Why Breed Matters When Choosing a Dog.

Why Breed Matters When Choosing a Dog.

As many can tell from my previous posts and articles, I am a big proponent of responsible dog breeding and of purebred dogs. This is not because I for any reason dislike or don’t trust shelter dogs or the shelters themselves, though some shelters have been shown to be doing very negative things in the recent past. This is simply because I believe that responsible breeders will last.

If responsible ownership is encouraged and enforced I would love to see a world where responsible breeders, whether they produce purebred or mixed breed, are the way to get pets. I would love to see a future where shelters are a thing of the past because there are few to no unwanted or homeless pets. Shouldn’t this be what we aim for?

Regardless of this ideal future, people do get their dogs from many sources and no matter where they choose the breed of a dog is always a factor.

Some might say that this isn’t the case, especially with mixed breed dogs. I however beg to differ. It has been my experience that many dog – person relationships could experience a significant change if the person takes into account the breed when not only bringing home a dog, but when training or interacting with them as well.

Here’s what I mean by this.

Certain dog breeds were and are bred or created for specific purposes. Dogs who are known as being destructive, loud, or difficult are usually bored, underestimated, intelligent animals! Do you think a mathematician would be happy to watch infants all day every day? Then why do we believe that an Australian Shepherd or Siberian Husky, dogs bred to work, would be satisfied by a half hour walk when you get home from work, after leaving them alone for 8 or more hours while you were there?

In the same regard, I have heard and experienced many people do the following. Say that they want a dog to get them to be more active. I have said this before in my post on responsible ownership, rather than encourage you to get out more this dog will most likely do nothing more than frustrate you. Instead, if you are inactive, get a dog that might only need a short walk daily, not a marathon sprinter.

Does this mean that all energetic people need Greyhounds and Salukis and all couch potatoes need Bulldogs or Pugs? No! Many Greyhounds are happy as a clam to lounge on the couch daily so long as they get the opportunity to dash every once in a while and get to go on walks regularly. Many Bulldogs would be happy to take a long slow hike so long as you give them adequate sitting breaks.

I’m also not saying that apartment dwellers shouldn’t have energetic dogs. I am saying that if you are to get one, know the responsibilities that go into giving them the appropriate stimulation and exercise.

Mental training is great and treat puzzles can keep some dogs entertained and happy for hours! You can also have just as much fun as your dog through activities like competitive obedience or agility or flyball. There are countless games, puzzles, activities, and more that you can do with your dog.

Always, always, always take all of the necessary steps when looking to add someone to your family, which is what you are doing when you get a pet. One of those steps is determining what personality, energy level, size, and requirements your furry friend is going to need. Looking at breed is a great way to do this! There are some exceptions to this and dogs cannot be 100% judged by their breed. Every dog is individual and every dog has its own personality traits that cannot be fully predetermined by breed alone, but it is a great place to start!

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Things of Ireland : Dog Breeds and Names of Ireland

Things of Ireland : Dog Breeds and Names of Ireland

It’s unfortunate that today has become more about drinking and less about actual interests in Irish history and nationality.

Here are a few of the wonderful pieces of Ireland that last in the form of dog breeds and names! Take note of these between pints for me.

Irish Breeds:

There are some very obvious ones, with their nationality literally in the name

  • Irish Setter
    • Wonderful hunting companion who is (primarily) eager to please
  • Irish Wolf Hound
    • One of the largest breeds of dog. That size is nothing to be scared of though, this breed is traditionally very kind-hearted!
  • Irish Water Spaniel
    • Another great hunting dog who would be happy to join you for a swim (or a few tosses of a tennis ball) any day.
  • Irish Terrier
  • Irish Red and White Setter

Some others are a little less obvious

  • Kerry Blue Terrier
    • Like many terriers this dog was bred to control vermin. They are known for their iconic “Blue” coat.
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Lurcher
    • Stealthy and cunning, this dog is not yet to the point of being “Purebred” meaning it is a breed in the making. Some are bred more for herding abilities, others for hunting.
  • (Arguably) Border Collie
  • Kerry Beagle

One thing that’s important to note is that all of these dogs were bred for a purpose. All of these are working and active breeds who had jobs, and many of them are still bred to do those jobs in Ireland and abroad. Border Collies were bred for herding and for the intense “eye” that they can give the sheep. Wolfhounds were bred not only to protect land, but to hunt alongside their people in the lowlands.

