Levels of knowledge for the average pet owner. - Page 3 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #21 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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But I don't think we have any responsibility or even *ability* to do anything about the average populace.
But if we don't do anything then bad breeders will keep pumping out unhealthy out of standard dogs for the pet buyer.
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post #22 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:38 PM
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I think one thing EVERY pet owner needs to learn to be REALLY good at is reading body language. It amazes me how a lot of people can miss the signs (before the bigger signs) of aggression, and every other emotion an animal feels.

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post #23 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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I think one thing EVERY pet owner needs to learn to be REALLY good at is reading body language. It amazes me how a lot of people can miss the signs (before the bigger signs) of aggression, and every other emotion an animal feels.
That is something I'd like to learn more about. Where do I find information on that?
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post #24 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:40 PM
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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?!!
.....
What????
I have no idea what I wound have said in response!

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post #25 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:41 PM
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So you want a GSD.

There is a lot of variety in the GSD today. In general though, they are a medium to large breed of working dog. They are more aloof than many other breeds and they have a protective side to them. A level of aggression is necessary for them to do their jobs.

They need a good quality food and to watch their weight. There are health and temperament problems in the breed so you need to become aware of them and stay on top of it. They need regular grooming, exercise and vet care.

If you haven't owned them before I would recommend training classes or individual.

Besides exercise your GSD needs mental stimulation or they will find their own outlets and you probably won't like them. If problems arise you don't know the answer to get help soon. They can be the best breed on the planet but if not cared for properly can be a disaster and even a danger.

Some places will not rent to those who have them and some homeowners insurance will not cover them. If they are out of control or have bad nerves they can be a liability.

If you do the things necessary to own this breed they are IMO the best dog you will ever own.
They are Loyal, Confident, Intelligent, Strong, Protective, and above all love their family over anything else in the world.
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post #26 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 03:08 PM
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But if we don't do anything then bad breeders will keep pumping out unhealthy out of standard dogs for the pet buyer.
OK, so tell me how we as a forum can change that.

We can all work in our own little ways, join national or international causes, get into fields that encourage education (outreach, performance, rescue, vets, groomers etc) but thousands of back yard dogs still never see anything but the inside of their fence. Unless we pull a jehovas' witness and start knocking door-to-door there's just no way to get to everyone or a way to make everyone start caring. And even if the person knocking on my door to 'spread the word' was there to tell me how to vaccinate my dog I'd STILL hate them with a passion, lol!


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post #27 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 03:24 PM
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A good understanding of their lifestyle and homelife (Active/lazy, homebound/social, quiet/loud, kids/other pets/elderly family members... etc.), amount of time they can dedicate, family's needs and structure (Does everyone want a dog? Is the family all on board?), experience level with dogs and their ability to handle the dog (small/medium/large, powerful with a mind of it's own or I'm just happy happy happy happy type dog), what age (Puppy, or Adult?) would fit best, enough time for a puppy? Ready for the hassle of all the puppy training and biting and the good, the bad, and the ugly?.... Basically, a really good, honest evaluation of what is BEST for the household.

Once that's understood..... pick the breeds that interests them within their above criteria, research about the breeds..... rescue or breeder?... if rescue: Call/visit shelters or call rescues for the breeds chosen... let them know what you are looking for. If breeder: research breeders, contact the breeders chosen as a potential match. Give them an honest and accurate account of what you want from this dog.

When they have the dog/pup.... I would expect a pet home to at least teach the dog the basic commands and manners... both in the house and out in public. The dog should still be well behaved.... doesn't take a doggie genius to train the very basics (sit, down, stay, come). I expect the owners to respect others and understand their dog's behavior. By understanding the breed they own, that can fix a lot of the misunderstanding with the behavior issues many pet homes see. They should also play, exercise, and give the dog the time it needs to live a happy satisfying life. Depending on the breed... that will range. The owner needs to be prepared for whatever they choose to get.

Even "just a pet home" should do more research when getting a dog than just "Oh it's cute.... I want now". Unfortunately, more time is spent researching a product at a store that will only last a year at most.... but, don't even have a brain cell twitch at the idea of researching a companion animal that will be sharing their home and lives for the next approx. 10-16yrs. Consumer responsibility.

