Please Help (a dog trainers dilemma)

Imagine, you get a phone call or perhaps an email from a frantic person. This person tells you they have a problem (A huge problem) and they were given your name by someone who knows you and knows you possess knowledge to help. This person says they have tried everything to solve this problem to no avail. They give you all of the details of the said problem and then say, I need your help desperately or I am going to do something rash! Many people would immediately want to help, especially if they had specific knowledge on how to solve this persons problem, right?

You tell the person that you can help and schedule to meet them. You take the information and tools necessary to help solve their problem. You arrive and meet the person and explain your specific knowledge with this said problem and they seem delighted and relieved by the information you give them. You then tell them how to use the information to help their situation. They have an excuse as to why they cannot do it or why your specific tools won’t work for them. You offer different solutions, all knowledgeable, that can work yet all are countered with an excuse from the person. They want you to fix the problem without taking any of the information you offer. “Maybe, you could take the problem home, keep it for a while and bring it back when you have solved it? ” they say.

Later, when you have given all of the information necessary to fix their said problem, you find out they did end up doing something rash and saying they “tried everything, even went to you for information and nothing worked”, they had no choice.

How would that make you feel? Think about it. It is utterly ridiculous, makes absolutely no sense. Clearly they didn’t want a solution to their problem and were going to do something rash regardless if you helped or not! They didn’t want your help, only to complain, to make it look like they did something so they could feel better when they did the “rash” thing.

Welcome to dog training!

Ask any dog trainer what their most difficult problem is and I guarantee you, it won’t be the dog. The above scenario happens more often than we like. People contacting us with dog training issues but not wanting to implement anything we offer. Just fix the dog. Don’t get me wrong, not all clients are like this and some will do the work needed but sadly, a vast majority will not. I assume this is because everyone has an opinion on dogs and dog training rather they have studied dog training or not. You can get dog training opinions from your neighbor, your uncle, your friends, pretty much everyone who has owned a dog. Therefore, I think people also take the information given by dog trainers as just that , an opinion, rather than educated training advice.

When giving dog training information to a client, trainers give instruction on what the person needs to do to get the desired effect from their dog. The person has to change before the dog ever will. Sadly, many people just want the dog to change.

Trainers are often contacted by owners saying that the dog in question is out of control, they have tried everything, they are at their wit’s end and if something doesn’t happen the dog will be sent to rescue, a shelter, or euthanized!

When a trainer arrives at a person’s home they will offer several suggestions on how to fix the behavior, often times with push back. Let me explain in greater detail. Please note this is not all of what dog training encompasses but a quick summary.

There are 4 quadrants of operant conditioning in dog training that dog trainers follow. and you can read about them here. for the purpose of this blog post you just need to know that dog training is primarily based on motivation. You have to motivate a dog one way or another, either positively or negatively.

All trainers generally start with positive reinforcement as it is the least invasive, minimally aversive type of reinforcement. Some trainers use “all” positive reinforcement and no other. All training needs to incorporate some form of positive reinforcement to motivate the dog to do what you want. Positive reinforcement, when used correctly, along with timing and consistency, helps to motivate the dog to do what is expected and works very well for many dogs. Positive reinforcement needs to be used frequently in the beginning stages of training, tapering off once the dog has learned a behavior. Even though there are many studies and articles published on the effects of positive reinforcement in animal training, dog trainers are often told by owners ” I don’t want to be dolling out cookies all day”

If a dog is doing something that could pose a threat to himself or others such as car chasing, bicycle chasing or leash aggression, along with positive reinforcement to teach engagement with the handler, counter conditioning and desensitization, often times a training collar will be needed. A training collar could be a martingale, prong collar or e-collar. All are tools that “if used correctly”, rarely have to be used at all. These tools motivate the dog to stop doing something it shouldn’t be doing with a negative consequence. These are tools that need to be implemented with a trainers supervision and in combination with positive reinforcement can work very well for these types of behaviors , yet trainers are often told the owner “WILL NOT ” use a training collar.

