Karthik Ramasubramanian, 23, is a canine behaviourist and a dog trainer, who had almost become an engineer.
After completing his B.E. in Mechanical Engineering, Karthik was offered a lucrative job in the industry. But he turned it down to start his own venture, The Urban Pet in Bengaluru.
We didn’t know that being in love with dogs could lead to a legit career, but he’s shown us that anything is ‘paw’-sible!
We caught up with him for a quick Q&A on how the change happened.
Q: You were doing well in college – and you even had a job offer right after. So how did you suddenly switch to being a canine behaviourist?
A: I have always loved dogs, and I used to play with all the stray dogs in my neighbourhood since I was a kid. When I was in engineering college, I started training dogs as a hobby. I really enjoyed it, and it was a stress-buster too. People loved my work and they told their friends about me. Soon, I was in charge of 12 dogs at a time!
Q: What did you do that the pet-owners loved so much?
I had a different approach to training. I would do it in front of the owner, so that they didn’t have to worry about whether the trainer was hitting the dog. People liked that – and I had so many offers coming in that I had to decline many other such offers because I didn’t have the time.
Q: How did your parents respond when you told them you wanted to take up dog training full time?
A: They did not agree to it at first – and they said it wouldn’t work. But I had a month’s time before I would take up the engineering job. So I asked them to let me try this out till then. I trained many dogs and I made a good amount of money – significantly more than I would’ve made if I had taken up the engineering job.
Still, my dad wasn’t entirely convinced, but he agreed. Now, they are very supportive and proud of the work I do.
Q: You get to work and play with adorable dogs of all sizes and breeds on a daily basis. It sounds like the perfect dream job, and we can’t imagine any downsides at all. But what is it really like? Do you have any stressful days?
A: I often have to work with aggressive dogs and dogs with behavioural issues. It gets very emotional and challenging.
Once, I had case of a German Shepherd who had been raised in the worst manner possible. It used to get frustrated and nervous around people. The owners came to me when it had gotten really bad and the dog had bitten their child.
Owners get emotional about their dogs. I have seen people crying in front of me. It takes a toll, and I often feel like I need a vacation after dealing with such cases.
Q: Some of our readers are wondering what they should do if they want to become canine behaviourists themselves. Do you have any tips?
A: Start by observing dogs. Watch them play on their own, and watch them interacting with their owners. Talk to the owners about what they did right and wrong. Ask a lot of questions. You can watch dog-training videos online, but that won’t be enough. Try volunteering at a shelter or pet store and do small activities like giving the dog a bath.
You could also see if there are any short-term training courses you can attend.
Q: Did you take any course on studying canine behaviour? Are there any subjects one should know to be in this profession?
A: I have taken short-term courses on dog training under professionals like Shirin Merchant and John Rogerson. I’ve also read extensively about the behaviour of dogs, and even about wolves.
There are courses abroad specifically on the study of canine behaviour. You could even do a course in veterinary sciences. Otherwise, even a degree in psychology could be useful because an understanding of human behaviour is very important, too, in this field.
Q: Thanks for the tips! What’s next for you?
A: I want to use dogs to help children who have trouble making social connections.
I have a nephew who is autistic. He and my dog Cleo have a very good connection. He didn’t used to make eye-contact with anyone except Cleo. He has improved a lot by just by being with her. So now, I am thinking of using dogs for therapy with kids.
That’s great, Karthik! You really are making a difference. We wish you and your furry friends all the best!
This article originally appeared on the blog, Northbound. At Northbound, we want to help people make more informed choices about their careers and professional lives. Be it your first career decision, switching to a new field or exploring an entrepreneurial journey, we want to help you make better decisions and inspire you to find your path! Follow us for new stories!