How much do you really need to know?
  • I found a blog by a canine behavioralist today. It was a very interesting read and informative. But like all things written by a scientific standpoing it was complex and indepth. I read most of it and found myself confused by my gut reactions to the topics discussed. I agreed with some things, disagreed with others and at some points was outright dumbfounded by what the author was telling me about dogs.
    Obviously, I'm no expert and I hold biases but I thought I'd pose a few questions.

    Training is obviously the hardest thing you'll ever do with your dog. There are many different schools of thought on how it should be done (some obviously better than others). Even among professional trainers and behaviorlist the same question can get you different answers. Obviously some things are constant, don't hit dog, exercise dog, socialize dog, etc. But the research is connstantly being updated and changed. As an owner, average happy puppy owner not necesarrily a vet or someone who works with dogs regularly, how much do you HAVE to be up to date on the latest info/techniques? In other words, is it your responsibility to actively seek information?

    What if you disagree, on the minor things, not like the golden rules above. As a responsible owner can you choose you ignore some advice (I know ideas like raw feeding and verbal correction would fit here to some extent)?

    What if you aren't confident in the newest techniques and don't want to ruin a dog with a fad training style that will be debunked in twenty years?

    What if your name is Joe-Bob and you live in backwoods Alabama with an unsocialized terror-dog but he'll never see any other dog or human but you and your old lady Billy-Sue and your happy with him, although you know a behavioralist would tell you your dog is an unholy terror. Can you 'settle' if your happy and Killer is happy but you 'know better'?

    If you are better educated do you have a right/duty to tell the happy dog owners down the street why they are wrong even if their dog gives you no trouble but you feel its training is wrong or lacking?

    I'm not saying these are my views. I prefer to try to stay analytical, but I am genuinely curious what people think.

    What do you do/think?


    ...kindness. We all appreciate kindness and constructive discussion. Please be considerate to others. We can all agree to disagree, if need be:).
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  • omgtainomgtain
    Posts: 240
    If I knew better, I would be eaten by guilt.
    I've been thinking about that a lot, as I've been having puppy fever pretty badly. I've literally had puppies shoved in my face the past couple months, offered puppies, etc. But these are random puppies, from random dogs, and because I know better it is something I do not indulge. It takes a lot of will power, i think. I'm a pretty impulsive person and knowing all I have to do is flash some cash makes it seem so easy. However I love and crave the community that comes with good breeders (hello brad).

    In terms of training techniques, I am pretty well versed in most tools. I love positive reinforcement but am also comfortable with e-collars and prongs. Beating your dog? Definitely not.
    My dogs have been raw fed since I got them, I used to look down on people who fed grocery store brand because they could do better. But I grew out of that. If your dog is doing good on it, i don't give a fuck what food you feed. But if your dog is suffering then you better do everything in your power to get to the bottom of it.

    I do wish people did more with their dogs though-- regarding socialization and training.

    This is how I view raising a puppy or dog.. During their first 2 years you have to do absolutely EVERYTHING. Fulfill that dog, train, do sports, hike, fill every need they have. And after that, they will be calm. They will be content with life. They will be confident.

    But, if you don't fill their every need, I think that is where you get older dogs who don't calm down. It could be attributed to breed or personality.. But I see it similar to humans. Children who are starved of food will grow to binge eat and have eating problems. Children who are starved of emotional attachment and socialization will grow to be clingy.

    Of course that doesn't mean that after 2 years you ignore the dog, but I think of it as, you're starting good habits. :)

    With that being said though, if the dog is happy, then I am happy. Nare isn't the fondest of other dogs. Thats ok. I accept that. I'm not going to force him into a situation that does anything but make him happy.

    At the same time I think if the owners want an extremely social dog and force the dog to be uncomfortable and there is lots of unnecessary stress-- rehome the dog.

    I used to also dislike people who rehomed dogs. I still hate it when people make up bullshit excuses, "We're moving and he can't come", "X person doesnt like him", etc. But honestly if their owner is like that.. then good. their dog will be better off. if a dog doesn't work for you, then rehome it. allow them to have a chance at fulfilling their life instead of constantly holding them back.
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    Tain, Nare the GSD/Husky, and Tavi the Kaigirl!
  • @omgtain, Thanks! I do agree that a good puppyhood is the best way to create a balanced dog. Its better to start off right than have to fix a mistake...ugh. Prevention is so much easier.

    I like your point about adding stress through training. In my experience with Roe, trying to work on desensityzing her to fearful stimuli and new situations became too stressful for the both of us. I had dreams of malking a therapy dog out of her but it was just too much for her to handle. I now work out all my dog-angst with my Akita mix. He's always up for a challenge.
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  • My thoughts on your questions:

    As an owner, average happy puppy owner how much do you HAVE to be up to date on the latest info/techniques? In other words, is it your responsibility to actively seek information? Yes. Getting a dog is a 12-16 year long (in most cases) commitment. It is your responsibility as an owner to make sure that dog can fit into today's society. It doesn't take long, just a puppy class or a relatively new book on dog behaviour/training.

    What if you disagree, on the minor things, not like the golden rules above. As a responsible owner can you choose you ignore some advice (I know ideas like raw feeding and verbal correction would fit here to some extent)?
    Yes, you can. There are so many different training techniques and different teachers and litterature out there and not everything suits every dog or person. With my dogs I have a basis of positive reinforcment, but they know what a strict "NO" means and I have to use slightly different techniques with each dog - because they're different.


