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!

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 “BSL” and why are so many people against it?

What is “BSL” and why are so many people against it?

Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL for short, is something that is hated by many people in the show and shelter circuits of the dog world. This is for many reasons, but the main reasons are:

  1. It does not stop what it is put in place to stop, namely Dog-Human aggression.
  2. It does little to nothing to protect animals from being mistreated, neglected, or any other number of forms of abuse.
  3. It actually in some ways make certain breeds more attractive to people who want dogs for the wrong reasons (ie. status, fighting, etc.)
  4. Many dogs who have done nothing and have no history of aggression are removed from loving families and put down for nothing other than their breed.

The current dog which is under scrutiny is the Pit Bull, which is actually more of a type name like herding or hound, than a breed itself, but in the past dogs such as German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Akitas, and more were the “aggressive” dog found in newspapers and legislation. (Many Insurance Companies will not allow you to get renters or homeowners insurance from them if you own an “Aggressive Breed” of dog)

BSLs are put in place in many cities and even countries around the world in an effort to bring down dog bite numbers in the surrounding areas. But just like treating a symptom without knowing the illness BSLs have done little to do what they are meant to do. In many of the places which rely on BSLs, such as Great Britain, Ireland, and parts of Canada and the US, there has been little to no change in numbers of reported dog bites since legislation was put in place to restrict or ban ownership of certain breeds.

When looking at animal welfare side of this it is terribly shocking. Firstly, though it may make it more difficult to acquire a dog legitimately this does not stop people from buying and breeding dogs for dog fighting and status. In fact, by making a breed illegal to own or more difficult to register, it is actually causing a dog fighting ring to go more underground and cause them to be harder for the authorities to crack down on. More people who should not own dogs or who only want an animal to help make them look tough will look for this breed because of the image BSLs put on the dogs.

The final point however, number 4 above, is what really makes me dislike BSLs. Many people who move to cities who do not know there is a BSL in place, or even people who have lived in cities for years before a BSL is put in place but who are not “grandfathered in” learn that they can either move or get rid of their dog. This is heartbreaking and unfair to the families and the dogs.

Humans make such a point to say that we should not judge one another by our skin, nationality, culture, and more. So why is it acceptable to judge a dog by its breed when it’s proven that how an animal is raised, treated, and cared for matter more than the breed of dog itself?

As always, Responsible Breeding and Responsible Ownership should be what is taught.

Please read the articles included below for a more in-depth look at BSLs, the truth about Pits and Bully Breeds, and more.

Chako – Pit Bull Rescue

Positively – Mom, we’re getting a puppy…

Positively – American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position on BSLs

Your Pit Bull and You – Learning is not Breed Specific

Huffpost – Bully Breeds vs Insurance Companies

Tidbit: Pit Bulls are generalized to be any dog with a block head, muscular body, and a deep chest. As you can imagine, many breeds fit into these characteristics. Even the “Pick the Pit” website makes a point to say that Pit Bull isn’t a recognized breed in itself and includes many pictures of dogs regularly called Pit Bulls or even Pit Mixes though they are Purebred dogs of other breeds.

Why Exercise is so Important: Mental Exercise

Why Exercise is so Important: Mental Exercise

You’re walking your dog, and by walking I mean actually taking walks which engage your dog and encourage them to interact with their surrounds, a couple of times a day to the point where when you get home they want nothing more than to lay down and sleep.

This is only part of the equation though.

If you were to jog daily but never exercise your mind, you wouldn’t feel very fulfilled. Your dog isn’t any different! By exercising your dogs mind you’re not only benefiting them, but you’re benefiting yourself. A physically tired dog will nap for a while, but a physically tired dog could still be a bored dog, and bored dogs are likely to be destructive dogs. If you not only entertain but encourage your dog with mental games and mentally challenging toys your dog will be focused and less likely to have time to be destructive.

There are several ways to do this.

The first, and simplest for you, is through treat dispensing toys. These can be as simple as a kong chew filled with peanut butter the dog can easily get or they can be more challenging puzzle toys which cause the dog to pull or push pieces around in order to retrieve the toys. With treat dispensing toys you want to challenge your dog, but not to frustrate them. Always be aware of your dogs abilities, and always be present and conscious of your dogs actions while playing with these toys. You do not want to leave them alone for too long, just to discover that they’ve even all of the treats and half of the plastic as well.

These are great to use in addition to crate training as you can encourage your dog to enter and stay in a crate by giving them a treat filled toy. Everytime they leave the crate with the toy, take the toy away and put it back in the crate. The dog will quickly learn that if they leave the crate, the toy goes way, but if they stay in the crate they’ll get to keep it.

