The attitude that every dog lover must maintain when he decides to be accompanied part of his life by "man's best friend", raises some questions that are necessary and among which, we are going to answer those that are essential to establish an adequate and long coexistence with our friend.
The size of the dog that we select should be governed by the following criteria:
Environment.- In an apartment in the big city, the size will be noticed in the living space that the dog permanently occupies, that is, both at home, in the elevator, on the sidewalks, or in means of transport. Even the size of the stool is conditioned by its corpulence.
Dedication.- Although generally, a small-sized dog is notably more active than a large-sized dog, this same condition is what forces the owner of a large-sized dog to take long walks that keep their dog in perfect physical condition. and psychic.
"A correct relationship of the dog with the environment from which it perceives smells, noises and other sensations, together with the proper physical expansion, suppose an inexhaustible source of psychic balance in the dog"
Regarding the guide.- The ideal weight of the dog should correspond to half the weight of the person who usually handles it. We should apply this rule to the dogs that we will guide on the leash, not logically so in those that will be on a farm, free and which we will occasionally have to retain.
Long hair.- Ideal for dogs that will spend most of their time outdoors. This type of hair protects them from both cold and heat. For inclement, humid, cold, or rainy places they must have an undercoat.
The inner hair or undercoat ensures that moisture does not come into contact with the dog's skin. In this way, although the outer hair is wet, the dog is "dry". Thus, cooling and even freezing are avoided.
Some breed clubs, such as the German Shepherd Club, have established in the breed standard that individuals with long hair (prone to the absence of undercoat) may not appear in the studbook (they will not obtain the documentation or pedigree). )
Long hair needs to be brushed frequently and during shedding periods, daily.
An added inconvenience, and not without importance, is the notable presence of this type of hair at the time of shedding, spreading everywhere, house, car, garden, and other spaces traveled by the dog. It is not that this does not happen with short hair, but rather that it is more noticeable with long hair.
Short hair.- It is suitable for dogs that will live indoors and will not be exposed more than reasonably to inclement weather. Entering the house or the car with a short-haired dog after a walk in the rain has nothing to do with the consequences of doing so with a long-haired dog.
On the other hand, care is significantly reduced and therefore the time we have to dedicate to this task.
What relationship will you have with the group?
The time that we can dedicate to our friends should count at the moment of choosing. Each individual has different needs but we will dare to take the reference of the race as a guide.
Herding and hunting breeds.- Very adaptable to any environmental situation and highly gregarious, therefore individuals very much in need of integration into the group (family or other dogs). Ideal for owners who can spend a lot of time with their dogs.
Defense breeds.- We will refer to those such as Boxer, Dobermann, German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd, or others with similar characteristics that have been selected for their qualities as companions and protectors of the guide. We exclude guard dogs of the Molossian type, which in many cases show little mental activity.
The individuals of these races are usually very gregarious, but their high psychic activity and protection instinct allows them to spend long periods outside observing what is happening around them. However, they need to walk and play with their master whenever the opportunity arises. Strongly discouraged as kennel or kennel dogs.
Dogs with a high level of mental activity, such as the breeds mentioned, are sensitive to confinement in small kennels, without observing a lively environment or without expectations of activity with their owner or group. Anomalous, stereotyped, or neurotic behaviors are produced.
Guard Breeds.- We consider in this section the individuals of the breeds whose selection is directed to the surveillance of enclosures or goods. Molossians, molossoids, and those that due to their qualities of dissuasive appearance, size or capacity has been selected for these purposes. We will include in this section, Rottweiler, Mastiffs, and Dogos.
With few exceptions, they are usually dogs with little mental activity. This added to their independence from the group makes them adapt to live in relative solitude.
The "chain" characteristic is added to certain breeds, in some cases, such as the Neapolitan mastiff, having a body adapted to this circumstance.
Do we need any canine utility?
Certainly, in the case of needing that the dog we are looking for can perform some task, we will take into account that he is as adapted as possible to the purpose we are looking for.
