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Blog: What's In A Breed?

Why does my dog do _______, and is it the breed? I get asked this question quite a bit, and my answer is usually, “yes, it might be the breed” or maybe a better response should be “yes and no!”

Behaviors in a dog obviously differ from one dog to the next; even same breed of dogs differ from one to the other. If the person doesn’t understand the breed, this makes it even more difficult to get the answers to their questions. As a trainer, we look at the owner and find out how the dog is being handled etc. Plus, where was the dog obtained? This is very important, if you bought the dog from an ethical breeder. They are always happy to answer any questions a person might have. If the breeder is unwilling to answer questions about behaviors of the puppy’s parentage, then genetic testing might be helpful to better understand the breed traits. Some tests are much more thorough than others. So do your research and find one that best suits your needs.

Behaviors that are common to a certain dog breed, but not always welcome - I’ll use my Border Collies as an example. When they were puppies, it was very common for the pups to bite my ankles, and it was quite adorable, but I know the puppy phase is very short, so it was best for all that I correct this behavior, and fast. You might say, “oh! It’s just a puppy!” True, however there is a place for this behavior and it’s not tearing skin off my body, but for herding sheep. This is called gripping, and a little of this is fine for herding sheep. During trials, the dog can’t tear the sheep apart, but can nip on the occasional stubborn sheep to move it along. There’s a time and place for this “prodding”, but as a shepherd and border collie fan, it’s a good idea to teach the puppy/dog restraint, so as not to allow this potentially dangerous behavior to metastasize to an uncontrollable level.

Many new dog owners will say, “well this _____ trait is why I bought it,” I understand. Again, there’s a time and a place to allow the dog to express her natural design. Whether it’s jumping, chasing water fowl, nipping for herding etc.

Let’s first teach our dogs manners and establish boundaries, before we over stimulate our dogs genetically hardwired behaviors.

🐾 Happy Tails

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