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Australia's world leading dog training techniques - goes Global

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Written on 11th November, 2013.

Peter Bonney and Val Bonney legends in Australian Dog Training
Val Bonney - Peter Bonney Celebrate 50 Years of Dog Training

I have been asked to write this article on Australia's world leading dog training techniques - goes Global, to bring you up to date with what has been going on in the world of dog training at "Bonnies Dog Obedience and Puppy School".

I was contacted by the University of Queensland. They were looking at having students from Japan visit Australia for a week long o/seas learning experience. Would I be able to assist them?

I went to Japan with the Director of the University to visit with the Communication Art Colleges in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Hokkaido. The idea was that students from these colleges would spend 1 week a year, hosted by the University, developing skills that they were already training for.

Things like Grooming, Dog Training, Vet areas, Physio for Animals, Working with Dolphins, Horse racing and a few other disciplines.

While some of these disciplines have gone by the board over the past 20 years, the Dog Training and Grooming has held its own. The students and teachers have to grade everything that they do while they are here, and along with (in recent years) Craig Murray's speciality Dog Training, Bonnies have just completed our 21st continuous year.

Around 8000 Japanese students have gone through our hands in that time.

All of this day training has taken place at the Durack Grounds which the Caretaker has really kept in such good order for these Japanese Experiences.. Usually we have a group of 500 to 600 students over a 3 day period each year. We must not lose sight of the fact here that there is nothing like our Canine Control Grounds in Japan, so this on its own is quite a revelation to and for the students and teachers. They are always amazed at these wonderful grounds we take so much for granted.

Bonnies training necessitates a team of dedicated trainers who devote their time and expertise to this Australia-Japan cross-over. The approach to dog training in Japan differs significantly from our methods here. Despite being far ahead in our classrooms, the knowledge imparted by our skilled trainers has enriched their comprehension of dog training practices in Australia.

When they first started coming all those years ago, the students were very naïve. They were very young in mind and experience. They were 20 to 22 year old’s but very different to our young people of the same age. We have noticed a vast difference over the past few years. Now the boys and girls arrive with different coloured hair, ear piercing, some tattoos, and usually a great attitude. I must say here at this point they are a pleasure to work with.

We have to teach them as much as we can in their short visit. This means, Basic Obedience, Puppy Training, Advanced work, Agility and recently Dancing with Dogs. The Trainers we use all bring their own dogs, so we have about 14 dogs for the students to handle. My main concern with the dogs that come is NOT how good they are, but that they are as bomb proof with people as we can make them. WE HAVE NEVER TO THIS DATE HAD AN INCIDENT WITH A DOG AND A STUDENT.

Thank you Lord. I tell the students the only dogs I can guarantee will never bite are, STUFFED TOYS or HOT DOGS. It usually gets a laugh from them, but they get the message.

The trainers themselves come from varied Clubs, and it is time these Clubs recognised the worth of these people who work with their clubs every week.


IPSWICH DOG OBEDIENCE - Tina McKenzie, Ann Clarkson, & Dell Francis

as well as Bonnies trainers, Bruce Bonney, Paul McKie, Ian Wilson, Patricia Farquahson and Peter Bonney, have been working in this area since its inception, and for the last few years we have included Coral Pethers, Trevor Telford, Ann Shannon, Amanda Venamore, Therese Murchinson, Daphne Newman and Rob Lake. These help out every year. They are just amazing.

They are all experts in their fields, and work very hard, on teaching these students. Remember all teaching has to be through an INTERPRETER which doesn’t make it easy and all takes extra time. The dogs get very tired, and all trainers go home dead tired, but I think feeling very pleased with their efforts and so they should.  They really are amazing.

The hands on work these students get is unique. They are often dealing with breeds of  dogs, they have never handled. German Shepherds, Swiss White Shepherds, Munster Landers, Rottweilers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Border Collies. We are proud of our NO INCIDENT record. This goes for no problems with the dogs working together either.

Over the years, we have had Nelson Edyvean (dog Manipulator) come and give a lecture, we have had the Gundog People come and give a display, and we have taken the students up to Corrective Services at Wacol (Prison squad). Taught them Drug Detection work and shown them some MAN WORK. These things may never be experienced by these students again.  We sometimes include Tracking, and a talk from the Queensland Police Dog Squad. Other areas covered are Basic Obedience and more advanced obedience. Agility, Puppies and Dances with Dogs.

Some Breeders have bought their puppies along for the students to see and to hold. Puppies are not often seen by students in Japan, and certainly not by these Communication Art College Students.

Nancy Hardie (German Shepherd Breeder) has been a great supporter over the years and we thank her very much.

This year we had Katrina McKenzie (Swiss White Shepherd Breeder) bring 8 puppies. They were a real hit. My sincere thanks to these Breeders and all who have taken an interest. The working with and Understanding the necessity of working with a puppy is so important for them to understand.

The efforts we've invested during this period have been tremendous, and from my perspective, exceedingly worthwhile. While acknowledging that not all students may choose to become trainers, they have been exposed to positive and inspiring training presentations. This exposure will undoubtedly benefit them in any career path they decide to pursue. We firmly emphasize that people training is a crucial aspect in the dog industry, as well as in any other industry they may venture into.

The cultural value and interaction between Australia and Japan have been exceptional, reflecting our best efforts. I could share countless stories that have unfolded over the years, but unfortunately, the limited space in Dog World Magazine prevents me from doing so.

The reason this account is being documented is due to the visit of President Norma Zimmerle (now deceased) to our facility in Durack during one of our working days. Her astonishment at what she witnessed fueled her desire to learn more about this project. She believed that everyone should be aware of the valuable contributions made by Brisbane to other parts of the world. Hence, this story came to be. It was truly heartwarming to witness her genuine interest. A special thank you to Norma for her enthusiasm! I am also delighted to mention that our CEO, Scott Wiseman, has personally visited and observed the work being done here. Thank you, Scott, for showing genuine interest and support in our endeavors.

Val Bonney (Bonnies Dog Obedience Trainer- Canine Behaviour Specialist/Author)

The Bonnies Team of dog training experts - 50 years
Bonnies Dog Obedience and Puppy School Team


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