We ignore the usefulness of the company, because even being very important, the dog, with rare exceptions, is intrinsically gregarious and therefore needs to be integrated into a group.
Guard or defense utility.- We will choose individuals from breeding lines selected for this purpose. So that the breeder only has as a criterion added to that of good health that of choosing as breeders the individuals best adapted to utility.
The golden rule in raising utility dogs is to prioritize without compromise and in the following order:
(psychic qualities for utility)
If we alter this order, we increase the obstacles to achieving the goal, being possible invalidity for it, and even unwanted changes in behavior.
Therapeutic Usefulness.- Sometimes, it is necessary for a dog to become the trigger for a change of attitude in a person or group of people.
It is in the elderly, children with language or communication problems, mental or physical limitations, terminally ill, prisoners, people who live in isolation, etc. where the dog has demonstrated the therapeutic validity of it.
The acquisition of a therapy dog must be backed by a balanced and non-dominant behavior towards humans. In preference to dogs with a high playful instinct. Of course, it is advisable to seek advice from professionals in the health and canine field. There are associations in several countries of the world, which can provide valuable collaboration in certain therapeutic cases.
Will you cohabit with children?
Children represent for a mentally healthy dog the equivalent of a puppy. For this comparison, the puppy is an element with certain privileges, of which we list the most important below.
Any annoying activity of the puppy towards the adult is allowed. At most, it can be corrected by this but without causing physical damage.
Feeding by regurgitation is a reflex action that the puppy awakens in the adult by licking the corner of the mouth.
The adult must respect the safety distance while the puppy feeds.
These are some of the puppy's privileges compared to other adults. We want to point them out as an example in establishing a reflection on the behavior of some adult dogs towards children.
The adult dog that does not tolerate children in general or even attacks them presents such dysfunction that the owner should consider euthanizing the animal.
Although this is terrible, we cannot give any chance for an accident to occur, which in some cases can mean the death of the child.
It has nothing to do with aggression against children, that the dog is aggressive in other aspects. For example, police or security dogs are selected from individuals who are tolerant of children. This is an indication of stability and security in character. Almost always, the dog that bites a child is not capable of doing it to an adult who confronts him.
Therefore, when the dog lives with children, we will try to select it among individuals that are tolerant of puppies or that are not skittish with humans.
The safer and more stable the character of the dog, the more guarantees of success in coexistence with children.
Will he live with other dogs?
If the dog that we are going to acquire has to live with other dogs, we will take into account three basic rules.
- The races that have a high gregarious and hierarchical instinct are the ideal ones.
- If possible, we will make individuals of different sexes coexist, but in case of having established a group of elements of the same sex, we will integrate another similar one. Doing it with an element of the opposite sex would mean likely disputes.
- Fighting, prey, and molossoid breeds usually have few instinctive inhibitions when fighting with other individuals of the same sex, so it is easy for fights to be dramatic.
Inhibitions are the brakes that instinct or learning puts on certain behaviors. Instinctive inhibitions are a much stronger brake than learned ones. For example, the male does not bite the female due to instinctive inhibition.
Get a puppy or an adult?
The majority option of those who decide to acquire a dog is to get a puppy and is usually motivated by the belief that the adult dog is more difficult to understand and adapt to its new environment.
Acquiring a puppy has the advantage of participating in the development of our friend and enjoying periods of his life that are a delight. On the contrary, there are risks in terms of psychic and physical development that will have to wait until we know how it ends.
But since it is easier to handle a puppy, choosing a young or adult dog does not have to be a problem. The results of his evolution are insight.
The adult dog needs about a week to adapt to his new environment. His hierarchical and gregarious spirit will make him quickly find his leader and the rest of the group in his case.
Conveniently, we do not rule out the option of the adult dog. Some people have no choice but to get rid of their dog and this may be the one we need. Fixed a redundancy.
If we are already clear about the use that we are going to give our animal, let's see in general what differentiates the two sexes of the species.
