Training is important, especially for puppies, but rest assured you can definitely teach old dogs new tricks as well.
If you’ve never had a dog before, some professional advice is highly recommend. Dog training is as much about training the owners as it is about training dogs. I 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 Negative reinforcement (or punishing dogs for bad behaviour) is considered outdated and can have unwanted negative outcomes.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 (if you have friends with dogs, arrange for some puppy play-dates), or you can attend ‘puppy pre-school’, where a number of new dog owners get together in an organised session. It’s important for dogs to learn how to socialise with each other, as well as socialise with humans.
The SPCA in Hong Kong organizes regular puppy 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 on the SPCA website. These puppy classes are great to get puppies together, but they're more about socialisation that formal training... it's too distracting having lots of furry companions running around.
Individual Dog Training Sessions with a Professional.
This can be very beneficial for new dog owners or those who are having any areas of difficulty with regards to 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. Rosalind's email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.hkdogtraining.com Note that lessons are only offered on Hong Kong Island.
Pet Behaviourist - Dr Cynthia Smillie.
Sometimes pets have or 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.
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 http://www.petbehaviourhk.com/