The head trainer at a dog training school shouts a command but the confused dog doesn’t move. Suddenly, the trainer retaliates with three open palm slaps to the dog’s face. He then hoists the dog into the air and slams it to the ground. The dog sits up and the man delivers two kicks right into the dog’s chest.
LARS JAMES HAMER: In a room, a group of students sit on the floor, squeeze onto chairs and stand huddled in corners. They are all eager to get a glimpse of a dog trainer who has one of the largest social media followings in the industry. The head trainer at Quan Dao, a dog training school in Shanghai, shouts a command but the confused dog doesn’t move. Suddenly, the trainer retaliates with three open palm slaps to the dog’s face. He then hoists the dog into the air and slams it to the ground in a move that wouldn’t look out of place in a wrestling match. The dog sits up and the man delivers two kicks right into the dog’s chest.
This is the first 20 seconds of a brutal assault that lasts four minutes, all the time people in the crowd watch on, some even smiling. Quan Dao claims they adopt such violent training techniques because the dogs have “psychological problems” and violent tendencies. Quan Dao, which also goes by the name Chong Chong Ma Te (宠宠玛特) on Chinese social media, has almost 250,000 followers on Douyin (China’s TikTok). They are also estimated to have over 4,000 trainers.
Sadly, Quan Dao is not the only social media account in China teaching people to train their dogs by beating them. During our research we found accounts posting videos of this type of training on WeChat Channels, Weibo, Xiaohongshu and Douyin. In one particularly disturbing video, a woman beat her dog so much that he vomited.
It doesn’t stop there; Taobao has courses that can be purchased for around RMB50 that advise owners to adopt abusive methods, and they even sell special equipment used solely for beating dogs. Training schools, where the dog will live in the school for anything from a period of 30 days to six months, cost around RMB3,000-6,000 per month. Animal abuse has become a business.
Beating dogs is often defended by owners, who say something along the lines of, “Dogs are pack animals and my dog needs to know I’m the leader.” But is there any logic behind this claim? In his book The New Science of Understanding Dog Behavior, leading dog expert John Bradshaw explains that treating dogs as pack animals is not only outdated, but irrelevant to the animal we have welcomed into our homes.
Bradshaw argues that, contrary to popular belief, wild wolf packs don’t choose their leader based on who is the strongest, but instead on family ties and relationships. Through centuries of breeding, as wolves have become the loveable dogs we know today, a dog’s idea of a pack has changed entirely.
If left in the wild with no human interference, domestic dogs no longer make packs, but instead find companions based on affection and whom they can play with. A dog’s pack has become akin to a friendship circle, and the idea of the strongest ruling the roost doesn’t exist anymore…
Abusing dogs has become an acceptable form of training because of a lack of animal rights and laws. In China, unlike the vast majority of countries in the West, there are no clearly defined national laws against abusing animals. In 2018 it was estimated that over 300 million people in China (a fifth of the entire population) own a dog. At the same time this data was released, many cities and provinces started enacting laws regarding “civilized dog ownership.”
In Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, these laws include restricting dogs from taking elevators during busy hours, limits on how long a lead can be and how many dogs one person can own. The city even told residents that, when they walk their dogs, they have to avoid old people, the disabled, pregnant women and children. Similar laws were also put in place in Guangzhou and Suzhou. These may sound like logical steps to put in place, but if society was better educated on how to raise dogs without abusing them, the number of aggressive dogs in China would fall rapidly.
Many cities have brought in laws regarding animal abuse, stating that fines will be issued to those who engage in activities such as dog fighting, but the rules around whether an owner can be punished for beating their dog remain vague. Even if owners are fined, the maximum punishment we found was RMB500, and the law suggests this is to deter blood sports, not human to animal abuse. China still has a long way to go. In the United States, animal abuse can be punished with a USD50,000 fine or up to 14 years in prison. SOURCE…