Management should also be used during the training process but is also the only other option a person has if they refuse to use any form of reinforcement. Management simply means, keeping the dog out of situations that you know spark the response. It includes using baby gates, pens, kennels or fences to manage the dog. Management does not fix the problem, rather just manages the dogs behavior. It still takes work. Many trainers are told for different reasons, that the owner doesn’t want to contain their dog in a kennel or pen or behind a gate.

Often times, I guess due to human nature, a client goes through a trainers program, progress is being made yet still slacks off and goes back to their old ways, only to find the dog doing the same.

Many times I have gone to a clients house after several training sessions and find they are not wearing their treat pouch to positively reinforce good behaviors, they have changed the training collar to a harness which actually motivates a dog to pull, they stopped using their kennel to manage certain situations, and they no longer practice daily with the dog on the things they were taught such as obedience, leash walking and exercise, Then say………”I’m afraid, it’s not working.”

So, what is a trainer to do if the owner is unwilling to use positive reinforcement, positive punishment, management or anything we suggest? Welcome to the dilemma!

This is why many dog trainers do not take clients with behavioral problems or instead focus on teaching different classes such as obedience, agility or sport dog. When dealing with changing a dogs behavior, you are more than often dealing with changing the humans behavior, and that is much harder to do…..

So what am I saying, what is my point? I guess this is a plea to people with dog behavioral issues everywhere, help us help you!

Before you hire a trainer, research what kind of trainer they are, how knowledgeable they are and what their experience level is. Once you pick a trainer, regardless of what you have been told by non dog training people, listen to what they have to say, implement the training advice, and do the work….all of it! Don’t rule something out because of what you think about it based on what someone else said, without having any experience with it.

Dogs are not plug and play and all need some form of training, some more than others. When hiring a trainer don’t think he or she is there to fix the dog. They are there to teach you how to behave so your dog behaves. Realize there will be a lot of work on your part and……DO THE WORK! Help us, help you!

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of Supermutts.com and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 23 years’ experience professionally working with dogs. She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior.

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Making sense of operant conditioning

For those who read our article Please help.

When it comes to dog training, dog trainers use what is called Operant conditioning. While many people become confused when they hear the word operant conditioning, the principles and categories are actually pretty straightforward.

Operant conditioning, or trial and error learning, is simply a description of how animals learn, a description that requires a few important definitions.  I have found that the best and most easily understood description regarding the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning is by Dr. Sophia Yin from her book How to behave so your dog behaves.

from How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin)

Reinforcement vs Punishment

The first two definitions to know are reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement is anything that increases the likelihood that a behavior will occur again. For instance, if you call your dog and then give him a treat when he comes, he will be more likely to come the next time you call. Thus, by giving him a treat for coming, you reinforce his behavior of coming when called.

Punishment is anything that decreases the likelihood that a behavior will occur again. For instance, if you call your dog and then yell and scream at him when he comes, he will be less likely to come the next time you call. Thus, by yelling at him, you punish his behavior of coming when called. This second scenario may seem an unlikely event, but it happens to people every day. When owners call Rover five or six times before he comes running and then yell at him for taking his time, they are really punishing him for coming when called.

Positive vs Negative

The second set of terms to know are positive and negative. Positive and negative do not mean good or bad; instead, think of them as a plus sign or a minus sign. Positive means that you’re adding something, and negative means you’re subtracting something. Positive and negative can be applied to both reinforcement and punishment.

Combining the Terms

Now we can combine the terms into four categories—positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Here’s what the categories are:

Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Reinforcement can be positive or negative. In either case, we are increasing the likelihood the behavior will occur again. Positive reinforcement means that by adding something the animal wants, you increase the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For instance, if you teach your dog to come to you by giving him a treat when he comes, you’re using positive reinforcement. By giving him food, which he likes, you’re increasing the likelihood that he will come to you the next time too.

