How I got my beagle to like me, (and so can you)
It took me two years to decide if I had it in me to raise a puppy — My lifestyle and work kept me out of home or even the city for three to four days a week. When I finally decided to take a break from the hustle, I had the right amount of time to be able to give a dog the attention needed. So welcome Figo, the beagle.
I was a first-time pet parent and not yet a dog trainer when Figo came home on January 13, 2020. Like most first-time pet parents, I googled other pioneer pet parents for guidance. I came across terms such as ‘Alpha’ and directions like “Dog needs to listen to every command”, “Roll a newspaper and smack it”, “Pull stuff out of his mouth”, “Touch him while he’s eating”, “You don’t need a trainer… not for at least the first four to five months” etc. “Clearly, they know what they are doing…,” I thought to myself, “They are experienced. Right?”
I also had an awesome trainer, who was good with Figo. I followed what she told me… and then came COVID-19.
Four months into Figo coming home, I found myself on Google looking for answers to questions such as “Does my dog hate me?” or “Why doesn’t he come when I call him? “or “Why does he run away with the toy when we play fetch?” and others like it. I also remember crying on a phone call with Figo’s trainer.
I had followed every piece of advice, then why was this still happening? We had multiple hour-long chats and at times questioning whether I made the right decision. It turns out, I didn’t clearly tell her I was also practising methods found elsewhere. I was so focused on training him, that I never had fun with my fur baby.
Thus came in the I-NEED-GET-MY-ANGRY-MUFFIN-TO-TRUST-ME-AGAIN mode.
This is what I did
– Threw out everything I was doing
Figo liked me but didn’t really trust me. I moved from the ‘Alpha’ ideology to ‘We are in this together. The first step was changing his name to ‘Kookdee’ and it made everything positive. Any negative association with any command, word, or experience was altered with a new name.
– Focused on rebuilding my relationship
I joined a dog training course and it helped me understand my doggo better. I learnt about different breeds, methods of training, games, commands, and anthropomorphism. We began playing simple games that built trust.
– Understood what worked for me and my doggo
I stopped comparing Kookdee to others. Just as with humans, dogs also have their individual personalities. Figo likes meeting people for five to six minutes and then minds his business. He is vegetarian by his own choice! He doesn’t care for toys unless it is my bra drying on a rack. Figo doesn’t like to play fetch or swim, but he loves scenting games, even if it is just finding his food. He likes to tug and… MASSAGES! He could be kneaded for the full day and still want more. He likes the outdoors. By discovering what makes him happy, I started planning my activities with him
– Had Fun!
We make it a point to have fun! Lots of fun! Treks, day trips, new tricks, hugs, kisses, massages … all of it! Every day is a new day, and we are still learning. Today, when Figo looks at me with those adorable eyes and comes close to me, I am glad of this journey. I have realised how having a doggo can be so much fun if we just understand them and work on it. Building my relationship with him makes me help other pet parents focus on having fun while training their dogs.
I am now a happy pet parent and a dog trainer, And I love my angry muffin, but most importantly, Kookdee loves me!.
Dolly Kanjani is a dog trainer in Mumbai. You can follow her adventures with Figo on @dolly_lovenpawsitivity