Good morning, its Monday once again and the start of another busy week. It is hard to get back into the swing of things when you've been away on vacation, but the best way is to just dive in and get at it. This morning I thought I'd discuss stereotyping in dogs. I've heard it all especially with my breed, "poodles can run?" "poodles can swim?" It's about as bad as it can get, but other breeds suffer from preconceived personality traits.
Some of the other wrongs I've heard are "bulldogs are stupid," "can't train a sight hound," "dobermans are mean dogs," and "pitbulls are all bad." These are just a few of the myths that I have attempted to erase when I have been given the chance. Bulldogs are the #2 dog that I work with in popularity and they are amazingly intelligent, funny too. The problem lies with the guardian and their expectations, which are non. How sad to look at your dog and think "your stupid so I won't try."
Same goes for sight hounds who are typically a soft breed and do not do well with harsh choke'm type training. Positive training definitely uses more brain power, you need to think your way around some behaviors especially problem behaviors. But with patience even the toughest cases can be cracked. How a dog is raised has alot to do with how they turn out, just like with humans.
I've met alot of dogs that have completely changed my mind on a preconceived idea that I had in my head about a certain breed. Humans understandably have strong feelings when they have had a negative association to a certain breed. For instance I had several very bad experiences with German Shepherds several years back. One took a large chunk out of my dogs neck and the other continually charged us everytime it was off leash and we happened to be walking by. This dog also bit several people and pretty much terrorized the neighborhood. So it is hard to erase these types of experiences and look at the dog in a new light. Just like in humans there are good and bad dogs, most bad dogs have been left untrained and bored to create their own life. Both of my situations could have been completely eliminated by a little human intervention and control. I have now met lots of German Shepherds that I love, especially one phenominal one that I will write about later.
How many times have you reached over to pet a pocket pooch in someones arms when you are startled by a snarling little beast? This is caused by the people who insist on keeping their dogs in their arms and never allow them to experience life. I know lots of amazing pocket pooches who are real loveable dogs. These dogs don't want to spend their life in the arms of a human, they love to run at the park, swim, hike and enjoy everything that normal sized dogs enjoy.
Pitbulls, the name alone stirs up alot of controversy but I'm going to say what I feel about these guys. I think it is very sad what has happened to the breed and believe that they are a special breed. That said so are alot of other hard type breeds. There are a few breeds that pretty much anyone can have and then there are alot of breeds that few people should have. That is because they are a tougher breed to control, not because they are a bad dog. Some of the worst problems are caused by a strong dog living with a weak guardian, a very bad combination.
To have a pitbull in your family you must be willing in my mind to go above and beyond to make sure that the general population is not proved correct in how they feel about the breed. I have met some amazing pits, loveable, friendly and very loyal. But because they do have a tendency to be dog aggressive as are some other breeds they take more control. I just recently watched a couple of amazing frisbee pits, I've met therapy pits and amazing agility pits.
Some of my training clients have been very upset by the fact that their labrador will not swim, or their golden retriever will not retrieve. Funny but they don't come out of a cookie cutter and even when you get a dog with a preconceived idea of what that dog will be you can be dead wrong. My husband has always wanted a golden retriever and as you know I am a standard poodle person. He now has his golden retriever and I still have my poodles. My boy Luke is golden blond and a retrieving maniac.
We humans commonly assume, and in my books assuming always messes things up in one way or another. So the next time you meet a dog that you have a strong preconceived image of, open your mind. And when you see a poodle on the street, don't assume he just left the salon, in actuality he's probably coming back from a marathon run or duck hunting. ;)