Every dog needs education. In the past only rescue dogs, army dogs and police dogs were sent to training schools, but now more and more dog owners are sending their pets to training camps to learn some manners.
Shen Chi-tung, owner of the 45-year-old Universal Police Dog Training School in Taipei County’s Sansia Township, said that having a pet is like welcoming a new family member. You have to consider everything for the pet, including food, clothing, housing, transport and other daily necessities. Not only does the animal have to be trained, but its owner also has to acquire the basic knowledge needed to keep a pet. Otherwise, the dogs become little more than a fashion accessory, to be discarded once they have gone out fashion.
Shen I-chun, a senior dog trainer, said that their school used to only train army and police dogs, but now the 20 domestic dogs receiving training at the school out-number working dogs.
Basic training consists of teaching the owner and their pet how to get along, then the dog has to learn how to sit, lie down, stand and receive orders, says Shen. More advanced courses are meant to train the animal’s strength and interaction skills, and finally the professional classes include rescue, attack and drug sniffing as well as other specialized training. Owners can choose what their dogs learn according to their own needs. The shortest dog class is five weeks, and the longest could last two years.
Trainer Shen suggests that a family dog should receive a high level training session on obedience if there are elders or young children in the family. Otherwise, a session on how to interact with humans is also helpful, such as training the dog how to defecate in a fixed place and getting used to changes in the family.
Most parks or public places forbid the presence of pets, which gives rise to complaints from a lot of owners. Shen says it’s true that Taiwan has a lot of work to do in this respect, but there are good reasons why dogs aren’t allowed in public places. Pet owners’ mentality differs quite a lot from those abroad, and owners here obviously don’t educate and manage their animal well enough, which causes problems for other people.
The very experienced Shen Chi-tung has been training dogs since he was 10 years old, and even traveled to Germany to undertake dog-training courses. He trained the police headquarters’ dogs in the past, and helped to establish the dog squads of the Special Police Headquarters.
Shen Chi-tung said that it is more difficult to teach a man than train a dog, by which he means that the mentality of people here has to be changed. The owner has to take lessons before having a dog because he has to understand the dog’s habits and consider whether he could fulfill his duties as a dog owner.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)