Sunday, March 4, 2012

Can You Meet Your Breeds Needs?

Over the years I have had many different breeds of dogs, big, small, purebred and mix breed.   The past 10 years I've had Labradors. I like their personality, size and energy level. I have a young active family and need a dog that will enjoy and tolerate the faced paced and often chaotic lifestyle of my home. I have a BIG fenced yard, enjoy being outside, love to walk and spend time at the water so the Labrador is a great fit for our family.   The majority of the dogs I raise are working dogs, so choosing to work with a professional breeder to provide health clearances is part of my selection process too. 

When people ask me 'whats a good breed of dog' I'm quick to start firing off a list of questions for them to consider:

How big of a dog do you want?
Do you care about shedding or have allergies?
Do you have a fenced yard?
How much time do you spend away from your home each day?
Do you have the time to commit to a puppy or would an adult dog be better?
Do you have other pets?
Do you have small children?

These are just some of the questions I ask people. There is so much to consider when adding a pet to your family. Most people research the purchase of a new car longer than they do the decision to add a dog to their home. True a car may cost more, but most people only have their cars 5 years and a dog lives an average of 12-15 years. Basing your decision to get a dog on solid information can help make having a dog an enriching experience that changes everyones life for the better.

I often work with families who are not prepared to meet the needs that their particular breed of dog requires. A young lab, pointer, Shepard for example will need daily vigorous exercise for years. All dogs need training, supervision, companionship and socialization. The average terrier LOVES to dig and without appropriate outlets for this behavior can make your backyard look like a scene from Caddy Shack. You have your herding breeds, yes they DO love to chase and herd things, even children. You have your hunting dogs with powerful noses ready and willing to follow a scent. The toys breeds tend to need less exercise and are popular with people who live in apartments or condos but are typically slower to housebreak. All dog breeds have unique needs. It's unrealistic to think that a dog will conform to our lifestyle, they are after all animals and are genetically hardwired to live up to their breed standards.    Whether you choose a purebred dog or a mix breed, their breed tendencies or combination of tendencies,  if you have a mix breed, will be part of who they are.  It's important to accept your dog for 'who they are' instead of trying to change them after the fact. 

One of my favorite shows is DOGS 101 on animal planet, you can even watch previous episodes on their website. It's a great show and features 6 different breeds each episode. I also encourage people to visit different breeders, visit a dog show,  go to pet adoptions, visit your local Shelter, talk to people who own different breeds and of course ask to meet and spend time with their dog.

When in doubt talk to a professional trainer or Vet.