Sachin Bharathvaj, a dog behaviourist and dog psychologist, points out that getting pets out of impulse is a common mistake many people make. “People don’t think enough before making a decision. Owning a pet is a huge responsibility that some don’t realise. There are many factors to consider before deciding to get a new pet. One of the main aspects is financial stability. If you cannot provide nutritious food and a good stay, don’t get pets. Not just that, you have many other responsibilities as well -- hire a pets trainer, take pets to the veterinarian periodically, get pets vaccinated, etc,” says Sachin Bharathvaj. He tells us that ‘pandemic puppies’ have shown various behaviourial issues.
“Many think that if they are staying at home or working from home, this would be the apt time to adopt a pet. This thought itself is wrong. These people tend to abandon or give the pets back after a few weeks. So, think thoroughly before making any decision. Two or three clients have called me saying they have noticed various behavioural issues with puppies bought after the pandemic hit. When you bring in a dog during this time and if you re-strain the dog to the house, then it will show changes in behaviour.” When asked what important things one should consider before getting a pet, he quips, “Before getting any pet, be it a cat, dog, fish, or birds, one should consider why they are getting a pet – is it out of impulse, peer pressure or do they need a dog. I have seen pet parents leaving their pets at shelters because they can-not take care of pets. When you keep relocating dogs from one house to another, it will affect the dogs psychologically.” Sachin also stresses the importance of having regular exercises for dogs.
“Exercises doesn’t mean allowing the dog to run inside the house or motta maadi — it is just a play activity. Exercise means taking dogs out for a regular walk, allowing them to run around, taking dogs for swimming, etc. All such activities have a huge impact on dogs. Because of social distancing and lockdown rules, many pet parents, these days, pre-fer virtual training. I have clients from Madurai, Kovilpatti and even Canada,” he shares. A volunteer at the Blue Cross of India, Sachin has seen people opting for breed dogs instead of indie dogs from the NGO.
“I don’t know the reason. This is also not a good trend. Another trend I have noticed is that many adopt male puppies instead of female ones,” says Sachin, who has been training dogs for six years. Another dog trainer, behaviourist and aggression consultant Prasanna Gopinath says that getting pets as an isolation companion is wrong. “Because of the forced isolation, many are adopting pets. It is not a thoughtful decision but an impulsive one. Firstly, you have to make sure that pets have access to good food, shelter and physical activity. As long as you can take care of all these factors, then you can adopt a pet. Training comes only secondary — it is an added factor that helps a pet parent to communicate with their pets better.
The main problem with pandemic puppies is that they don’t know how to interact with other people, other animals and how to cope up with other external factors,” says Prasanna Gopinath. He suggests training dogs for behavioural issues is an important step. “Pet trainers or behaviourists help pet parents to a great extent. The trainer should involve the family and the pets and create a proper structure where enough opportunities are given for the puppies to cope with external factors — how to interact with humans, other dogs and other elements,” he adds.