Noleen with her dogs, Benji and Jessie.

Dog lover Noleen’s stint as editor of AnimalTalk magazine fitted her like a glove.

Canine challenges? Get your pooch a behaviourist!

The two-year old Pekingese, Steve, believes he is the king of the castle. Nothing seems to faze him… until that first crack of thunder; then he turns into a trembling ball of fur and tries to hide under the bed.

Noleen facilitates the Paws in the City Puppy Academy in Johannesburg for puppies between the ages of three and 16 weeks, as what happens to a puppy during this period can influence the rest of a dog’s life.




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Five facts about Noleen


Noleen has two dogs, Benji (a Chihuahua) and Jessie (a Chinese Crested Powderpuff), and a cat, Joey.

Her favourite lecturer was the late Gretel Wybenga of the School of Languages.

When in her car she listens to alternative rock, metal and ‘80s Goth music.

Reading is her favourite hobby.


Noleen believes that all dogs have the potential to be trained or rehabilitated. There is, however, a vast difference between training a dog to sit and helping a previously abused dog to trust people.


Canine behaviourist Noleen Fourie says this behaviour can be corrected through learning theory, without the use of any aversive (unpleasant) methods or equipment.


Steve’s fear is a common behavioural problem among dogs, she says. “Just as people have fear triggers such as heights, public speaking and even spiders, so do dogs. For dogs, the biggest fear triggers are thunder, fireworks, loud noises, travel and being alone.”


From magazine editor to canine behaviour advisor


Noleen, who heads up the Paws in the City initiative, is a proud alumna of the NWU’s campus in Vanderbijlpark, where she obtained both her BA degree and postgraduate certificate in education.


“I guess you can say I took the scenic route to where I am today,” laughs Noleen. Along the way, she enjoyed stints as an Afrikaans language teacher, a community journalist and editor of AnimalTalk magazine.


This allowed her to network with various role-players in the pet care sector, and it wasn’t long before she developed great insight into the sector, and sadly, the many challenges – including abuse – animals endure.


Her need to become more hands-on grew and she made the decision to devote her life to dogs. She is committed to empowering dog owners and challenging traditional ways of thinking and misconceptions about canine behaviour.


What does a canine behaviourist do?


Noleen trained under Scotty Valadao – one of the country’s leading behaviourists – and assists dog owners who experience pet problem behaviours such as fear, over-excitement, destructiveness, pulling on the lead and toilet training.


“Changing a dog’s behaviour involves the dog’s emotions. I often compare it to the dog being in therapy. It takes time, patience and hard work, but it is always worth it.”

Noleen Fourie is the NWU’s own dog whisperer. With her is her husband, Ruan.

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