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