Once you have decided which dog is right for you it is important to start out on the right foot as far as training goes. If you’ve never had a dog before, or are unsure about how to train your dog, the help of a professional will be very helpful. Dog training is as much about training the owners as it is about training dogs. We recommend having the whole family attend training sessions so that everyone (including helpers and children) are using the same techniques when dealing with the dog.
Whether you decide to train your dog yourself or engage the assistance of a professional, training should only ever use ‘positive reinforcement’ techniques such as praising dogs for good behaviour. Negative reinforcement (or punishing dogs for bad behaviour) is considered outdated and can have unwanted negative outcomes. Please don’t ever hit or scare your dog while trying to train him – you may end up with a dog who is scared of people or certain situations, and these methods are now considered inappropriate.
There are two main types of training – puppy socialization (getting used to other dogs) and behavior training.
Puppy socialisation can either happen informally (eg if you have friends with dogs, arrange for some puppy play-dates), or you can attend ‘puppy classes’, where a number of new dog owners attend a formal class. It’s important for dogs to learn how to socialise with each other, as well as with other people. The SPCA in Hong Kong organizes regular classes for puppies under 18 weeks of age. Puppies must have received their first two G6 or DHPPiL vaccinations to attend the class. Details can be found here. The classes at the SPCA will also cover useful skills like ‘sit’ & ‘stay’ and how to tackle common puppy issues like house-training, chewing, jumping and biting. Classes take place at the SPCA premises in either Wan Chai or Kowloon.
Individual Dog Training
This can be very beneficial for new dog owners or those who are having difficulty training their dogs. Commonly this may be for newly acquired dogs, dogs who have specific training issues, suffer anxiety or other unwanted behaviours. There are some great dog trainers in Hong Kong who will come to your home.
HK Dog Training – Rosalind Cheung is a USA qualified dog trainer who has been training dogs in Hong Kong since 2002. She offers both group and private classes. Note that lessons are only offered on Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong Canine – James Leung is also a USA qualified dog trainer who has been training dogs in Hong Kong for 15 years. He specialises in obedience training and behaviour modification. Hong Kong Canine offers both group and private classes. Hong Kong Canine’s training centre is located in Ap Lei Chau on Hong Kong Island.
Dog Man Go Woof – Mark Peters is a British dog trainer who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for the past 18 years. Mark specialises in one on one dog training in the convenience of your home and is based in Sai Kung.
Sometimes pets develop issues that require more than a trainer’s services. If your dog suffers from severe anxiety, aggression or dominance issues or you haven’t been able to resolve behavioural problems by yourself or with a trainer you may need a behaviourist.
Dr Cynthia Smillie is a qualified veterinarian who specialises in pet behavoiur. She uses her knowledge of medicine, pet behaviour and pharmacology to look at pet behavoiural issues from a different perspective. She also helps treat cats, birds and other exotic animals.