By Nikita Gangwani
Breed profile is like an ‘Instruction Manual’, giving you an overview of what the dog is programmed for.
It’s our ancestors who have actually created those breeds and over a period of years, we have designed those finer qualities and capabilities that make our dogs look in a certain way, act in certain way and support us with certain skill sets.
So, the more purebred the dog is, the more he will be pulled towards the instincts that are coming from his breed side and hence he will be driven to perform / respond to those instincts.
Not fulfilling the breed related needs can often become a factor in your dog’s physical and psychological responses to the stresses of life, and the un-utilized energy gets built up in him.
Our ancestors identified every particular skill set of a dog and figured out how to adapt that skill for human benefit.
They began to realize that different dogs can help them in different purposes; while hunting, guarding their cattle, fetching things in the water, retrieving, casing, finding, fighting, pulling, rescuing, hauling etc.
In this process, humans created generations of dogs that were born with specific skills to do the jobs they were bred for.
We all want the best Purebred dogs, but there is a major problem in our modern world- many dogs don’t get the environment to put their inbuilt skill sets into use, and all their energy gets pent-up. This puts the dog in an unbalanced state and they usually find their outlet in destruction.
Just imagine, what if the parents totally ignore or suppress the potential of their children? That child is naturally going to be driven to find a way to fulfill his passion and on top of that, the child would become more distant from his parents.
Now, apply that to your relationship with your dog. If you are fulfilling the breed specific needs of your dog, you are creating a balanced living and a bond based on trust and respect.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we are going to take our dogs for hunting, herding or guarding cattle at the farm, but we need to help them by creating combinations of physical and psychological challenges to help the dogs fulfill their breed specific needs.
These days, in the western countries, the dog owners are most widely recommended to participate in various sporting activities which would allow the dog top utilise its psychological and physical energies.
American Kennel Club has broken down groups of breeds into some general categories, usually based on the original tasks the dogs were used for:
Sporting — (Pointer, Spaniels, Retrievers),
Hound — (basset hound, beagle, dachshund)
Working — (Great Danes, Mastiffs, Doberman, Rottweiler’s),
Herding — (German shepherd dog, sheepdog, Australian shepherd),
Terrier — (Jack Russell terrier, pit bull terrier, wire fox terrier),
Toy — (Yorkshire, papillon, maltese, pom), &
Non sporting — (Poodle, French bulldog, Dalmatian)
The breed specific needs can be fulfilled in many ways:
- Energy utilisation through long walks and rigourous runs, at least twice a day.
- After consulting the vet, if your dog doesn’t have any back or hip problem, then use a backpack specially made for dogs, add a weight from 10 to 20% of your dog’s body weight, and take it out for an exercise session A simple 10 minutes’ walk would be equivalent to a 30 minutes energy expenditure for the dog.
- With Pointers & Spaniels, you can play games of hiding an object and guiding them to seek it; rewarding the dog at the pointing phase itself.
- For Retrieving dogs, the goal is to teach him to find the object, then retrieve or fetch it for you. Frisbee playing & other garden games are excellent for such breeds.
- For Retrieving water dogs like Labrador, Irish water spaniels, swimming, & fetching items in the water are great fun for them.
- Scent Hounds need to use their nose, so give them an ideal challenging exercise. Play search and rescue using the items of clothing having the scent of your family members. To find one scent and disregard all the others takes a lot of concentration, it’s a physical & psychological challenge.
- Because of their strength, power and ferocity, draining physical energy is vital with a Working breed dog than any other groups. A good way to channel the drives of a Working breed is through Schutzhund training (protection dog training). It has evolved into a competitive sport that tests and ranks tracking, obedience, and guarding abilities. Done properly, Schutzhund training stops any aggressive behavior at the sound of a handler’s command.
- Herding dogs often make a great player for Frisbee or ‘Disc Dog’ . The International Disc Dog Handler’s Association (www.iddha.com) has the complete information about this sport.
- Because toy breeds are so adorable, we tend to let them get away with things. No matter how small your dog is, it needs to replace destructive behaviors with alternatives of physical-psychological challenges that can be anything from a game with the ball, toy, agility course, short walk.
Since you are controlling the exercise, your value as a pack leader is greatly increased in the dog’s mind.
It is good to be a knowledgeable dog lover than just another dog lover!