I am certain we all remember a popular song a number of years ago with the line
'different strokes for different folks.' Well, the same applies to the canine
world. Pure breeds have been refined over the years for specialized purposes and
if these purposes are considered in the training, you are assured of a much
better animal that is well suited to its training. Just as you would not ask the
ninety-pound clerical assistant to operate a jackhammer, you shouldn't ask a
pure breed dog to do something their breeding would make them incapable of. All
that could possibly result from this error would be a frustrated owner, a
frustrated dog and a damaged relationship between the two.
So what kind of specific jobs are the animals to be trained for? We shall discuss a few breed types over the next few paragraphs and perhaps give you a better idea of what skills to look for in your pet and what would be unfair to ask of them. These suggestions will hopefully point you in the correct direction in your training endeavors so that you and your pet can attain the best possible situation for both of you. Let's start the discussion by looking at the hunting dog and its subcategories.
Hunting dogs have been bred for a purpose and it has remained relatively the same throughout history. Their main function is to flush game from its hiding places and then to retrieve the game after we have dispatched it. However, there are different skill sets even amongst the hunting breeds and whilst some interchangeability is possible, it is not always in the best interest of the dog. Hunting dogs fall mainly in the categories of water dogs, bird dogs and tracking dogs. Water dogs include such breed as the Labrador Retriever and are bred primarily for the purpose of waterfowl hunting and retrieval in wet land environments.
Bird Dogs are more of a land-hunting animal, even though it is possible to
interchange these two breed types a bit. Bird Dogs include Irish Setters and the
Pointer breeds. The third classification of hunting dog is the Tracking breeds,
which include hounds of all varieties. These dogs are prized for the
determination and keen sense of smell. These dogs are well suited for leashed
hunts or long distance, night hunts for nocturnal animals, such as raccoons or
opossums, which may travel great distances in escape attempts.
For the next group of animals, we shall consider the lap dog or house pet breeds. These are generally smaller animals and have sociable personalities. These dogs are well suited for common pet tricks such as sitting up or being trained to 'speak' (bark on command) as well as fetching small objects. These are also the type of pet that is commonly trained to be dressed up in pint size outfits for special occasions and holidays and, for the most part, they seem quite tolerant of the behavior. A listing of such breeds would include animals such as Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, Pekingese, Pomeranians and Lhasa Apsos, along with similar breeds.
Another breed group to consider is the Working dogs classification. These dogs have both the desire to perform and the size and muscle to back it up. They can be seen on police and military forces around the world, on farm lots working livestock and even on the snowy tundra. These dogs are well trained for personal security and protection, livestock control and even assisting in transportation via dog sleds. These are the dogs who are trained for drug and explosive detection and also leading the visually impaired. These dogs do their job and demand the respect that goes with it. Breeds listed in this category would include German Shepherds, Malamutes, Australian Cattle Dogs and various other breeds of similar size and nature.
It is also to be considered that some pets have left their original purpose when they have switched locations. For example, few Americans actually use Dachshunds for the purpose of badger hunting as they were originally bred. Rather, they tend to keep these animals as house pets. When considering how to train your animal, consider not only the breed, but common practice and whether a particular skill is of use in the area where you live.
Hopefully these simple guidelines will help you to decide the best direction to take your pets training and the two of you can enjoy many wonderful adventures to come.