Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pooches: Required Training per Breed

I think one of the most positive things about adopting a bully breed was that their negative reputation really scared me into being over-responsible. I never wanted to own a pit bull , and when I first adopted Miss M I was still a bit nervous about owning a bully breed. Not to mention that many of the articles I read kept reinforcing how her breed wouldn't back down from a fight, then showed repeated historical pictures of American Bulldogs clinging to the backs of bulls.
This all forced me into training overdrive where I enrolled Miss M. in every training class possible, treated every walk like boot camp, and kept strict rules around the house. Luckily, Miss M loved rules and training, which has taught her restraint, a large variety of tricks, earned her a Canine Good Citizen certification, and she has even learned to pick up her own toys and put them away in a bin on command. You can see a video of her cleaning up by clicking here.
At the same time, I know if I adopted any other type of dog I really wouldn't have put this much time and energy into training. I think in this way a positive reputation can work against a breed. Many people believe because they own a certain breed, their individual dog will be just like that positive stereotype. Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily the case and we have had several experiences with ill-mannered dogs in our neighborhood who are from positively stereotyped breeds. Plus, the only two times Miss M has been attacked were by large dogs both typically found on the "family-friendly" list.
In this way, the negative stereotype actually became a positive for us. Have you noticed positive or negative stereotypes impacting people's behavior with certain breeds?

22 comments:

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

As a German shepherd, I get negative stereotyping all the time. People always seem afraid of me, then ask if it is OK to pet me, then say "Oh, what a nice, well-behaved dog!" They are always surprised but mom puts us all through boot camp just like your two because, well, that is what she does with all dogs regardless of breed. Mom feels all dogs should be educated. Like we always say, when it comes to well-mannered or ill-mannered dogs OR children, it all boils down to good or bad parenting.

Hound Girl said...

I still hope to get Fred the bloodhound to listen to me one day :) We will try again to pass the pet therapy test - maybe this time he will focus on me and not smelling the carpet!

one of my favorite pictures is Miss M and Mr B with the treats on their legs. love it!

mayziegal said...

The one that always gets mom is owners of little dogs who think they don't have to train 'em cuz, well, they're little. With both me and Brudder Ranger, we've worked very hard on being able to fit in in "polite society." Mom doesn't allow us to jump up on people that come into the house (but sometimes I forget) and stuff like that. But she knows some other little dogs that have NO manners whatsoever. And their owners just don't care.

I luvs that picture of Miss M in her graduation cap and gown. She's just TOO adorable!

Wiggles & Wags,
Mayzie

road-dog-tales said...

The shepherds in our family got waaay more training and are better behaved than the little guys. Dad is also better at discipline than Mom.
The Road Dogs

parlance said...

This is a very interesting post. I agree with all that you say.

My friend has a German shepherd, and, like Shawnee, people are often afraid of the dog. But my friend has trained her dog with love and compassion to be one of the gentlest dogs I know.

road-dog-tales said...

But we should add that us little guys are not allowed to bother people and run amok. Don't want you to think we don't have manners at all :) Haha - we just read Mayzie's post after we posted and we know what she's talking about :)
The Road Dogs

Benny and Lily said...

You guys sure do listen really well. Bet mom wishes we would listen like that. Pitties do have bad reputations. My friend is a very dedicated volunteer at a pittie rescue here in CA. You guys are too cute!
Benny & Lily

AC said...

Love Miss M's graduation photo!

Because Kona only gets out on trails, most of the dogs we meet are off leash. I have a hard time wrapping my head around why dog owners of friendly dogs think it's ok to let their dogs approach everyone. These friendly pups are usually the ones with little off-leash training. They often come running at us with a holler from their owner, "She's friendly!" Why on earth they assume my dog is also friendly, and ok to be approached, I haven't figured out.

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

I'm 100% with you guys on this. We don't do as much training as you two do, but I've realized that we still do much more than other dog owners that we've met. People are always so surprised about how well behaved our dogs are even though I don't think we've done enough. It's all relative though - compared to many in the "dog blog" community we're sort of average, but in the real world that's quite a bit!

H Ski said...

I have the same exact thing happen with Lola. And then people are always amazed how well behaved she is. And I agree with mayziegal, I get the something in my neighborhood. (But only with certain smaller dogs. I know there are well behaved smaller dogs out there.) I think it boils down to the parents (owners) on the behavior. Great post and great comments!!

jen said...

