Armed with knowledge of dog psychology and behaviour, these people are like psychologists, but for dogs.

Good dog bad dog Meet the consultants who dabble in canine psychologyImage for representation
Features Psychology/Pets Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 17:37

By Siddharth S

Bringing up a dog is no child’s play. All the furry cuteness aside, it requires as much love, care and attention as rearing a child. But like teenagers, dogs can also have peculiar behavioural problems as they grow up, that medicine alone may not be able to address. You could take your teenage child to a psychiatrist but where do you take your dog? Enter dog behaviour consultants.

Armed with knowledge of dog psychology and behaviour, these consultants are like psychologists for dogs. And the most common problem people come to them with? “Dogs not being obedient enough,” says Bengaluru-based dog behaviour consultant Nivedita Kumar.

Nivedita was once a senior business analyst. However, she quit three years ago and became a self-taught dog consultant. Her job begins when people notify her of the problem, after which she first inspects the lifestyle of the person, including how much time they spend with the dog. The second step is to build a relationship with the dog itself. “The sooner the dog responds to me, the faster I can help them,” she says.

Apart from obedience, Nivedita says that the most common issues include aggression control, toilet training and separation anxiety. However, the problems also have to do with the lack of patience people have with their dogs. “That, and genetics. Often, people who adopt dogs are not aware of their genetic history which also influences how responsive they are to training," she says. This is why, Chennai-based dog behaviour consultant Vignesh Druvan recommends buying dogs from a certified breeder, especially when it comes to people who want exotic breeds.

“Authorized dealers usually install a microchip in the dog, which also helps track it in case he/she goes missing. The dealers should also have a record of the its ancestry and health, which is useful when it comes to the insuring dogs,” Vignesh explains.

While exotic dogs may make for great pictures, what people do not understand are the unique diseases and problems these dogs are prone to as they are not acclimatized to Indian conditions. Many aspiring pet-owners come to dog behaviour consultants with questions about what breed they should get.

“It doesn’t matter what breed you buy if you do not have the time to spend with it. Adopting a dog is a 10 to 15 years-long commitment. To people who do not have the time but want a dog, I tell them to get toy counterparts instead,” says Nivedita. Then there are lifestyle and financial considerations. “Certain breeds, like Beagles, German Shepherds and Rottweilers, require a lot of attention and aren’t suitable for people who live in apartments,” she adds.

Another common problem families with dogs come to consultants with is fear-related and dependence issues. While some dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, others are afraid of new people. While some complain that their dog does not play with them enough, others want their dog to be more independent. Dhilip Ananthakrishnan for instance, adopted a Labrador two years ago and wanted her to go out into the compound and do his business by herself. A visit to a dog behaviour consultant and ten days later, his dog was able to go out into the compound on her own.

Apart from understanding the dogs’ psychology, what differentiates dog behaviour consultants from vets is that they do not use drugs and medicines, claims Nivedita. “We conduct behavioural tests to understand the root of the problem and then arrive at a behavioural remedy. Vets do study dog behaviour and psychology but their profession pertains more to medicinal solutions. Our work is only related to psychology and behaviour,” she says.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.