"The Day you think you know
everything about dogs Is the day
you will step into dog poop!"
- Shirin Merchant
"Dogs have a 6th sense that
humans don’t have…
It’s called common sense"
- Shirin Merchant
Shirin Merchant is a pioneer in the field of canine behavior and training in India. Since 1995, she has helped pet parents in England, India and Sri Lanka with behaviour and training problems ranging from dominance, housetraining, chewing, aggression, destruction to boredom and compulsive behaviours.
She is the only person in Asia to have gained an accreditation from the Kennel Club of England’s elite KCAI scheme for dog trainers and behaviorists in companion dog training and behavioral training. She is one of only 8 people in the world to have been awarded the prestigious accreditation in behavioral training.
Shirin Merchant was felicitated by the President of India and the Ministry of Women and Children at the First Ladies Awards– for women who have transcended barriers to achieve a milestone and are declared to be the ‘first’ in their respective fields.
About Shirin Merchant…
The world said it couldn’t be done – Indian women can’t train dogs! Shirin Merchant said it could and then went on to show them how. Not only did she train dogs, but for over 24 years, she has worked hard to change the way dogs are trained in India from methods of intimidation and pain to kinder, positive training methods.
Now, when a trainer tells a dog owner it can’t be done, the swift retort is – “If Shirin could, we can.” Thanks to Shirin, dog lovers in India now believe that there is always a kinder approach to any problem.
Shirin started working in the field of dogs in 1995. She was India’s first qualified canine behaviourist and the first person in India who tackled canine behaviour problems using the science of canine psychology.
The journey hasn’t been easy for Shirin; she has overcome many obstacles to make the changes she has in India. But, she truly believes that any dog with a training or behaviour problem can be helped without using harsh training tools or methods of intimidation.
she was invited to study by world renowned canine behaviourist and trainer John Rogerson in England. She spent over 4 years studying, competing in working trials and learning from some of the best trainers in England.
When she returned to India, she realised that dog training was being carried out using primitive methods of intimidation and pain; and dog behaviour was unheard of. If a dog was aggressive, it was deemed rabid and put to sleep. And so she decided to make a change.
Shirin conceptualised – Canines Can Care – India’s first organisation dedicated to pioneering a variety of canine related activities in India. The organisation has pioneered Assistance dogs in India. Assistance dogs help physically challenged people achieve their desire to be independent by performing tasks that are physically demanding. The dogs are trained to carry out tasks such as: retrieve objects that are out of reach, open heavy doors, switch on and switch off lights, pull wheelchairs, get help in case of an emergency and similar other tasks. Shirin trained and placed a Labrador, Magic with a young paraplegic girl, Sanam Karunakar. They went on to make history as they formed India’s first official Assistance Dog team.
Canines Can Care also trained the first civilian dogs for search and rescue work in India. In fact, the ‘Canines Can Care’ search dog team was the only one representing India in the aftermath of the Bhuj earthquake in 2001.
For the past 24 years Shirin has she has helped dog owners across the world with behaviour and training problems including, dominance, housetraining, toilet training, aggression, destruction to boredom and compulsive behaviours. She has worked with over six thousand dogs with breeds ranging from the feisty Belgian Malinois to the shy Samoyed. Her talks and workshops have been conducted in Sri Lanka, England, India, China, United States of America, and all across India.
Shirin pioneered canine training and behaviour courses for dog lovers in India. It was her way of ensuring that every pet owner in India would have access to a dog trainer who could help them understand and train their dog using reward based methods, in contrast to the harsh methods and tools of training used by most of local trainers. Her students now are helping change the mindset towards training in Asia. The courses are a way for every Indian to have access to international level learning in their own country. Today, her courses are highly coveted by people who desire a career in the canine field.
Over the years, Shirin has worked endlessly with various shelters across the country and aided them with the rescue and rehabilitation of stray dogs, issues concerning stray dog adjustment in society and adoption.
Shirin started India’s first canine magazine – Woof! The Mag with a Wag! It was included in the Limca Book of Records for being the first of its kind in India. The magazine contained a wide range of articles on every aspect of dogs and dog ownership. It updated the reader on the latest on Assistance Dogs, Therapy dogs and Search and Rescue dogs in India and all over the world. The magazine set the milestone for other canine magazines in India.
Canines Can Care added a new feather to their cap when they pioneered the concept of ‘Canines For Corporates’ – offsite training camps with a difference – wherein participants learnt and developed a variety of skills that would help them through work and life – all through interacting with and training dogs.
Though Canines Can Care has conducted many training camps for canine enthusiasts over the years, they are proud to have introduced canine offsite training corporate camps as a new concept in the world of corporate camps in India.
Shirin applied for one of the world’s most difficult canine exams- the KCAI – Kennel Club of England accreditation Scheme for Dog trainers and behaviourists. She successfully passed a stringent practical and oral examination to become the first person in Asia to gain accreditation in Companion Dog Training and Behavioural Training. With the behavioural training accreditation under her belt, she is now one of eight people in the world, and the only person in Asia, to have achieved it. Dog lovers in Asia now can have access to one of the best in the world help them in learning about canine behaviour and training. (https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/training/kcai/list-of-accredited-instructors/#behavioural)
Shirin was awarded the prestigious International Commendation award for Trainer of The Year by the KCAI, Kennel Club of England accreditation scheme for dog trainers and behaviourists. The award was presented to her at the world’s largest dog show- Cruft’s held in Birmingham, England. She is the first and only person till date in the world to have ever received this award.
Shirin became the first Indian invited to present to an international audience of professional dog trainers at the Annual Association of Professional Dog Trainers Conference in Las Vegas, U.S.A.
In March 2016,
Shirin was invited to China to give a talk on Assistance dog training to Chinese dog trainers and behaviourists.
Shirin was invited by TEDx Gitam University, Vishakapatnam to present a talk on how humans can learn and benefit from canine communication.
In March 2017, Shirin conceptualised, directed and produced Asia’s first educational dog TV show – UNLEASH! WITH SHIRIN MERCHANT in Sri Lanka.
In January 2018,
Shirin was felicitated by the President of India Shri Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Smt. Maneka Gandhi from the Union Ministry of Women and Children at the First Ladies Awards – for women who have transcended barriers to achieve a milestone and are declared to be the ‘first’ in their respective fields. The award is a huge honour in recognition of her work for decades in India.
In March 2018,
Shirin was invited to be a guest speaker at a seminar for the army officers at the Indian Army’s Remount and Veterinary Corps Centre in Meerut on the topic of ‘Latest Developments in the field of Military Working Dogs’ Psychology and Communication of Humans with Canines’
Shirin was invited by TEDx DHaravi, Mumbai to give a talk on “Can We Learn Humanity From Dogs?” In the years to come, Shirin has many plans to further the field of canine behaviour and training in India.