Sit, down, come and stay. These are just a few of the instructions you’ll hear being issued by dog owners and trainers at the Mitchell’s Plain Dog Academy (MPDA) in Lentegeur.
The academy opened in April this year and works with all breeds at the Lenteguer Sports Complex. They focus on obedience, socialising, personal protection which is man work and show training.
They currently have 18 members who attend the sessions twice a week.
Chairperson of the club, Faizel Salie said obedience was critical when nurturing a healthy relationship between human and animal. “Training can be fun for your dog. They are outside on an open field and they get to learn something new,” he said.
Mr Salie is a trainer for the film industry, training a variety of animals such as lions, cheetahs and dogs. “I love animals, and more importantly I enjoy working with them. We all are excited about the club and are encouraging people to bring their dogs so that we can help them and their animals,” he said.
Mr Salie said the vice-chairperson of the MPDA, Abdulla Arendse who was part of the Lentegeur Kennel Club, 14 years ago suggested that they start a club in the area.
“We are here to assist the community and their dogs,” Mr Arendse said. “We cover commands, socialising and behaviour. We teach people about communicating with their dogs, their personality and characteristics. Like humans, dogs too have needs and at the MPDA they encourage people to love and take care of their animals.
“Like us humans, dogs need to be loved. They need to be fed and need physical exercise. Taking them for walks will prevent them from developing anxiety and stress-related behaviours such as inappropriate barking and being aggressive. We have had a few dogs who were very aggressive, but after training them for a few sessions they have become much calmer,” he said.
Nazneen Noordien from the academy said the aim of the club is the change people’s attitudes toward dogs so that they no longer see them as “fighting objects”.
“We train all breeds to help protect the household and children. This is also to keep our young people off the streets, and busy with something positive,” she said.
Mr Salie said his passion for working with animals started in 1989, when he was a teenager training dogs at a club in Mandalay.
“I remember the children watching me train the dogs, and soon joined the club. But everyone could not afford the fee and then left,” he said.
Mr Salie then started his own club called Lentegeur Kennel Club. “Due to personal matters, such as getting married, raising children and owning a tuck shop, I did not have the time to continue,” he said.
But he’s pursuing his passion again, working with the animals he loves at the Mitchell’s Plain Dog Academy.
The academy charges R50 a month, and they have two sessions a week. The fee goes towards equipment, as it is essential at the academy.