    What if your name is Joe-Bob and you live in backwoods Alabama with an unsocialized terror-dog but he'll never see any other dog or human but you and your old lady Billy-Sue and your happy with him, although you know a behavioralist would tell you your dog is an unholy terror. Can you 'settle' if your happy and Killer is happy but you 'know better'?
    If an unsocialized terror is causes no harm to other people/dogs/livestock and the owner is fine with the dog being like that, then I don't think there's any harm to that. Suck if they ever have to take him to a vet though...

    If you are better educated do you have a right/duty to tell the happy dog owners down the street why they are wrong even if their dog gives you no trouble but you feel its training is wrong or lacking? That would be rude ;)

    I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am.
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    A while back I had a revelation about one of my dogs. I was working really hard to get her to enjoy conformation shows, crowds, strangers, etc. To be able to volunteer at a breed education booth without being nervous and to go to other special dog events. And we made good progress with counter conditioning, positive reinforcement, and yes medication to get us through the really big hurdles. We were successful, and I showed her at our specialty show without any problems. She did well and competed for Reserve Female out of the Breeder/Handler class.

    Afterwards I asked myself: Why? Why does she NEED to enjoy conformation? Why does she NEED to go to breed booths and interact with the public? In what ways does it enrich and improve her life? In what ways does it strengthen our bond? In what ways does it make her a better family pet? Is what I expect of her even normal for a companion dog? If she was "just a pet" would she be faced with these same situations?

    And there was no good answer, because she doesn't NEED to do it, it doesn't improve her life or make her a better pet. Nothing that I expected from her was typical for a companion dog. What breeders/show people do with their dogs is not normal or even necessary compared dogs that are "just" pets. What people "in the know" do with their dogs is abnormal compared to the vast majority of the pet-owning population -- and those owners and dogs are perfectly fine in their ignorance. I've been that person before I got Akitas. I am friends with those people. My relatives are those people. They're good people with good dogs that they love and that is really all that matters.

    Sure, working with my dog on her "shortcomings" did strengthen our bond. But any activity you do with your dog will have that effect. It's even better if the activity is something the dog really enjoys, rather than something the dog is merely tolerant of. So I immediately decided to stop showing her in conformation, even though we were doing well and making great progress. She doesn't like it, and our dogs' lives are too short to waste doing things they don't enjoy. We switched to nose work and she LOVES it and as a bonus it's helped her be more accepting of strangers and new situations than conformation practice ever did.

    Every person on this forum is not a typical owner, because typical owners don't sign up for dog forums. They don't own books about dogs or do much if any research. They don't go to dog parks or have canine socials. They probably don't even do a basic obedience class. They don't have a blog dedicated to their dog and its exploits. They don't monitor their dogs' poops and have long conversations about them with their spouse. They don't mark the tiniest change in behavior or health and rush off to the vet. The fact that you're here reading this and probably thinking "but they SHOULD!" to some of the previous statements makes you unusual.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2016-03-15 16:25:50
  • omgtainomgtain
    Posts: 240
    Claire do you mind if I share your post on FB? I really liked your personal story. :)
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    Tain, Nare the GSD/Husky, and Tavi the Kaigirl!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12220
    I've had similar revelation, Claire ( @PoetikDragon ). Nicely written.
  • HeidiHeidi
    Posts: 3379
    I think it comes down to happy dogs. Letting dogs be dogs and do what dogs like to do. They have needs in order to have a good quality of life. Training is really for our benefit. A dog can happily go its whole life without learning to "heel", given it lives with a person who doesn't care whether or not it heels. Bottom line: A dog owner needs to know however much it takes to let the dog do dog things without annoying the person.

    To me, that brings up questions about behaviours that are almost universally thought of as undesirable, but that dogs really love to do. Barking is one. Some dogs just enjoy barking nonstop. Most trainers will advise you to use positive reinforcement methods and extensive training to get the dog to stop, and they'd say debarking a dog is cruel and barbaric. On the other hand, maybe the dog would rather have its bark softened so it could keep barking. Maybe that particular dog isn't barking out of boredom or fear or whatever, it's just barking because barking is its #1 favourite thing to do. I don't know. Maybe. If you're in that situation, you have to decide if what you "know" about dogs from the dog community is what's best for your dog.

    So, basically, that's my rambling way of saying that it's my main concern to keep dogs healthy and emotionally fulfilled. It's best to keep that goal in mind rather than focus on the "rules" of dog-keeping. All our research and all our knowledge goes right out the window if it's not making your dog happy.
    Rakka 落下(Shikoku Ken), Sosuke 宗介 (Kai Ken), Hester, Stephanie, and Batgirl(cats)
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  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 151
    @PoektikDragon thank you for sharing (pops back into the shadows) :-))
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    @omgtain Sure, go ahead. (Sorry for the delayed reply due to forum issues.)
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    As an owner, average happy puppy owner not necesarrily a vet or someone who works with dogs regularly, how much do you HAVE to be up to date on the latest info/techniques? In other words, is it your responsibility to actively seek information?


    An owner does not *have* to be up to date.

    A breeder in the U.S.? I feel they do *have* to be aware or informed though they don't necessarily have to go with the flow.

  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 112
    TD;DR Version would be, you should know enough to always be a guide to help your dog through life in a healthy, safe, and positive enviornment.
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    Big fat "like" for @poeticdragon's post.

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