Growing up I used to really enjoy visiting my great uncle Melvin’s farm. He raised cattle, and always had a few horses around that would come right up to the fence and let me scratch them behind the ears or take a carrot that I offered them. He’s been a team roper (an event in rodeos), for as long as I’ve been alive, and still competes today. He’s tall, lean, and tough; pretty much what you would imagine an old cowboy to look like. With all that being said, you’ve probably already assumed that like most old cowboys Melvin isn’t one that likes to ramble on and talk a mile a minute. He’s not anti-social, but not afraid of long silences either. You shouldn’t let that quiet demeanor fool you though. I came to learn from a young age that Melvin is a pretty smart dude, and when he talks it’s usually worth listening to.
One of the things that I heard Melvin say a few times was, “You can’t make a jackass outrun a race horse.” You might ask yourself what that has to do with training a dog. Believe it or not it’s pretty relevant and something that I deal with on a near daily basis. My job when working with people’s pets is to help them have a better relationship with their dog, and to help their dog fit as well as possible into that particular family’s lifestyle. With horses people tend to pretty much understand and accept that they’re bred for different things. In a race, you’re gonna be a lot happier if you’re sitting on a thoroughbred as opposed to a clydesdale. But if you need to head up into the mountains and pull some trees down, you better leave the thoroughbred at home and hitch up to that draft horse.
Somehow over the last few decades we’ve forgotten that dogs were bred for different purposes. I often times have folks come into my office and give me a laundry list of what’s wrong with their dog. Frequently I’m left with a dog that really doesn’t have much wrong with it, but actually is just not the best fit for that particular family. Every family has a different dynamic, some are energetic and love hiking, visits to the park, the lake, etc. Other families prefer quiet nights at home, and love watching movies, reading books, and other more laid back activities. Unfortunately many folks don’t take their family dynamic into account when selecting a dog. We tend to be guilty of thinking that just about any dog can work in any home, and that’s sadly just not the case. Sometimes when it’s a blatant mismatch I have to speak up and let folks know that their Bulldog is never going to make the best hiking companion, or that their Dutch Shepherd is never going to make the best couch potato. Often times though, we end up trying to find a compromise somewhere in the middle so that the dog still receives some mental and physical fulfillment, and so that the owners can find joy in the dog they have.
Some of my absolute favorite clients have been those that have actually contacted me BEFORE they purchased or adopted a dog. This gives me the opportunity to get to know them, and make some breed recommendations. So far this has resulted in some truly amazing family relationships, and dogs that need surprisingly little training because they naturally mesh well with their family.
My goal with this blog is simple, do some breed research before you select your next pet. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional and ask for some recommendations for your family. Remember, it’s just not fair to try and turn a jackass into a racehorse. You and your future dog will both end up a lot happier together if you put some thought into your relationship long before it ever begins.
Thanks for reading. I’m Adam@TopDogTX