Your pets also care

Canine behaviourist Shirin Merchant hopes to educate people about dogs and what makes them tick

By   |  Published: 5th Dec 2019  10:17 pm

They say dogs give you unconditional love, no holds barred. After a long, gruelling day of work, one can be sure of being greeted with a welcoming bark and playful licks, the moment one walks through the door. The unconditional love should actually go both ways. Your pet deserves your attention and love as much as you do theirs. Unfortunately, this simple logic is lost on many.

A pressing concern with canines is abandonment. Many pet owners who struggle to understand pet behaviour and don’t know how to deal with it end up giving the dog away to someone else or, in worst cases, simply abandon them.

Having observed this troubling trend over the years, Shirin Merchant, a canine behaviourist and trainer for 24 years, took it upon herself to educate pet parents on understanding their dogs and bridge the gap between the two species.

According to surveys, it’s this lack of awareness which leaves nine out of 10 dogs without a home.On a multi-city tour conducting workshops which cover a whopping 20 topics, Shirin will soon hold a session in Hyderabad on December 15. “I hope to help people to make them aware about how their pet thinks so that both the owner and the dog get a happy ending.

We tell the owners about the reasons behind aggression, understanding stress signals, leash walking, dog biting, attention seeking, toilet training issues, disobedience, etc. It changes the way people think about their dogs as we demonstrate how to get around such issues,” explains Shirin who grew up in a dog-loving household. “It was in my 20s that I met my mentor John Rogerson (well-known canine behaviourist who had come to India for a short course.

My journey in the field started from their and I also visited England to study the subject further. Upon returning to India, I started my organisation Canines Can Care,” shares Shirin who was felicitated by the President, Ram Nath Kovind, at the First Ladies Awards for women who are declared the ‘first’ in their respective fields.

Her advice to new owners is to research the breed of dog that you want to bring home; don’t think about the wallet and size of your house. “It is actually about your lifestyle. Dogs don’t care about how big your house is or how rich you are. They want your time.

That should play into your choice of breed. If it’s an energetic breed you want, make sure you have time to play with the dog, exercise and bond with them. Nobody can do that for you, only you can do it,” advises Shirin. Shirin’s goal is to change the conversation around pet parenting and hopefully help prevent abandonment of dogs in future.

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