I am guilty of this, I am sorry to admit it!
I took for granted owning Newfs also known as "the gentle giant"
I was a bit too relaxed in my training. One day I had a wake up call.
It was 100% my fault for being so layed back. I really knew better, and will never be relaxed in my training again!
Great post!

brooke said...

I feel like even though Danes have the knickname "gentle giants" we still need to be extra cautious with Darwin because she is extra large. If she were to defend herself with another dog she would be at fault (in everyone elses point of view) because she is the bigger dog. Im always worried when I take her for walks we'll walk by someone who's terrified of dogs and they will over-react to her bark because she's big.
We were at the park this weekend and she was playing with a Ridgeback and out of no where a Golden Retriever came up to them barking and snarling and almost bit Dar. His owner appologized and said his dog feels the need to break up what he thinks are other dog fighting. Oi.

bitt said...

I personally think all dogs should get proper training. Sometimes little dogs get away with murder because they are so tiny--nipping, lunging, etc. Not good. There is an untrained pit bull in our neighborhood and it is really upsetting some of my neighbors. I am glad Sienna is trained and well behaved or they would take it out on the breed.

There's also the subtle things about having a pit bull that you barely notice. The first time I walked our new dog around (who isn't a pit), I got reactions that were quite different than I do with our pittie. Lots of breedism still out there.

Roo said...

I'm so sorry to hear Miss M has been attacked by any dog :(

Training is a wonderful thing for me and my pawrents. We would do more formal classes but are taking a respite at the moment. I have gone through 2 obedience courses and have graduated both (albeit a few incidences as I DO GET DISTRACTED easily :)

I'm so glad Miss M and Mr. B get to go to school. It is a lot of work but fun too :)

Roo

Life with 5 dogs said...

Love the Video of Miss M Putting her toys away. Super Cute. Sorry to hear that she was attacked by not so nice doggies.

houndstooth said...

With the Greyhounds, we have done work with them to ensure that they are well-mannered and can behave when we go out in public, but training them and taking them out has always been relatively easy. Since we added Morgan, I can see a lot of people react differently to her when we take her out places. They definitely give her a wide berth, but people can't seem to keep their hands off the hounds. Morgan gets obedience training every day, partly because at her age she needs it, and she needs work to do anyway, and partly because we want her to be a well-behaved dog that will surprise people with her manners.

Ironically, the dogs we always seem to have trouble with when we go out are small ones. We had a terrier going crazy with the big dogs at the dog park a few weeks ago, and his owner laughed and said "Oh, he thinks he's a big dog!" When I asked him if he thought it would be cute if my big dog acted like that to his little terrier, he didn't have an answer.

Liz said...

Oh my god. We are so on the same wavelength. I have been wanting to teach Bogart to "put it away" for so long now. That video is absolutely adorable and has motivated me to try it. Miss. M is just like a kid though--trying to get away with half doing it (putting the toy right next to the bin). LOL. She is so cute and has the most adorable eager expression.

jet said...

Miss M is so very cute! I think I need to teach Bender to put his toys away too. Might teach him some discipline with his toys as he tends to be pushy if he wants to play and you don't (shoving the toy into your lap while vocalising). I find my greyhound easier to keep settled and focussed than any other dog I've had but people are scared of her because of the muzzle law... never mind the fact that she is not bitey and has been taught to leave things, and has very good recall.

Kari in WeHo said...

Training is so important. Our pit mixes were so much easier to train than our Chihuahua

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com/

Kirby said...

I wanted to congratulate you on all your training with Miss M. I also run into the stereotyping, but Kirby is small, adorable, but watch out if you are strange dog, he will tear into you. I am working with him diligently to get him through this and are now in advance obedience. He has gotten better. Kirby is becoming more confident and we are having fun. Yeah, I laugh when people let their dogs go free and say "oh they are friendly." Well some one did that to Kirby and Kirby snapped at the dog. Now that owner has her dog on aleash! Obedience is hard work, but it sure pays off!

Kirby's Mom

Daisy Dog said...

I was so insistent that Daisy get her CGC to prove to me and others that she is indeed a good citizen. I have really done much more formal training with Daisy than any other of my dogs, because she is a pit bull. It help to socialize her and give her a good foundation.

Tanaya said...

I completely agree. Owning a pittie has made me a thousand times more responsible than if I owned a more so-called friendly breed. It has also made me acutely aware of just how irresponsible other people can be. I am often shocked at the behavior of some of my neighbors dogs, they seem wild in comparison. It makes me mad sometimes that some of these people act like my pittie is going to attack their dogs and they scoop their little dogs up or avoid us all together.

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