Dog training

Guidelines introduced for dog training, adoption

SINGAPORE — Training devices and techniques that cause pain, fear, anxiety and distress to dogs should be avoided, a task force recommended in new guidelines introduced Friday, January 14.

The Rehoming and Adoption Task Force also called on those giving up dogs for adoption to have the dog evaluated and to make clear the dog’s existing medical and behavioral conditions and history.

The task force, which includes veterinarians, dog trainers and members of animal welfare groups, released two sets of standardized guidelines to improve dog repatriation and adoption practices, as well as dog training and behavioral rehabilitation.

Led by the Minister of State for National Development, Mr. Tan Kiat How, and supported by the Animal and Veterinary Services (AVS), the group was formed in October 2020.

“These guidelines will help improve existing repatriation and adoption practices and encourage better care for our companion dogs. Animal welfare groups can now refer to these guidelines to adopt best practices for repatriation, adoption and rehabilitation,” he said.

The task force was set up following concerns about the different levels of standards in the sector given the increase in repatriation and adoption activity.

Mr Tan shared that from 2006 to 2020, the number of dogs allowed by AVS increased from around 46,000 to 72,000. He added that more and more Singaporeans are discovering the benefits of having an animal companion in their life, especially during the pandemic.

The new guidelines clarify the roles and responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders and were finalized after numerous rounds of group discussions.

There was also a month-long online public consultation from October to November last year, where more than 90% of the nearly 4,000 respondents were pet owners.

More than 80% of participants supported the need for standardized guidelines on adopting, rehoming and training dogs, Tan said.

Animal welfare groups, animal trainers and veterinarians said the guidelines are a benchmark against which to measure best practice.

“With the guidelines, at least now there is transparency and they are publicly available, so in that sense it empowers the veterinarian … so that we can enlighten and educate the pet owner and, d ‘a certain way, apply it,’ said Dr. Kenneth Tong, who runs AAVC-Animal & Avian Veterinary Clinic.

“(The pre-adoption screening process) also helps pet owners know what they’re getting into…hopefully they can choose a dog that suits their lifestyle, their time and to their financial commitment,” added Dr Tong.

“If that doesn’t work out for any reason, post-adoption support is also available.”