Choosing a Mixed Dog Breed

The mutt is the all-American dog. Call him a random-breed, a mixed-dog-breed or a mongrel, at his best he’s loyal, healthy, smart and friendly – a virtual melting pot of positive canine characteristics.

For many animal lovers, owning a mutt is a badge of honor. Many come into the world as “surprises,” born of a homeless stray or a roaming house pet, then sent off to an animal shelter. Others are simply abandoned in parks or at highway rest stops. Adopting one of these unwanted dogs means you are literally saving a life – and the odds are he will make a great companion.

What Makes a Mutt Dog?

The terms “random breed” and “mixed breed” usually refer to a dog of unknown gene pool. A “cross breed” or “hybrid dog” is a dog whose parents were purebreds. If two cross breeds mate, their offspring are also mixed breeds. By the time four different breeds combine in one dog, there’s little chance to predict what breed traits, if any, will dominate in the hybrid dog breeds.

The common belief that mutts are superior has some truth to it. Over generations, unscrupulous breeders have perpetuated and magnified genetic flaws in many of the most popular purebreds.

Today’s generic mutt most resembles the “prototype” or “pariah” dog, the robust original wild dog that was amiable enough to become man’s first canine companion more than 14,000 years ago. This “ideal” dog weighs in at 35 to 50 pounds, is medium brown to dark blonde in color, and measures under 2 feet tall. He has perky ears, strong legs, an alert expression, a back that isn’t overextended, and a long tail that curls slightly at the end.

Choosing Your Mutt Dog

There are some common cross breeds: cockapoos are a cocker spaniel/poodlemix; pek-a-poos mix Pekingese and poodles; labradoodles are bred of Labradors and poodles; Bichon-Yorkies are bichon-frises and Yorkies. The lurcher is another prolific dog type not recognized as a breed. He is a mix of greyhound, Afghan, Irish wolfhound or other sight hound, with a herding or sporting dog, such as a beagle, collie, retriever or bull terrier.

The mixes found in shelters differ from region to region, depending on what kinds of dogs are popular in a particular area. For example, you’ll find more chow chow, shepherd or collie mixes in rural areas, and more pit bull or rottweiler mixes in urban shelters. Although the apartment-sized Chihuahua is plentiful, you won’t find many Chihuahua mixes, because such tiny dogs have limited breeding choices. If they mate with any dog but another toy, they usually can’t carry a litter of large puppies to term.

Plusses and Minuses of a Mutt Dog

  • He’s inexpensive. Obviously, he doesn’t come with a purebred price tag. In fact, donations at some shelters can be as low as $60 for a full-grown mutt. Even though he’s a bargain, he’s not a self-sufficient Superdog. Once he’s home, he’ll need normal doggy upkeep – proper nutrition, training, toys, licensing and identification, medical care and inoculations and grooming.
  • He’s healthy. “If a stray is a Dalmatian-Lab mix, he’ll probably not inherit the deaf and lame genes that plagued his ancestors. He’ll be a healthy pet,” says Steve Zawistowski, the ASPCA’s science adviser, who holds a Ph.D. in animal behavior and genetics from the University of Illinois. But a varied gene pool and a sturdier constitution don’t guarantee perfect health. Mutts get sick by chance, like any other creature.
  • He might get big. If you’re dealing with a puppy mutt, it will be tough – if not impossible – to predict his adult size, expression or coat type. Even if both parents are known, if their breeds are dissimilar, there’s little telling which side of the family your puppy will take after. Looking at the size of a puppy’s feet is the best, if still an unscientific, way to guess how much he’ll grow.
  • The Temperament of Various Mixes.  Being able to predict a dog’s potential temperament is especially important for the elderly and families with children. Certain breeds are recommended for experienced dog owners only.Random breeding can cancel out negative breed-related personality traits. But there’s little predicting in puppyhood whether a toy dog mix will exhibit all the yappiness and nervousness of their badly bred cousins. A medium or large dog descended from several stubborn, independent and aggressive breeds may be genetically wired to exhibit dominant and downright scary behavior; neutering before adolescence can help moderate their personalities.With an adopted mutt, there’s another issue important in determining how he’ll behave within the family – how he was treated by his earlier owners. He may not have been trained or may have been mistreated. In the end, a sorry past can play a larger part in an individual dog’s personality than the jumble of breeds within him.All things considered, it’s best to consider the adult dog as an individual, rather than a collection of specific breeds, says Zawistowski. That’s why shelter workers test a dog to determine his energy level, his learning ability and how he relates to grown-ups, children and other animals.
  • Mutt Tendencies
  • Toy mixes tend to nip at children; youngsters may also pose a danger to a toy’s delicate size and nature.
  • At worst, a toy-small terrier mix is both nervous and stubborn; at best, he is endlessly cute, cheerful and fun.
  • A watchful, protective breed, such as a Doberman, can become dominant and hard to handle when mixed with an energetic sporting or herding dog, like a cocker spaniel or border collie.
  • Certain naturally aggressive or neurotic dogs who have bad temperaments because of over-breeding can pose problems when paired with each other or with gentler breeds. When Dalmatian, Rottweiler, Akita chow, German shepherd, or cocker spaniel genes unite with those of a golden or Labrador retriever or collie, the less desirable characteristics may dominate.
  • Pit bull mixes, abundant in urban areas, can turn out to be sweet family dogs. Just be sure your shelter behaviorist screens the dog for inherited fighting tendencies.
  • Boxer, Rottweiler or Great Dane blood in a mix can resemble the pit bull.                                           Written by: Joan Paylo

