Monday, May 23, 2016

Choosing a Dog Breed

Planning on getting a dog? Choosing the right dog breed for you and your family will go a long way to ensuring you spend a lifetime of happiness with your canine companion.

Are you planning on getting a dog? That’s great news, and an exciting time for you and your family! The joy and unconditional love which come from adding a fun and furry member to the household will certainly enhance the lives of all your family members.

There are many variables and options to consider when it comes to choosing a dog but perhaps the single most important decision you will make will be selecting your dog’s breed. It’s a big decision, one that will impact every member of the family including your new canine companion.


The world of dogdom offers a wondrous assortment of dog breeds. The Australian National Kennel Council recognizes nearly 200 different dog breeds, offering an astounding array of shapes, sizes, temperaments and behaviors.

If you’re a soon-to-be dog owner, that’s both good news and bad news. It’s good, of course, because whatever you might fancy, be it teacup cute or monstrous mastiff, there is a breed out there for you. The big question remains, however, how do you navigate your way through the bewildering assortment of options to arrive at the best breed for your situation?

We recommend you start by considering what combination of the following three traits works best for you and your family.


Some breeds are nervous and skittish, some are laid-back and easy going; some are wary of strangers, others are friendly toward everyone. Determining which temperament you prefer will go a long way towards narrowing your choice of breeds. A breed that tends to be a bit more high-strung, for example, will likely make a better watchdog whilst a breed with a docile temperament may be perfect if you have young children.

When you are out looking at prospective family members be sure to ask the shelter staff or breeder about each breed’s temperament and what would best suit your lifestyle. If you are looking at getting a puppy ask to see the parents or an adult of the same breed, this will give you a much better idea of your four-legged friends temperament once they grow up.


Dog breeds come in a wide array of sizes and this can have an impact on everything from exercise to sleeping arrangements.

Do you live in apartment? Or perhaps you live in a house with a large back yard? Whilst your home can be a factor in determining the size of dog you choose you need to make sure your living situation meets all of the breeds needs. For example, just because you have lots of room doesn’t necessarily mean you should go big with your choice of breed. Remember that a really big dog will eat lots of food – and quality dog food isn’t cheap!

It’s also important to note that not all traits related to a dog’s size are intuitive. For example, choosing a smaller breed because you have less space may not be the right choice as many small breeds still need lots of room to run because they are so energetic. Ironically, the Great Dane, one of the largest dog breeds, is best suited to apartment living because they have lower exercise needs and don’t require a lot of space.

Make sure you are open about your living situation when talking with shelter staff and breeders. They will be able to advise you whether a particular breed is suitable for you and your family.


Will your dog be living indoors? Then you probably won’t want a breed that tends to be a shaggy shedder – particularly if any family members suffer from allergies. In that case you’ll a dog with hypoallergenic coat like a Poodle or Samoyed.

It’s also worth noting that whilst some breeds shed year round, others malt for only a few weeks each year. Long haired breeds, in particular require, lots of regular grooming to keep them looking their best. Before you choose a particular breed its important you know whether you have the required time each week to keep their coat well brushed and tangle free, using specific grooming products and dog brushes.


Once you’ve narrowed down your choices based upon the above traits, you’ll want to consider other breed-specific traits.

Some breeds, for example, are more prone to specific health problems. Hip Dysplasia, which may result in lameness, is more common in many larger breeds. Some breed-specific health problems can be screened, and individual animals certified to be free of the problem. It can be worth calling your local vet to discuss your short list of breed choices to see whether there are any particular health problems you should be asking about when you visit the animal shelter or breeder.

And some breeds tend to live longer than others. The average life expectancy for dogs in general is about 12 years. But breed-specific life expectancy can range from as much as 16 to 20 years to as little as 6 to 8 years. A bit of research can tell you whether a breed you’re considering tends to be longer or shorter lived.


One other option when choosing a dog breed is the ‘none of the above’ option. Mixed-breed dog or ‘Crosses’ can offer a grab bag of breed characteristics.

With a mixed breed, you have the chance of getting an absolutely wonderful pet. But a mixed-breed puppy can be kind of like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you don’t know for sure what you’re going to get. If you know the parentage, though, of the mixed breed puppy you’re considering, you can make certain predictions about the animal’s adult appearance and behavior based upon those of the parents.


It will require a bit of effort on your part to determine the breed traits that will best suit you and your family. And you’ll need to do some homework to learn which dog breeds are most likely to offer those desired traits.

