Really??...I Had No Idea!!!
Maryland Pet Gazette - 2004
As an obedience trainer for working breeds for more than a decade, I learned early on
that a critical part of my job is educating owners as to their dog's breed traits. Breed
traits dictate a huge amount of a dog's behavior, therefore, it is critical to understand
them. The continued realization that people don't know the answer to the most important
question regarding their dog still amazes me. Shoot, half the time, they don't even know
the question! Well here it is: What was this dog bred to do?
Once you have thoroughly answered that question, then you can ask yourself the next
few critical questions: 1. What are the breed traits (behaviors) that go along with this
breed (or breeds if it is a mix)? 2. What does this breed need to not only function, but to
be successful as a pet and member of this family? 3. Is my/our lifestyle conducive to
this dog's needs? 4. Is this the best breed for me and/or my family?
You can't imagine the questions I get. Like: "I run a daycare and my dog is relentlessly
chasing the kids in a circle, stalking them and nipping them. Why does she do this?" I
ask, "What breed of dog do you have?" "Border Collie," they reply. Hmmmmmmm, gee...
go figure. A Border Collie is probably the most high drive herding dog and probably the
most intelligent breed you can find. Bred to work from sun up to sun down herding
sheep by, guess what, stalking, staring and nipping with the efficiency of a machine!
Or an owner will ask, "Why is my Jack Russell Terrier always so energetic and why
does he dig all the time in my yard?" Here's a stab in the dark: could it be because he
was bred to control small vermin on farms with fierce tenacity and total non-stop
enthusiasm? This could be why they are affectionately dubbed the farm "cyclone?"
Or another owner will say, "My Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not at all like my Lab was.
He won't let people on our property and is very protective of my kids. Why is he like
this?" Well, here's a news flash for you: He's not like a Lab because he's NOT a Lab.
He's a Chessie. This breed of Retriever was bred not only to retrieve in the water but
also to guard barges! Therefore, they have an acute instinct to guard and protect
people, property and vehicle... just like any other guardian breed.
When told what their dogs were bred to do, generally, I get the same response:
"REALLY???...I HAD NO IDEA!!!" When I asked why they got this breed, I hear things
like "the dog on Frasier is a Jack Russell Terrier and he lives calmly in an apt," or
"People say they're smart," or "I like the look of that breed." To coin a phrase used by
my kids "Get a clue!" TV and movies are not real life! We don't get a powerful living
creature of a totally different species to share our home and kids with because of the
way they look. And while we're at it, let's use a little common sense. For example, don't
get a working breed or a puppy if you work all day, 5 days a week! And maybe, you can
figure out that a high drive working breed won't do well in an apartment BEFORE you
get the dog.
With all that said, if you make the decision to own a dog, pick one whose breed traits
best match your lifestyle. To do anything less is to set yourself up for disappointment,
but more importantly, you set the dog up to fail. And at best, the dog needs a new home
or at worst (and more likely) will end up being euthanized at the local shelter simply
because a human (who by the way, is bred to think, rationalize and reason) did
To find out how your individual goals can be achieved, call P.U.P.S
Dog Obedience Training at 410-992-8410, or email email@example.com.
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