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The Nepali Dog Whisperer
Prajwal Manandhar is a busy man or a boy to be more apt. At eighteen years of age, he is already juggling between a college degree, a flying career and a loved hobby. A student of Fine Arts, and a photography enthusiast, Manandhar is also a dog trainer by profession, currently working at Vet for Your-Pet-the Animal's Clinic. Hence, it's a complete surprise when I learn his penchant for training animals started with a rooster and not a dog as I had imagined.
Manandhar's parents were strict when it came to keeping pets so owning a dog was a complete no-no to a young Prajwal. But, the family had a rooster named Browny. It was on this rooster that the young kid first experimented his training methods and soon grew surer of his skills. Coming across a quote -If you can train a chicken then you can train almost anything- on the Internet set a turning point in this young man's life. Encouraged, he started training animals; experimenting training methods with dogs of his locality and later with his own dog. Having never taken a profession dog training course, Manandhar relies strictly on his instincts and experiments with his own methods. He leans towards the use of positive reinforcement in his training method; giving the animal a treat for a good behavior so as to lure them to repeat the same behavior in the future. With this method, he believes he will be able to train not only dogs but other animals such as cats and rabbits as well.
"It's not necessary to take some professional courses. The most essential skill that is required to be a good dog trainer is to have the ability to not only understand the behavior and psychology of your own dog but also the dogs of other owners," the shy teenager says. "If you are only seeking to train dogs for the money, then it is not an ideal job for you because this job requires your utmost patience and perseverance. Half-willed dedication will not get you anywhere," he further adds.
Inspired by the late Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin, the young trainer has always wanted to work for betterment of animals. "When I was young, I spent a lot of time watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. As a matter of fact, I still do and I was amazed by the way these two gentlemen worked with such dedication and love towards animals. I knew I wanted to emulate their work," he says.
Often referred to as the Nepali Dog Whisperer, Manandhar confesses not liking being compared to other dog trainers. "Although I am a fan of Cezar Milan I do not favor his training method which is mainly focused in dominance and pack leadership. I think the main reason behind getting this title is my dedication and knowledge. Like Cezar, I have shared videos of my dog training tutorials and tricks performed by my boxer Tazmin on YouTube," he clarifies the reasons for the comparison.
When asked what drew him towards animals in the first place, he says, "Animals have always been my best companions since childhood. They are loyal, ask no questions, and pass no criticisms.Like us they have feelings that are delicate and refined, but most people don't bother to understand them. For me, this feeling of addiction towards animals is quite similar to the addiction towards drugs; however the only difference is they love you back."
At the moment, Manandhar only trains few dogs as he says "making money is not a priority." He is more active on social media; sharing information on dog training through his Facebook page 'Prazol's Dog Training' and dog training tutorials (in Nepali) on YouTube. Most of the money that he makes from training dogs he says is spent on his own dogs and other pets. Also, because of his studies, he takes only few dogs to train so as not to further stress himself.
"The advantage of training dogs is that it helps to create good bond between a man and his dog. Since a trainer should walk a dog to drain its energy, indirectly even he gets some benefits health wise. Training dogs is a fun, challenging and rewarding activity," he shares.
The streets of Kathmandu are home to many stray dogs.So what he thinks of the situation- "The present situation of stray dogs is better than before due to the neutering and adoption programmes that have come up. There are people who are working for treatments and basic needs of the stray dogs. If the same activities are carried forth by youths and more animal shelters are established, then the situation will be even better," he says.