• Shirin Merchant: Making Her Way Into Every Dog’s Heart

    Who doesn’t like to snuggle a cat or dog? Well, we all love animals. However, have you ever thought that your love for animals could actually become a career? This is a reality for dog trainer Shirin Merchant.

    Ever since she remembers, she has loved dogs and it came as a natural career choice for her. Considered a pioneer in dog training and behaviour, Shirin started learning about the field in 1995 and trained under John Rogerson, a world-renowned dog trainer and behaviourist in England.

    Now based in Mumbai, Shirin is quite well-known in all of India by most dog parents. She has been working with dogs for a long time now to know what they want, and how to train them. She says,

    “It is really easy to train dogs. It is simple principles of learning and behaviour that we use to train dogs. It is not rocket science, and can be done by anyone.”

    Well, to some it might be rocket science because not everyone can connect to an animal. Since dogs cannot talk, you have to figure out in their behaviour, their bark and their body language about what they’re feeling. If you have a pet you’d know when he or she is hungry, sick or guilty. Dogs are quite expressive. However, some dogs are harder to train than others – more aggressive dogs can be a bigger challenge, but Shirin has done it all.

    She said, “Over the past 20 years, I have trained over two thousand dogs with breeds ranging from the feisty Pomeranian to the shy Samoyed. The problems have ranged from dominance, housetraining, chewing, aggression and destruction to boredom and compulsive behaviours.”

    Shirin Merchant

    Shirin Merchant with her furry friends // Pic credits: Shirin Merchant Facebook

    Shirin is one of the nine people in the world to have achieved the KCAI in Companion Animal Training and Behavioural Training.

    Last year, Shirin was invited to present a lecture at the Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) conference in Las Vegas. She is the first Indian to have been invited to this event. This year, Shirin was invited to present a lecture at TEDx Gitam University. Talk about being unique, Shirin is the only person in Asia to have an international accreditation from the Kennel Club of England’s Accredited Instructor Scheme – the KCAI in Companion Animal training and in Behavioural Training. She is one of the nine people in the world who has achieved this behavioural accreditation!

    Even though Shirin has trained so many dogs, she has just one dog of her own, named Maya. Shirin believes that people need to learn to love animals more and treat them better. She told us,

    “The public needs to be educated about respect and compassion towards all animals. I believe educating our youth is a step forward in ensuring a kinder place for all animals in future.”

    A fitting statement by someone who has worked with animals most of her life. Animals are much kinder than the humans we now encounter, and if you love an animal, there is no way it won’t love you back. Since dog training and behaviour has become a hot topic in India, a lot more people are following Shirin’s footsteps and taking up this unconventional but highly rewarding career (with the benefits of furry hugs!)

    Pic credits: Shirin Merchant Facebook

    Also read: 5 Health Benefits Of Having A Pet

    Read more articles by Nikhita Sanotra