Two weeks ago, we had written about a rescued dog called Aria. A Canaan mix (desert dog) who was rescued from the streets of Sharjah, covered in scars, ringworm and severely malnourished. About how she got a second chance to live and love on meeting her forever humans. While their journey together has been extremely fulfilling, it hasn’t been free from challenges. Training a rescued dog with intense level of leash reactivity being one. Asked about her experience with dog trainers in the UAE, Aria’s human Ravania said, “Every dog trainer has different beliefs and methods. That was a big learning for us.”
Read Aria’s story here
Finding a suitable dog trainer
Fostering and adoption are perhaps the first steps of a long and fulfilling journey with a dog. But it can be a difficult one too.
“Leash reactivity is something we had very little experience with, and Aria had an intense level of leash reactivity. Aria could not bear the sight of triggers such as dogs, cats, cyclists, vehicles and certain people, irrespective of the distance. Her reactivity was truly unbearable. People often judged us and assumed we had an uncontrollable and aggressive dog. But what they don’t realise is that aggression is a form of reactivity. And intense reactivity can lead to aggression. People confuse the two and judge you without knowing the background. Our walks often ended in tears. It was an extremely tough time for us as a family. We were willing to learn and work through it. But one of the major challenges was finding a suitable trainer. Someone capable of understanding Aria’s level of reactivity and having the experience to manage it,” Ravania shared.
How should pet parents approach training?
From their experience of training Aria, which surely wasn’t easy but a huge success we asked Ravania about how should pet parents approach training.
“Like I said before, after working with several trainers we understand that every dog trainer has different beliefs and methods. Each trainer offered some valuable advice which contributed to our journey. When a trainer has helped someone with their dog, that’s a win. Our confidence in a trainer is now based on seeing actual progress on cases they have dealt with. Seeing is believing especially with behaviour modification. It’s imperative for a trainer to guide, support and encourage especially when pet parents are trying their best.”
She also suggested that while seeking dog trainers, it’s important to ensure that they have not only had experience but also success stories in dealing with similar cases. “Teaching a dog basic obedience versus working with behaviour modification is different. Qualifications are important but experience and success is crucial when it comes to dog training. Behaviour modification takes time. A trainer should equip you with knowledge and skills to be a good leader for your dog. With consistency and patience, an alternative behaviour is learned. It is important to remember that all dogs are unique and what works for one may not work for another.”
Need for a safe space for humans of dogs
She also pointed towards the need for a support structure and a safe space for humans of dogs.
“It’s important for dog parents to have a support structure and a safe space especially when it comes to behaviour modification. Apart from our trainer, we didn’t have another safe space in the UAE to share our struggles without being frowned upon and receive encouragement. We sort out support groups outside of the UAE and we were graciously accepted and found many others on the same journey as us.”