The dogs of Wuxi must be very naughty indeed.
Business is booming at a recently opened, 3,000 yuan ($375) per month
obedience school in this city in East China's Jiangsu Province.
Since it accepted its first student in October, the Happy Dog obedience
school has trained 17 canines, eight of which have already graduated.
Zhu Min, the school's president, said local demand for dog obedience training
had exceeded his expectations.
"Many people have come to my school to make reservations for their dogs. But
we have only been able to help a few dogs because we only have a few trainers,"
Pet dogs are increasingly common in many cities across China, and their
number is reportedly on the rise. And more and more city dwellers appear willing
to lavish big money on man's best friend.
Deluxe doghouses and fragrant baths are just two of the luxuries being heaped
on China's pet pooch population.
Obedience schools are the latest treat for well-heeled dogs, and several such
schools have recently opened their doors in big cities like Beijing and
"Many dog owners do not know how to tame their pets properly and sometimes
spoil them too much, which adds to the difficulty training them," Zhu told China
He added that most of his students were so badly behaved that their owners
could no longer tolerate them. A woman surnamed Ding who recently sent her
Labrador to the Happy Dog complained her pet had cultivated such annoying habits
as urinating everywhere and barking through the night.
But not all the dogs at the Happy Dog are such hard cases. Some people have
invested in the future good manners of their puppies by bringing them to Zhu's
He described such early interventions as "a good trend" because it is easier
to train puppies than mature dogs.
Despite its popularity, the Happy Dog's tuition fees, which are far higher
than the local per capita average monthly income of less than 2,000 yuan ($250),
have inspired some criticism. Training a dog to stop attacking people costs
3,000-5000 yuan ($375-625), while a course aimed at preventing pooches from
relieving themselves on the floor costs 2,000 yuan ($250).
"This kind of training is luxurious, and most dog owners in the city cannot
afford the fees," said a local citizen surnamed Geng. "It is a bit ironic that
it costs as much to send a dog to school as it does to send our children."
Zhu conceded that the cost is high, but said it is reasonable because the
kind of training available at Happy Dog requires a lot of effort and time from
trainers. And such professionals are scarce in this country.
"Our training system is one person to one dog, which is very different from
the normal class-based method," he said.
A dog owner surnamed Wang said he appreciated Zhu's school. He said dogs
bring their owners much pleasure, but can cause problems for other people if
they are not well-behaved.
"If a dog owner fails to teach his dog to behave, why not have it trained at
a dogs' school?" the dog owner said.
(China Daily 01/05/2007 page5)