‘Dog nurseries’ tap demand from Japan’s busy, hands-off owners

JIJI

“Dog nursery schools” are attracting growing demand particularly from double-income families and single-person households in Japan interested in facilities that can not only feed and walk the animals but potty-train and discipline them at the same time.

Owners drop off their pets in the morning just as parents take their children to nurseries.

Owners also consult with staff, who take their dogs for walks just like nursery school teachers stroll with kids.

“Dogs are animals that inherently live in groups,” said Akane Fujitsuka, chief of Little Chika, a dog nursery and kennel in the western Tokyo suburb of Chofu. “They can develop social skills by learning communication and rules with other dogs,” she said.

After eating and resting, dogs undergo potty training and lessons to learn how to sit and wait. In between sessions, they play.

“This helps dogs act naturally, eliminate stress and reduce problematic behavior, such as unnecessary barking,” Fujitsuka said.

Playbow Nakameguro, part of a nursery and kennel chain in Meguro Ward, has many puppies about 4 months old under its care.

“If owners understand the nature of dogs, their relationships (with pets) will get much better,” said manager Yuta Noguchi.

He said his staff focus on teaching training methods that owners can use at home.

“Some people have dogs without knowing their habits,” Little Chika’s Fujitsuka said, calling on owners to fully understand that having a pet is nurturing “a life.”

“If you have trouble with your dogs, talk to experts as soon as possible,” she stressed.