Now for some Irish names you might want to consider, some popular, some not, and all Irish.

  • Aiden
    • Meaning little fire.
  • Brady
    • Meaning spirited and broad
  • Bran
    • Meaning Raven
  • Brennen
    • Also meaning Raven. Very popular after Saint Brennan.
  • Bridget
    • Celtic Goddess (now Saint). For vigor, strength, power.
  • Canagan
    • Meaning little wolf
  • Cass
    • Meaning curly-headed
  • Clara
    • Meaning Bright
  • Colleen
    • Meaning Little Girl
  • Derry
    • Meaning red-haired and Oak (strong tough red wood)
  • Douglas
    • Meaning dark water
  • Dugan
    • Also meaning darkness, dark of skin
  • Erin
    • A name for the old name of Ireland
  • Felan
    • Meaning like the wolf
  • Fergus
    • Meaning strength and Power
  • Flynn
    • Meaning red or ruddy
  • Gallagher
    • Meaning eager helper
  • Hugh
    • Name for an ancient Celtic god. Meaning heart and spirit
  • Kane
    • Meaning fighter or Tribute
  • Kerry
    • County in Ireland, also means Dark and Dusky
  • Larkin
    • Meaning Rough and Fierce
  • Lia
    • Meaning hard-working and strong
  • Macree
    • Meaning of grace
  • Murphy
    • Meaning warrior of the sea
  • Nolan
    • Meaning of renown and noble
  • Oran
    • Meaning pale
  • Pooka
    • Meaning goblin and fiendish
  • Rohan
    • Meaning little red one
  • Rosaleen
    • Meaning flower or rose
  • Shella
    • Meaning clear or blue
  • Tara
    • Meaning queen or diamond

Do any of you have dogs with Irish names? Any of them listed here or do you have another?

Do you have a dog with a name of particular meaning or purpose? What made you choose it?

Leave your answer in the comments below, or Tweet me @yourpositivedog !

Top Dogs of 2014 According to AK

Top Dogs of 2014 According to AK

Earlier this morning the AKC announced their top 10 dogs of 2014 and here’s what they said:

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Bulldog
  5. Beagle
  6. Yorkshire Terrier
  7. Poodle
  8. Boxer
  9. French Bulldog
  10. Rottweiler

Most of this is not to shocking for the majority of the public. Labs, German Shepherds, and Goldens are regularly seen in neighborhoods around the country. What is surprising to me is how many big dogs are in this list! Even the Poodle is found in a multitude of sizes including the “Standard” which is the same size as those found at the top three.

All of these dogs in the top five are known for their friendliness but the Beagle, Bulldog, and a few others are also known for their stubbornness, independence, and intelligence which sometimes adds up to a dog which is difficult to train.

It is nice to see these dogs, several bully breeds included, all with gained popularity. Both Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Boxers, and Rottweilers are all listed as “Aggressive” breeds in various places across the US. To see these breeds listed as some of the top breeds in the country I hope means that we are starting to move away from the idea of an “Aggressive Breed” and move more towards educating people on how to properly train and raise their animals, and how training and socialization in addition to good breeding and temperament understanding all adds up to a polite and well-mannered dog.

What is CGC and Why does it matter?

What is CGC and Why does it matter?

In the dog world you might hear that a trainer is a CGC evaluator, that a dog passed their CGC test, and you may even see a dog with a CGC collar and/or leash, but what does this mean?

CGC is short for Canine Good Citizen and it is a test, administered by certified CGC evaluators, which in essence will show that the tested dog is well-mannered and well-trained. All of the points that are tested for have real world reasons why your dog should be able to do them. The test is from the AKC but does not only apply to AKC registered dogs. This test is used as a one time thing to “prove” that your dog is well-behaved, or it could be a stepping stone for any number of activities in the future. Passing the CGC test could be the first step in a future of Agility competition, Fly-ball, Therapy work, or competitive Obedience just to name a few.

