Do you own a dog or plan to adopt one? In Qatar, there is a lady who can help train your dog using holistic and science-based approach to build mutual trust between you and your furry buddy!
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team got in touch with German expatriate Jasmin Maier to get to know more about her and her ‘Pawkeeper' program. Let's find out!
Jasmin: My name is Jasmin Maier. I am a former Les Clefs d’Or Concierge and spent half of my professional career working in hospitality until I found Sophie, my dog, on the streets. Because of her behavioral problems, I decided to study canine behavior and ethology to help not only her but other dogs and their humans live a harmonious life together.
What’s keeping me busy is travelling and studying for my Master’s degree in Clinical Animal Behavior. My dogs and I have traveled to over 10 countries and have participated in dog sports seminars and competitions.
Jasmin: I arrived in Qatar in 2011 to work as a Concierge with the Four Seasons Hotel. I quickly found friends who became family and settled in very well. Over the years, I received so many opportunities which would not have been possible in another place. Qatar is not my second but my first home for years and I am grateful to be here.
Jasmin: I always wanted to work with animals. I grew up with dogs and horses but then decided to follow a more traditional career path in hospitality and marketing. However, I never found fulfilment at work until I decided enough was enough. I decided to follow my passion and work with humans and their animals which has been a life-changing decision.
Jasmin: There are three main professions around dog training and behavior – dog trainer, behavior consultants, and vet behaviorists. Dog training has to do with teaching good manners, puppy training, and having a fun time with your dog. It can also include some lighter behavior issues where lack of management has developed into some unwanted behaviors. Training sessions can focus on rewarding good manners in combination with management.
Behavior consulting is a relatively new field in the world of animal behavior. Consulting usually involves counter-conditioning and desensitization strategies, confidence building, and empowerment protocols. It may include referring the dog to a vet behaviorist for assessment and medication.
Jasmin: Training allows us to communicate with our dogs on a totally new level. Yes, our dogs appreciate being fed, loved, and cared for but positive training is like a common language that builds a strong human-dog bond and confidence.
It is important that every dog is given a good canine education by a qualified truly positive trainer. Doing so will prevent thousands of dogs from being surrendered to shelters due to behavioral issues that could have been prevented. People who make time to teach their dogs, lead more fulfilling lives with their canine companions.
Jasmin: I am German and in Germany, dog training is a somewhat regulated industry. Meaning, anyone who would like to work with dogs and their humans has to undergo at least 12 months of studying at a verified academy, successfully pass three days of rigorous testing conducted by an official state examination board and apply for a license with the respective authorities. The license validity is subject to proofing quarterly continuous education in the field. I received my license a few years back and have since also acquired the accredited behavior consultant license.
Jasmin: The Pawkeeper Dog Training & Behavior Services was founded in September 2017 but I have been working with dogs for almost a decade now.
Jasmin: Dog training is people training, so an aspiring dog trainer must possess excellent communication skills, patience, empathy, and a calm, nurturing attitude. You must be passionate about teaching and studying. The learning never ends. Nowadays, you also must be fluent in several foreign languages plus master the art of social media marketing and content writing.
Jasmin: It has been incredible! I am blessed with wonderful dog moms and dads who work hard towards achieving their training goals, advocating for their dogs, and spreading awareness about animal welfare.
Jasmin: The dog training industry in Qatar is unregulated, meaning anyone without formal, accredited education can call themselves a trainer. This is quite concerning for me as a professional who carries a huge responsibility towards my clients and the community. Yet, more and more dog guardians are aware of the importance of assessing the qualifications of a dog trainer. I am currently mentoring interns who would like to pursue their careers in dog training after completing their studies abroad.
Jasmin: I conduct training in person and online. When the entire world was in lockdown, I started an online dog training academy and expanded internationally, with clients from over 16 countries. Currently, I offer in-person group and private sessions as well as online and blended learning courses.
Jasmin: Yes, I train all breeds and types. There is no age requirement. Puppies usually start at 8 weeks of age and the oldest dog in my training classes was 14. He learned just as many tricks as his young classmates.
Jasmin: I work based on positive reinforcement and force-free training methods together with evidence-based learning theories. I always stay up-to-date with the latest studies.
Jasmin: Reinforcement is up to the learner. For example, not every dog is fond of food. During training, we assess what the learner (the dog) finds motivating. Sometimes it can be access to an area, sometimes it can be digging, sometimes it can be a good game of tug. It’s never up to us but up to the dog.
Jasmin: That is a tough one to answer. There are many factors to consider, such as the training goals, the current training level of the dog and human, the dog’s emotional state, reinforcement history, and much more. I would say one of the major obstacles in training is consistency. Training with your dog should be part of your daily life routine, it’s actually a lifestyle. Similar to learning a foreign language, dogs must repeat exercises in order to progress in training.
Jasmin: Positive reinforcement and force-free. Why? Because this is the most humane and clear way of communicating with sentient beings. There are many myths around dog training out there thanks to reality TV shows lead by actors, not educated trainers.
Jasmin: Trust in humans, exposure, and socialization. A puppy’s social period ends at the age of 12 weeks. The majority of behavioral issues can be traced back to lack or improper exposure during this crucial developmental stage. I always recommend working with a professional puppy coach to make sure you set your puppy up for a confident life.
Jasmin: One major challenge I face in Qatar is access to equipment and veterinary care. I work mainly with severe reactivity and anxiety cases that require a proper veterinary check-up by a specialized veterinary behaviorist. Until today, we do not have access to a CT or MRI scan for dogs or a wider range of psychotropic drugs to help dogs alongside their behavior therapy.
Jasmin: There is no guarantee in training and behavior modification. A trainer who promises to “fix” your dog’s problems in x amount of sessions is most likely using punitive methods that we refer to as “quick fix”. That instant cure may appear like a miracle but in fact, it is only suppressing the underlying emotions that drive the behavior. When dealing with humans or dogs, behavior cannot be guaranteed.
Jasmin: What keeps me going are my wonderful Pawkeepers and the community. Waking up to training updates and being part of a dog’s transformation from scared to confident is priceless and makes it all worth it.
Jasmin: I would like to use this opportunity to introduce you to The Yellow Dog Project. You may see an increasing number of dogs wearing a yellow ribbon, leash, bandana (any yellow item actually) which signifies that the dog needs space and does not want to be approached by a stranger. This can be because the yellow dog is:
The project has been designed to keep everyone’s dogs safe, stress-free and avoiding any potential conflicts and setbacks that could arise if people or dogs approach a yellow ribbon dog. I am totally behind this project and for clients, we do use yellow ribbons, and if we pass someone who has no idea what it means, then we explain it to them. There is a huge proportion of people who are unaware of this project, so please do share to let people know the importance of the yellow ribbon.
Image credit: Jasmin Maier
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