But though you’re faced with an absolute multitude of choices when selecting a dog, just consider the decision process to be part of the fun of pet ownership. After all, you get to choose how your loving companion for many years to come will look and act.

Welcome to the beginning of pet parenthood – a lifetime of unconditional love and warm hugs await you!

No Trainer Is an Island

When I opened my new dog training and behavior consulting business four months ago, I reached out to local veterinarians, groomers and boarding facilities. I also took a little time to research other trainers in my area to see who was out there and what kind of services were being offered in our community.

It came as no surprise to find some of the national punishment-based chains . The good news is that I also found a handful of force-free trainers who shared my training philosophy and whose websites promoted the use of humane techniques (some were already PPG members).

I reached out to these like-minded few to introduce myself and see if they would like to meet. Each one sent a lovely reply and was very open to getting together. I have since met with and formed great relationships with four of these trainers.

The reason I am sharing this seemingly mundane story is because something struck me during each of these individual meetings. It opened my eyes to an issue that I think all of us in the force-free training world may be facing to some degree. That is the feeling of isolation; being completely alone with your message.

Each one of these amazing, hardworking and talented trainers in my community either had no idea the others existed or were vaguely familiar with the name, but hadn’t met one another. With every lunch or coffee get-together, it became clear that while they all had very similar thoughts and feelings, they didn’t realize they had like-minded people living nearby and working toward the same goal. Trainer after trainer described how they felt so alone in what they were doing and the message they were delivering to their students. Many were emotionally exhausted from trying to work with veterinarians, shelters and rescues that just wouldn’t listen to the facts about force-free training.

While I was surprised to learn that most hadn’t met one another, I quickly understood how it was possible. These women were busy running their businesses and helping their clients. They were volunteering their time with shelters and rescues, educating the public at community events and even trying to have a life with their families. Each one was barreling through and working independently, in their own little bubble, trying their best to make a difference. But as John Donne famously said, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”

That is what I took away from this experience. I witnessed these women becoming excited and breathing a sigh of relief when they found others in their community who think and train the way they do. What was missing was collaboration and working together as a network. I wanted to help change that for all of us.

PPG has done a phenomenal job at connecting many force-free trainers throughout the country and the world and I am thrilled to be a part of that. This experience, however, showed me that there is still much work to be done. I encourage all of you to take 10 minutes and search for other trainers in your area. If you haven’t done this in a while, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

For me, it took moving to a new area and googling dog trainers. Because of that, I am proud to say we now have a strong and supportive network of five incredible, force-free trainers in our community. Instead of fighting for territory as the punishment-based trainers do, we understand there is plenty of business to go around. Each of us has our own specialty and expertise and therefore brings something unique to the table. When we refer a client to one another we can be confident that they will receive the best service and most humane training advice available. We now also have a bigger impact in our community because there is a cohesive message being delivered by a team of trainers.

Instead of wasting precious time feeling discouraged about the many trainers still using aversive techniques, let’s use that energy to locate and connect with all the amazing force-free trainers who feel and teach the same way. If each of us reached out to one other like-minded trainer and formed a relationship, just imagine the impact it would have. In the wise words of Steven Anderson: “Alone we are smart. Together we are brilliant.”

What does your dog breed say about you?

From a Chihuahua to a Great Dane, dogs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and display an array of temperaments. Studies suggest that the type of dog breed that you choose can tell a lot about your personality. The following are a few generalizations about what owning a certain breed says about your personality. How similar to your dog breed do you think you are?


Bulldogs are determined, persistent, and do not give up easily. People who own bulldogs are said to be silly and love to laugh but can be viewed as stubborn at times. They are extremely efficient and methodical in completing tasks. While they appear intimidating, bulldogs are gentle and loving members of the family known for being hopeless romantics with sentimental streaks.


Terriers are energetic, fun loving, and playful companions. People who own terriers are said to be flexible and able to focus on the task at hand. Just like the dogs, terrier owners are often feisty, brave, and competitive. They are extremely talkative and have good sense of humor.

Labradors and Golden Retrievers

Labs and golden retrievers are friendly, good-natured, and make wonderful family pets. Owners of these breeds put their families first and said to be easy going and carefree. Labs and goldens are known for having an active lifestyle and loving the outdoors. People who own these breeds are social butterflies who are honest and lovable.


