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Dog Breeds: When is the Discrimination Going to Stop???

March 30, 2009

I know that dogs were bred for specific traits, and that is what makes each breed different. But there are days when I get a little vexed every time I hear someone say “My (insert name of dog breed here) is so: 

  • smart
  • stupid
  • stubborn
  • aggressive
  • dominant
  • talented
  • lazy
  • intelligent 
  • scared of everything
  • obnoxious
  • and the list goes on and on… 

because s/he’s a (insert name of dog breed here, again).”

UGH! Okay, yes, there are times when I’ll look at my own dog Poncho and say “Oh, you’re being such a terrier!” Why? Because his behavior displays more of the “grab-shake-kill” personality – which terriers were bred for and are known for, right? But hey, I’m Irish and Russian – and I’m not much different than most of my non-Irish non-Russian friends… except maybe I sunburn more easily. I do however know a few Irish and Russian folks with olive skin that tan beautifully! So there ya go, once again I can’t discriminate. 
I think it’s important that we look at our dogs as them being just that: dogs. Yes, each were bred for specific traits – but that doesn’t mean they will display those specific traits. It also depends upon environment, upbringing, how behaviors are learned and reinforced… which brings me to a very important question for you: if your dog is doing something specific, are YOU the one rewarding that behavior? And then, are YOU the one blaming the dog for behaving a certain way? Hold yourself accountable before blaming their breed. No excuses for your own behavior! 
So if your dog is “smart”, then I can conclude that 1) your dog is motivated to learn 2) that you’re pretty darn good at teaching them 3) maybe you took them to a dog training class and learned a few things. 
If your dog is “stubborn”, then maybe it’s because 1) you haven’t taught them what you wanted in a way they understand 2) you have unrealistic expectations 3) you assume because they do something once that they actually know what you’re asking them to do. 4) you need to take them to a dog training class 5) you’re impatient and get frustrated – which is normal human behavior, therefore, I won’t think you’re “stubborn”. 
So before you start labeling and discriminating against dogs and their breed, ask yourself these questions: is my dog just being a dog? Have I been the one rewarding the behavior? Have I not been rewarding a behavior? Is it MY fault my dog isn’t doing what I want him/her to do? 


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