We believe life together in harmony is possible with knowledge and empathy
We educate public about dog body language and behavior to create empathy and healthy interactions.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:
Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Website or social media url(s)
Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
Re-imagining the role of pets in society
Help reduce abandonment and promote adoption
What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?
nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
A tragic event leaded us to start our project. Our president's dog was attacked and killed by an unleashed dog in a public park. After all the judicial process, we recognized people are not aware of their responsibilities and dog body language. This causes miscommunication, corruption of both animal and public welfare and safety. The problem is not the animals, but the ignorance of people. Therefore, we decided to educate people about dog body language, behavior and how to safely interact with dogs. We share information about dogs' needs and responsible ownership to create a healthy environment both for pets and people. In Turkey we live with stray dogs and cats. Our project also provides dog bite prevention.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Knowledge about dog body language and behavior helps communicate better and improves wellness and welfare for both parties. By understanding dogs and our responsibilites as guardians will reduce abandonment issues and help building a stronger bond with our pets. We aim to provide dog bite prevention especially with the strays and help create a safer environment. We also support "adopt don't shop" to reduce population in shelters.
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We want to reach as many people as possible and educate them. We use photos and videos in our presentations for better understanding. Cagla is a certified dog training and behavior specialist, which creates a more reliable source for information. Besides presentations we want to produce books and sources on digital platforms in Turkish, which unfortunately we do not have yet. After all, we want to reach a wider audience all around Turkey. We also want to work with child development experts and create dog bite prevention and life with dogs kits suitable for all ages. We believe that this education should start from younger ages to build a better understanding of animal welfare.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Most animal rights organisations are focused on rescuing and rehoming pets - which is great! We want to solve the ROOT of the problem: Ignorance. We want to change people's minds about animals. We aim to educate as many people as possible to create a better society both for people and pets. We believe that children is our future, so we want to reach children and raise awareness about animal welfare.
5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?
We want to reach people's hearts and tell them "animals feel emotions, they have needs, they communicate with their body language" and we're obliged to at least try to understand them and learn to live together in harmony. We want to transform the culture of living with pets into a healthy and peaceful joint existence. We believe that when we create empathy, violence and other issues will reduce critically. We want to help create generations that have embraced the culture of living with dogs and we want to contribute to dogs and humans living together by respecting the right to live of all living creatures.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
First of all we started by making questionnaires via our website to understand the needs. For example the survey "Are you ready to live with a dog?" was answered by 16.728 people, and "Are you safe around dogs-body language" was answered by 20.978 people, online. Results are very interesting. These survey results guided us to create our presentation. What are the needs of the public? What do we need to include to our projects and what to expect.
In our pilot presentation, which was held in a university conference room, was attended by 55 students. They were very interested in the subject. After the presentation, we wanted feedback and they told it was a very guiding and informing presentation and they learned a lot. Some of them wanted more. And told we should do this more often and reach more people, which we plan to!
In our future events we will make a short survey before and after.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
We plan to make more presentations and reach more people. For them who are not able to attend our events, we want to produce printed materials, books and be more active in digital platforms. Our website already has a public poster section that people can print infographic material.
Our long-term plan is to spread to whole country, especially schools - and we want to make our subject obligatory in curriculum. We want to implement a "presenter/instructor training programme" and bring up qualified presenters to reach more people.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
Our initiative impacts both animals and the society because we aim to provide better living for both parties. We want to live in peace and harmony. Creating a non-violent environment and providing empathy has a high influence in public. Teaching pet owners their responsibilities will affect both the society and animal welfare. We also know the positive effects of pets on children and on people. Pets whose needs are met, will behave better in public and will have stronger bonds with people. (Or vice-versa.) Dog bite prevention and learning dog body language will keep people safer and protect animals from being mistreated. Who doesn't want to live in a better world?
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
Life With Dogs Association currently is funded by donations and membership fees. Our volunteers donate handmade items for a private company and the profit will be donated to us. In medium term plan, we aim to sell the project books and materials we plan to produce soon, and use the revenue for our association. Our long-term plan is to reach a wider community and seek the help of local governments and sponsors. We also plan to make paid presentations on-demand for private constitutions.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Our team is headed by Cagla Cankirili. She's a certified dog training and behavior specialist, so she prepares and leads informative materials and presentations. Our board members contribute by arranging our website and social media, also working on corporate and public relations. One of our founding members is an attorney in law, who helps with legal issues. Our board, members and volunteers believe in what we do, this gives us the strength to proceed.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
If we win the prize, we will have a very strong source of motivation and also responsibility to make our project better and more effective. Ashoka and Purina both are very powerful brands, which will make our Association more credible and recognized in our field. The prize will be the fuel of our future moves and lots of people and pets will benefit from this.
12. How did you hear about this challenge?
Recommended by others
Ashoka page or contact
13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.
Our pilot sessions were attended by different types of groups: Those who live with a pet, who have fear of dogs, volunteers that seek to help strays and persons curious about dogs. Yet, this diverse group shared a desire to understand dog behavior to better engage with their pets and strays. Turkey offers a contrasting setting. On the one hand, strays are cared in the streets by local volunteers but at the same time abuse is rampant. Turkey has one of the highest growing pet-care markets. This directs us to the conclusion that there is demanding need to improve people’s attitude to dogs. Our workshops provide basic yet not-easily accessible (for Turkish citizens without direct access to English published literature on dog behavior) education. Through workshops and public engagement via leaflets/internet campaigns, we provide vital info about how dogs communicate and we also give health-care tips to our followers. We offer free downloads where people can share/print informative posters.
14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?
Our project benefits pets as well as people. We proceed from the basic premise that both dogs communicate with their body language but humans lack the skills and knowledge to read it. We know out there, there are lots of pets being misunderstood by their people. Learning dog body language, helps people better recognize when a dog is in distress, pain, fear, etc. For pet owners, this helps improve their relationship with their companion and for people who encounter dogs in their daily lives such as students in campuses where there are strays or activists who feed stray dogs stranded in outskirts of the city, this helps them avoid situations where they miscommunicate with strange dogs. By reading dog body language and learning how to interpret signals of discomfort and stress, we believe dogs and humans can interact much better. More importantly, such integral knowledge about dog behavior prevents humans from engaging in harmful or negative behavior against strays and helps build harmony
15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?
In Turkey, due to the huge number of stray animals, there are mostly feeding and rescue groups, which do meaningful and necessary work. As members of Life with Dogs Association, we do what we can to support these groups individually. To our knowledge, we are the only organization, which is solely focused on education and dissemination of dog behavior knowledge. While individual trainers who are equipped with dog training may also teach their clients the necessary skills, our non-profit organization approach specific groups such as young kids who have not interacted with pets, students who study in campuses where they encounter strays and adults who have fears about dogs because of past bad experience. As an organization, we use all our focus and energy to create a society who understands pets better.
16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.
In the near future, we want to collaborate with local authorities, public schools/universities and also with volunteers and rescue groups to reach and impact more audiences. With the support of local authorities, it will be easier for us to engage with shelter staff who work with animals, and also public schools to reach younger people to create generations who embrace living with pets better. Volunteers/Rescue groups are also a very important group for us because they interact with lots of animals. More importantly shelters and rescue groups conduct rehoming procedures, and it is very important to make good matches. These partnerships will grow our project and give us the chance to make more impact. We hope to establish a teaching module that can be adapted to different settings and demands and that will be used by others who have completed our workshops.