Breed Specific Dog Training and Health Care

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Gorgeous Dog!  Thanks to retrieverman for the photo

Gorgeous Dog! Thanks to retrieverman for the photo

I have been a dog trainer for over 20 years.

I was a vet tech for many years.

I managed several dog kennels.

I have worked with police dogs, service dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure response dogs.

I started and ran my own non-profit to train assistance dogs for adults and children with disabilities (I took all my dogs from shelters or rescues).

I have worked in humane societies and sat on the board of one.

I have done in home training and pet sitting.

I have also run group classes.

And, recently I have gotten involved in the competition dog obedience and bite sport world.

And, most of these things I have done simultaneously!

And still I have people question my knowledge because I do not choose to exclusively live with or train their “breed”.

I saw this all the time in the veterinary world too.

I can't live with every breed!

I can’t live with every breed!

People would call and ask if the vet specialized in Golden Retrievers, Coton Du Tulear (this was an actual call), Saint Bernard or whatever other breed you can imagine.

Whereas it is important that vets know certain things about certain breeds; for instance Collies and Shelties should never be exposed to Ivermectin, but these are things that the learn in vet school and through the continuing education that is required.

Inside all dogs look the same.

And, I think some vets take advantage of people by saying the specialize in certain breeds.  They pick breeds that are most common to their area and say it is their specialty.  

And, whereas there are some behavioral differences in different breeds; I don’t need to live with every breed ever created or every category (sporting, non-sporting, etc.) or mixes thereof to know how to train it.

In some ways the idea is kind of silly.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that people with same breeds, or people who got their dog from the same shelter, or the same breeder bond in some ways.

I have many friends with Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds simply because I have them.

And when I owned Rottweilers, I had that commonality with many friends.

ovcharkaBut in 20 years, I can assure you I have worked with just about every breed and mixed breed under the sun.

I have also had many of these breeds living in my house as service dogs!

Dog Behavior in general is Pretty Static

There is not a lot of constant change based solely on breed.

The truth is that most of the change is based on the individual.

5 Boxers may react completely differently to the very same stimulus.

And, after all isn’t it the individual that is the most important facet of training, or health or any other component when it comes to our dogs?

I have 3 dogs and all of them are very different, even though their breed is basically the same.

I go about training each of them differently based on their temperament and behavior and what they like, but our goals are the same (great obedience).  

The Problem…

The problem with books, videos and internet training and being that trainer, is that I can’t see all individual dogs.

I have to read into situation what I think is going on and guess and write for the masses.

It is hard to see the temperament and behavior of a dog through a written description.

It is easy, to see these things when I do individual training.

So you have to be patient and find the solution that works for you and your dog, but needing it to come from a trainer that has the same breed as you… may be unwarranted.

The Good News

The good news is that I use positive reinforcement and behavior shaping.

Size breed and even species doesn't matter when it comes down to doing the right kind of training.

Size breed and even species doesn’t matter when it comes down to doing the right kind of training.

That means that I won’t be recommending that you strangle, hang, leash pop or correct your dog; which could make many dogs and their behaviors much worse.

The thing with positive reinforcement is rewarding the behaviors you want to see and shaping the behaviors that you want to change!

And, I have to tell you that positive reinforcement training is pretty much the same for a 2 pound Chihuahua or for a 250 pound Mastiff.   

This was why I was good at working with Cheetahs, because I don’t use physical force it was easy to shape the behavior of any given animal.

This is also why Karen Pryor is successful training chicken and even fish. 

So don’t judge your vet or your trainer or your groomer by the dogs that they choose!  Judge them by their knowledge and experience! 

There are 10 Comments

  1. sakura says:

    I had to reply… coz the minute u said people search for vets specialized in a specific breed of dog, I couldn’t stop imagining people asking their physician if he/she specialized in Americans or African or Europeans or Asians and started laughing at myself realizing, how silly it would sound.

