Dubai isn’t the most dog-friendly of places, especially as our four-legged friends are banned from the majority of public beaches and parks. But all is not lost, as Jackie Ratcliffe of home-grown volunteer group K9 Friends explains to Time Out.
‘Socialising your dog is very useful because you can’t take dogs to beaches and parks, so they become unsociable very quickly,’ says Jackie Ratcliffe of K9 Friends. Happily, help is at hand. Al Safa vets in Umm Suqeim holds puppy socialisation sessions every week. Emma Jane Morgan, a veterinary nurse at the clinic, says: ‘In Dubai nowadays, what with the credit crunch and people living in smaller homes, people can only afford to have one dog. But dogs should be exposed to as many other dogs in early life as possible, because it prevents aggression towards other dogs later in life.’
The clinic’s sessions allow dogs of the same age and size to meet each other in safe surroundings. Owners also learn useful skills, particularly basic training such as getting your dog to respond to instructions, such as sit, down, paw, and stay. This allows owners to control their pets appropriately in public, especially when a four-legged friend is taken off the lead. As Morgan points out, Dubai tends to be a dangerous place for a dog to run off, especially with all the busy roads. Owners’ new skills are then put to the test with a ‘pass the puppy’ exercise, where owners can practise instructing dogs that are not their own.
Every Wednesday at Al Safa Veterinary Clinic in Umm Suqeim 2, 7.30pm-8.30pm. A five-week course with a graduation ceremony in the fifth week, Dhs50 per session. Call the clinic for information and bookings on 04 348 3799, www.alsafavetclinic.com.
Dog walking groups
Walking groups are a great way to give dogs the exercise they crave and help them socialise. Ratcliffe says she has found a number of good spots for dog walking around Dubai, but these places often go on to ban dogs because of the mess left behind. As a result, Ratcliffe doesn’t blame the ‘no dogs’ policies of a range of public places. ‘Who wants to take their kids to the beach and have them stepping in dog dirt?’ she asks.
Thankfully, www.dubaidogclub.com is there for responsible owners searching for dog-walking sites. The website is run by Dubai resident Martina Boor, who co-ordinates between owners looking for new and fun things to do with their dogs in Dubai and the various groups that can help them. Alongside dog walking groups, play dates, obedience training and even a Great Dane social group (seriously), Boor runs agility classes. Think the doggie equivalent of an obstacle course. It’s a popular sport and a great way to combine exercise with basic obedience training.
If you’re escaping the summer sun, your dog will need a place to stay while you’re away. Ratcliffe says you should call K9 Friends for advice: ‘There are lots of kennels I wouldn’t put my dog in, so go by word of mouth and recommendations.’
Posh Paws Kennels and Cattery is run by Laura Glanfield, a former K9 volunteer and founder of Dubai’s first animal sanctuary and petting farm. It has 12 grassy and shady play areas, a number of swimming pools, and plenty of toys to keep pets occupied. ‘All the kennels are air-conditioned and there are dog flaps so that they can go out to a private garden,’ Glanfield tells us. ‘They don’t feel confined in any way.’ She adds that dog owners are welcome to walk their dogs around the petting farm and in the desert behind it, free of charge.
The animal sanctuary and kennels are at the end of Dubai Bypass Road on the Ajman/Sharjah border. Visit www.poshpawsdubai.com or call 050 273 0973 for more information.