It has been interesting to watch the progression of Dog and Human over the last several hundred years. For hundreds of years humans have bred dogs to have specific drives, personalities and temperament to match the job required. In the last few decades it has become more popular to rescue dogs from all different mixes, personalities, temperaments and drives.
The way a dog used to be chosen and bred was through this process:
- Intended Job – What job do you need the dog to do?
- Temperament / Drive / Personality – Determine what would be the best temperament, drive and personality for that job.
- Breed Selectively – Take dogs with traits close to what you are looking for and breed them together until you achieve the desired natural temperament, drive and personality.
- Training is a piece of cake – Since they are naturally suited for this job they quite often require little to no training.
- Life is Peachy
The new process is more like this:
- What looks pretty? – Choose a dog based on what looks cute. This can be through a breeder or a rescue.
- Find out what natural temperament, drive and personality they have after they have been acquired.
- Contact a Trainer (some do fine as is and others require training)
- Try to have the natural temperament, drive and personality trained out of the dog. Essentially we are trying to fight Mother Nature’s Natural Recipe.
I am not sure what caused the shift from purpose to looks. I don’t know why a dog that wins breeding shows achieves higher prices than a dog that was bred properly for health and a specific job or task.
Another interesting change is the thought people have on rescuing a dog. You quite often hear people say “Why would I buy a dog from a breeder when there are so many rescue dogs looking for a home?” I can understand getting a rescue but I am not too sure about that statement. First a person would have to ask themselves “Why are there so many dogs that need to be rescued?” To me it seems there has been a lot of excessive breeding which can constitute poor breeding or mismatched homes for the dogs bred. If you have ever talked to a responsible breeder, this is what you will find: They have a list of people looking for a dog. They then screen those people to ensure they are the right match for that breed of dog. If they are not the right match then they do not receive a dog. The breeder then breeds accordingly to the supply required. So in essence if a person wants to get a rescue and not support breeding it seems as though they are only supporting the irresponsible breeders as those dogs get surrendered or they breed beyond their supply requirements. The responsible breeders carefully select forever homes for these dogs and have “no breeding contracts” signed so these dogs are not allowed to be bred. They also have in the contract that if circumstances change the dog comes back to the breeder and they find another properly matched home. I do find it very difficult to find a responsible breeder as more seem to be in it for the wrong reason than the right reason. In my opinion the right reason is breeding a dog for the family requirements which is generally these days a pet. If you want an example of a responsible breeder you should check out http://www.starstrucklabradors.com They are even approved by the Calgary Humane Society.
The reason I find these changes interesting is that it causes so many people a lot of grief, stress, frustration, money and sometimes ends relationships. If the order was switched back around to first and foremost choosing the job required of the dog and then selecting the dog from there it would make things go much more smoothly.
Every now and then I work with a client who has purchased a dog from a responsible breeder and I ask them the process in how they chose the dog. This is what they say:
- We decided what kind of dog we wanted as a pet. We wanted a nice temperament and eager to please dog that we can take camping or on trips with us.
- We then searched for a breeder that was responsible.
- We went to check out the puppies and we chose one that had a nice bond with us that wasn’t clawing all over us. They had a nice easy temperament.
- We then wanted to ensure that dog was trained properly so we researched trainers and came across your website. We really agreed with your philosophies and loved the video on your website and thought we want our dog to be like that.
- Here we are, ready to do the learning and the training. We want to spend time with our dog and ensure they are well trained.
I tell these people to tell everyone they know how they chose their dog. Tell them that a dog trainer who works with the worst of the worst for dog behavioural problems wants you to spread the word to as many people as possible on how to properly choose a dog. You guys nailed this 100%.
There are rescue dogs that can also be temperament tested. This is a bit harder as you don’t know what the parents were like. The other big issue if you are getting an older dog is to not know what their past experiences were like and what they have been socialized to. Properly socializing a puppy is an extremely important process to success with training.
Here is a common list of problems we deal with. They are so common that my wife can list what the problem is when a client phones and I can guess what the breed of dog is.
- Border Collie – Chases anything with wheels and tries to bite tires or herd children or other dogs.
- Rottweiler / Cane Corso / Mastiff – Too protective and won’t let people in the house or may try to lunge at people if they are too close on a walk.
- Husky – Pulls on leash and is too hyper.
- Pitbull – Aggressive with other dogs and is too hyper.
- Terrier – Won’t listen and wants to chase squirrels and rabbits
The list is quite long but that will give you some ideas. These are all traits that have been bred into these dogs (some breeders have bred traits out of them so that is why it is important to know what the breeder breeds for).
Now you can see what the progression has been and how to better select the right dog for yourself. The message you should take from this is:
- Choose a dog based on the order it has been done in for hundreds of years and you will be happy.
- Choose a dog based on the wrong order and you can be setting yourself up for a whole lot of grief.
Happy Dog Training!