Finding Your Ideal Canine Companion

Bringing a dog into your life is to make a commitment to their health, happiness and wellbeing for the duration of theirs.

We know that dogs come in many shapes and sizes, personalities and traits. Some of these individual characteristics are formed from the experience their mother had when she was pregnant, from their home environment as a puppy, as well as the genetic traits from their breed. The breed (or combination of breeds) can provide a good indication of suitability and fit for you and your prospective dog. It can also give an indication of exercise requirements, activities, the size of home and garden needed, training, food, grooming needs, etc.

By way of example, Jake (Lab x Springer) needs garden space to run around and sniff. He needs two long walks a day preferably in and around fields, and daily activity that exercises his mind. Plus lots of cuddles! He’s a high energy mix of breeds and can get very excited very quickly. He can’t be left home alone for too long. He sheds a small amount of hair continually through the year and doesn’t require clipping. He loves chasing and fetching balls, and is motivated by dehydrated sprats or offal which I use as a reward to reinforce training.

Truly (Husky x GSD) has a mix of two quite different personality traits. A laid back quite aloof Husky, mixed with random guarding traits of a Shepherd. She doesn’t bark at the door, but will growl menacingly if another dog tries to take something nearby that she considers to be hers. She’s a large dog, eats a lot, and is not at all interested in games. In fact, she positively looks down her nose if I ask her to do anything she deems frivolous. To motivate Truly I use very high value (to her) treats that are usually smelly. She will expect this reward each and every time for teeth cleaning, nail clipping, ear checking etc. She requires daily brushing and ‘blows her coat’ twice a year. The amount of hair she sheds during this time is phenomenal! If you search for husky grooming, you’ll see what I mean.

The breed traits are a great way to understand your dog, why your dog loves what s/he does, and how to motivate and train them too. With Jake he loves activities that involve nose work and retrieving, but both of his breeds (as a cross breed) are prone to putting on weight so I have to keep an eye on the amount he eats too.

Not all dogs demonstrate their traits exactly, but it’s a good place to start. I tend to look at the Kennel Club breed pages https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/search/breeds-a-to-z/ as well as sites such as Hills https://www.hillspet.co.uk/dog-care/breeds. I like to understand what makes my dogs tick, and how I can best enrich their lives.

Breeders

The Kennel Club provides information on registered breeders in your area if you are looking to purchase a KC registered puppy. The Kennel Club currently also has a campaign called #BePuppywise with helpful information on what to look for if you are buying a puppy https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/be-puppywise/

Rehoming

If you want to provide a home for a dog from a rescue centre, they will ask you to register and provide information on your personal circumstances. They will check your home and garden to ensure it is suitable for a dog. This process is used to help establish the best match for you and for the dog, if you already have a dog they will ask that the dogs meet where they will make sure both dogs are happy. Rescue centres do such great work, and the Dogs Trust website has a handy summary of the rehoming process you can expect to go through with them https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming/faqs/

With regard to selecting your dog, personally I tend have a long list of questions to understand any behaviours that may have led the dog to be there. Reasons can be due to a change in owner circumstances, a new job, relationship breakdown, arrival of a baby. But sometimes lack of socialisation and/or training is the primary reason the dog is there. This obviously means you will have some work to do, and a centre will advise you about this. In most cases notes are made about the home environment the dog has come from. A rehoming centre will also assess dogs for suitability before rehoming, this will be by either the in-house dog trainer or by a behaviourist. You will be able to ask about this too, very often this is what drives what you see on the website where it talks about ‘type of home needed’. Thankfully most dogs adapt and settle in their new homes happily, as mine have.

Take care until next time

Jen, Jake and Truly

Dogmatise

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