Chennai’s pet owners really love their dogs. After all, how often do folks wake up on a Sunday morning, drag themselves out of bed and drive all the way to The Farm on OMR to take a workshop on canine behaviour? With India’s dog whisperer Shirin Merchant in the city for a weekend – close to 50 people made the trip with their pets, leashes, water bowls... et all. And as Shirin had told City Express earlier, what ensued was a whole lot more than a doggie’s day out.
To orient participants to the whole concept of ‘Think Dog’ the day before, Saturday evening had comprised of a two-hour interactive session on dog psychology. And several eyebrows were raised when Shirin said, “Your dog can’t get jealous – that’s a human emotion,” and “No your dog cannot understand why you are correcting them for having chewed up the sofa when you get home three hours later. Dogs live in the present”.
Turns out our furry friends can’t establish a connection between ‘bad boy’ and a torn cushion unless the correction is done on the spot! According to Shirin, “The whole problem begins when we start to treat our dogs like human beings.” Thankfully, learning to bark is not necessary to think like your pet.
As for the many how-tos that these dog owners wanted to learn – Sunday morning saw a practical session for owners and pets that covered all the basics. This included walking your dog on a leash without the owner being pulled along for the walk and how to effectively say no. Shirin also showed us, on request, how she trains her assistance dogs to learn how to paw on a light switch!
And yes, for once choke chains and whimpers weren’t part of training. Instead, dogs of all sizes scampered around gleefully, and were forced to use their grey cells to keep up!