Carmen Bekker with dog

Dog psychologist and presenter Carmen works together with Coerien, owner of FORA (Friends for Rescued Animals) to find homes for orphaned dogs. Get to know what drives her canine passion.

Watch Hondehuis Thursdays at 17:50 on VIA, (DStv Channel 147) and streaming live on DStv Now. As dog lover Carmen and the owner from FORA (Friends for Rescued Animals), Coerien, work together to find the perfect homes for FORA’s orphaned dogs. Hondehuis celebrates the lives of strays and informs viewers about the many benefits of adopting a stray as your own.  

Carmen Bekker, the vibrant and passionate presenter of Hondehuis, talks about the programme and its many wonderful intrigues:

How did you come to be a dog psychologist

I’ve always had a soft spot for animals, canines in particular. I started studying ethology in Onderstepoort in 2011. After graduations, I was fortunate enough to gain an apprenticeship at a local canine training center.  It was here that I met my mentor and where my passion started to flourish. I started gaining access to personal consultations and started to build a client base. I managed to train my own dog, Ben. He became my guinea pig as I tried and tested all of my many techniques on him.  It is remarkable to be able to combine your passion and profession. My passion is very deeply rooted. I believe that all dogs deserve safe and loving homes. This programme embodies this exact movement. People should be aware of the fact that there any many animals in need of loving and caring homes.

From where does your passion for dogs sprout?

I think my connotation to dogs is somewhat nostalgic. Dogs remind me of my childhood. As a child, I was surrounded by the pitter-patter of paws. I can’t recall a time in my life where canines weren’t present. Without sounding too cliché, I need to acknowledge the fact that dogs helped me through uneasy times as a youth. Humans often struggle to offer true and unconditional companionship.

What advice can you offer to those who are struggling with mischievously behaved dogs?

The most vital aspect of dog training is acknowledging that the dog is the sponge and its master, the energy from which it feeds. Dogs are neutral. They merely imitate the behaviour that they are fed. Dogs should be given a fair shot of training. This is the only way that your pet can gain socially accepted behaviour.

What kind of dog do you own?

I can’t tell you how much joy and love Ben has blessed me with. Ben is a stray. Dogs are 80% personality and 20% breeding. It is obvious that we all have our preferences. There are many dogs at shelters that may meet your expectations. One often falls in love with dogs that you never considered to be genetically appealing. It is important to refrain from judging a book by its cover.

What exactly does a dog psychologist do? How would you go about working with a new patient?

It’s my goal to establish the source of conflict between dog and owner. I prefer working with both parties. This is the only way to access the relationship and its particulars. I am merely the mediator.

Why do you motivate viewers to opt for sheltered pups instead of pedigree pups?

I am not a fan of the term sheltered-pups. The only reason that dogs end up on the streets is because of humans and their negligence. Dogs are like children. They need attention, love, affection and thorough care. A dog is a 15-year investment. This is a fact of ownership that most people tend to forget. I need to enlighten viewers and raise awareness regarding rescue centers and sheltered pups.

Did you enjoy the filming process of production?

Immensely! It was such a rush getting to meet the guests and the dogs! The production team made the process so easy and enjoyable. I will always carry this experience in my heart.

Did the filming process prove to be daunting when it came to the dogs and their unique mannerisms?

Dogs are just like children. They were all very energetic and exciting. There were so many moments that included exuberant amounts of laughter. I’m thankful for the editing team because there are were many personal candid moments that I found most embarrassing. I often struggled to remember the dog’s names, confusing their particulars with their owners’. 

Do you have any helpful tips that could simplify the adoption process for our readers?

The younger the dog, the more susceptive it will be to good mannerisms. It is always easier to train a pup. It is also wise to surround the new pup with an older dog. Puppies take well to the behaviour of others that came before them. The monkey-see-monkey-do principle is of great value. I would also advise every person that is looking to adopt to go to shelters with an open mind and heart.

How does one secure a strong bond with one's pet?

I am very attached to my pets. I spend a lot of time with them and I pay attention to their behaviour. A dog requires love and affection. They are there to gain and to give. You should always treat your pet as if though they were human.


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