Levels of knowledge for the average pet owner. - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kaimeju View Post
Everyone needs to know basic things about owning a large dog like requisite vet care, how to feed it well, grooming, socialization, and proper shelter, but I don't think breed specific knowledge is that important for the average owner beyond just recognizing that it's a large, active, intelligent breed.

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So if breed specific knowledge is not that important. How do I pick a dog? Or a breeder?
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:41 PM
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Cause I'm really at a loss here. We expect people to pick good breeders, good rescues to not go to BYB or Puppy Mills. So where can they get the correct info. But even more importantly what is the correct info? How much do we need to know?
I asked something similar once and never got a good answer. People are told the things you mentioned and then to research, go to clubs, visit the dogs.
It is not realistic. People who frequent this forum and post regularly are not the average pet owner.

Education is key but often on this forum the average pet owner is given way more than they want or will ever need.

Most will buy or adopt close to home from any kind of breeder or rescue and then come here with questions or problems.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:50 PM
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I have a two-sided view on this.

I work for a GSD breeder, and it is our job to communicate to our customers everything that they could possibly need to know about our dogs, everything from training to feeding to elderly lifestyle and medications/preventatives, etc, whether they ask us for that information or not. I have come across some ridiculously bad owners, who even after all of that information is relayed still somehow raise their dog to be aggressive/never house trained/etc. We find that some owners just don't care to listen to us.

Then, I have the view that would be my parent's side. They don't know squat about dogs, but they love them. They know that their nails should be clipped, their fur should be brushed... but they are the average pet owner, and don't know anything about quality food or anything of that nature. To be honest, when we find customers that are paranoid about what food they get and put this that and the other in their food bowls to keep them healthy, it's seriously a red flag to us because we know that they are gullible and will put any chemical or toxin in their dog based on a rumor and know nothing about it. A simple "Your dog can develop testicular cancer" will run them to get them neutered at 9 weeks old, then whoop, therein your dog will not have the hormones to grow properly and oops, you've just caused him to never have full control of his bladder/bowels. But the average owner doesn't /know/ that.

so in general, I think the average pet owner knows absolutely nothing, and a simple look on the internet cannot always change that. We who have experience know what to avoid and know what is good information and what is bad, but they do not. The average pet owner believes anything you tell them, but how often do they come across people like us who actually know a thing or two about dogs? Rarely. It makes me sad, but I see this through and through. I not only work for a breeder, I also work at Camp Bow Wow, and let me tell you that I have never in my life realized that there could be such negligent, unknowing people in the world.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Education is key but often on this forum the average pet owner is given way more than they want or will ever need.

Most will buy or adopt close to home from any kind of breeder or rescue and then come here with questions or problems.
Education is the key! But if we can't even agree on what it is necessary to know then how can people get educated and if people can't get educated how will anything ever change for the better? I have been one to always advocate getting involved. Visiting a SAR team, visiting a rescue but even then how do you know you are getting involved with the right people?
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:12 PM
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Ultimately, though, most dogs do just fine in the 'average' house. Look at the movie Marley & Me; if that owner had been on this forum we would have been picking apart that dog's psyche and suggesting crates, training, behavioral specialists... and he was just fine.

When it comes to people who want a working breed, that's where the trouble comes in. Folks who are used to a couch-potato labrador are probably ill-equipped to handle any dog that requires anything more than being let out in the yard to potty twice a day. In that aspect, breeder education is exceptionally important as well as their judgement at sale.
But I don't think we have any responsibility or even *ability* to do anything about the average populace.


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Old 11-22-2013, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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I not only work for a breeder, I also work at Camp Bow Wow, and let me tell you that I have never in my life realized that there could be such negligent, unknowing people in the world.
I had a stranger one day tell me that he had a pit bull/akita mix and that the akita would attack and afterword the pit bull side would sit there shaking. I know I just looked at him blankly but what do you say to something like that. He then proceeded to tell me how he had shot the dog because it attacked someone...but it was best dog he ever had. What?!!
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:20 PM
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A lot of people will say that a GSD is not for a first time dog owner. I disagree, but knowledge is picked up by both reading/learning AND experience. You can learn about training dogs in books or on the forums, but you cannot learn to train dogs without a victim. And this is why a lot of us do a WHOLE lot better with our second GSD, yes maybe the first was from a BYB and this one is from a good breeder, but 9-14 years of experience managing that drop-eared dominant stubborn fear-aggressive disaster does go totally to waste.