Males are more independent, more stubborn in education, and, due to the competitive function, more aggressive than females. Let us think that the hormone of masculinity is, at the same time, that of aggressiveness. This character is fully justified and when it comes to reduction by clinical means, the results obtained, apart from being unnatural, have never been reliable.
On the other hand, males are more suitable for defense due to the sexual dimorphism of the species. We mean that they are, almost always, larger and stronger than the female and, due to secondary sexual characteristics, superior in deterrent effect.
Therefore, we discourage the acquisition of a male German Shepherd to a woman of little character. Being a woman implies a lower level of testosterone in the blood (male hormone) and having little character presupposes a lack of leadership in future relationships with her dominant macho who admires and fears Testosterone while demanding an iron fist in a glove. silk.
Our dogs are not sexist or feminist and only understand this human concept, what their biology tells them is appropriate.
Females are more prone to what has been called psychological pregnancy, which is nothing more than maternal obsessions in unmarried specimens. Also, being more dependent, they suffer more from separation anxiety (which we will see in another chapter). They usually cause hygiene problems when the estrous cycle or period comes and, finally, they are more destructive.
On the contrary, they take better care of human cubs than males, are less independent and more gregarious than males, tend to run away less, and are apt to nest with almost all owners.
The unavoidable question is why all these differences? There are many more that we will be unraveling throughout the book and in the behavior chapters. For this, we must be clear about a series of concepts that we will gradually see later.
In a shop?
In a pet store, you can find dogs available on site or they can manage the location of the same.
In case of choosing this path, we must demand that the dog be checked by a veterinarian who certifies its health status.
We will also request a purchase contract with the guarantees announced by the seller, which will be accompanied by the corresponding legal invoice.
If it is a dog with the right to pedigree and if it is not yet available, this right must be stated in the contract, since the cost of the animal will be higher.
The pedigree is the guarantee of the origin of the dog. Document issued by an association entrusted by the Ministry of Agriculture with the maintenance of this registry. The data of the breeder, those of the birth of the individual's litter, those of his ancestors, and those of the owner are recorded.
The breeder notifies the birth of a litter and requests the corresponding receipt for each puppy from the canine association. When he sells a puppy, he gives it to the new owner, signing the transfer on the back of the receipt. The new owner can then request the pedigree from the aforementioned association, upon payment of a not insignificant economic amount.
We must know that we will generally find puppies from litters owned by individuals or from breeders who send the least attractive elements of the litters to the store.
To a specialized breeder?
If we have opted for a certain breed, another path to follow is to visit a specialized dog breeder. We will require the purchase contract and the purchase invoice in the case of a professional.
We must have references. If it is not possible to obtain them, we must be interested in the health and character of the dogs. In the case of utility breeds, their breeding lines should be geared towards some practical task or dog sport.
Let's be wary of breeders who are too concerned about the aesthetics of the dog and the very successful competitors in breeding shows. These will only have priority for beauty, which makes it easier for them to have their kennels full of elements with physical problems and significantly mentally handicapped.
If we are looking for a herding dog, let's buy it from a shepherd if possible. The major litter from any of his litters is infinitely higher quality than that from a commercial breeder.
In the same way, if we choose a hunting dog, let's look for a hunter who breeds with his dogs.
Both the security guard, the shepherd, or the hunter, if they raise dogs for their work, are the most specialized.
In an abandoned dog shelter?
There are numerous dogs abandoned by their owners and together with those that get lost they end up collected in municipal kennels or shelters for abandoned dogs.
Adopting one of these dogs can be the solution to the search, especially if what we want is to find a companion and we do not have pretensions of any other use.
It will be necessary to carefully observe the chosen dog because sometimes problem dogs are abandoned by their owners. To get to know him better, it is convenient to ask the direct caregiver.
Jesus Guzman Ortega
Source: AEPE - aepe.net Association for the Study of the Dog and its Environment
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