learn to Channelise breed specific need for happiness
Breed profile is like an “Instruction manual” giving you an overview of what the dog is programmed for. It was our ancestors who interacted with these 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.
The more purebred the dog is, the more he will be pulled towards the instincts of the breed and the more he will be driven to respond those instincts. Not fulfilling the breed related needs can often become a factor in your pet’s physical and psychological responses to the stresses of life, and the un-utilised energy gets built up in him.
History of knowing the breed
Our ancestors identified every 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 from water, retrieving, chasing, finding, fighting, pulling, rescue operations, hauling, etc.In this process, humans created generations of dogs who were born with specific skills to do the jobs they were “built for”, and very passionate focus got more and more fine-tuned in them. By putting them on work in respective areas, they accomplished in fulfilling the skill set requirement of that dog.
From then to now, what are the problems?
The problem is that in our modern world, many dogs don’t get the environment to put their inbuilt skill sets into use, and all their energy goes in vain. When the dog will not find the right way to vent out his energy, it will only cause bad behavior and destruction. Just imagine what if the parents totally ignore or suppress the talents of their children? That child will become distant from his parents and might not be passionate enough to pursue his dreams. The same holds true for dogs. As pet parents it is your responsibility to fulfill the breed specific needs of your pet. This is imperative for your pet’s overall wellbeing and health, and it will also strengthen your bond with him.
This doesn’t mean you take your pet for hunting, herding or guarding cattle at the farm. But you need to help them by creating combinations of physical and psychological challenges to help them fulfill breed specific needs. Today in western countries pet parents and breeders are widely recommended to participate in various sporting activities which drain the dog’s energy, both physically as well as psychologically.
Breeds and their works as per American Kennel Club
• Sporting – Pointer, Spaniels, Retrievers
• Hound – Basset Hound, Beagle, Dachshund
• Working – Great Danes, Mastiffs, Doberman, Rottweiler
• Herding – German Shepherd, Sheepdog, Australian Shepherd
• Terrier – Jack Russell Terrier, Pit Bull, Wire Fox Terrier
• Toy – Yorkshire, Papillion, Maltese, Pomeranian
• Non Sporting – Poodle, French Bulldog, Dalmatian
Helpful tips for breed specific needs
• Draining energy through vigorous walks at least twice a day.
• Using the backpack to drain energy. Consult your vet, if your dog doesn’t have any back or hip problems then use a backpack specially made for dogs, add a weight from 10 to 20 percent of your dog’s body weight, and enjoy the walk. A simple 10 minutes walk would be equivalent to a 30 min walk, and it is a great way to combust energy.
• With Pointers & Spaniels, you can play games of hiding an object and guiding him to seek it out and point at it, rewarding the dog at the pointing phase only.
• For Retrieving dogs, the goal is to teach them to find the object, then retrieve it and bring it back to you. Frisbee playing & other garden games are excellent.
• For Retrieving water dogs like Labradors and Irish Water Spaniels, swimming and fetching items in the water are great games.
• 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
• 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 behaviour at the sound of a handler’s command.
• Herding dogs often make a great Frisbee or “disc dog” an official dog sporting activity. The International Disc Dog Handler’s Association (www.iddha.com) has complete information on this sport.
• Because Toy breeds are so adorable, we tend to let them get away with things. No matter how small your pet is he needs to replace destructive behaviours with alternatives of physical-psychological challenges that can be anything from a game with the ball, toy, agility course, or a short walk.
Since you are controlling the exercise, your value as a pack leader is greatly increased in your pet’s mind. When you bring home a pet, you should be ready to take complete responsibility. It’s good to be a knowledgeable dog lover than just a dog lover.
(Anand Pittie is Director of ABK Imports Pvt Ltd, Pune and Nikita Gangwani is Creative Content Writer)