One thing I love about CGC is that it give a “goal” to training some very important and basic commands. This helps many a lax owner by giving them something to aim for.

The CGC is comprised of 10 simple tasks.

  1. Greeting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. “Appearance and Grooming”
  4. Walking on a loose leash
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit, Down, Stay
  7. Come on Command
  8. Reaction to another Dog
  9. Reaction to Distraction
  10. Supervised Separation

Now many of these are self explanatory, but for those that might not be (#s 3, 8, 9, and 10) be I’ll explain a little.

Appearance and Grooming: This does not mean that they will judge your dog for confirmation as would happen in a dog show, nor does this mean your dog will be judged on their appearance, though they should be clean and healthy. This means that your dog will accept someone grooming them and examining them. This will help you in the real world because your dog will then openly accept being groomed, important for all breeds regardless of coat, and will also accept inspections which veterinarians may have to do. You will bring a brush and comb which the examiner will use to lightly brush the dogs coat. Then they will examine the ears, lift paws, and do a very light examination of the dog where they are expected to stand calmly without hesitation or fear.

Reaction to another dog: By reaction it is meant as polite reaction. Your dog should show confidence without aggression and calmly greet the other. Jumping, growling, snapping, and other reactions are not allowed.

Reaction to Distraction: This time by reaction they mean the dog should not react. This is another test to show that your dog is confidant and more so, that in fearful or distracting situations your dog trusts you enough to not show fear, anxiety, or aggression. During this portion of the test the examiner has a number of sound and visual distractions to choose from and will use two of them, usually one sound and one visual, to test your dogs reaction.

Both of the above tests are important because you do not control the world around you and you need to be able to know that your dog will react, or not react, appropriately.

Supervised Separation: Here you will leave your dog with the examiner or someone else for the test, for about 2 minutes. During this time your dog should display calm confidence. Your dog shouldn’t bark, whine, or pace excessively. They also shouldn’t show nervousness or agitation. This will allow you to confidently be able to leave your dog with friends, family, or at a boarder.

I highly recommend training with a “1st end goal” of passing the CGC.

note: All of the parts of the CGC program are given in detail on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Participant’s Handbook and in various places on the AKC site.

What is “Responsible Dog Ownership”?

What is “Responsible Dog Ownership”?

You will hear me say time and time again that we need more Responsible Dog Owners. That they are who will in the long run help dogs, breeds, and encourage positive action.

Owning a god is not a privilege but a responsibility.

What is a responsible owner though? Here’s how I like to explain and how I understand responsible ownership.

Responsible Dog Owners should go through three stages.

1.) Determining if a dog is right for them and all involved.

This means that the person has acknowledged the responsibility of dog ownership and has decided that they can not only enjoy having a dog in their life, but that they can better a dogs life. This person will assess their abilities, meaning their physical, mental, and financial abilities to own a dog and that they come to the conclusion that they can. This person will then think about their expectations of a dog and what they want from their dog. Whether it is a TV watching companion or a marathon running training partner. They will then take this expectations and see what dog breeds would work for them. They will take into account size, coat length, trainability, energy level, and more. They might have color interests for a dog, such as liking Merle Australian Shepherds more than Red Tris, but this will rank low on their list of “wants” for a dog and would not keep them from getting one who fits all of their other criteria.

The final step this person will hit before moving on is to determine where they get their dog from. For a responsible owner there are three choices.

A Responsible Breeder, a Breed Specific Rescue which is most likely associated with a kennel club or breed club, or a local No-Kill shelter.

2.) Picking out and preparing for their new dog.

The next step is to actually pick out the puppy who will be with you for the rest of their lives. Depending on where you’re getting your dog, some things may vary. For example-

If getting your dog from a responsible breeder you may first have to fill out a questionnaire with the breeder. This will tell the breeder a lot about you and also allow you to tell the breeder what’s important to you. This will help the breeder steer you to a puppy who has a temperament and energy level that will fit your lifestyle. Note, a responsible breeder will always put temperament over coat or eye color and reserves the right to deny a dog to a person if they believe that person to be unfit for their line, the breed, or for dogs in general. Expect to not only ask questions, but have questions asked of you. These pups are the breeders making, and they will take great care to place them with responsible and confident people.

