The day starts at 7 a.m. at the training school in Vinh Phu Ward, Thuan An Town of the southern province. The dogs are taught obedience and guard duties, among others.
Nguyen Dinh Hoang, a school representative, said the school’s clients are mainly from Binh Duong, neighboring Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta provinces.
Nguyen Dinh Trung, Hoang’s brother, teaches a German Shepherd named Ben to crawl through a tunnel.
“For the dog to memorize its lessons, we have to organize three classes a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. When it’s hot, we let the dogs practice lighter lessons,” he said.
The school, which has 11 employees, trains over 100 dogs of multiple breeds.
Ben learns how to jump through a hoop. It took him about a month to complete basic lessons.
“Like humans, for the training to succeed, trainers have to be strict during every lesson,” said Trung.
Each training course lasts around four months and costs VND2.5 million ($108) per dog.
“We can make around VND20 million a month, but it can also drop to just VND6 million. We do this because we have a passion and love for dogs. My friends are working in real estate or business, which brings in more money,” said Hoang.
Hoang wears a suit for protection as he prepares to become a robber that the dog is trained to attack on order.
“I’ve been doing this for nine years. In the past I used to get bitten all the time. There was one time when I needed seven stitches,” Hoang said.
An “attack lesson” requires 2-3 people and is fraught with danger, with the slightest mistake resulting in injuries.
Per a predetermined script, the German Shepherd wrestles with the “robber” and can be ordered by the trainer to bit him.
Each “attack lesson” lasts around 30 minutes and are introduced in the last three months of a course after the dogs get used to their trainers.
Hoang shows off scratches inflicted on his left arms.
“The first day at the job, I was cornered by a Rottweiler, but escaped, luckily. I don’t understand how I came to love the job and become so committed to it,” he said.