Puppies, adult dogs and breeds
If you are looking at buying a dog or a puppy then you will probably be thinking about all sorts of questions. I shall try to answer some of the common questions. What dog breed is easiest to train? What sort of dog would be best for my situation? Should I get a puppy or an older dog? Can you tell what sort of puppy you have got?
The most important thing to be clear about first of all is what type of dog you are looking for. There are a few of the key factors that you should think about.
The personality of the dog
This is something that is not obvious with puppies compared to older dogs. Do you want an energetic court jester of a dog, a couch potatoe or an adventurer? When you get a puppy it is a bit of a gamble but with an older dog this is something that you can choose.
The size of a dog
This is a no brainer. If you want a dog to look fierce and protect your lifestyle block look for a large dog like a Great Dane or German Shepherd. If you want a dog to be able to run around inside a smaller house think small. Toy Poodles and Lhasa Apsos' spring to mind!
Life expectancy of a dog
This can vary considerably. For example the average age of a minature poodle is around 14.8 years however an Irish wolfhounds life expectancy is only around 6.2 years. As a general rule of thumb, pedigree dogs dont live as long as mixed breeds and larger breeds do not live as long as the smaller ones. (According to one of the largest UK surveys ever completed.)
Different breeds of dogs will require varying amounts of grooming. Short haired dogs such as Ridgbacks and Greyhounds will require less work than long haired dogs like Old English Sheepdogs and Spaniels who will need to be regularly groomed.
Dog exercise levels
Nearly all dogs love to run around and play however some require more exercise than others. If you are a bit of a couch potatoe yourself then look for a low energy dog, on the other hand if you are going to want to go running with your dog look for a high energy dog that wants more exercise . The amount of exercise a dog wants can depend on both the breed of dog and its personality. Below is a general guide to physical exercise requirments not a rule:
High exercise – Most working dogs and gun dogs – Retrievers, Pointers.
Moderate exercise – Terriers – Fox terriers, Spaniels.
Low exercise – Toy Breeds – Pugs, Chi Hau Hau, Bichon Frise
Which dog breed is easiest to train?
When it comes to dog training the breed of the dog is not really an important question regarding intelligence. How well trained a dog is going to be will come down to the two following areas. The personality of the dog and the dog training a dog recieves from day one. Just like with humans it is nature and nurture.
Nature: The personality of a dog.
A dog that is quite happy to be a follower is far more likely to take commands and be obedient than a dog that is a natural leader and challenges every decision you make. This is like the natural drive of the dog, similar to humans we have a part of us we call nature! Some of us are born leaders, some of want to take a back seat and take the gentle scenic route through life.
Nurture: The dog training a dog recieves
How the dog is raised. A dog that is left without any dog training untill it is 2 years of age without any rules boundaries or limitations is going to be much harder to train than one that has. Much like a child left to run riot untill it is 13 years of age! Dogs who have owners that understand that they must be in charge of decision making are going to be much better behaved dogs than those puppies think they rule the roost from an early age. This is where getting a good dog behaviourist or dog trainer early on is important.
Should we get a puppy or an older dog?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. A puppy will require a lot of effort toilet training and ensuring it has good experiences with everything from its first time to the beach to the vacuum cleaner! For some people this is a joy, for other people this is a job they would rather not take on!
Also with a puppy the personality is not so obvious. Question such as is it a socialite, does it love cuddles or is it a loner are not so easy to answer? Some dogs just cant think of anything more fun than playing with other dogs, some dont care less about dogs and are simply people focussed. This personality becomes more apparent and more fixed later on when the dog is a little older.
Just because the puppy you see is quiet and gentle when it is 9 weeks old doesnt mean you wont be pulling your hair out with a 16 weeks old puppy challenging you to be the pack leader. In this case call a dog trainer such as myself for some advice immediately!
An older dog has clearly had experiences that have formed its character and its personality is much more apparent. You will know if it does not like cats or is a high energy dog.
How do we choose a dog?
One of the best ways to choose a dog is to go to the SPCA or other rescue center. If you want a puppy then you will be able to enjoy puppy training from they beginning. If you want an older dog you have the opportunity to choose its personality type. Using the internet and the SPCA web site you can get a good idea of what they look like with the photo. www.spca.org.nz
Choose the personality of your dog
Below is a list of some of the Auckland SPCA Dog Personality Types. You will notice that the personality of the dog is not related to the breed. Neither is dog training breed specific.
• I am a “petting junkie”, I was born to cuddle.
• You can take me anywhere with you, but I’ll be unhappy if I must go for long periods without your company.
• I am snuggly and affectionate, but you’ll need to be able to tolerate lots of nudging and demands for attention.
• If ignored, I may bark at you or paw at you.
• Please don’t choose me if you need a dog who can stay outside alone for many hours each day.
• I love everybody and live to be loved and admired by as many people as possible.
• If you have a house with lots of visitors, I’d love to be your “welcome waggin’”.
• I can help you make new friends, but please don’t choose me if you already have lots of friends who don’t like dogs!
• I’m kind of shy and will need someone with patience to help me learn to be more outgoing.
• If you have a noisy, active household, I probably won’t feel very safe there.
• I will be loyal and affectionate with you, but may never be really friendly with new people.
• Please don’t choose me if you want a dog who loves everyone.
• I would love to be your buddy, but please don’t expect any mushy stuff.
• Obedience training is a must for me, but I have my own agenda, so pleasing you is not at the top of my list.
• I’m happy spending time alone and I have lots of personality, but I also have my dignity, so don’t choose me if you’re the lovey-dovey type.
• I would like to see the world – running, biking, roller-blading – I’m ready to go!
• A sturdy fence is a must, but you’ll have to keep me busy as well – otherwise that fence will just be a challenge for me to find a way over.
• I’d love to share your active life, but if you’d rather spend time in places that I’m not allowed to go, please don’t choose me.
Other dog personality types at the SPCA include:
All-Rounder, Energizer Bunny, Challenger, Court Jester, Little Rascal, Gentle Giant
Think twice before assuming that the dog you are getting will be the same as your last one just because its the same breed.
I often say to people no two New Zealanders, no two English people are the same. Think about it, why should any two Rottweillers or Pugs be the same? Physically they may look similar but that is where it ends.
Whatever dog or puppy you choose, live simply, love generously, care deeply and speak kindly.