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Dog training centers a howling success
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Thanks to growing incomes across the country, especially in cities, more and more families can now afford to keep a pet. And dog training centers are cashing in on the pet craze.

China has about 100 dog training centers, where pet owners splash money to pamper their pooches. But given the number of pet owners, that is a small number.

Take Beijing for instance. The capital has more than 800,000 registered pet dogs, but only 10 large dog training centers on its outskirts.

At Beijing Jinjiajun Dog Training Center, an hour's drive from the center of the city, all the 10 "VIP" rooms, each of which can accommodate four dogs, have been booked. And the center's 40 dog trainers have their hands full.

That the Jinjiajun center is far from the city is not a problem for the nouveau riche because they have cars. Even its stiff charges, far beyond the reach of the common people, are not a deterrent.

Dog owners can choose from different courses at Jinjiajun, with the most popular being the basic one-month training (4,500 yuan) that uses "German techniques".

They can also choose to have their dogs trained for shows (5,000 yuan a month), basic agility (4,500 a month for at least three months), or in anti-terrorism maneuvers (5,000 a month for a minimum six months). But the most costly is getting German Shepherds trained for competitions: 10,000 yuan a month for up to six months.

The center has purebred dogs from around the world, too, which can mate with pets for a fee. It also has a school to train dog trainers and a facility that sells training equipment.

Spread over 5 hectares, the center looks like a kindergarten with sliding boards, little hoops and balls scattered all over the place. Pictures of some "celebrity dogs" occupy pride of place on a wall adorned with trophies and other photographs.

Kubi, a Scottish collie, is the center's superstar. His wins in many competitions at home and abroad is something the center proudly boasts about.

Lu Yuanjie, Jinjiajun's manager, says plenty of dog owners need help. "These people are rich and successful in their fields but when it comes to dealing with their dogs, they are at a loss."

Zhang Miao, owner of Aston, a 4-month-old purebred Siberian husky, is delighted with what Jinjiajun did to change its behavior. Aston used to be "a destroyer" before he was taken to the center.

"It used to bark loudly at night and awaken our neighbors. After more than a month's training, he has become very quite at home and doesn't bark without a reason."

(China Daily June 20, 2009)

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