Helping Koh Phangan's Dogs - Animal Behaviourist Aimee

7 Dec 2016

Phanganist speaks with animal behaviourist Aimee…

Tell us your Koh Phangan story…
I visited the South of Thailand in January for a volunteering job with kids. I had some time off and came to the island for just a couple of days. I discovered PACS and decided to come back a month later to share my knowledge and gain a different perspective.

With the gathered experiences there, I returned home to create a plan to achieve the vision of Pandoga.

Pandoga is a project about developing dog-training programs in places around the world where the relationships between people and dogs struggle. I attempt to guide people in understanding and interacting positively with the dogs in Koh Phangan.

What got you initially interested in animals and particularly behavior?
Observing animals was one of my favorite occupations as a kid. I learned to understand different patterns of behavior and how to adapt and react with our furry companions. Therefore, I started training our dog and other people’s dogs, out of curiosity.

It is so interesting to see how much you can say without words. Dogs communicate a lot through their body language and mimics.  My visit on this island’s purpose is to observe and understand the dogs and hopefully benefit people with Pandoga’s project.

Where did you learn or train?
After trying other occupations and not being satisfied, my father actually encouraged me to live out my passion. That’s how I started correspondence learning in animal psychology, specialized in dog behavior in Switzerland and Germany. However, this was purely for my own interests. My greatest teachers were my own dogs. I am constantly still learning with every experience and case that I take on.

I trained dogs in Luxembourg and Belgium. Before that I used to complete agility courses with my previous dogs.

My first job with animals was as a trainee for a month at a veterinary clinic, after that I assisted in a dog grooming salon.

Somehow, I ended up wanting to be a personal dog trainer and doing home visits to see my clients in their everyday environment, with their companions. I love the challenge of finding different solutions for individual cases.  Therefore I attempt to help people in Koh Phangan with my little project, including self-improvement.

What sorts of problems do you help with?
Every kind of problem; from aggression to fear and anxiety, hyperactivity, barking, biting, nipping, puppy training, disobedience and stubbornness. I also help people who simply want to understand their companion and be able to give them a wider range of exercises and mental training.

Every problem is a welcome challenge for me.

Being here in Koh Phangan reminds me how different dog training approaches in other countries and cultures can be.

What will you be working on here in Koh Phangan with animals?
My aim is to observe and understand the pets and strays on this island and how different cultures lead to a diverse lifestyle. I also hope to share and increase my knowledge with people who require my help to train their own dog(s), or have an issue with the strays surrounding their environment. People adopting a new puppy or stray are very welcome to contact me to prevent certain behavioural issues. Overall, I intend to try my best to help people and dogs here on the island.

Follow me on my Facebook Page ‘Pandoga’ and You can support this non-profit project with a donation or equipment like treats, whistles, leashes and collars…

What are some common problems you see with dogs and what can we do as owners ourselves to help?

Every culture and lifestyle brings various common problems with it. Misunderstanding of body language and unawareness can trigger misbehaviors.

Proper practice, patience and consistency are the right ingredients for success.

Dogs are individuals, just like us and not all of them learn in the same way. Part of a balanced training philosophy is having the ability to adapt and suit the needs and personalities of each dog. It takes more time and effort then some of us might imagine, but it isn’t that hard. I think a consistent response is important for dogs to learn what is desired of them, so never lose hope.

You are also a body paint model, tell us about this…
Yes! I am. It’s one of the little hobbies I enjoy doing. I never really liked modeling, even after being asked several times for fashion and photography. I would rather say that I like being the living canvas and representing the art of different artists. I also enjoy changing my appearance very much, dressing up and getting into different characters.

I got into the body painting scene 2 years ago, after getting in touch with the Luxembourgish artist, Lynn Schockmel. Consequently, I got in touch with diverse artists and was able to model for different events, festivals and private fun shoots. I was honored to model at the World Bodypaint Festival in Austria, where we achieved 4th Place in the category: ‘creative Make-up’, with the Korean artist Hyun Yong Jin (Moona J Weaner). My team was also awarded 1st Place with the German artist Claudia Kraemer in the ‘UV Paint’ category. I keep on meeting so many great artists and it’s always an honour to work with them and share our creative minds.

Are you hoping to do art projects here?
I want to experience what Bodypainting means on this island, then I can decide what I want to do in regards to modelling here. I am hoping for a fun environment and a chance for a creative outlet. If the right opportunity presents itself, I will be open to the experience.  

What are you enjoying about Koh Phangan so far?
In Koh Phangan there is a unique way of living and that is what I enjoy about it. Thai culture mixed up with other cultures in a situation open enough to allow a wonderful visit or travel experience. The food is one of the plus points. At every corner, you can try out new restaurants or simply visit the markets and be overwhelmed by the huge variation of beverages and meals. In case you’re tired of Thai food, you will find western dishes everywhere.

The weather here is a perfect get away from the cold winter time in my home town. Don’t forget the beautiful sunsets and rises that you can enjoy to the fullest here. At the very last, I have some good friends that I want to spend time with and have the loveliest support of them.

Leave us with your life philosophy…
My philosophy in life is to live in balance. You need a dark background to see what is written in white, for one cannot live without the other. Keep hope in the back of your mind because it’s something that will carry your believes and help you to have a brighter perspective on life. Train yourself that something beautiful will come out of every situation. It’s a matter of patience.

I also think that a person can learn one or two things from a dog: live each day with unbridled exuberance and joy and don’t forget to appreciate simple things.