People talk about red flags a LOT when they talk about finding a breeder. I think breeders have red flags when they talk about potential puppy buyers. A red flag is where your gut says, "don't sell this yayhoo a dog." Some breeders only want to deal with people who have experience with the breed. I think it is more likely that inexperienced buyers land with the inexperienced breeders for other reasons though.

Your more experienced breeders may not be advertising at all. They have people from training classes, dog clubs, and trials contact them and wait for a puppy to be born. Your inexperienced buyer generally wants a puppy that is already ready to go, or is at least on the ground already. They may say, oh yes I want this six-week-old puppy. And you explain that the dog needs to stay with the litter until eight weeks, so come and pick him up in two weeks. Two weeks later you find that he has already purchased a 4 week old dog from someone else.

Inexperienced buyers often choke on the going rate, and want discounts because they just want a dog for a pet. These people are not going to land on the more experienced of breeders. They will be seen through, and most likely they will decide for themselves to go elsewhere.

And it is not like breeders do not yack on the phone with these people and explain about things like why it is still important for people who want pets to get a puppy whose parents were tested in temperament and health, etc. We explain why the dogs should stay with the litter. But in the end, a first-time buyer knows it all, and goes to someone who has a litter he is willing to sell to anyone, right now.

There are first-time buyers who have spent a lot of time on forums who know a lot of the questions to ask. It certainly does not mean the dog is going into the best of hands. If it is your first dog, you might have a step up on someone who hasn't a clue, but even spending months on the forum or in other venues learning about the breed, you cannot look at the pup in front of you and assess that pup for its training style and management style, so you will make plenty of mistakes, and it is a testament to the dogs if they manage to survive a newbie owner.

Not having a shepherd before is a yellow flag. Not having a working/herding group dog is a yellow flag. Not having a dog before is a yellow flag. Never raising a puppy before is a yellow flag. A yellow flag means you have to ask a lot more questions. I think breeders should sell to newbies, but they should get a feel for some level of commitment on the part of the newbie to understand if this individual is going to be totally out of their depth or not.

If you have a dog already, you should know about things like shots, going to the vet, taking the dog to classes/training the dog, exercise and play, how much it costs to feed a dog, whether where you live you have any restrictions on owning a dog, and many other things. You really can't take anything for granted with a newbie owner. And so you start asking some really intrusive questions that don't seem to be related about whether they rent or own, do they have a homeowner's association, do they have a job, and how is the puppy going to be able to be house trained while they are working, etc.

When someone comes to buy a pup, I don't really want to hear the common questions that people tell people to ask. It sounds learned by heart, and most of the time, the people are just looking at the puppies.

I want to hear that the people have a plan. They have a plan for getting the puppy checked out at the vet and vaccinated. They have a plan for training, they know of a trainer who has training classes, and they maybe want to do some obedience or something with the puppy. They have a plan for house-training the puppy, and who will be there to let the puppy out while they are at work. Being aware of some of the common ailments in the breed is good. Having a plan of what they intend to feed the dog. Already having a crate and toys and bowls/supplies is also a positive. Not freaking out if the puppy mouthes them or goes for their shoe laces is another positive.

Your typical pet owner needs to be willing to learn about dogs and problems within the breed. I press training classes because they will meet up with other people over the course of 6 weeks and will learn tons from a decent trainer. And, hopefully, they will sign up again for more classes.

And a puppy owner needs to know when to call the vet or breeder with problems and questions.

People learn as they go with kids. And they will learn as the go with dogs too. You learn more from the tougher dogs or the sicker dogs than the ones that never give you a moment's worry.

