So you think, you know all about dogs? Sindhoor Pangal thinks otherwise. A canine behaviour consultant, Sindhoor feels we don’t understand the needs and communication skills of dogs. “Which is why we take our dogs for long walks, want them to exercise more, make them obey to instructions like ‘sit, come, go, fetch’...They are intelligent creatures. Have you seen how street dogs cross roads, live peacefully, and are so hardy,” says the trained professional who runs Bangalore Hundeskole (dog school in Norwegian) which offers canine behavioural counselling service.
She says the best way to get an insight into a dog’s world is by observing and studying street dogs, a point she argued strongly in her talk presented last month at Durham in UK. The talk was part of the PDTE (Pet Dog Trainers of Europe) Annual Conference and AGM. “I studied canine behaviour under Turid Rugaas who is a well-known figure in Europe. As part of the course, I undertook a project of studying street dogs which revealed some amazing facts like dogs spend 1/3rd of their time sleeping and spend less than 1/4th of their time on any kind of activity like looking for food, pooping, playing etc. But what do we do with our pets? We make them do a lot of physical activity and move and jump around the house, which is not required. The furniture and the flooring doesn’t help the cause either. For a dog to be able to use its brains, it needs to be given rest. Have you seen how well street dogs cross the roads, how they manage their food? They find innovative shelters on a mud mound, underneath a car. We need to calm the dog down and let him use the brain,” says Sindhoor. A well-rested dog with proper food is equipped to make good decisions.
She also sought to clear out a few misconceptions in the West held about the treatment of dogs in India. “Yes, there are a few bad incidents of dog abuse but largely we are more tolerant towards animals than anywhere else. For every one person, who is mean to dogs there are several who feed them. So, why highlight the negative ones which are so few. They also believe there is a lot of human-dog conflict which takes place here which is again not the case. Out of 700 observations made for my study, I only came across two such cases where a dog is just barking at a man. That was it. I have not seen a dog attacking any human being.”
Sindhoor believes if there is any place to study and understand dog behaviour, it is the Indian streets. “I invited them to come and see how peacefully dogs live on the streets. They communicate so well with each other and us, only if we understood their language and skills. Instead of learning their language, we are telling them to sit, stand, come and go. So, a few people are coming and partnering with my students for some studies.”
Good food, good health and animal birth control are the need of the hour. For the latter, the citizens have to come together and exert pressure on government to boost their efforts. “A good thing that has happened is the rise of groups of pet lovers on social media. We need to get there and discuss these issues. More research and professionalism has to enter for things to change for the better.”
She adds, a well-fed dog likes to sleep and not chase bikes. “And how often does that happen? The major irritants in our lives are not cows, dogs or cats on the road but traffic jams, bad roads and no electricity. We always needed dogs. They were there to guard and as we moved to apartments, we don’t want them anymore. Make friends with them. If you know neighbourhood dogs, it can come in handy , especially for women. Get your dogs to socialise with them. You don’t have to take them to any special place to socialise.
A parent to two dogs - Nishi and Tiggy, she changed tracks and shifted to this field from technology when a car ran over Nishi’s face.. “I knew a physical duress would bring about an emotional change. She was in and out of hospitals for over a year for surgeries. I needed someone to address emotional problems.”
Her personal experiences, fun dog stories are now making way to her book which is expected to be released next year. “It is about what I learnt about dogs and what I learnt from them.” Bangalore Hundeskole also offers professional long-term dog behaviour courses and a few weekend courses like Canine Essential, Myotherapy, for any dog lover, pet parent, vets, rescuer to attend.
(To attend the next edition of Canine Essential 101 on November 11 and 12, visit https://www.bangalorehundes koleacademy.com/ canine-essential-)