Negative reinforcement means that by removing something aversive, something Fido dislikes, you increase the likelihood the behavior will occur again. For example, you decide to teach Fido to come by putting him on a leash and choke chain. You pull on his leash until he takes a step forward, and as soon as he comes forward, you release the pressure. That is using negative reinforcement. By removing the pressure as soon as he starts coming, you increase the likelihood that he will come the next time in order to avoid the pulling.

Another trick for remembering negative reinforcement is to think of it as nagging. When I was a child and my mother wanted me clean my room, she often had to keep telling me until I cleaned it. I would finally clean my room in order to avoid her aversive nagging.

Positive and Negative Punishment

Punishment can be positive or negative, too. In either case we are decreasing the likelihood the behavior will occur again.  It seems odd, but when we talk about punishment, we’re usually talking about positive punishment. Positive punishment just means that by adding something aversive, we decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For instance, your dog raids the garbage can when you’re not looking, so you booby-trap the garbage with mousetraps. The next time Spot sticks his nose in search of a snack, he gets a mousetrap surprise, which scares him. This booby trap decreases the likelihood that he will raid the garbage can again; thus, it is positive punishment.

Negative punishment means that by removing something the animal wants, we decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For instance, when dogs greet us by jumping, their goal is to get our attention. If we remove our attention every time Spot jumps by holding perfectly still and even looking away, eventually he will stop jumping. By removing the attention that he wanted, we decrease the likelihood that he will jump again.

 

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of  Supermutts.com and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 23 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. 

 

It’s not the dog!

 

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While walking a clients dog yesterday, I heard these words coming from my neighbors garage, ” Trixie come here, come on , come on Trixie, You want to go bye bye don’t you? GET OVER HERE NOW!!”

This brought to mind the numerous times in our dog training business we have heard people say , “My dog does not listen to me.” Our response to this statement is always, “It’s not the dog.” Actually, the majority of training issues are not the dog. The real reason for many problems is lack ( of the human) teaching the dog to listen. Another reason is that people assume dogs understand the human language without ever teaching them this language. Lets break down the above scenario to better explain.

1) “Trixie come over here”

Mistake number one: The dog is not on leash.
Putting a leash on the dog gives you control and stops the dog from running away. The leash allows you to guide the dog into position.

Mistake number two: Too many words used.
“Trixie come over here” Is not a command. The dog clearly was not taught what the command “come” means. If the dog is not taught a command, she will not comply, she cannot perform what she was never taught. Even if she was taught the word, the man coupled it with a series of other words which confuses the dog.

Mistake number three: No motivation.
The man had nothing to reward the dog with and therefore no motivation for the dog to come to him. All the other fun things in the garage are much more rewarding to check out than the human who is saying words the dog doesn’t understand.

2) “Come on, come on Trixie”

Mistake number one: As stated above, coupling too many words together confuses the dog

Mistake number two: Repeating a command.
Repeating a command without motivation for the dog to comply. By repeating a command, the dog is taught to ignore your words because they mean nothing.

3) “You want to go bye, bye don’t you?”

Mistake number one: Humanizing the dog.
Assuming the dog knows what this statement means is humanizing the dog. When we speak to our dog in this fashion the dog hears, “wa, wa, wa, wa”
again, this teaches that words mean nothing.

Mistake number two: Putting a command in the form of a question.
Dog’s do not understand questions and commands should never be given in the form of a question. This statement is not a command as stated above.

4) The final and most devastating command, “GET OVER HERE NOW!” in an angry tone.

Mistake number one: Yelling at a dog.
Yelling at the dog to come to you is the most detrimental thing a person can do to the learning process. The person is teaching the dog NOT to come to him. You should never yell at, spank, slap or punish your dog in any way once he comes to you. By yelling at a dog after he comes, you are punishing him for coming to you. By yelling to get the dog to comply, you are creating a negative association with your dog coming to you. The dog will be less likely to come in the future.

