Most dogs at home, let’s face it, are pretty darn bored. And while you may not realise it — given that pet owners are working or keeping busy in general — here’s a quick reminder: your pet needs mental stimulation too. And Mumbai-based canine behaviourist Shirin Merchant is about to take things to the next level come January 31 and February 1.
With a whole obstacle course including tyres for hurdles, cricket stumps for weave poles, nylon cloth tunnels and even a long jump section — Shirin tells us she can’t wait to give pets in Chennai their first taste of a canine agility session. “It’s a great way to keep your dogs in shape, bond with them and most importantly they have to really ‘think’ about where to put their feet every step of the way,” she adds. And that last part, she goes on works as a huge vent for canines that known to be aggressive, hyperactive, traumatised and so on.
A 2.0 version of her weekend course last year in the city, the behaviourist tells us that this one will be more customised and catered to specific needs she has found, need attention. “Like for example, we’re going to talk a lot about breeds,” she says. “The reason being, most people just don’t do enough research on the breed before they get the dog.”
According to the lady who has trained over 9,000 dogs in the course of her career, even the way you play with your furry family member should be breed-specific! “Labradors were bred as hunting dogs, so if you throw a ball, it has to go high up in the air (the direction game is targeted in trees), whereas German Shepherds were used more for herding so they’re always looking at their feet.” Roll the ball on the ground for the latter, and he’ll have a lot more fun.
Between an orientation session on canine behaviour patterns, breed-based Q and A and an agility run — it sounds like a fairly packed weekend for both pet and owner. Although, we have to wonder out loud — how many untrained pooches will consider crawling, jumping and doing a long jump? “Nine out of 10 dogs will do everything on the course,” Shirin promises. “It’s just a matter of going step by step with the obstacles, before putting them all together,” she concludes.
Well, from the lady who has taught dogs assisting the physicaly challenged to turn switches on and off, this sounds like a piece of cake!
The course, titled ‘Think Dog’ will be held over January 31 and February 1, and will take place at the Hotel for Dogs, 12 A, Sunrise Avenue, Akkarai, East Coast Road. For details, contact 9962916903. Old tyres can make a ring to jump through for puppies
A cloth laundry basket that is inverted horizontally can make a instant tunnel
PVC pipes can be restructured to form low hurdles
Even a decent sized cardboard box will make a basic teaching tool for crawling