Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dog days of blogging

I am feeling continually behind on here lately. I don't think I even took any new photos this week. (so here is another of my boy Jack)
So I mentioned flyball last time. Here are some of the thoughts percolating in my head about the subject. Now I am all for sports you can have fun with your dog doing, I just have a question for some of the participants.
It is my understanding flyball was developed (as a sport) for high energy dogs to have a directed outlet. For those unfamiliar, flyball is where dogs are sent in a line over some jumps to hit a ball launcher that then flings the ball for the dog to catch and retrieve back over the jumps. Think relay race for dogs. It is high energy and can be loud as some dogs bark when running or when waiting for their turn. It is run mostly in teams of 4 with the jump height set for the smallest dog on the team. (they call that the height dog)
I was watching a show about flyball awhile ago and saw that people were breeding dogs specifically for flyball. I'm not talking about purebred Australian Shepherds or Corgi's and the like, but crossing breeds for speed with the short stature to be the team's height dog. The majority of these are crosses between Border Collies and Jack Russells. They are calling them Border Jack's.
I have to say, I find this not in the best interest of the dogs. Honestly, how many people are looking for intense high energy dogs? If you go to any shelter in the world you will find high energy dogs that lost their homes for, get this, being to much dog for the home. Not everyone can live with the high energy and intense drive these dogs have. Shocking I know. So why on earth are people breeding them purposely? We don't have enough already?
Now if these breeders are doing all the health testing of all the dogs and are trying to breed dogs that can stand up to the athleticism of the sport maybe I'll buy the argument for it. But why not just buy a healthy border terrier or parson's russell or "insert breed here" that can be your height dog? Am I missing something?? If so someone please let me know.
On another note few weeks ago I saw a client with a beautiful golden puppy. I was the third trainer they had seen and the puppy was only 14 weeks old. They were concerned that they do the right thing raising him. One of the previous trainers told them that training with food would make their dog fat and it was the same as giving a cake to a child every time they brought home a good grade. I guess he never heard of rationing. (Side bar: There are trainers who use food wrong. Done correctly is is a paycheck and not a bribe. And some do overuse it as well. Food is meant to be used primarily in the acquisition of skills. ) He said he was all positive reinforcement but wanted to put a choke chain on the pup. They declined. The other trainer told them their puppy was trying to be dominant because it tried to go out the door before them. Oh and that they should NEVER rub a dog's belly.
OK so I saw a very normal puppy that was just being a puppy. If you let your puppy charge through the door and don't teach them not to, guess what, they will go through the door without permission. I have no earthly idea what the no belly rubs rule was about. Never heard of it. Thankfully they kept looking and found me to work with. This is just one example of why I sometimes wish all dog trainers have to be tested before being allowed to work with the public. At least make behavior seminars mandatory. I'm not sure what the answer is. Just remember that anyone can hang a shingle and say they are a dog trainer regardless off the lack of training that they have themselves.
Speaking of seminars I am getting very excited about the Dog/Dog aggression seminar I am attending next Saturday with Patricia McConnell PhD. A must read from her list of books out there is "The other end of the leash". Lots of great info on dog behavior, human behavior, and why the two don't always mesh well.
Now I am off to try to catch up with my blog reading. It isn't just my blog I am behind with.


Lauren said...

I feel like you just read my mind about the intentional cross-breeding of any two purebreds. It seems like we should only be breeding purebred dogs. period. There are so many wonderful mixed breeds in shelters (many high energy as you point out) - people spending tons of money on designer dogs is beyond me. I have heard some good arguments about mixing purebred lines with similar dogs for the purpose of expanding the gene pool (this article was specifically about some Dalmatian breeders wanting to incorporate Pointer stock because of the health issues in the current lines) which I thought was well argued and made some good points. But, again, it was for the continuation of one breed, not the Dal-Pointer.

You bring up some good points about trainers. There should be some type of training or testing required for dog trainers. There are so many certifications out there it's hard to know what is the best as a trainer, and even more so as someone looking for a trainer. There really needs to be some consistency in order to really tackle the problem of too many dogs, too many uneducated owners, and too many bad methods.

Kasha said...

Im so glad Missy is doing better. It is so difficult to take care of dogs when they are hurt like that. You are doing a great job. I love Jack the most just because he shared the name of my son. It is so fun to say isn't it? We were wondering if you wouldn't mind adding us to your blog list when you update it. We would be so flattered. Thank you so much!
Kasha and Africa

Katie said...

I was going to write a post about intentional breeding of mixed breeds for sport, and then I never got around to it.

I don't have a problem with it done responsibly. I don't see it as being particularly different than breeding purebreds for sport (and there are plenty of purebreds in the shelter too for that matter). If you've got homes lined up for the puppies and you've got a rock-solid take-back policy and are prepared to deal with pups who may not be up to snuff as sport dogs, and you're being thoughtful and as careful as can be when you're deciding on your breeding, then I don't have a problem with it.

There's one person I vaguely know online who breeds the occasional Border Collie x Staffybull litter. Her waitlist is obscenely long and it is extremely difficult to get a pup from her. I admit to being curious about Borderstaffs, having a strong love of the BC and bully breeds. I've only met one, and she was delightful, but one isn't a very good sample size :)