When I’m out evaluating dogs, I always like to ask owners why they chose their breed of dog and why they chose that particular puppy or dog out of all of the others. The answers I get tell me a whole lot about the dog owners and how they plan to live with their dogs.
“But he was soooo cute!”
By far, the most popular answer that I hear is that the dog/puppy was chosen because it was cute. Often the way that purebred puppies are sold today, is that the breeder posts photos on their website, and owners choose the puppy based upon the photo that they see. They have no idea of the dog’s temperament, personality, excitability, etc. Apparently, many breeders these days can’t be bothered with helping place their puppies based upon the individual homes that those puppies will be going to, or so it seems to me.
As a dog trainer, this concerns me a great deal! In my opinion, part of the job of a breeder is to place the right puppy in the right home, not simply find homes for all of their puppies! That requires taking time to get to know their buyer and how they plan to live with their dogs, finding out what sort of dog experience they have, etc. and then matching the right puppy with the right home.
For a dog buyer, it means choosing your dog based upon temperament and their ability to fit well into your home, rather than the markings on the dog or the color of the coat, etc. It means choosing a breeder who handles and observes their litter multiple times daily, so that they really know their puppies and what sort of home each one will need, rather than a breeder who just wants to exchange goods for cash.
I see a ridiculous number of puppies who get returned to breeders or re-homed, because the fit just wasn’t good or right. I have a good feeling this is why Rugby saw so many different homes in his first year of life. I think folks chose him because he was so cute, without any consideration to his high energy requirements. Once they got him home, they discovered that he was a ball of energy, and a barking mess, and back to the shelter he went!
“We needed a non-shedding breed…”
The second consideration I hear from clients about why they chose their dogs is because they wanted or needed a non-shedding breed of dog. There aren’t a lot of choices for non-shedding breeds of dogs, so folks are somewhat limited in getting a good fit there. Doodle dogs have become so very popular, and a big draw that I hear over and over is their non-shedding coats. Even within various Doodle breeds, there can be some very real differences in temperaments and energy levels, so one Doodle is not the same as the next!
“I felt so sorry for it!”
And, I hear folks say that they chose a specific dog because they felt sorry for it. Sorry only gets you so far when the naughty behavior gets to be too much for someone to manage in their home. Tiny stray puppies grow up and turn into naughty adolescent dogs who aren’t quite as “cute” now that they’re getting big, or eating the sofa!
Often I hear owners tell me that they suspected that their puppy came from a puppy mill, but they felt sorry for it, and had to rescue it from that situation. Of course, when they rescue that one puppy, they are sentencing that puppy’s mother to another litter and often a life of misery. But because they can’t see the mother, and that adorable little ball of fur is right in front of them, they “save” the puppy…and throw the mother under the bus.
“I’ve always wanted one of these…”
I hear this one when someone grew up with a friend who had a specific breed of dog, or they’ve known someone with a great representative of that particular breed. And believe it or not, but a few times, I’ve heard folks say that they’ve always admired a given breed without knowing anything about them, and just thought that someday they’d like to have one.
This is rarely ever a good idea, because unless you really know what you’re getting into with the requirements of a given breed, the surprises that can await may not be what you were expecting or able to cope with on a day by day basis. Photos always look great, and dogs always look perfect. It’s hard to see the energy level, shedding fur, escape tendencies, destruction, etc. just from a photo. Various breeds do offer some very specific, fairly consistent behaviors that I see day in and day out as a dog trainer. Unless someone researches their breed, they might not know about those issues, and they can be absolute deal breakers for dog owners.
Train your dog….don’t recycle him!
Even given all of the “mistakes” folks make in choosing a dog or puppy for their home, SO many naughty behaviors can be corrected through the help of a good quality, experienced professional dog trainer! I’m blessed to have a job that dispenses hope, every day of the week! I get the joy of watching owners fall back into love with their dogs as the dog’s behavior improves, and the owner learns how to provide the training and leadership that their individual dog needs for success.
When you consider that the average dog lives twelve to fourteen years, wouldn’t you love to have a really terrific dog for all of those years? Dogs like Rugby James are created through being recycled over and over again! Keeping a dog in his original adoptive home is the very best thing for that dog…provided that the home is providing quality, loving care for the dog.
Do yourselves and your dogs a huge favor, and train him…no matter how you ended up with the dog you have! I’ve never had a client tell me that they regretted training their dogs, and that’s something good to think about! Training is fun and builds such a wonderful relationship with your dog! Who doesn’t want that?