Why do dogs chase your car?

You would have seen some dogs chasing the noisy monsters like trucks, motor cycles and cars. We had earlier mentioned about this habit and how to stop it. Now, we should know why they do? They sometime tear the tyres and mud flaps. You will notice that, after chasing a while and when the vehicle has gone beyond ‘his territory’, he returns to his home-turf with satisfied expression of thwarting the 'attack' by an intruder. He will consider himself as the 'winner' with a score of Dog-5 and Car-0 ! Automobile chasing is generally a territorial reaction. This chasing activity is more so with vehicles running regularly like, postal van, delivery van, milk vender or post man/women. Often, these delivery-persons will narrate the harrowing experiences they had with some dogs.

According to some canine psychologists, vehicle-chasing is a predatory behaviour. Noise and motion trigger such response. Frustrated herding dogs are more prone to this behaviour. This action is nothing but a redirected form of 'prey-drive'. The herding dogs drives out prey, but does not follow with the kill. This ingrained behaviour can be changed with difficulty as described in earlier write-ups.

Why do dogs bark?

You may ask - what else dogs will do other than bark! They do so, as they have something to 'say'. If you are in a situation to talk something and cannot talk you may also do the same. When human beings are afflicted with rabies, they can't talk in the last phase because their vocal cords are paralysed. In such conditions, they make noise similar to barking and people will say the person with rabies will die in the end 'barking' like a dog. For persons who are not familiar with dogs, their barking is merely a noise. But they 'communicate' a lot by barking.

Ethologists (people who study animal behaviour) call it as vocalization. “The milk man has come to deliver the milk packet”. “A new car has come to our gate”. “A beggar is at our gate”; so on and so forth. Very often, those who care their dogs will notice that if they have not pampered their dogs after they are back home, he may be 'telling you' that “Hey! You have now reached home for a while and has not yet looked at me”.

Barking is the loudest way by which dogs communicate to us. They may be warning us about danger. Many are familiar with dogs barking to warn us when they see a snake. They may also bark when they are in need of us. There are instances where dogs bark when someone fall into well and such examples are many. Dogs also bark when they are excited, at times even for the fun of it! You may yell “bark” at them and this sometimes make them more excited. He may think that “hey, my master is barking at me or with me and we can have good conversation”. He may consider us as someone who is happy and want to celebrate even.

However, there are some dogs that do not bark like our domestic dogs. They are the Australian wild dog and Indian wild dog. They just yelp. Other members of the canine family, like coyote, also do not bark.

A brief on - Reproduction in Dogs

Domestic animal like cattle, comes to 'heat' year round and dog, as everyone knows, are seasonal breeders and the female dog comes to season (heat) twice in a year. They come to 'heat' only when they are ready to mate. Male dogs do not have something like the season, and they mate when they are mature which is around nine to twelve months depending upon the breed.

A female dog may come to season when they are six months old to one year. This largely depends upon the breed, size, health and the season i.e. the mating season. Generally, a healthy dog comes to heat once in every six months and the period of heat lasts generally for three weeks. But this may vary between breeds, and dogs. As the bitch grows old, the heat period occur farther apart, but hardly ceases.

The period of heat lasts approximately for three weeks. The first half corresponds to the pro-oestrous. She attracts male dogs but does not allow for mounting. Swelling of external genitalia is noticed along with loss of blood. Oestrous occurs during the second half. The female dog becomes agitated and allows to be mounted. This is about from 10th to 12th day. Ovulation occurs during 11th or 12th day. Ovulation is spontaneous and is influenced by hormones. However some dogs can be impregnated even after two or more weeks after heat. Dog spermatozoa are so resilient that bitches may conceive even the bitch is mounted at the end of the pro-oestrous.

Ovulation may take place several times. If different dogs mount the same bitch, different puppies can have different fathers. This is more often with bitches which shows prolonged heat period. Met-oestrous is to last for four months. In some cases, bitch shows all sings of pregnancy even though they are not pregnant. These animals show all signs of pregnancy including lactation. This is called pseudo-pregnancy. The next four months are called met-oestrous. The next two months are considered as period of anoestrous. Thus the average cycle period is of six months.

Some time, animals may not show any signs of heat for 10 to 12 months with any signs of apparent disease. The males detect the females in heat by the smell from her urine. In the early stage of the heat (pro-oestrous), she will not stand still and male will not be able to mount. During the oestrous period, she will stand still till the male can mount her. It is easier for the male to mount if the surroundings are permeated by his territory smell. Hence, it is always better to take the female to the male. Also, a subordinate male or female may not mate in the presence of a dominant member. Therefore, a dominant owner should also never try to watch his dog mating.