Mistake number two: Again, not a command. Too many words used that the dog clearly cannot understand.

There are three stages when training a dog.

1) The learning stage
2) The reinforcing stage
3) The proofing stage

You have to complete one stage before you can move on to the next. Many training issues come from mistakes made in the learning stage of training.

The correct way for the man in the garage to handle this situation was to first properly teach the dog a solid recall and work on it daily. A dog without a solid recall should never be off leash. The man should be wearing a treat pouch, Rewards should be readily available when teaching a dog anything. If the man wants the dog to learn that the command “bye bye” means go to the car, he should teach the dog by saying the word “bye bye” and guiding the dog with a leash to the car, rewarding when he jumps in.

So you see, it is not the dog, it is the person who is failing the dog. Once you teach a dog to ignore your commands, You will have a more difficult time teaching them to listen in the future. Often times you will need a dog trainer to help. Remember the saying “Don’t blame me if you don’t train me”

By properly teaching your dog what words mean, and rewarding when the dog performs, you will have a dog that happily listens to you no matter what you say, in any situation.

The next time the neighbor wants his dog to go to the car it should sound like this,  “Trixie come” (dog comes) ,  “bye bye” – (dog jumps in car!)  4 simple words, no frustration.

To learn more training techniques and to keep from making common training mistakes, visit our website and purchase our book Puppy Montessori!

http://www.supermutts.com/puppy-montessori.html

Cindy Quigley is the Owner of Super Mutts Canine Retreat. She is a dog trainer, dog groomer, and author.  She has 19 years professionally working with dogs.

Puppy Montessori

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Following is an excerpt from our new book, now available on Amazon.  Puppy Montessori is a must read for any new puppy owner.  The Puppy Montessori program takes the guesswork out of the puppy raising process.

Happiness is a warm puppy. ~ Charles Schultz

Have you ever wondered how professional dog trainers have such well-behaved puppies or dogs? Many people say, “Of course, professional dog trainers know what to do.” That is true to an extent. The real reason is that professional dog trainers DO what they know. Having knowledge and following through with that knowledge are two different things. With the Puppy Montessori program, we are giving you a summary of the best tools that we, as professional dog trainers, use to train puppies. The rest is up to you. You now have in your hands the knowledge, but do you have the willingness to do it? The bottom line is, you can waste your time doing the wrong things, or you can do what works. The Puppy Montessori program is a proven puppy training system that works.

The reason for writing this book is threefold. First, as pet care professionals we see how many dogs end up in shelters across the country. Since many of these dogs have behavioral problems, we know that if they had been raised properly in their initial home, they would not be there. People often surrender dogs between six and nine months of age. Therefore, our number one goal in writing this book is to help keep dogs in their homes and out of shelters. Second, as dog trainers, we have seen dogs with behavioral problems that the owner causes unknowingly. The fact that people are human—and try to raise dogs as such—just does not work. Third, many of our clients could have avoided frustration and mistakes if only they had had a source for answers in the beginning.

Our commitment to this book is for the dog. “The dog,” an animal that we have brought into our world, has learned our language, can manipulate us in many ways, loves us unconditionally, and who by many people, is misunderstood. We also know that in helping the dog, we have to help the owner first. Humans cause most, if not all, behavioral problems in dogs; by helping one, you automatically help the other. People become more educated and dogs become more understood, creating a better dog/human bond, a lasting bond. In writing this book, we want people to realize that adopting a puppy is a very important step they need to take very seriously. Dogs are not disposable or inanimate. They are living, breathing creatures that depend on us to take care of them. They did not ask us to take them into our world. As a society, we owe it to dogs to do everything possible to understand them as what they are so we can provide them with everything necessary to grow and flourish as “dogs.” We need to remember that we are the ones with higher intelligence; with that comes great responsibility. It is our duty as caretakers. There are no excuses.