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  2. Cheryl says:

    Well, 10 years ago it was almost impossible for me to find a trainer for my then weimaraner puppy. I placed several calls and when asked the breed was told they didn’t work with weims, too difficult. I also fired two vets, both insisted that my weim puppy receive all of their shots (including rabies, which is an issue for weims) at one time. These situations are pretty much a non issue now because trainers and veterinarians have worked at becoming more aware and open minded about breed specifics.

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    Beverly Fauth Reply:

    Cheryl, I also have a Weim puppy. He now is 9 months old. I have had him in different classes and have had trainers make me keep him in his crate for the whole class because his attention span is like a gnat. He loves to learn, but not for an hour. He can’t focus that long although he is getting better. I’ve also had vet issues like you. It’s nice to hear that other Weim owners have had the same issues. I do love the breed and continue to work with my puppy to make him the best he can be!

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  3. Martha says:

    Can Cairns be trained. I have had terriers all my life but this is the first cairn 2yo rescued from a shelter. He choses when to respond. He has bit me x2 when walking him near strange dogs. He pulls on the leash barks lunges after other dogs. he is fine with my rat terrier and poodle bichon mix all are 2 yo All rescued at one year. The rat terrier female has fear aggression with other dogs.I think the cairn adopted the rats behavior and upped the ante. At the shelter I was told and observed him interacting with other dogs just fine but after six moths he is impoosible. Any suggestions will be appreciated Food and treats do not work He lasted 7min in dog training class due to his barking. I would hate to have to surrender or possibly euthanize him. Please help me!

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    Val Reply:

    Martha, I am no expert on dog behaviour like Minette is, but if I was in your situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to find a good local dog behaviourist. (We don’t have the concept of ‘veterinary behaviourists’ in the UK that Minette keeps referring to, but when I had initial issues with my rescue rottie I asked the local vet for names – as well as having her checked for any physical reasons that might cause the behaviour. And I asked people who ran pet stores etc – folk who see lots of these people.)
    Minette’s already said enough in her post to tell you that no-one can help you remotely. Your situation is really complex, too, with the dynamics of 3 dogs to consider. There could be all sorts of reasons your Cairn is doing what he does.
    I’ve personally found many terriers to be highly intelligent, full of energy and very clear on their wants with a determination to get what they want – which can challenge even an experienced dog owner to find ways to channel that. But I have friends who train rescue terriers to do public displays, so they seem extremely trainable once you know how (which I don’t so I won’t raise your hopes here with any thoughts that I might!)
    Seriously, get help, for your dog’s sake as well as yours. If you talk to a trainer and don’t feel right with what they say or do, find another. One good rule I would follow is look for people who work by positive reinforcement, as Minette says. It’s the lowest-risk way to train a dog, and most likely to give you a happy dog in the end. If Food/treats aren’t rewarding enough to tempt him, a good trainer will help you find what does motivate him. Good luck, and well done you for keeping at it in what sounds like a hard situation.

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  4. Cindy Fischer says:

    I have a
    German shepherd and the breeder I got her from was very
    Informative that she should
    Not have any shots at all. Not even rabies.
    She is 15 weeks old.
    Is there a reason a
    German shepherd should not have
    Shots? Just wondering.

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    Minette Reply:

    All dogs should have shots and it is the law.

    The risk of disease is greater than the risk of vaccinations.

    The breeder is not a veterinarian… talk to a vet and ask them why it is so important.

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  5. Sarah Rodriguez says:

    Hi, I just read your remark that Shelties should never be exposed to Ivermectin and my vet has been selling me Ivermectin for my Sheltie/retriever mix dog for over two years now . What should I give him instead with the same protection Ivermectin has ? Thanks in advance for any advice you have for me ,Sarah

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    If your dog tolerates Ivermectin then he must not have problems with it 😉

    Ask your vet, but he/she may want to keep your dog on the same product if it is working…

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  6. Cindy Fischer says:

    Just wondered if there was any truth to it. I already have an appt for Friday to get her shots.
    Thank You.

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