Hormonal  contraceptives can be used to suppress the heat and is given during the anoestrous period. But they are with side-effects. These contraceptives are likely to cause uterine infections. Hence, the best method is the removal of ovaries i.e. spaying. This is best done before the bitch reaches its puberty. Spaying, in addition, also protects the bitch from many uterine and mammary diseases.

Duration of pregnancy is usually 63 days. But, it may vary from 57-72 days. It is important to note that foetuses in the uterus may start responding to tactile stimulation from 45th day onwards. When the bitch-stomach is stroked, motor movements of foetus can be noticed. But this is reduced after several days of handling. If the bitches were handled like this, the pups born to these will have a higher level of tactile sensitivity and will be easy to handle. Puppies also react to any emotional reaction to the mother. Hence, the pregnant mother is to be protected from fear and stress. Ordinarily, normal delivery does not require any professional interference.

Grooming Your Pet

Of dogs and cats, we usually groom only dogs. Cats are rarely groomed. This is because, cats have a knack of cleaning their coat by themselves. Very long-haired cats may occasionally require combing and inspection of its coat. But on the other hand, dogs require regular grooming. Grooming helps in: a) detecting presence of parasites or skin diseases early and take remedial measures   b) shedding of hair is considerably reduced  c) improves overall appearance  d) matted hair is straightened - avoiding future difficulties associated with it  e) dog will be relatively clean by getting rid of its dead cells of its outer skin  f) improves blood circulation of skin which results in healthy skin and coat.

Grooming can start immediately when you start owning him. Pup easily learns that grooming is regular and accepts it. Frequency of grooming depends upon its coat. A short-haired animal require grooming only twice in a week. Ideal grooming frequency in long-haired breed is every day. But if you find it difficult to your routine, a thorough grooming- three or four times a week should suffice. But dogs that are clipped regularly, needs only 2-3 times a week. But in a climate where the temperature and humidity is high, parasitic infestation and skin ailments are more, and hence frequent grooming is recommended.

For short-haired dogs, only a piece of chamois leather is what is required. Chamois leather is one you find in the jewellery shops which is used to polish jewellery and diamonds. If you find it expensive and hard to get, different types of grooming-gloves are also available. Assistance from pet-shop may be required for this. For long-haired dogs, you will require wide, wire-brush with many teeth, set at an angle and wide, blunt-tooth comb. It should be noted that a wide variety of grooming accessories are available now-a-days and a good pet accessories showroom should be able to help you to select the best suited for your pet.

Grooming a short-haired dog will start with examination of the coat for parasites like ticks, lice or fleas. Also, for the presence of foreign bodies like thorns, burrs or seeds of certain plants that easily get attached to the hairy coat. Remove them and rub his coat briskly till your hand becomes warm. Then use chamois to stroke the coat to add sheen to it. In the case of a long-haired dog, the first step is to run your finger through its coat to find out matting. If there are matting or knots, locate them and then try to separate them using your fingers or gently using a comb. You may use de-tangler spray or special comb if available with you. Next, look if there are any foreign objects like thorns, skin ailment and parasites. Now, comb your pet thoroughly making sure that it is right down at the skin.

Ensure that the following parts are included: chest, armpits, inside of hind limbs and tail. Brush the coat vigorously and fluff the coat with the upward motion of the brush. If your pet is wire-haired, fluffing is needed only for the legs. Infrequent brushing of long-haired dog can result in matting of hair-coat badly. If you cannot remove the matting with fingers, de-tangler sprays or by gentle combing, professional assistance may be sought. Do not ignore severe matting. Remember that it can lead to shaving off your pet's hair-coat which is a laborious and skilled job. Hence, do not neglect regular grooming.

It is a practice to cut the coat of dogs in very warm or hot climate. But this is rarely practised in our country. A mild trimming is done by the owner himself if properly instructed by the vet, kennel manager or a pet-shop assistant. Always use the right tool. Dogs especially the breeds with long hair, may shed more in the summer since it no longer needs heavy protection from the cold winter. This is more pronounced in places where all the four seasons like spring, summer, autumn (fall) and winter are distinct. 

Grooming gives the best results only if the pet is in good nutritional status. There are exclusive coat-conditioning products to impart healthy hair-coat that are given as feed supplements. They contain specific nutritional components that are required for good, lustrous hair-coat. Bath your pet preferably once in a week. Use specific shampoos intended for different hair-coats or use good quality dog-soap.

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