Congratulations on taking the first and most important step in your new puppy’s life, educating yourself on puppy. For most people, getting a puppy is a very exciting time and can be an extremely frustrating time. The excitement comes from having this little furry playful ball of cuteness in our presence. The frustration comes from not understanding what this ball of cuteness needs, really needs.

We have heard many complaints and frustrations from puppy owners regarding things such as potty training and destructive behaviors. In fact, all of these behaviors are not “bad” behaviors to the puppy but rather just a puppy “being” a puppy. The puppy Montessori program will give you all the tools to mitigate these so-called undesired behaviors and therefore establish “desired” behaviors with your puppy. This alone will help ease the majority of your frustration when it comes to raising a puppy.

We want to begin by saying that there is no EASY way to raise a puppy, and those who tell you they have an easy way to raise a puppy are lying. Raising a puppy takes time—lots of YOUR time and commitment. The puppy Montessori program will help make the puppy-raising process easier and less frustrating than if you do not use the program, but it will still take time and commitment on your part.

Just as you need to prepare your home and family for a new baby, you also need to prepare your home and family for a new “baby” dog. The Puppy Montessori program teaches you how to do just that. The Puppy Montessori program will give you the tools and knowledge needed to make the puppy experience an enjoyable one for both you and your new puppy. This program will enable you to set a foundation to grow your puppy into a well-adjusted, well-mannered, stable adult dog.

The Puppy Montessori program is a resource that you can go to when you have questions about leadership, feeding, potty training, socialization, vaccinations, toys, treats, obedience, destructive behaviors, leash walking, and much more. By purchasing this book, you have taken the first and most important step in building a relationship with your new best friend. By reading and utilizing the techniques described in this book, you will be able to enjoy your puppy and realize that it does not have to be such a tiresome, frustrating experience.

Purchase your copy today!

How to save on your dogs dental cleanings

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If you have a dog there will come a time when your Veterinarian tells you that he/she needs a dentistry.  Then they will hand you the bill.

 Owning a pet care business that offers grooming, we see many pet parents neglecting their dogs dental hygiene.  We are often told that the main reason for this is due to the price of dentistry.  We have clients that have been told that their dogs dentistry bill will run anywhere from $300 to $2000.  Dog dentistry is recommended by many veterinarians once a year.

Sadly, when a pets teeth are neglected it will lead not only to bad breath but also to gum disease.  This will cause painful teeth and the loss of teeth.  If left untreated for years, tartar buildup can also lead to heart and kidney problems which can shorten your pets life.

 Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prevent tartar buildup on your pets teeth, therefore minimizing or totally eliminating the need for a dentistry.

Daily brushing of your pets teeth will help minimize tartar buildup and is recommended by most veterinarians.  we have found that brushing alone is not as effective as providing your pet with an all natural beef shank, knuckle or for small dogs, knee cap bone.  Canines in the wild naturally chew bones, it aids in teeth cleaning.    In our experience, the chewing of bones get areas of your pets teeth clean that brushing  alone cannot.  Dogs put a large amount of pressure on their rear teeth when chewing a bone which helps chip away at the tartar.   Providing your pet with chew toys and dental chews will also help.  However, we have seen remarkable results using a product called Petzlife oral care gel. http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B009T6KT20

Years ago we lived with a pack of 4 large dogs.   We started using Petzlife oral care gel twice daily applying a liberal amount with our finger on each side of the dogs mouth.  After two weeks, we saw improvement in the amount of tartar on the older dogs and a marked improvement in the bad breath.   At the three week mark, we gave our dogs large beef knuckle bones to chew on.  http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B002FYXEDE.  The next day we checked our pets teeth and to our surprise, the dogs with tartar buildup had a large decrease in tartar.  On one dog the tartar was completely gone! (Yes, completely).  This sold us on the product and we started recommending it to all of our clients.  Some of our clients stated that that they did not see a difference. When questioned about the procedure, it was clear they did not follow with the twice daily treatments or their dog was not one to chew on bones.