Beagles are inquisitive, loyal, and willing to learn new things. Owners of Beagles tend to be open to new experiences, curious, and willful. Beagle owners make great friends and bring laughter and joy to everyone’s lives. They can also have a mischievous side.

Poodles, Chihuahuas and Toy Breeds

Owners of these breeds are sincere, fun loving, and loyal. Toy breed owners are said to love traveling since the small dogs make excellent travel partners and can be easily put into a carrier. Owners of these dogs take pride in their appearance, are very neat and keep very orderly homes. They are very versatile and can enjoy evenings in with a bottle of wine or a night out partying on the town. See article Where Are Toy Breeds Today?


Boxers are busy dogs that exude high amounts of energy. People that own boxers are said to live life to the fullest and are known to be extremely playful. Boxer owners are busy, love life, and quickly welcome strangers as new friends. Boxers banish stress with their silly and playful demeanor and their owners are generally happy-go-lucky people.

Cocker Spaniels

Cocker Spaniels are sweet, respectful, and gentle. Owners of this breed are charming, trustworthy, and affectionate. Cocker Spaniel owners are said to lead busy lives but put spending time with their family first. They maintain a group of close lifelong friends, which they much prefer to spending time with strangers.

English Pointers, Weimaraners, Irish Setters

These breeds are naturally alert, likable, and well-rounded companions. Owners of these breeds enjoy being active, outdoor activities, and hunting. They have a great sense of courage, are highly intelligent, easily excited, and motivated. These breeds are very energetic and their owners enjoy intense activities such as all day hiking and extreme sports. They can get bored easily if not subjected to new experiences.

Greyhound, Whippet, Basenji (Sight Hound Group)

Owners of these breeds tend to be more relaxed, calm, and introverted. Sight hounds enjoy the company of close groups of friends and prefer social outings with small groups. They are highly organized, curious, and always alert. People who own sight hounds are fast and agile and often excel at sports, especially track and field.

German Shepherds

German shepherds are sometimes shy around strangers but warm up once they get to know you. Owners of German shepherds would do anything for their friends and make extremely loyal companions that are protective of those that they love.


Dachshunds are stubborn and brave, often acting as if invincible. When owners of dachshunds want something, they don’t give up until they get it. Dachshund owners love gardening and just like the dogs, digging up things. They can sometimes be bossy and often dislike not getting their own way.


Rottweilers are determined and are often described as intense. This breed commands a certain amount of respect and is considered to be a courageous breed. People that have rottweilers are confident and are loyal and devoted to their friends and loved ones. They are laid back but quick to react if someone rubs them the wrong way.


Pugs are often viewed as the “class clowns” of the canine species. People who live with pugs are cheerful and have a zest for living life to the fullest. Just like pugs who will do anything for a good belly rub, their owners enjoy frequent massages and days of pampering at the spa.

Doberman Pinschers

These dogs are very serious, intense, and determined. Owners are leaders versus followers and love to plan and organize a situation. People who live with dobermans are said to be very organized and go about achieving their goals in a polite yet firm fashion.

Siberian Huskies

Siberian husky owners are huge sports fans. Whether it’s Monday Night Football or college basketball, it’s likely that they are out watching the game somewhere or within the comfort of their own home. Owners of huskies enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and outdoor sports. They can be strong willed but are lovable and welcoming to strangers.

Great Danes

Owners of Great danes are good-hearted and responsible. They tend to work hard and put one hundred percent into everything they do. Great dane owners enjoy staying up on news and current events and welcome the chance to debate important issues with others. This breed tends to be serious and enjoys relaxing around the house after the workday is done.

Bichon Frises

People who own bichons enjoy being pampered and are considerate of their appearance. Bichons are naturally sociable and are the happiest when they are part of a family or among a group of friends. Bichon owners are self-assured and gravitate towards a classy lifestyle. They are often wine connoisseurs and art aficionados who enjoy dining at 4-star restaurants and being seen around the town.

Australian Shepherds

Australian shepherds are active and thoroughly enjoy being outside. Owners of this breed enjoy playing Frisbee at the beach, going to the park, and camping outdoors. This breed has a passion for living life to the fullest and people who live with Australian shepherds are said to have a lot of friends. Aussie owners can be competitive, especially when it comes to a sports match.

Pit Bulls

Pit bulls have a strong desire to please and will do anything for their family or friends. Pit bull owners are courageous, full of vitality, and are constantly looking out for those they love. They enjoy being around children and make excellent parents and grandparents. There is no better babysitter than a pit bull.

