I met a very nice woman today at a fundraising event with her lovely Weimeriener that was giving her quite a tussle. Obviously she adores her dog and her dog shares that feeling. But her Weimer was a handful and in large part it was because of the wrong leash (a retractable which I never find to be the right leash) and partly because the woman was not taking advantage of the breed driven behaviors and tendencies that should be a help to her in working with her dog.
The Weimer is a bird dog, a pointer in fact. Her heritage and breeding makes her alert to sudden movements and reactionary to them by birth. So this dog was reacting to everything in sight and in most ways overreacting to them simply because no one was directing her otherwise. When I suggested to the owner of the Weimer that she need to provide very quick, short and timely direction to her dog as the dog’s attention span was very short and often interrupted by the all the visible stimuli she was receiving, it made perfect sense to her but it had never occurred to her before. She was amazed but soaked up the advice as if I’d uncovered some great mystery. I was happy to help but most of all happy that this thought process might assist her in the days (and years) that follow.
She reminded me of a woman that I have never met but who recently surrendered her purebred Border Collie, Oreo to our shelter. She had adopted him less than a year ago from another shelter, took him home to her apartment and tied him in the yard for potty breaks. Her reason for surrendering him to us was he was barking and nipping. Really? How could it be? She adopted a purebred herding dog that nipped and barked. Amazingly when I brought him home to my house where he had an opportunity to run free over 10 acres, plenty of friends (other dogs) to romp and play with, and lots of direction from me, he did wonderfully. She made the wrong choice when she adopted him and I’m so happy she brought him to us so we could find him a home that was knowledable and understanding of his breed tendencies and what he needed most.
Understanding the tendencies of the breed, even a mixed breed can be very helpful in choosing, living with and training your dog. Take the time to read up on the breeds that make up the dog your considering or on your current dog’s background. You might be surprised what you learn and what it might uncover about behaviors, drives, attitudes, etc. that might otherwise baffle you.