However, it is not enough to express a sense of affection towards the animal to be sure of providing it with well-being, but it is necessary to be aware of its specific and ethological needs so as not to incur the error of humanizing the animal.
Deciding to have a dog is an important choice that makes the owner responsible for it.
The owner must know what the parameters of choosing a puppy are, how to educate him, how to feed him and how to take care of him, all in order to respect his well-being.
It is the details that make the difference, for better or for worse, and this also applies to the coexistence with the dog, the most varied and specialized creature there is…. as well as the most irresistible.
But which is the right dog for me? Here is a guide for a more conscious choice!
1. It is a lifestyle choice
A dog is a dog, of course. But its variations are very many and the differences in behavior are not insignificant, indeed.
The over 350 breeds recognized by the FCI and fromEnci often they have behind them centuries of human selection aimed at favoring some qualities at the expense of others and this long work of genetics ante litteram, because this is the case, has given very different fruits to each other.
This is why it is essential to know at least at a general level the prerogatives of the different types before taking a dog: it is a lifestyle choice, not a whim.
Moreover, it is a choice that involves not only ourselves but also our family. Last but not least, this choice will change the life of the dog forever.
A nice responsibility, there is no doubt. To better address it, let’s try to use a little minimal ethology by investigating the general characteristics of the different types of dogs.
We will find that, often, the influence of selection for certain tasks rather than others clearly emerges in different circumstances of our friends’ daily life, which can help a lot in understanding who is the most suitable partner for us and our lifestyle .
An essential premise: we are human, therefore drastically influenced by our most important sense which is sight. That’s why we almost always tend to choose what we like at the expense of what is most suitable for us. And this also applies to the dog we want.
But it is not only aesthetics that decide, since in the vast canine world the “form” and the “function” go hand in hand and it is not certain that what satisfies our eye is also suitable for our possibilities and needs.
So, the recommendation is to seek a compromise between the “beautiful” and the “possible”: with so many breeds available it is not difficult.
2. Sheepdogs: reserved for those who make them work
The “shepherd” attribute actually indicates two different types of dogs: the conductors is the great guardians.
To give an example, the Scottish Shepherd is a conductor, the Maremma-Abruzzese Shepherd is a guardian.
And these are really very distant typologies in various aspects. Here we talk about the handlers, that is, the dogs selected to guide flocks and / or herds to pasture and to manage them on the farm.
All the conductors are characterized by great speed and reactivity, often translated into predatory behavior, towards environmental stimuli, certain sheep but also anything else that moves, including runners, cats and other animals, bicycles, children who run …
Ditto for the noises: in general these dogs do not miss any sound wave within hundreds of meters. Another typical characteristic of conducting dogs is the enormous psychophysical energy. They are physically almost tireless and have very high intelligence.
Both resources must be strictly committed on a daily basis, it affects their serenity and also that of those who welcome them into their home.
From an emotional point of view, they develop a very strong attachment to the family but are literally devoted to the one who offers them the opportunities of vent just mentioned.
These, if worthy, that is, respectful of the remarkable sensitivity typical of these dogs, will be elevated to the rank of leader but be careful: the role of the dog must be that of partner to whom the leader entrusts important tasks. Otherwise, the dog will feel undervalued and suffer greatly.
So demanding? Definitely yes and for this reason not suitable for those who do not have the time and will to do sports and work with them.
Idleness and boredom are the worst curse that can befall a conduction dog. The consequences are the worst: hyperactivity, destructiveness, neurotic barking, self-mutilation, depression, aggression.
Their behavior: the appropriate activities
The portrait just traced clearly indicates what we can expect from behavioral conducting dogs. Typically, all their actions are quick and reactions are the same.
Even on an emotional level, these dogs are quick to get excited about any activity and also to get depressed, if frustrated or treated hard.
An aggressive manifestation will always be lightning-fast, with rapid and repeated bites but almost always only with the front of the mouth.
Typical the so-called ” stapled“, that is, light bites on the tip of incisors, originally used on the hocks of riotous sheep but also on the limbs of human beings, for the most varied reasons.
The enormous load of psychophysical energy that animates them, the high learning ability and the desire to make themselves useful perfectly apply them to any activity, from dog sports to socially useful tasks such as rescue on rubble or the search for missing persons. If they don’t work, these dogs suffer a lot.
3. The defenders: precious but … not for everyone
Compared to sheepdogs, for example, large guard and defense dogs are generally less responsive.
Or rather, among them the majority have lower reaction times than a conduction dog but it is a very relative “slowness”.
If a border collie, for example, a leaf that rolls in the garden pushed by the breeze is difficult to escape, perhaps it does not escape a large molosser, but certainly rarely matters.
However, if the stimulus in question changes and instead of a rolling leaf we put a stranger who crosses the garden … then the matter becomes more interesting for the guardian. And some of these dogs are very fast, if motivated.
Others, however, for reasons of size and metabolism, for example the large mastiffs, are activated slowly but, once on alert, they can be very fast, much more than we do, on short distances.
Still others, due to a clear underlying neurility, are decidedly active and lightning-fast.
