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Dog Food Entrepreneur Yamika Damani On The Dos And Don’ts Of Feeding Pets And Strays

  • IWB Post
  •  March 16, 2018

Yamika Damani is a lover of dogs. She grew up in Bengaluru with dogs and is so fond of them that often on trips with her father she’d go missing, as she used to go play with dogs in the vicinity.

She believed in one thing that a human’s best friend deserves human-like food. So, in December 2015, she founded her brand Clever Canine that serves chemical and preservatives-free food for dogs. Isn’t that paw-mazing? Headquartered in Bengaluru, the brand offers popsicles, pupcakes, and meatloaf cakes that are currently only available in Bengaluru because of their short shelf life. Other products that are nationwide accessible are energy bars and biscuits, with a shelf life of a few months.

In a conversation with the entrepreneur and dog trainer (trained with a leading canine behaviorist in the UK and mentored under India’s leading Canine Behaviour Counsellor, Shirin Merchant), she gave us a better idea about our best friends.

Read excerpts:

First, introduce us to your furry children. Do they participate in the R&D of your brand?

As of now, I am a mother of an only child – Stella. She is 11 months old and is very energetic. She is frisky, Stella. Thanks to her I stay very active. My other child Pixie, who actually was the inspiration behind the brand, passed away last year. Pixie was a rescued Staffordshire terrier dog.

Well, yes they are partly part of the R&D process. Their taste, physical, mental, and behavioral traits help me to develop healthier treats.

Tell us more about your research process.

I interact with owners for a better understanding of common health issues and I have interacted with almost 100 owners, which has been an immense help.

Does the Clever Canine menu include any of Pixie and Stella’s favourites?

It does! One of our most popular treats and the first popsicle – bacon ‘n’ apple flavour combination is inspired by Pixie’s taste buds. She loved bacon and her favourite food was apple. The Chicken Liver Biscuits from our menu was another Pixie favourite.

Clever Canine

Yamika with Stella

Clever Canine

Yamika with Pixie

Growing up with a wildlife enthusiast father, tell us how he introduced the wildlife to you?

I grew up in Bengaluru, then Bangalore, and 25 years ago it was even more amazing with lots of flora and fauna. My father used to bring home insects and even as a kid I wasn’t scared at all. I was quite open to it and it made me inquisitive about them.

A brave kid, eh! Please share with us the memorable and adventurous moments you have spent with your father?

There are so many! We used to go to fishing trips, mushroom picking, and trecks together. I remember we used to go to Kodaikanal quite often and lived in cottages there.

Till today I go for fishing with my father. We stay in a shabby place by the lake, start the bonfire, grill fish, and eat. Father and I, actually, are bonding more now.

Do you remember any moments with your first student as a trainer?

I have grown up with dogs, so, pet parenting came naturally to me. My first student was a set of two beagle puppies. They were brothers, and it’s actually always advised to not have dogs of the same age under one roof. There are huge chances of conflict and the same happened with me too. They used to fight, bully each other, which made the ‘first-time’ very difficult for me.

The good part is, I was able to resolve a lot of their issues.

All is well that ends well! 

Yeah! It was also a success story at a personal level. One of them was under-confident and to be able to bring his confidence level up was an amazing experience.

What do you think is the most common pet parenting mistake we don’t pay attention to, which are damaging to dogs?

I think a little too much research on the Internet is damaging. The reason is that a lot of things said there might not apply to your pet. If there’s a health issue, consult more vets than the internet. Also, I would always suggest feeding dogs home cooked food over packaged food.

Speaking of which, what should we keep in mind before feeding stray dogs?

So, first, I don’t appreciate us giving Parle G biscuits to them because they are full of sugar and maida. Give chapattis to them, they are better.  Also, bones of the chicken are not safe for them, they can be very fatal. If you’re feeding home food to them, try to wash off spices and salt before you feed them.

Clever Canine

Clever Canine’s Popsicles

Pink Salmon popsicle got this cutie all Lickin’ Licious 🐶 #probiotic #sugarfree #clevercanineindia #naturalfood #popsicle #salmon #dogicecream Shop online or at premium pet stores across Bangalore!

69 Likes, 2 Comments – Clever Canine (@clever_canine) on Instagram: “Pink Salmon popsicle got this cutie all Lickin’ Licious 🐶 #probiotic #sugarfree #clevercanineindia…”

Please share with us one quick recipe that can be made at home. 

Here it goes:

Pixie’s Bow-Wow Biryani!

2 servings for medium/large breeds, 4 servings small breeds

1/2 cup unpolished basmati rice

200 grams chicken thigh (boneless)

200 grams mutton mince (fat-free)

1/2 cup finely chopped veggies (broccoli, carrots, celery)

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

3 1/2 cups of filter water

Toss all ingredients into the pressure cooker, cook on high for 1 whistle and cook on slow for another 35 minutes.

Is it true that dogs cannot be trained after they cross the age of 6-7 months?

Not really. Young age is, of course, preferable because things taught to them at that age get them into a lifelong habit. And, as a matter of fact, I have trained dogs of all ages. It’s a little difficult but not impossible.

Traveling with dogs gets a bit difficult. What would you suggest?

I would first suggest making them habitual of sitting in the car. Do not immediately take them on a drive. Have patience, they will learn with time. So, begin with making him sit in the car for a couple of weeks without starting the engine. The next step then would be to take them on short trips.

Another thing to keep in mind is his health while on a journey. The dog should be fed 6-8 hours before starting the journey so that they don’t throw up. If they throw up on their initial journeys, it leaves a negative impact on them. They will start to hate journeys.

If it’s a morning journey, feed them good dinner.

Clever Canine

Clever Canine’s Biscuits

How do you plan to make all of your products more accessible?

I have already engaged in R&D to improve the shelf life of the products without adding chemical preservatives. We’re especially working on popsicles as they’re the top selling products.

Clever Canine

Clever Canine Products

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