A-Z section where you can find everything in alphabetical categories, or you can go to ‘Fact Sheets and Downloads’ for information on really anything. I often refer to this website when needing straightforward answers to questions.
I posted this information on the HKDR Facebook page yesterday, but I’d like to add to this blog too. It’s basic stuff, but I know there is still too much ignorance about dogs, what they are and why they do what they do. This is about behaviour, and I have added my own comments after each section:
“Behaviour problems can be seen in dogs from all walks of life – not just those from Rehoming Centres – and may appear to be more common than in the past. This could be due to the way that our lifestyles have changed. Many more dogs are left alone at home whilst we are out at work and in the home they are treated as members of the family, rather than a worker or ‘just a pet’. There was a time when an aggressive or problem dog would have immediately been destroyed. Fortunately these days, owners give dogs a chance and work to resolve problems before turning to rehoming or even putting the dog to sleep as a last resort. (Dogs Trust, like HKDR, is a committed “No Kill” organisation)
Why do problems occur?
Problems occur for a variety of reasons. Each dog and case is different and causes can be very simple or complicated. Your dog’s problem(s) could be caused by one or several of the following factors:
Lack of socialisation – From 3-14 weeks of age, puppies need to be safely exposed to as many different and new experiences as possible to prepare them for later life. Dogs that have not had this early socialisation may grow to be fearful of people, things and places and this can lead to many problems including aggression. (Sadly in Hong Kong the lack of socialisation is very common, and many dog owners don’t allow their dogs to play with other dogs even when they want to).
Boredom – Dogs that are bored through lack of mental stimulation might amuse themselves with destructive behaviour, for example. (This is also very common in Hong Kong when dogs are left alone all day).
Excess energy – A lack of physical exercise can also lead to ‘bad behaviour’, as a dog must find other ways to get rid of his pent-up energy. (Exercise is not one walk a day for 20 minutes! Exercise is letting your dog run and play until it is tired).
Owner behaviour – Owners can train their dogs to behave ‘badly’ by accident, simply by giving attention at the wrong time. (This is the most common mistake a dog owner can make).
Unrealistic owner expectations – Because we tend to get very close to our dogs, we sometimes forget that they are still animals and may treat them more like children. We may think that they have more ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’ than they really do and these unfair expectations can lead to disappointment. (Please don’t expect a dog to know what you want of it. You have to be clear about your expectation and reward when your dog gets it right).
Breed specific traits – Certain types and breeds of dog have been bred for hundreds of years for specific tasks, which might be incompatible with living in a typical family home. (Don’t expect a Jack Russell or any terrier to be lap dogs. They’re hunting dogs with lots of energy).
Bad breeding practices – Unscrupulous breeders might have indiscriminately bred their dogs purely for money, without considering temperament. (Too true, and this applies everywhere not just in Hong Kong. Don’t think that buy buying a puppy from a breeder in Australia you’re going to get a ‘good’ dog).
Diet – It is thought that some dogs’ behaviour may be affected by what they are fed. It is possible that diets that are too high in protein or the wrong type of protein may cause hyperactivity in certain dogs. Allergies to certain ingredients may also adversely affect behaviour. (Giving too many rubbishy treats has the same effect as giving a child non-stop candy and fizzy drinks laced with sugar. Treats are for training and should always be healthy, not the strong-smelling or brightly coloured type).
Inadequate or incorrect training – Without proper training, dogs can be uncontrollable. (That does not mean yelling “No!” or “Sit!’ non-stop, or hitting your dog. You should NEVER use any sort of physical punishment).”
Moving on to a completely different subject, we recently applied for a grant from AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) so we could do something about the non-stop breeding of boatyard dogs on Ap Lei Chau. If you’re not familiar with the island it’s traditionally been a place where fishing boats were built and repaired, although now many of the boats are luxury yachts and pleasure junks. Every boatyard has dogs and every female dog regularly produces litters of puppies which end up (assuming they survive) at the Pokfulam AFCD kennels and then at HKDR. Over the years I’ve asked why AFCD don’t do something about these dogs, and the last time I mentioned the subject it was suggested that we apply for funding to do just that. Now we have a small amount which will cover the cost of desexing, but not the money to pay for anyone to go out and talk to the boatyard workers about letting us take their dogs for the operation. We are preparing flyers to hand out as a start, but we need volunteers who can follow up and then help arrange the transport to and from Acorn Vet Hospital. If you think that you can help (and obviously you must be a Cantonese speaker), please let me know. The sooner we can get this programme started the less unwanted puppies will be born this summer.