Funda Nenja – Learning with the dog

7th May, 2018

Written by Lisa Button, Funda Nenja marketing and assistant dog school manager

Funda Nenja was started in 2009 and roughly translates from isiZulu as “learning with the dog”. This sums up what an enthusiastic group of people are doing in the Mpophomeni township near Howick, KwaZulu-Natal.

Children and their dogs

Every Friday afternoon, a group of volunteers and approximately 100 children and their dogs gather to share interspecies and multi-cultural communication within the framework of structured dog-training classes using positive reinforcement methods.

The idea is to develop respect and compassion for all living things by using dog training as a vehicle. Education on animal welfare, the need for sterilisation, humane handling of animals and kind and gentle dog training methods are included in the weekly classes.

The dog handlers learn self-discipline, commitment and responsibility that encourages personal growth and self-worth in the children. 

Welfare for animals and people

Every dog that takes part in the programme is fitted with a collar and lead, and each handler is given training treats, both for the afternoon lessons as well as for training at home during the forthcoming week. Basic veterinary care, including deworming, tick & flea control and treatment of minor wounds, is given to the dogs in the programme. Sterilisation of the dogs is encouraged and facilitated with the assistance of Umngeni SPCA.

All dogs in the programme are vaccinated against rabies, and regular rabies clinics are organised in the area for all the dogs of Mpophomeni Township with the help of the state veterinarian. Our volunteers are also vaccinated against rabies as handling dogs in any rural area is always a risk.

A social worker engages with the children, intervening if families are in need of assistance. And, because working on an empty tummy is hard, children receive a fruit juice and piece of fruit at every session.

How you can help

Funda Nenja’s mission statement sums up their work perfectly: “To promote the human-canine bond in our rural communities by using dog training classes as a means to develop respect and compassion for all living things”.

As Funda Nenja relies entirely on donations to run our organisation, we are always in need of new or second-hand collars and leads, blankets and beds, bowls and dog food. (We currently use approximately 70 – 80kg of dog food a week.) Funding is also always needed.

Funda Nenja is a registered Non-profit Organisation (NPO 085-038) and Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930-045-482).

Cash deposits can be made into the following account:

    Funda Nenja

    FNB – Howick

    Branch: 220 725

    Acc. No.: 6245 8766 197

For more information and to support this incredible initiative, visit and follow them on Facebook @fundanenja