Here are our recommendations;

  • If your dog is young or does not have tartar buildup, brush teeth daily with an approved toothpaste for dogs  such as Petrodex enzymatic toothpaste.  http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B00025K0R6.  You should also start using Petzlife oral care gel once daily or every few days to help prevent tartar from forming.
  • Provide your dog with a natural beef bone daily.  We are not suggesting you give your pet bones from the table.   These can be brittle and splinter and can lodge in your pets intestines.  Never give a pet cooked bones of any kind.   We recommend purchasing them from your local pet or feed store.  As stated above, they come in Shank, Knuckle, Femur or Knee cap.  We will  provide links below to each type of bone that we recommend.
  • If your dog has tartar buildup, purchase petzlife oral care gel and apply liberally, twice daily for three weeks.  After three weeks give your pet a bone to chew on.  Check the teeth daily and continue applying petzlife until the tartar is gone.

Some owners state that their pet does not chew on bones or chew toys.  We have yet to find a pet that will not chew on the beef bones listed above.  However, if your dog will not chew bones, the Petzlife representative recommends brushing your pets teeth after the 3 week period and to manually try to remove the tartar with your finger.

If you do not like to give your pet real bones, you may try one of the Nylabone durachews on the market  http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B005A3FEGW  If you start giving your pet bones from puppyhood, when they are teething and automatically chew, they will generally continue throughout their life.

There are some that say you should not give your dogs bones.  We believe this is based on the thought that people use to give bones from the kitchen table or cooked bones.  These bones are generally small and can splinter, get caught in your pets throat, or cause intestinal blockage.   Dogs have large teeth made for chewing.  Wild dogs chew on bones after eating.  It is natural for dogs to chew.  Chewing bones strengthens gums, cleans and sharpens teeth and dogs enjoy doing it.  The bones we are recommending are thick bones that do not splinter and cannot be chewed up in a short period of time.  These bones last for months in our house (and we have powerful chewers).  For 15 years we have been giving our dogs and our clients dogs these bones with only one incident of a broken tooth.    Since implementing this system, we had a  female Ridgeback mix who lived to be 13 years old and a Boxer that lived to be 9.  They never needed a dentistry.  Our current dogs, a Boxer and English bulldog are 8 and 6 years old, have no tartar and also have never needed a dentistry.  The Veterinarian always says their teeth look great!

Once the tartar is removed from your pets teeth, you can then provide bones to chew on periodically for maintenance.  If you notice tartar beginning to form, you can start using  Petzlife oral gel again.  This is a system that has worked for us and has maintained our pets dental health without a lot of costly dental bills.

All of these products can be found on our website at http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20 and are shipped through Amazon.

Links

Beef shank bone  – http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B00AEDY64E

Beef Knuckle bone – http://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B002FYXEDE

Beef Femur bonehttp://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B000633NXM

For small dogs: Beef kneecaphttp://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B003XRN54K

Nylabone Durachewhttp://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B008A3TE8I

Petzlife oral gelhttp://astore.amazon.com/wwwsupermutts-20/detail/B009T6KT20

 

Dog blog

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Got Dog?  Then welcome to Super Mutts Dog Blog!  Super Mutts Dog Blog is about creating happier dogs through owner education.  We will be posting things on dog health, behavior, grooming etc. along with anything we find may be of interest in the dog world! If there is anything you would like us to post about dogs, feel free to contact us.  Thank you for stopping by, we hope to see you again soon.

 

Dog selection

ImageAs dog trainers we see that many problems people have with their dogs  simply come from the fact that they did not choose the right dog for their lifestyle.  When choosing a dog for your family there are several things in the selection process that many people fail to consider.  Breed, size, drive, energy level and grooming requirements  are all things you should take into consideration when planning on adding a dog to your family. Visit any animal shelter and they can tell you that the number one thing people fail to do when selecting a dog is to not take the commitment seriously.  Any time you add a dog to your family it is imperative that you are willing to make a life long commitment to that dog.  Dogs are not disposable. 

