Below is a recent interview with Neri Karazija from Dog Whispering, following her third visit to England to spend time with Shaun and Kim Ellis.
Hi Neri, how was the old dart?
Beautiful at that time of the year - it was summer in England so equivalent to Perth winter. I was based in Cornwall at the wolf and dog education centre, staying with Shaun, Kim, their two boys and numerous dogs and animals.
This was the third trip in 3 years to spend time with the Ellis’. You must be very enthusiastic about their training methods?
Their methods are revolutionary as they are teaching the true language of dogs, based on their research with wolves. It is so logical and the transition from wolf behaviour to dog behaviour is evident when working with both.
In what way do you think you can apply what you have learned to the dog obedience classes at Swanbourne?
The obedience class I want to rename as the Communi- cation class. It is teaching your dog some of our language so we can communicate what we desire. I am also teaching some of the classic dog communication that our pooches exhibit and dispelling some typical behavioural myths.
Is their approach one of rigid application of specific principles or is it an entirely different way of looking at how dogs (wolves) behave and interact in their family group and with people?
It is so much more complex that what we ever imagined. The language of wolves/dogs is just a part of their amazing intelligence. Their Social structure is also highly complex, and our dogs’ relationship with us is another level again. There are natural circles of development in the way they learn, these are so important in the way we bring up ourpuppies or adjust behaviour.
I gather you attained a qualification this time? And it is the first time this has been granted to anyone? That’s pretty amazing, can you elaborate?
Quite an honour indeed!! I became the first in world to attain the status of a licenced instructor for the wolf centre and canine education centre. My goal to accomplish this was 2 years away, however they surprised me with this achievement this year.
A great effort, you really must have impressed them as indeed you already do in our classes. Do you envisage that your approach will evolve as you learn more? It seems a dynamic and ever changing process?
Thank you, yes, the evolution of the classes has occurred from the beginning, but my time in England years ago really took them in a great direction, one in which the human and dog really begin to understand each other. That is a real delight to see.
Now that you and your associate are conducting the puppy school program on Sundays at Swanbourne, what are your goals for these classes?
We are looking forward to developing the puppies through their natural circles of development. Teaching the pups how to calm, how to regulate their emotions, how to trust and levels of communication. For the humans, teaching them how to give calming signals, how to understand why your pup does what they do and how to work with their pups specific personality types.
Since you have come back this time you have introduced the Workshop/Focus groups that are held on Saturdays. These are designed to drill down on specific issues Councils are targeting in their implemen- tation of the revised Dog Act 2013. These have been overwhelmingly popular, do you plan more on a regular basis? And on what topics?
They have been popular! These will be more about the language of dogs. Getting back to the basic circles of development as well learning what things like ear position and areas of the dog translate to, why they exhibit certain behaviours such as why they hold their head up when greeting another dog. My aim is to educate people in to the language of their dogs so there is a much deeper understanding and bond that can be formed. This then can be used to help with underlying issues the owner may have.
In principle I support these new dog control laws, what is your attitude to them? Are you concerned rangers might be over rigorous in their application? My impression so far is that the Claremont and Nedlands rangers are really caring people and do all they can to take an educational view rather than purely punitive. Do you agree?
All of the rangers I have met in the area are ones who do care greatly about the welfare of the animals. Even their approach of catching stray dogs is calm and positive (that I have observed). The dog laws are there to protect people and dogs and if it creates an awareness to get your dogs well educated and make humans responsible for that, then that is the best we can hope for.
Certainly the implementation of stricter guidelines makes our Good Citizen Program even more pertinent and I welcome your structured approach through all the levels of our Program such that owners can be assured of having a dog they can be proud of and confident that they will be predictable in all circumstances.
Totally agree. This should be a goal for everyone that has a dog in his or her lives. It is a massive commitment and the more we learn about them, the more I believe that. Getting a puppy or dog for a companion is amazing however it is your responsibility to not just provide food, vet care and exercise, but the education. This is just as important.
Finally can we look forward to a visit from the Ellis’ one day? Their approach using wolf behaviour as the basis behind all domestic dog behaviour makes good sense.
I would love them to come and visit and we talk about it often. They are very interested in coming over and doing some seminars and also working with dingoes.