Show your best friend some af­fec­tion Whether you are keep­ing a dog as a pet or for se­cu­rity, you should build a proper ken­nel for it and feed it well

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - DN2 - BY LEOPOLD OBI [email protected]­tion­media.com

Next to hav­ing a perime­ter fence, many peo­ple con­sider keep­ing a dog a good se­cu­rity mea­sure. Yet few home own­ers un­der­stand that dogs, par­tic­u­larly guard dogs, need srain­ing to en­able them to be­have ap­pro­pri­ately.

Some peo­ple give their dogs sub­stances such as mar­i­juana or red chillies to make them ag­gres­sive so that they can at­tack in­trud­ers at night, but ex­pert dog train­ers’ say that this only harms the an­i­mals.

A study con­ducted in Nairobi in March 2017 by the Kenya So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion and Care of An­i­mals (KSPCA) found out that most dog own­ers (78 per cent) kept them for se­cu­rity, fol­lowed by a com­bi­na­tion of both as pets and for se­cu­rity (18 per cent), as pets (3 per cent), while only 1 per cent said they kept dogs for breed­ing pur­poses.

Un­for­tu­nately, many dog own­ers do not pro­vide proper shel­ter for the an­i­mals and feed them only on leftovers.

Mr Tom Simiyu, a dog-mas­ter and trainer at BM Se­cu­rity in Nairobi, says it is im­por­tant to take a dog for train­ing in dis­ci­pline and un­der­stand­ing, as well as on se­cu­rity tech­niques.

“We train all kinds of breeds. The best breeds are Ger­man shep­herds; they eas­ily cope with the fam­ily, whether as pets or guard dogs,” says Mr Simiyu, who has been a trainer for 22 years.

Train­ing

The na­ture of train­ing pro­vided de­pends on the pur­pose for which a dog is kept, he says, adding that even pets must be trained in dis­ci­pline and to obey com­mands.

The dog own­ers are also taught how to man­age the an­i­mals.

“We ask peo­ple with dogs to build proper ken­nels for them also teach them how to so­cialise with the an­i­mals. Dur­ing train­ing, we give them ba­sic knowl­edge about dog han­dling, feed­ing, and wash­ing,” Simiyu says, adding that the charges de­pend on the ser­vice the client wants.

The train­ing also de­pends on a dog’s age. “For at­tack train­ing we take dogs aged 18 months while com­mand and obe­di­ence train­ing are given to dogs that are at least six months old.

Since find­ing a good guard dog can be dif­fi­cult, some peo­ple hire them from se­cu­rity firms.

Mr Simiyu ex­plains that while they don’t sell guard dogs, they hire them out. But be­fore they do, they visit the prospec­tive client’s home and sign a con­tract with them on the terms of en­gage­ment.

“We re­call the dogs after seven days for re­train­ing,” he adds.

While some peo­ple avoid keep­ing dogs for fear that the an­i­mals might turn on them and at­tack them, Mr Simiyu says a dog will never at­tack its owner, un­less they mis­treat it. Proper care in­cludes feed­ing, hous­ing, vis­its to the vet for reg­u­lar vac­ci­na­tion, treat­ment and par­a­site con­trol (con­trol of worms, ticks and fleas).

There are suit­able dog foods in pet shops and su­per­makets, some of which are ready to serve but there is noth­ing wrong with feed­ing your dog on what you eat, the ex­perts say.

Dr Diana Onyango, a vet at KSPCA, notes that there is a com­mon men­tal­ity among Kenyans that one should not put too much ef­fort into tak­ing care of a dog.

“If a dog is well taken care of, it will not go out­side the com­pound to wan­der around,” she says, adding that a well-main­tained dog makes an ef­fi­cient guard dog.

How­ever, if you wish to keep a dog as a pet or for se­cu­rity, there are a num­ber of fac­tors you should be aware of.

Ms Jennifer Mak­ena, an ex­pert in dog breed­ing and han­dling at BM Se­cu­ri­ties, says that keep­ing the an­i­mals as well as their ken­nels clean is very im­por­tant.

“Wash the ken­nel us­ing bleach­ing agents such as Jik to kills par­a­sites and wash the an­i­mals with soap reg­u­larly, “she sug­gests.

Ms Mak­ena notes that most pup­pies tend to die at the age of four months, when they are prone to at­tacks by a vi­ral dis­ease known as par­vovirus or parvo, which few sur­vive. Also, give pup­pies toys to chew on for their milk teeth fall, she adds.

“Pup­pies should be de­wormed when they are four weeks old and vac­ci­nated against parvo and ra­bies and also given im­mune boost­ers when they are six weeks,” she says, adding that you should have them vac­ci­nated reg­u­larly.

In an at­tempt to raise aware­ness about an­i­mal wel­fare, KSPCA or­gan­ises an an­nual event known as the Shaggy Dog Show ev­ery Novem­ber, where the an­i­mals com­pete in var­i­ous cat­e­gories such as the Hap­pi­est Dog, Fancy Dress, Best Fam­ily Dog and of course, Shag­gi­est Dog.

We ask peo­ple with dogs to build proper ken­nels for them as well as train them to so­cialise with the an­i­mals. Dur­ing train­ing we give them ba­sic knowl­edge about dog han­dling, feed­ing and wash­ing.”

PHOTO I LEOPOLD OBI

A trainer with her dog. Dis­ci­pline and obe­di­ence train­ing are im­por­tant, es­pe­cially for guard dogs.

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