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ANY dog can be the "one" for you

Posted on 11/09/2013
Filed under: Responsible Dog Ownership Traditional Dog Training? Rescue Dogs Common Sense

Bodybuilder walking a little dogI often hear people asking which dog would be the right one for them, as the choice of breeds available is incredible, wherever you live and if you get it wrong then there could be many practical problems for you and the dog.

A typical problem would be if you live an active and adventurous outdoors life then consider that a toy breed may not be the ideal partner for you. Equally a large breed, such as a St Bernard, would struggle to join in your fun. The ideal dog in this case would come within “nature’s design”, which is between the size of a fox to that of a wolf, with a balanced shape, full nasal capacity and a manageable coat. Of course, many other dogs would also enjoy this lifestyle but the closer to nature’s original design the better. After all, that type of dog has been living that lifestyle successfully for millions of years.  However, after taking into account physical limitations,  there are no restraints on your choice of dog.

I was reminded of this following a recent 'back-up' call with a gentleman who, many years ago, invited me to go to help with his dog, a German Shepard with a few behavioural issues.. Fortunately for this gentleman and his family,  Amichien® Bonding was adopted and what followed was many very happy years with a beautiful companion, who lived to be fifteen years old.

This gentleman had decided it was the right time to think about getting another dog and wanted my advice on finding the right one. He had thought that perhaps a dog “trained in obedience” might be the appropriate direction to look as, although he works from home, he didn't consider a puppy would be ideal and wanted a mature animal.

I did ask if he had thought of a dog from a rescue organisation, as these dogs too make wonderful companions and as we chatted on it became clear to him that what we were talking about was not the dog’s past but its future that was the important issue here.

Even if a dog has been 'trained' for a particular task how much of your everyday life would you be using that skill? Even a guide dog will be off duty for most of its day (providing it has not erroneously been given the role of leader within the family). The training that dog has received would not make it a better companion in its everyday life, that would come from the way that you and your family interact with the dog.

Also consider that a dog trained to sit, lie down, come back when called, stay still etc. may be very impressive when reacting to the “trainers” commands but there is no guarantee that it will do the same for you when you take it home. Supposing that the dog has been trained with correction? What happens when you try to command the dog without correction? I think the chances of seeing a favourable response to your commands is slight if you’re seen as a soft touch!

Sadly many potentially brilliant owners are prevented from taking a wonderful dog into their lives due to prejudice and damaging myths that they are made to accept, the two main ones being “you have to have a dog previously trained by a professional to guarantee future good behaviour” and “rescue dogs all come with serious behavioural issues”. Both are utter rubbish and the truth is that if you are drawn to a dog then you should go for it, surround the dog with the safety that AB brings and enjoy your lives together.

For me, any dog, whether it has been involved in a breeding programme and is looking for a retirement home, has been 'trained' for a particular task, is in the care of a rescue organisation or even found in the streets (as in my experience with Rocky a dog that literally appeared on my doorstep and came into my care), has the potential to be a fantastic companion in a loving home and its potential can be realised by how it will be treated going forward, irrespective of its past.

Jan Fennell

11th September 2013