Bringing a dog into your home should be as serious a decision as adding another child to your home. Bringing a dog into your life is a 12-15 year commitment.  By making the proper selection those years will be much easier than if you do no planning at all.  Dogs are Dogs and all dogs will do certain things that come natural to dogs such as barking, digging, chewing, jumping up etc.  Through training you can minimize these behaviors and teach your pet more constructive behaviors.  Even though all dogs have certain natural behaviors, some of these behaviors will be more prevalent in certain dogs.

Different breeds have different drives.  The term “drive” simply means one breed will have a higher propensity to do certain things over another breed.  For instance, cattle dogs are bred to chase cattle so will have a “herding drive” which may make them chase small children or other animals.  Beagles or other hunting breeds have been bred with a higher drive to bark and will do so rather they are on the hunt or in your apartment.  Terriers such as the Jack russel or Rat terrier were bred with a drive to dig and kill varmints which means they will dig in your garden and may not be good with other small animals.  Many people choose certain breeds because they like the way they look,  however before adopting any dog, you should research the characteristics of that breed  to realize what you are getting into.

Another thing to take into consideration is energy level.  Many breeds are known for their high energy levels such as the border collie, Australian shepherd or Queensland heeler.  Each breed of dog has it’s specific energy levels but there are also different energy levels between each individual dog as well. Dogs energy levels range from low, medium and high.  If you have an active family who likes to hike, run, camp etc. then a low energy level dog would not be a good fit.  If you are a couch potato and adopt a high energy level dog, the dog will quickly become bored and will start acting out with destructive behaviors.  Very high energy level dogs are the most difficult and require the most time and attention.  So it is important that no matter what breed of dog you consider, to spend some time with the individual dog to determine its energy level.

Many people adopt puppies because they are so cute.  However puppies are not for everyone.  Puppies require a lot of time and attention and need to be house trained.  If you work full time and are gone for 8-10 hours a day, then a puppy is not for you.  Just as you would not leave a new baby at home alone all day, you should not leave a puppy.  With a puppy it is also difficult to determine what energy level the puppy is until it becomes a little older.  If the energy level of the puppy ends up not fitting your lifestyle then you are in for years of frustration.  Adopting an older dog is often times a better decision.  There are many good dogs at shelters waiting for homes and you will have a variety to choose from.  If you are a senior citizen, a senior dog is a perfect fit.  Many senior dogs have a hard time finding homes and have the perfect energy level for an older person to deal with.  Most adult dogs  are house trained and you can determine what energy level they are before bringing them home.

Grooming requirements are another important thing to take into consideration when adopting a new dog.  Some dogs need more grooming than others such as the Poodle, Shih-Tzu, Cocker spaniel, Maltese, Bichon etc.  Most of these breeds have daily requirements such as brushing and combing but also need to be groomed professionally which can become costly.  If you like the look of the “fluffy” breeds but do not have the financial resources for professional grooming every 4-6 weeks then adopting a short coated dog would be a better fit for you.
Some breeds shed considerably such as the Labrador retriever, Pug, Dalmation and the husky breeds.  If you are a clean freak and don’t like dust bunnies then these breeds are not for you.

When selecting a dog it is important to realize that a dog is just that “a dog”.  Dogs do not automatically know the rules of our household. Dogs need training  and time to understand what is acceptable in our human environment and what is not.  Dogs are not “plug and play”.  No matter what breed or age of dog you select, you will have to put time in to teach him the rules of the household. So, before rushing into a decision about bringing a dog home, do your research and determine what breed, drive, energy level and age is right for you.  Making the proper dog selection will ensure you will have a new best friend for years to come.