ABHILASHA SHARMA: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A DOG TRAINER
Sometimes you need a little help when it comes to dealing with man’s best friend, especially if things get out of hand with their behavior. It could be the excessive barking that’s keeping your neighbors up all night, the chewing of your favorite sneakers to tattered bits, or the incessant jumping that tends to get embarrassing in front of company. If you do need some professional assistance with your furry buddy, Abhilasha is your girl.
Abhilasha Sharma is a certified dog trainer and behaviorist who is currently providing her services here in Nepal. Spurred by her love for dogs Abhilasha aims to create awareness and provide the right information about canines. Being avid dog lovers ourselves, we called her over to meet our four legged buddies and talk about what she does.
TNM: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
AS: There are a lot of dog trainers who do not work with adult dogs because there is a misconception that theyare impossible to train. But most of the dogs I am training right now are more than 3 years old. Any dog can be trained. I speak from experience because I have successfully trained a 9 year old dog.
TNM: How did you get started in Dog Behaviorism?
AS: I was always an animal lover and I work with dogs because I feel I can do better for them. As far as I can remember, there was always a dog in my house. When I started training my own dog I realized that I had a decent ability to communicate with them. But I did get my official training from John Rogerson, who is one of the world’s best dog trainers, in a 2 and a half month long course in Mumbai.
TNM: How long have you been doing this?
AS: It’s been close to 3 years.
TNM: How is the experience?
AS: It is mind blowing. Every day there is something new to learn. I love my job.
TNM: Do you build a connection with every dog you work with?
AS: Yeah somehow I connect with the dog better than the owner.
TNM: How long do you work with one particular client?
AS: It depends. For instance, if I am doing just basic obedience training then I usually do it for a month or a month and a half not more than that. Dogs can get trained just in two weeks it’s the owners who take time to catch up. In behavior problems it totally depends on the type and stage that the problem is in. If the aggression is completely out of control then things can be very difficult. All I can give is management tips. Or if it’s a jumping thing or too much barking or chewing then somehow it takes 2-3 weeks or if extended a month. The result totally depends on how much the owners are working towards the problem.
TNM: Share a peculiar incident that you’ve faced in the course of your work.
AS: I got attacked several times by big dogs. Last month alone I got attacked seven times .There are a lot of scars too. I recently got attacked by a German shepherd that was 3 years old. They had two German shepherds a male and a female and the problem is they do not eat by themselves. You have to feed them by hand except for that they did not really have other human interaction. Appallingly, the owner never took them out from the leash for last three years. They were so scared to free them from the leash because they are huge strong dogs.I was trying to do a little bit of recall training because I was pulling the dog away from the owner and that is when the dog bit my hand. I received one of the worst scars from the incident.
However, the hardest part is to convince the owners to follow orders, ironically. When I ask them to do something some will do it and some will not. I work with the dog for 45 minutes or an hour for a maximum of 4-5 hours a week but the owners are the ones who spend most of the time with their dogs. That is the hardest part actually because dogs get trained very easily but humans take a lot of time.
TNM: Do the bad experiences make you want to stop?
AS: Not really. I just want to help the dogs. Dogs have it tough, especially here in Nepal. Most people just tie them up or put them in a cage or leave them out on the terrace. Many don’t get enough attention at all. It’s just not fair and I really want to make things right to the best of my abilities. A few bites aren’t going to stop me though.
TNM: Do you have any general advice for people who have a problem with their dogs.
AS: One thing people resort to so often is to tie up their dogs if they misbehave or do something wrong or even on a day to day basis. That won’t solve any problems.
You can’t really say what works and what doesn’t because each dog has its individual personality. Most things depend on the owner and their lifestyle. What you can do though is choose the right breed of dog before you go out and buy one. Some dogs are better suited for a particular set of circumstances while others may be better suited for another. It is important to do your research on what breed fits into your lifestyle.
Also, exercise your dogs more. One of the reasons why dogs have behavior problems is because they are notgetting enough exercise.
And finally, I urge all prospective dog owners to adopt a dog rather than buy one. You could find the best companion in any dog, regardless of its breed.
To get in touch with her, check out her Facebook Page Abhilasha – Dog Trainer and Behaviorist (www. facebook.com/furrydogtail/).