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English>>China Society

Dog whisperer seeks better pet relations

By Li Yao  (China Daily)

09:02, October 29, 2012

Schenk says his main goal is to educate humans to understand their dogs with a blend of discipline and affection. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Dennis Schenk's mission in China is to create harmony between people and dogs.

The certified canine behaviorist from Michigan in the United States has been training dogs and their handlers for almost 20 years.

And although his family in Detroit thought it was a crazy idea, he moved to Beijing in 2009 to develop the Chinese market.

His mission is to spread the word about responsible dog ownership in a country where it is becoming increasingly popular.

Beijing has 1 million registered dogs, but 20 percent of them are not vaccinated, while an estimated 1 million dogs are unregistered. Their presence poses potential dangers to people, with injuries from dog bites on the rise, Schenk says.

"I am here because China needs awareness and knowledge in proper dog ownership," Schenk says.

He gives basic obedience training (sit, lay-down, stay, come) courses to train puppies and adolescent dogs, and makes home visits to correct behavior issues such as aggression, anxiousness and barking.

But his main goal is to educate humans, help them understand dog psychology and treat their dogs with a combination of discipline and affection.

Schenk says he has often noticed misunderstandings among pet owners. Handlers should put dogs on the leash when going outside for the safety of their own dogs and other people, yet Schenk notes many Chinese people do not do so.

Social skills are very important for dogs. If a dog is not properly socialized, they can easily become aggressive and may continually bark and even attack dogs or even humans when they are outside, he says.

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