You will most likely, if accepted by the breeder, then be put on a “wait list” and you will be notified if a litter is born and especially if the breeder believes a puppies traits fit what you are looking for.

You will also be expected to sign a contract which at the very least will say that the breeder guarantees a clean bill of health, that the dog will be “covered” for a specified time from the day it leaves their possession so that if anything major does come up that they should notify the breeder immediately, and then there will be conditions to the sale/adoption. For pets these usually include that the dog cannot be bred and should be spayed or neutered, that if for any reason the buyer cannot keep the dog that they are not to sell, give, or re-home the dog to anyone except the breeder without express written permission from the breeder, and that if for any reason the breeder finds or learns that the dog is being mistreated, abused, neglected, or that the owner did not follow other conditions of the contract, that the seller retains the right to remove the dog and will not be required to reimburse the buyer for anything.

If getting from a shelter you may be able to get a dog same day and select from any number of animals and ages. Many shelters now how personnel whose job it is to be sure that pet adopters select dogs that will fit their lifestyle, but it is not the norm for a shelter to refuse adoption for this reason.

Between the time you decide that you truly do want a dog and the day you bring a dog into your home you should prepare as well.

This means not only buying toys, a bed, a crate, food, and bowls. But buying a collar, harness, and lead and also getting in contact with a local vet. It is recommended to get in with your vet as soon as you can once you have a new dog, especially a puppy.

3.) Practicing responsible ownership – A Day to Day task for the life of the animal.

Now you’ve got your dog in the home with you. This is where the true “responsible ownership” comes to play. Everything else was preparing you for this. Your job now is to prepare your dog for the world and be her ambassador. This means training in a proper way, socializing them, and taking them to regular vet visits. This means being aware of changes in your dogs personality or actions so you can contact your vet to see if something is wrong. This means going above and beyond giving your dog the necessities for life, but that you are a true friend to your dog. This means exercising and playing regularly. This means challenging your dog with different games and puzzles so they aren’t just physically tired but mentally tired as well. This means doing all you can do to protect your dog, including microchipping them just in case the worst were to happen and they got out.

If you got a purebred this means registering with the proper clubs and organizations, such as the AKC.

You could participate in companion events where your dog doesn’t need to be intact, such as agility and herding, not only to challenge them, but to challenge yourself and also meet new people.

You should also continue reading and learning what you can!

Informed and responsible ownership can make a difference and I believe it will.

Great Resources to learn more:

AKC: http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/responsible-dog-ownership/

American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Guidelines-for-Responsible-Pet-Ownership.aspx

Dog time: http://dogtime.com/consider-before-getting-dog-hsus.html

Dog Obsession

Dog Obsession

Now that you’ve been able to take a look at some of the things I’m passionate about in the dog world, proper training methods and understanding the truth of dog shows and purebreds, I feel it’s a good time to look at why I’m so passionate about these and nearly anything to do with Dogs.

Dogs have always been important to me. I have always been a “dog person” though I as an individual have not been in a position where I have owned my own dog. More on this later.

When I was younger, my family had an English Shepherd mix, and then a rescue Golden Retriever when I was in High School. I recognized the differences between each and slowly tried to learn as much as I could about what made them so different.

In addition to being different dogs, the number one reason why they had different personalities and temperaments, these two dogs had very different lives. We had the Shepherd all of her life, adopting her from a shelter when she was just a couple months old. The Retriever was already almost two years old when we got him. The Shepherd was trained and taught everything she needed early on, she experienced new things as much as possible as soon as possible. The Retriever however didn’t appear to have much training and made us believe that he had never been inside of a house before because of his fear of stairs and changes in floor type. The other thing which made the two very different is that the Shepherd never had any serious health problems until very late in life when she passed because of a tumor in her abdomen, actually passing the night before she was scheduled for surgery to remove that exact tumor. The Retriever had mental problems in addition to a thyroid issue and the combination made him hard to read. He was a fiercely protective dog and his mental disconnect caused him to be an unpredictable dog who would either be leash reactive, or the kindest dog. His triggers were seemingly random and it is because of this that after three or four years my parents decided that he was too much for us.

