Know your dog: group offers free training seminars

PETS::Not as affectionate toward your canine friend as you should be? A series of lectures in Taipei aims to help owners gain insights into the psychology of dogs

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 2

From incessant barking to non-stop digging to outright disobedience, many dogs are often banished to the kennel for such behavior, but advocates say that by doing so, owners might miss out a prime opportunity to really understand their furry friends.

Precious Dogs Association (PDA) director Vivien Liu (劉素芳) said so-called problematic dog behavior is often a dog’s way of communicating its needs and wants.

“Too many people misunderstand their dogs and hence we have some pet owners who end up abandoning their dogs because they don’t know how to control them,” she said.

In traditional agrarian Taiwanese culture, she explained, dogs were treated like disposable tools. As Taiwan modernizes, it is necessary to reshape this sentiment toward dogs and start viewing them like the precious living beings they are, she said.

“In Germany, for example, when people are interested in having a new dog, they know to go to the shelter first, instead of a pet store. Then they will take a class on dog training because they understand the lifelong commitment of being a pet owner,” Liu said.

To help more Taiwanese understand the nature of their animals, the PDA is holding a series of free lectures in Taipei from this month on dog behavior and training tips. A line-up of well-known Taiwanese veterinarians, as well as world leading dog trainer and behaviorist John Rogers, will help people to decode the language of the canine world and learn about the psychology of dogs, it said.

According to Council of Agriculture statistics, the nation’s pet dog population in 1999 was about 1.63 million, but by 2009, the figure had dropped by 22 percent to 1.27 million.

The number of stray dogs, meanwhile, although recording a significant drop from 666,000 to 85,000 in the last 11 years, shows that the population of abandoned dogs remains roughly the same, because each year the Taiwanese authorities kill about 10,000 more dogs than the year before.

Animal rights advocates such as the Environmental and Animal Society have been urging the government to put a stop to the over 1,000 illegal puppy mills around the country, pointing out that many of these breeders use inhumane methods to get their dogs to over-reproduce.

Animal rights activist Huang Tai-shan (黃泰山) said that some breeders even sever the vocal cords of their dogs to keep them from making too much noise.