Tag Archives: behavior

Choosing the Right Dog

18 Jan

Yet another question a friend of mine wanted me to write about: What is the right dog for me?

Rule 1: You don’t want a puppy. You may THINK you want a puppy, but really, you don’t.
Rule 2: The more purebred the dog, the less you want the dog. You think you want a purebred, but believe me when I say…you DON’T.
Rule 3: You love labs. They are like the coolest dog ever. And you’ll walk them 6 times a day! But no, really, you won’t. And they are okay, but you don’t want a lab.

What is the point that I am making?

Owning a pet seems like rainbows and butterflies, but it is a LOT of work, and if you don’t choose the right breed or mix for your lifestyle (as well as think realistically), you will feel overwhelmed and may regret your choice.

First of all, loving a specific breed of dog is usually equivalent to thinking a breed of dog is pretty. Pretty will get you nowhere. Any potential dog owner needs to assess their lifestyle to get any sort of idea what kind of dog they would like. Active folks can do really well with high-energy breeds, but if you aren’t planning on playing fetch for an hour, or taking you dog on 3 walks a day, you can’t keep up with a lab. That is when you see problem behaviors arise. I see a lot of Boxers, German Shepherds, and breeds like Aussies and Cattle Dogs come into the shelter for breed-typical behavior. German Shepherd eats cats and the Aussie is herding and nipping the children, and all I can think is you didn’t see this coming? Training and socialization can do wonders, but not if you aren’t anticipating your problems before they start.

Small dogs? Good for someone who doesn’t have small kids, and leads an active lifestyle. Big dogs? Well-suited to apartments, as long as your willing to give some play time. Labs, pitties, border collies? Only good for people willing to put in the time to stimulate mentally and physically. Like I said, pretty won’t get you anywhere if your dog needs to go for a walk, but you’re too lazy to give him one. As for me, I think Great Danes are gorgeous, but do I own one? No.  Because I don’t make enough money to feed one, or pay for end of life medical costs because purebred dogs always have major health problems. Which brings me to my second point…

Do you want your dog to live 7 years? Or would you rather have your companion for a ripe old 15? Purebred dogs typically live for a shorter length of time than mixes, and have many more health problems because of the inbreeding taken to keep the breed “pure”. Danes have leg problems, labs get cancer, pugs can’t breathe…and it keeps going. By simply diluting those genes a little you will have a much healthier dog.

And finally. The puppy. Most of the people I met don’t actually want to put in the time to properly potty train, socialize, and train manners to a puppy. It takes a lot of hours, and still then you might not get it right. They are high energy, they like to bite and bark and whine, they have to go out so often, and they pee and poop in your house if you don’t figure it out soon enough. What people really want is something small, fluffy, and adorable that they don’t have to put any work into.

What kind of dog do you want, and how does that fit into your lifestyle? Have you ever acquired a pet, and then regretted your decision?

Dogs, Their Testicles, & Cancer

13 Jan

In a moment of weakness in which I lacked inspiration, a friend of mine wanted to know how I feel about neutering too early, a correlation with cancer, and behavior problems.

First of all, I’ll say I’m not a vet. I did, however, do a brief search on the topic and was almost instantly overwhelmed. The most glaring problem I see with the statement “neutering too early causes cancer” is how much we like to throw around the word causes. Are we sure it causes cancer? If you ask me, and this is even coming from someone who lost someone to cancer less than a month ago, everything causes cancer. Eating eggs, drinking too much milk, not jogging enough, jogging too much, looking at cats on the internet, sex, everything. This means that I don’t really care. BUT, just because we see an increase in cancer does not mean the cancer is the cause. It could be just a correlation without any causative effects.

This could be something as convoluted as neutering causes a decrease in secondary sexual characteristics and behavior, that could lead to behavior patterns leading to an early death, thus extending the lifespan and due to the lengthened life span and the natural course of senescence, cancer becomes more frequent. If a human dies at 34, they are much less likely to have had cancer than someone who dies at 95. Plain and simple.

Finally, to someone who is not a vet (I can’t stress that enough), I don’t immediately see a reason why this would cause cancer. Cancer is just a tendency for cells to lose their regulation and divide uncontrollably. This procedure doesn’t continually damage cells, causing them to need to grow and divide. But like I said, I’m not super up-to-date on my literature, so that is just a speculation and a plea to make sure you question everything you read, even science.

On the other side of this testicle fence lives the behavior behind neutering. By neutering a dog, you are ridding that dog of hormones that cause secondary sexual characteristics and behaviors to arise. Mounting behavior is one of these, and is usually very problematic for dog owners. Other dogs don’t generally like it, and it tends to cause fights to happen. Energy levels see a decline in dogs that are neutered as well, as does aggression. If we neuter a dog before it begins to develop sexually, we can stop these behaviors before they happen or become very, very hard to change.

I think the biggest thing to consider here is how dedicated of an owner you are. If you adopt a high energy dog such as a lab or pit bull, and choose to keep him intact, you are likely going to see extreme levels of energy, mounting and sexual behavior, increased likelihood of aggression, and marking. Lots and lots of marking. Once these behaviors are solidified, it is difficult to intervene and most of the time owners tend to just manage them. If an owner can’t manage them, that is when shelters see dogs with behavior issues such as “marking”, “inappropriate mounting”, and “dog aggression” come through their doors. From what I’ve seen, most folks can’t handle a high energy dog, either.

There is a reason why we look at dogs that come in the shelter with behavior problems and say well maybe if they neutered their dog they wouldn’t have this problem…a

BUT. If you neuter your dog before these characteristics develop, you’re much less likely to see them develop in the future. Dogs are more likely to stay in their homes with their owners, and with a healthy lifestyle, can look forward to many, many years…without marking the couch, the chair, and the door frame.

You’re also much less likely to have any oops-my-dog-bolted-out-the-door-and-got-all-the-neighborhood-dogs-pregnant incidents.

Thoughts? Are your pets spayed or neutered?

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My kitty walked with me all the way to the recycling today!

17 Apr

My kitty walked with me all the way to the recycling today!

Meet Ziggy. He walked all the way to the recycling and back, with only a little help!

Need tips on how to get your cat to walk on a leash? I can help!