People tend to spend large sums of money to buy pets (usually dogs) and then finding them unsuited to their lifestyle keep them in a cage. This obviously would affect the dog’s personality, making it suspicious and resentful. A dog thus restricted could turn out to be unpredictable and disobedient when let out.
A trained dog does not need to be caged or chained. It can be told to ‘stay’ without bolting out the front gate every time it is opened. But how often do we come across such well-trained dogs in Sri Lanka? Not often, you may say.
‘Kennel Lanka’ is a group of professional dog trainers who specialize in training and grooming dogs of all breeds. Having started their venture in December, they already have a wide clientele and offer a range of activities from obedience training, guard dog training, agility training to grooming.
Founder Priyantha Gunasekara not surprisingly comes from a family of devoted animal lovers. Since the most common pets that people chose were dogs, he decided to learn about training dogs. Priyantha underwent training to become a professional dog training instructor at the Secura Tec Training College in Nordkirchen, Germany as well as other courses and now counts about 16 years of experience in this field, which has given him an intimate understanding of the behaviour and characteristics of dogs.
“A lot of people make the decision to buy a dog rather lightly. They don’t think about the entire picture,” says Priyantha. “They just buy a dog without considering any of the other factors such as space and caring for the animal.”
Priyantha explained that one of Kennel Lanka’s main objectives was to spread awareness on these other factors that one must look at when buying a pet.
Talking about training methods, Priyantha explained that the first lesson involves the ‘heel’ command, which is training the dog to walk at a steady pace with the owner. Other basic commands include ‘stay’ and ‘sit’ among others.
“A common question people ask is how long it would take to train a dog,” said Priyantha. “There is no certain time period you can expect. Like people, different dogs have different personalities. Some dogs learn the commands extremely fast while others need a bit more time and patience.”
“An owner must spend at least 15 minutes in the morning with their dog, but most people even though they might want to don’t have the time,” explained Priyantha.
“The dog’s fur needs to be brushed and ears need to be cleaned. Everything that a human does should be done for a dog as well. Even their teeth need to be brushed and their nails need to be trimmed. We have five so far on our staff who have been professionally trained in dog handling who will take care of all these needs.”
Kennel Lanka has also started training dogs for films and commercials. “All this time if anyone needed specially trained dogs for television they would bring them from abroad. Since this was something that I could do and I wanted to do something new I started offering this service as well,” said Priyantha adding that several dogs that he has trained have appeared in teledramas and commercials.
On the subject of keeping dogs in cages, Priyantha explained that this was a factor that you needed to consider when buying a dog. Some people who want their dogs to be guard dogs intentionally isolate them from everyone by keeping them in cages. “When you keep a dog caged, it tends to become angry and unstable and it can come to a point where it will bite anyone when let out. I would not recommend bringing up a dog in a cage at all,” said Priyantha adding that even in the case of training a guard dog, keeping it in a kennel is not at all necessary and that there were other methods of guard dog training.
Dogs can also be sensitive to the way they’re treated and this impacts on their behaviour. It’s very important to have a lot of patience and give the dog lots of affection when training it, explains Priyantha. “Sometimes dogs aren’t brought up properly. Such dogs turn on their owners and in most cases when a dog bites the owner or a family member, it is usually put down. I’m proud to say that I’ve actually saved several dogs in such cases by working with them and calming them down,” he said adding that no dog would act this way if properly looked after.
Priyantha also spoke of the many cases where people give the dog away after a few years without considering how the change of environment can affect their pet. “We see a big injustice caused to dogs like this. Most of the time they get sick and depressed and something we at Kennel Lanka hope to do is to urge people to think about the dog’s side of things when buying a pet because they need a lot of care and attention,” he says.
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