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Old 11-22-2013, 02:27 PM
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The thing is, there is a lot or conflicting information out there with many many things. So I think it would be hard to really make a list of what is average/good/bad/exceptional/etc.

IMO

There are tons of vets who recommend crap dog food. Are we really going to argue about what a dog is being fed? If he is doing find on it, leave them be, would you rather the dog starve?

I've seen threads on here about how much a dog should get bathed. Some have said they only bath the dog once or twice a year, but will wipe them off if they have a muddy day or something. Are we really going to argue about a dog that isn't matted with its coat in bad shape?

Crate training. Some people don't see a need for it. Some people put up gates, put them in rooms, etc etc. Are we really going to argue about what would be better? Many dogs and owners make it through puppy hood just fine without crates.

The fact is, there is no one way to raise/have a dog. People will have their opinions on things and do what they feel is best. I wouldn't expect someone to raise their kids how I see fit, I don't expect them to raise their dogs how I see fit. I may talk with them, give them ideas, tell them what has worked for me, and try to help them. However I'm not going to go around calling them a "bad" or less than average dog owner because its not being done MY way.

Unless someone is starving, beating, or just honestly abusing the dog in some way (I don't mean something I don't like), I live and let live.

I don't think that there is really a standard for people to research, at least not beyond the general "is that dog/breed right for me". Many people will research as they go and typically one thing will lead to another and another and another and eventually you have someone who knows more than they did a month ago. People are different like that. Some do it as they go, some dive in the deep end first and some find out as much as they can before hand.

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Old 11-22-2013, 02:28 PM
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I have a two-sided view on this.

I work for a GSD breeder, and it is our job to communicate to our customers everything that they could possibly need to know about our dogs, everything from training to feeding to elderly lifestyle and medications/preventatives, etc, whether they ask us for that information or not. I have come across some ridiculously bad owners, who even after all of that information is relayed still somehow raise their dog to be aggressive/never house trained/etc. We find that some owners just don't care to listen to us.

Then, I have the view that would be my parent's side. They don't know squat about dogs, but they love them. They know that their nails should be clipped, their fur should be brushed... but they are the average pet owner, and don't know anything about quality food or anything of that nature. To be honest, when we find customers that are paranoid about what food they get and put this that and the other in their food bowls to keep them healthy, it's seriously a red flag to us because we know that they are gullible and will put any chemical or toxin in their dog based on a rumor and know nothing about it. A simple "Your dog can develop testicular cancer" will run them to get them neutered at 9 weeks old, then whoop, therein your dog will not have the hormones to grow properly and oops, you've just caused him to never have full control of his bladder/bowels. But the average owner doesn't /know/ that.

so in general, I think the average pet owner knows absolutely nothing, and a simple look on the internet cannot always change that. We who have experience know what to avoid and know what is good information and what is bad, but they do not. The average pet owner believes anything you tell them, but how often do they come across people like us who actually know a thing or two about dogs? Rarely. It makes me sad, but I see this through and through. I not only work for a breeder, I also work at Camp Bow Wow, and let me tell you that I have never in my life realized that there could be such negligent, unknowing people in the world.
When a person goes in to the doctor for consultation after some tests, once the doctor says, "cancer" everything else is a big blur. I think that it can be very much the same when you go to bring home your knew puppy. If the breeder pounds it into you NOT to take the puppy to a pet store yet, then maybe you will remember that. But there is no way they are going to take away everything that is needed for the life of the dog. I hope I give mine everything that is needed for the next few days -- what to feed, how to feed, how to start house training, don't take it where other dogs are yet, get it to the vet and take its shot record with you, and so on.

I have a little binder with the papers, and the other paperwork in it, and in it, I have a couple of pages about the new dog, odds and ends, training, etc. And then I have some propaganda from the AKC, like what stuff is poisonous, what venues there are to train the dog. I used to give a leadership booklet by a person I respect in dog training, or a small book on the breed. But I try not to overwhelm the new owners. What is important for them to remember is that they can call me.

Babsy
Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Quinn (The Werewolf), Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:35 PM
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knowledge is largely the reward for experience.
Man Hunter, best post I've seen in ages!

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