Therefore, the choice of a dog of this kind implies a good collection of preventive training to understand who we are bringing home with us and consequently set the relationship and management most suitable for the selection characteristics.
A Dobermann is very different from a Boxer, in turn very different from a Rottweiler which, again, has little to do with a Dogue de Bordeaux or a Neapolitan Mastiff.
But all of them have been selected for active guard and defense. And their talents, very precious, however, require good competence and management skills, to avoid trouble.
Their behavior: inclusion, control and respect
Often guard dogs, especially large ones, are relegated to the outside of the house, in the belief that they do their job better and, not infrequently, because they are not loved as they deserve and therefore kept isolated from the rest of the family . Two serious mistakes.
There territoriality, already elevated in these breeds, tends to increase seriously: if the dog has little or no social relationships, all his devotion will move towards the territory, the only thing left to him.
In addition, a dog left outside is easy to neutralize for those with bad intentions. It is much more difficult for a criminal to enter the house if the dog is waiting for him inside …
We must also consider that, almost always, it is about extremely affectionate dogs and in need of contact and pampering by their family and depriving them of this is an unforgivable wrong.
4. Hunting dogs: many, different and to know
The adjective “hunting” it hides many very different facets and specializations.
Nonetheless, we can certainly say that almost all hunting dogs have a remarkable sense of smell, in some cases even higher than that of the wild progenitor, and of considerable interest in game.
Which immediately informs us that they need a good “recall”, so that they do not get lost enraptured by the traces on the ground in the open countryside.
Interesting to note that many of these dogs, and in particular those of “stops” like the English Setter… are decidedly sensitive but, unlike for example the conduction dogs, often just as sensitive if not more, the dogs “classic” hunting animals generally show less reactivity and a very rare use of teeth as a stress relief valve.
In other words, the mordacity of the firm, search and retrieving dogs in particular is very low on average.
The same is not true, however, for burrow dogs, that is, the Dachshunds and almost all Terriers, but it is logical: selected to slip into dark underground tunnels and for example to flush out a fox or a badger, and often fight without neighborhood, not they can certainly be particularly “pacifists” …
That is to say that in these dogs it is certainly not docility that has been rewarded, if anything its opposite.
This does not mean that they are not fantastic partners too, it is clear, but unlike the other two hunting typologies mentioned, they generally require a little more patience and attention in education.
Terriers in particular often also require more movement and play than the other types indicated.
Their behavior: it depends a lot on the specialization
Choosing a hunting dog as a life partner can be magnificent, because many of them are really endowed with a docile and sweet character.
And in fact, Labrador and Golden Retriever, for example, which are retrievers for feathered game, are among the most popular breeds everywhere, including Italy, as family dogs.
But depending on the type of hunt they were selected for, their behavior changes. Dogs fromstop” and from “search for”, For example the Pointer and the English Cocker Spaniel, are generally not very“ barking ”, because otherwise the game would be frightened.
Vice versa, dogs to be followed, for example Beagle or Italian Hound, have a powerful voice and often use it, if excited, because at work they need it to direct the wetsuit and the hunter towards the prey they are following.
Useful features to know also for coexistence.
However, all hunting dogs, including burrow dogs, are endowed with considerable energy and need to vent it regularly, to be calm at home. Another thing to remember.
5. Pet dogs. Be careful not to underestimate them: they are not ornaments
It is the most recent type of all. The dog as a friend and nothing else, in fact, is a substantially modern creation, at least as a “mass” choice.
Having a dog without a practical purpose was a luxury, up to a century or so, because keeping it without something in return was a cost that few could afford.
Today, however, the number of dogs chosen only as companions is increasingly growing, not without some contradictions if the type of partner chosen has a specialization (Retrievers are the most classic examples of this problem).
If, on the other hand, selection leads to the adoption of a “companion” breed, things are usually simpler. But not always…
Looking at the Group 9 FCI, the one that includes pet dogs, we certainly encounter breeds born exclusively for this task, such as the Pug or the Chihuahua, the latter being very popular now.
Others, however, have become part of this category coming, however, from a more active past. The most striking case is the Poodle who was once considered an excellent hunting dog for water work.
The Bichon group, which also includes our Bolognese, has its most ancient origins in dogs used to eliminate mice on ships and in Mediterranean ports, therefore once active and determined dogs.
We could go on but the purpose of these lines is to point out that, often, a “companion” dog is also lively, intelligent and willing and not a decorative object.
A life of complete leisure is not even suitable for this type of dog, because they are dogs, in fact.
Their behavior: softer but they have needs to be respected
A good companion dog, if well bred and well treated, is usually very helpful and sociable, with rare examples of behavior that is difficult to manage, except when the owners or breeders induce them.
A classic case is the small dogs that are deprived of the necessary opportunities to socialize with their fellowmen for fear that they will be attacked by larger dogs: the concern is understandable but often the result is the desocialization of the children who can no longer make themselves understood by the other dogs and not infrequently have aggressive fearful attitudes.
Other problems can occur if the owners treat these puppies as “children”, which often happens, constantly petting them and inhibiting their natural behaviors.
In this way, “spoiled” dogs are easily created, used to getting everything and, therefore, rather “unpleasant” at a social level.