Another way to challenge your dog is by playing “Find it” games. These are really easy to play and are a fun way to teach, bond, and train. One way is by having your dog find you, which can help strengthen their recall abilities, and the other is by having them find treats and toys.

The first person finding game will start just by you calling your dog to you while in the same room. You could even join friends and other family members in the “game” by having them call the dog and reward when the dog gets there. This can then develop into you calling them from another room, and then into actually hiding from the dog. You’ll be amazed over time by how intelligent your dog is and by how ingenuitive you can be in hiding.

The other way begins very similarly, only you hid a treat or toy while in sight of your dog. Preferably your dog will be in a stay position, but you could also have them held by a friend while watching you. You would then release your dog and ask them to “find” the treat or toy. You will eventually be able to hide the toy in more difficult places. This will also help you if you want to teach your dog to differentiate toys. You can hide a few toys and ask for a specific one. If they bring the right toy, loads of praise and a “Jackpot” reward. If they don’t, you can use a simply “Uh-oh” or “not it” command which you already use in training to say that they didn’t do something correct and then repeat the “find it” command asking for the toy.

These games and others like it will be the subject of a future post. These are just a basic introduction. Always only go so far as to the point where your dog is enjoying themselves, and sometimes you can make it up as you go along.

If you believe you are exercising your dogs both mentally and physically and they are still “acting out” please contact your veterinarian. There might be a health or physical problem, and if there isn’t then your vet would be able to help you get in touch with a trainer who they trust.

Tug Games – A great way to play!

Tug Games – A great way to play!

There has been a lot of argument over whether it is appropriate to play tug with your dog. The main reason where some are against this game is because people have argued that by playing tug you are encouraging your dog to see themselves as equal to you or that you are encouraging them to fight with you for dominance. This however is not the case. If you take a look at my “The faults of “Pack Leadership” training methods” posts you’ll see why these reasons are faulty.

Tug games are immensely beneficial to your dog, and not only because they exercise through play. This game works your dog’s brain and also can strengthen the bond between you and your dog. It works your dog’s brain because throughout the game they are having to think and evaluate what to do next. It can strengthen the bond you share with your dog because during this game you are an active participant and your dog is interacting with you! This is the difference of you tossing a ball in the air and catching it and tossing the ball with a friend as you chat. Between the two options, most people would choose the interactive option more than the solitary one.

So, how should you play tug with your dog?

It’s best to only start playing when your dog has been introduced to and has “gotten” the act of giving you a toy through a give or drop it command. This way you can periodically stop the game by asking your dog to give the toy. You then get to reward the dog for their good behavior by continuing the game!

Introduce an appropriate tug toy, such as a rope toy with a handle or tennis ball on one end or on either. This toy should be long enough that your hand can be out of the way of your dog’s mouth, but not so long as would allow you to lose control of the game.

You can use a “take it” command to show your dog that you want to play.

Resist the urge to tug the toy up or down or to tug too harshly. Rather, shake the you from side to side and lean into and out of tugs, being aware of how your dog reacts to each motion.

As I mentioned, take maybe one or two short pauses where you ask your dog to release the toy with the drop it or give command you’ve already taught your dog. If they don’t release the toy, do not pull or yank on the toy. This will translate to the dog as continuation of the original game and they will eventually learn that they don’t actually have to give anything back to you. Rather, relax your body without releasing the toy. This will show the dog that by not listening, the game is still over. The dog will most likely then let go of the toy which you will praise and then after a moment of calm, re-introduce the toy and continue play.

When you and your dog are appropriately tired there are two options of how to continue, either of which I feel are appropriate.

1.) You ask your dog to give you the toy, praise them, and then give a different toy which is used as a non-tug toy, such as a ball, treat feeder, stuffed toy, etc.

2.) You ask your dog to give you the toy, praise them, and then give them the same toy using a “go play” or “all done” command.

Both of these methods will teach your dog that interactive play is over. This will also still praise your dog for their good behavior and will show your dog that even though play may be over, nothing is “bad” with that. This will help continue their “give” or “drop” education and will help encourage them to continue this behavior. You could also combine these methods, by using a toy exchange and a command, you could use one or the other, or you could alternate between the two depending on your situation. If you’re out at a park or on a short trip you may not want to take more than a toy or two, or a replacement toy might not be near by. The important thing to do though is to show your dog that ending play is not a bad thing and that by “giving” they still got good things.

Great resources for more information on this topic and related information!:

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-play-tug-war

http://www.puppyleaks.com/tug-war/

https://positively.com/dog-wellness/dog-enrichment/dog-games/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QEJDE2WjPA

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