Mixed Breeds

Mutt owners are fun loving, open minded, and carefree. They enjoy coasting along and riding the wave of life over following strict and rigid plans. They don’t sweat the small stuff and keep their eye on the bigger picture. In their spare time, mutt owners are often seen volunteering at or spending time with their diverse group of friends.

In the comments section below, tell us how similar to your dog breed you think you are?

Breed Spotlight: A Look at the German Shepherd Dog

According to American Kennel Club (AKC) spokesperson Lisa Peterson, owning big dogs has been on the rise during the past five years. To illustrate her point, the AKC recently released their list of the 10 most popular dog breeds for 2013, 7 of which were large breeds. For the 23rd year in a row, the Labrador Retriever has taken the No. 1 spot. But another large breed made it to the list of top contenders as well; the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) ranked No. 2.

GSD’s are most famous for roles in police departments and in the military. However, they also make great family pets. Even though this breed originated in Germany, they have come to represent the “All American” dog. They have appeared in many movies and T.V. shows, increasing their popularity. The breed has been called approachable, direct and fearless, and a loving family companion. Like any breed however, they are more suited for certain family situations over others.

The German Shepherd Dog is energetic and fun-loving, and very fond of children once a relationship is established. GSD’s make a loyal family pet, and a good guard dog. They are highly intelligent and trainable, which is why they are seen as working dogs so often. Many GSD owners will even tell you that because of their intelligence and beauty, having a pet German Shepherd is a bit of a status symbol in the world of pet owning.

It is important to remember when considering adopting or purchasing a GSD, that in order to stay happy and well-adjusted, they need plenty of exercise and activity. Also, if a German Shepherd is not socialized property and trained adequately, they could misdirect their protective instincts, leading to a dog bite liability claim. German Shepherds will do their absolute best to please their owners, but it’s important to practice concentrated and consistent training in order for them to know what’s expected of them, and what is not accepted behavior.

As a dog owner, it’s important to remember that no matter what breed you own, and no matter their size, all dogs have the potential to bite. Dog bites can occur if a dog is startled, is fearful, is in pain, or even an accidental bite when going after a toy or food. At the Federation of Insured Dog Owners (F.I.D.O.), we offer the Covered Canine Policy, which is a form of Dog Bite Liability Insurance that protects you financially should your dog bite an individual and cause harm

Microsoft's new app tells you which dog breed you resemble

It's not uncommon for people to jokingly compare themselves or other people to animals.

People that are tall have been compared to giraffes. People who have long necks have been compared to horses. The list goes on. 

But what if you could get a more accurate reading about what kind of animal you really look like? 

Microsoft's new Fetch app uses photos uploaded by users to guess which dog breed the subject of the photo resembles most. 

The app was originally intended to help interested users find out a dogs' breeds, providing vital information for dog owners who, for whatever reason, don't know their dog's breed. It can also tell users what human personality traits fit best with specific breeds.

For more fun, the app guesses what kind of dog a person looks most like and sometimes identifies dog breeds that other animals look similar to. However, Fetch usually can tell when a user tries to get a reading on an inanimate object.

“If you want to take photos of dogs, it will tell you what dog breed it is, if it’s one of our supported breeds,” said Mitch Goldberg, a development director at Microsoft Research whose team built the experience. “If I choose to take a photograph of a flower, it’ll say, ‘No dogs found! Hmmm… This looks more like…flower?’ But if you take a picture of a person, it’ll kick into its hidden fun mode. And in a playful way, it’ll communicate to you not only what type of dog it thinks you are, but also why. It’s fun to see if the app knows it’s not a dog. A lot of the time, it’ll tell you what that image is. When there’s not a dog, you still want to use it.”

If the new app cannot accurately identify what breed a dog is, it'll yield results showing the top five breeds that could be in the dog. Different pages allow users to find out more information about each of the breeds. 

Fetch, which is comparable to projects previously released by Microsoft, like one in which a data system guesses your age based on a photo, was released Thursday, just days before the American Kennel Club’s Meet & Compete and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

“There was an interest in creating a framework that would allow you to take a domain – in our case, dogs – and recognize numerous classes, such as breeds. We were interested in enabling an app to allow you to make object recognition extraordinary, fun and surprising,” Goldberg said. “We wanted to bring artificial intelligence to the canine world. We wanted to show that object recognition is something anyone could understand and interact with.”