The biggest thing I see within my location is people getting breeds they have no business owning. If someone works 10hrs a day, comes home and plays games or watches TV for the rest of the evening, eats dinner, and goes to bed...... that home shouldn't have a high energy dog (I would argue to say they should maybe just get a cat). So many issues come from dogs who are under stimulated, not socialized correctly, and bored out of their darn minds. Research research research! If a home doesn't have time for that first step..... don't get a dog.

IMO, that's a responsible 'regular' pet home.

Alyssa
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post #28 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 03:39 PM
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We can all work in our own little ways, join national or international causes, get into fields that encourage education (outreach, performance, rescue, vets, groomers etc)
And I think that's pretty much it.

I used to be a lot more active about proselytizing, but then I realized that (a) actually I don't know crap myself, so who am I to tell people how to do things; and (b) even if I DID have a clue what I was talking about, taking that approach is annoying and counterproductive.

Going back to the original question: There is no universal checklist for things people should know. There can't be. Every home and every dog is different.

I give a copy of Patricia McConnell's booklet "Love Has No Age Limit" away with each of my foster dogs, and I always tell the adopters that they're welcome to contact me with any questions or concerns they might have, and then I just have to trust that people are humble and honest enough in their self-assessments to recognize what they don't know and seek out information appropriately.

Some do, some don't. Most do, because that self-awareness and honesty is one of the things I look for in deciding which home should get one of my dogs. But ultimately all you can do is try to make knowledge available, try to spread awareness that there are things you can do with dogs beyond walks around the neighborhood, and hope that people have the initiative to seek it out.

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post #29 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 03:44 PM
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And I think that's pretty much it.

I used to be a lot more active about proselytizing, but then I realized that (a) actually I don't know crap myself, so who am I to tell people how to do things; and (b) even if I DID have a clue what I was talking about, taking that approach is annoying and counterproductive.
My point exactly! Activism is great, but it only goes so far. I think accepting that a disparate standard for 'average' pet owners is the reality of life is horribly depressing but essential. Until I started working as a vet I had no idea that people really just did not know and honestly had no desire to learn more about their husbandry. It's a shock but it's a truth.


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post #30 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 03:55 PM
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I think accepting that a disparate standard for 'average' pet owners is the reality of life is horribly depressing but essential.
I'm not sure I'd be willing to go quite that far. I know where you're coming from, and I don't necessarily think you're wrong, but I do have a little more optimism about the power of good examples to change norms and expectations over time.

I've posted about it before, but I often practice with my dogs in public areas, and we're really nothing special performance-wise, but we do get questions and comments from passersby who are just amazed that dogs can work off-leash without immediately running buck wild down the street. Often they ask what we're doing, and then I get to give my 30-second elevator pitch about dog sports and how dog sports are great for enhancing a bond and exercising your pet mentally and physically, etc. etc.

I also used to teach basic classes through our dog park for whoever wanted to show up and try something new with their dogs, which I might go back to doing again when the weather is nicer and I've finished Pongu's ARCHMX. Again, it's just a little thing -- basic stuff, simple tricks, no huge time commitment -- but it shows people what is possible, and helps them get started with their own pet dogs. And I've been told by some of those people that it really made a positive difference in their relationships with their dogs.

None of this is going to change the world in any huge dramatic way. But it does change things a little bit for a few owners and a few dogs. And some of them go on to change things for a few other owners and their dogs. I can see the ripple effect spreading out across my Facebook page -- I've seen some of my friends get into dog sports or fostering because I post about it constantly, and then they start posting about it, and then their friends get interested, and usually after that I lose track of them because it goes beyond the degrees-of-association I have on FB, but I like to think the ripple keeps moving past what I can see.

You just have to be open to the possibility of change, and offer what you know if people are interested in it, and don't push it on them if they aren't.

ARCHMX TDCH Pongu the Insane, CD-C, RE, RL1X6, RL2X5, RL3X2 (GSD mix, b. Apr 2010)
Crookytail the Tigerwuff, RL1, ITD (Akita mix, b. Jan 2011)
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