Looking back on everything with what I know now, It’s hard to accept that this all happened with our Retriever as I don’t believe any dog is beyond help.

I feel the experiences with these two dogs, particularly what happened with our Retriever, caused my now constant interest in dogs, training, and animal behavior or psychology.

For the past four or five years, from when I started college to now, I have had a lot of interests but one of the constants was dogs. I have always loved reading about dogs and learning new things about dog behavior. I took psychology classes to learn about behavior in general. I listened to friends in biology classes and took in their comments on what they were learning. I read philosophy and sociology studies to see how people in history and in different cultures would look at interactions with animals.

I also read breed standards and about the arguments for and against breeding and purebred dogs. I watched as many dog shows as I could and would watch the same best in group showings over and over until I recognized why one dog might fit the standard of their breed more than the others.

In the past year in particular I have been very interested in dog behavior and newer “Dog-Friendly” forms of training, such as the “Positively” method brought on by Victoria Stilwell. I’m beginning to entertain the possibility of using this information to become a dog trainer.

One of my favorite people, Kevin Smith, said once that he became a filmmaker not by saying “I want to be a filmmaker” but by saying “I am a filmmaker” and then doing what he needed to make that statement true. So I’m going to stop saying “I want to be a dog trainer” and instead do what I can to make saying “I am a dog trainer” truth. It might take a while, but this blog is going to be my foundation.

Thank you-Alexandra

Dog Show Stereotypes – The Answers Part 4 of 4

Dog Show Stereotypes – The Answers Part 4 of 4

Here we are at the final point of my “Dog Show Stereotypes”. I have saved the best, or worst depending on how you look at it, for last.

This is also one of the points which frustrates and angers me the most so I want to warn you that I may seem to be very frustrated at points here.

7.) It encourages eugenics principles.

First, in case you don’t know, lets look at what Eugenics means.

Eugenics (/juːˈdʒɛnɪks/; from Greek εὐγενής eugenes “well-born” from εὖ eu, “good, well” and γένος genos, “race, stock, kin”) is the belief and practice which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population.

Now what it means to dog shows.

Early do breeders and showers did believe in some eugenics principles, that there were good and bad traits or genes that should or should not be passed on. This fell into dog shows when breed standards were solidified because these standards were saying what traits were being looked for and should be upheld in that breed.

During WWII eugenics was one practice which the Nazis became famous for and used to attempt to bring what they believed to be the best human possible into being. This best human was an Aryan Nazi. After WWII especially as everything the Nazis were doing to bring this to reality came to light, eugenics, very rightly, got cast aside.

Now an outside observer would be able to look in on the show ring circuit and say that what is being done is eugenics in play. We may be saying that to keep one breed pure and separate from another could resemble an aspect of this principle. But that’s not truly the case. If dog shows or dog breeding was meant to aim to improve the genetic quality of the dog population, then there wouldn’t be hundreds of hundreds of breeds, there would be fewer and fewer each year as we tried to perfect the dog population.

What we are doing is sustaining and expanding the different genetic makeup of dogs. Some breeds do get very limited in their genetic opportunities and in the quality of their genetic makeup, but more and more people are trying to open these possibilities rather than limit them, because in limiting them we are breaking the breed down.

Also, to say that by creating purebred dogs and upholding their status as breeds, we are encouraging this in people. is preposterous. The way I look at it, which I encourage others to do, is this. In dog shows, every breed has an equal opportunity to win. They are all on the same level at each stage. All breeds are equal. This can be viewed especially in looking at how few dogs can say that they won twice at Westminster.

All in all, dog shows are a wonderful sport and a great way to get introduced to some of the many breeds out in the world. By watching, we encourage responsible breeders to continue what they are doing. By watching, we can learn about new breeds and that could prompt someone to look for their own dog.

I hope that if any of you are looking for a dog you do your research before going to a shelter or a breeder, and that you choose a shelter or breeder that is responsible and knowledgeable of the dogs that they care for and bring into the world.