Dog Training in Vietnam: Entry- May 22nd 2007, Hanoi, North Vietnam

For those of you who do not know me, I am a dog trainer based in Los Angeles California and I have been living on a island Koh Phangan in the Southern Gulf of Thailand part-time since 1990.

Over the years I have been exploring around Asia. I found myself in Hanoi for what I thought was just a fluke, a vacation. But now I do believe in Destiny.

I found myself at a government dog training facility in Hanoi almost 2 yrs ago. I simply was stopping by to see what they do there with the dogs in a land where they also eat dogs. For the most part pleasantly surprised to see that they cared for all the dogs as best they knew how.

The training, as you could imagine, was a different situation. They paraded all the dogs around in military fashion. Yelling and yanking like crazy on the choke chains all the while....... Hell, I would do what ever they told me to do as well......for FEAR of getting my head yanked off!

So later in the day, the Director of Training wanted to see what this K9guru guy could do with a dog. Well, you know I had a friekin field day with this opportunity. First off, I showed them my “No talk- No touch” technique, and I can still get a dog to do what ever I request.

That freaked them out! They were BLOWN away. I later explain through a crude interpreter about positive reward based training and how force does not help establish a loving, trusting, confident dog.

When I asked to work with the 14 week Rottweiler that they assured me was way to young for training, they were really blow away. I did my regular stuff that I always do when I first work a pup. I get the pup to sit and stay in place while I run all around the place, from time to time coming back to the pup to give it a pay off for staying still.

Then I work up to moving about 40 - 50 yards away from the pup, and I take my focus off of the pup and look down at the ground in front of me, squat down and hold my hand out with the payment in it. As soon as that pup reaches my feet I stand up with a hand cue, lure the pup, and he sits and receives full payment/reward.

Well, they all had their jaws on the ground after they saw that demo! I did it over and over with many other puppies. They could not believe a pup could be trained so easily and at such a young age. I think they were very impressed. It got their minds working….

After four days of me demonstrating for them, the Director did not want me to go back to California at all.

Well, it’s 2yrs later and I am back to stay for a long time. They have made me an offer I can't turn down.

This has nothing to do with the money; it is about changing the way these people think and how they view dogs. I am the first person ever to come here and educate the government about humane dog training. They are seeing the light and giving me a great deal to move here and help them change their training program. How cool is that??!

*Editor’s note: John Flanagan took a trip to Vietnam recently for fun and ended up landing a gig training Vietnamese Military Dog Handlers in more progressive and humane ways to train their working dogs. His blog will comprise of John’s informal letters to me from abroad and blog entries to DSD. I have chosen to leave his work primarily unedited for authenticity and to let his unique personality and his excitement shine through.