He's your baby, so cute and fluffy, and totally harmless, but we have to remember that when BABY grows up, he or she will have sharp teeth, very strong jaws, a mind of his/her own and quite often a prey drive - sometimes a strong one.
If we have more than one Baby, they become a pack, and at times, pack mentality will come to the fore. This isn't too bad if our dogs are small, gentle, and most of all, under our control, but if they are unsupervised, untrained and unsocialized, it's a recipe for disaster. This means we have to take the responsibility of training our dogs, of socializing them, and knowing something about their inherent character types. A couple of herding dogs can make walking from point A to B, an adventure, and some inherently herd by nipping, something that is not pleasant at the best of times, but becomes something serious when children are involved. If we are talking about a dog whose job it was to guard and protect, a dog of this nature, if not raised with wisdom and care, might become overly protective of the person they see as being in their charge. I don't believe in Breed Profiling, but I think there are some of the larger dogs who once were used for military or dog fighting, that do not always make suitable family pets. These dogs, many of whom are wonderful canine citizens, need educated training to bring out the best in them. Human education. I believe all dogs need to be trained, from tiny Fluffy to humongous Hugo. I believe some dogs need specialized training, always incoporating consistency with gentle discipline. I've spent my life, since I was child, with dogs, and have spent countless hours learning about the Shelties and Collies that I love, finding out what best suits them as to training, and how best to live with them day to day. This doesn't meant I could take on a large, dominant breed and do well by it. It would be a whole new learning curve for me, and one that I would have to take on with professional guidance. There have been a series of dog attacks in our city recently, the last one involving 2 large dogs on the loose attacking someone from behind for no known reason. The person was badly injured, obviously terrified, and the dogs were shot. It's easy to blame the dogs or the breed, but who left those dogs unattended? Who did not teach them that a human or another dog or cat was not prey? Were they really a suitable choice as a house pet in the first place? I enjoy all the breeds and their histories and the beautiful examples of those breeds and types we see today. But I also see, what to me, is a worrisome trend of people wanting the big, tough dogs to show how tough they are, or how compassionate the person is to rescue the dog. But if they don't understand the potential stick of dynamite on the end of their leash and don't put in the time to properly train and relate to that type of dog, how can they hope to do right by the dog and to all around them? Any dog, no matter what the breed or type, can explode or become a bully, and any dog can be wonderful. But if people want the edgy dogs, maybe they need to take a course or two and be able to prove that they understand what they are taking on and can properly train and care for these dogs. The other side of this trend to adopt or buy the edgy breeds (as I think of them - to me, there are NO bad breeds or types) is that there are a lot of sweet, gentle breeds and little souls in shelters who are being passed over, just because they are quiet unassuming, and not a "misunderstood" dog. There are lots of shy, nervous, less than perfect dogs out there who need loving homes and whom people can feel good about taking into their lives. Trust me, at some point, they will all provide a challenge for you! Even they need training and gentle rules to live by. When all is said and done, your baby and mine are dogs, sweet, wonderful, and loving, but DOGS all the same who need to feel comfortable and secure in their pack/family.
Til next time,
Cheers, Heather Anderson
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