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
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12 General Rules for Dog Obedience Training

12 General Rules for Training Dogs

1. Training should be an enjoyable experience for you and your dog. If you are not in the right mood for training, don’t even start. Keep training sessions short, on the order of 5-10 minutes, to maintain your dog’s motivation.

If your dog doesn’t respond appropriately to a command after several attempts, don’t reward him. Resume training a few seconds later using a simpler command. Return to the more complex task later.

Always end training on a positive note. Ask your dog to respond to a command you know he will obey. Then reward him for a job well done and issue a finish command such as “free” or “release.” Avoid common words such as “okay.” Following a training session, both owner and dog should be left with a feeling of accomplishment.

2. Every dog should be familiar with the basic obedience commands, includingcome, heel, sit, down and stay. Teaching your dog to sit-stay and down-stay off leash is also a valuable lesson. Additional commands that are useful include: leave it, give it, stop it, and enough or cease.

Keep in mind that a dog’s motivation to respond to a command decreases as the complexity of the task increases. The odds of success, hinge not only on the degree of sophistication of the task but also your dog’s motivation to respond. From a dog’s perspective the question is, which is more rewarding, chasing the squirrel or returning to the owner? Understanding this aspect will increase your patience and chances for success.

3. Training should not involve any negative or punishment-based components. There should be no yelling, no hitting, no chain jerking, no hanging, and absolutely no electric shock. Each session should be upbeat and positive with rewards for jobs well done.

Remember that the opposite of reward is not punishment; it is no reward. If you ignore unacceptable responses, your dog will not be rewarded for his failed response. Most dogs want to please their owners or, at the very least, to obtain highly valued resources (food, attention and toys).

4. Ensure that your dog’s motivation for reward is highest during a training session. If food is the reward, train before a meal, not after. If praise, petting and other aspects of your attention are to be used as a reward, schedule the training session at a time when your dog hungers for your attention (for example, after you have returned from work).

For complex tasks, such as the off leash down-stay, your dog will be more motivated to comply if he has received moderate exercise before the training session. Asking a dog that is bursting with energy to remain in a prolonged reclining position is asking for failure during the early stages of training.

5. Make sure the reward you offer in training is the most powerful one for your dog. Food-motivated dogs work well for food, but the treats used should be favorite foods for the dog, such as small pieces of cheese or freeze-dried liver. You want your dog to be strongly motivated to obey commands to receive the treat.

Food treats, if used, should be small – no bigger than the size of your little fingernail. The texture of the treat should be such that it does not require chewing and should not crumble, otherwise you will lose your dog’s attention as he Hoovers up the crumbs. Large treats, like Milk Bones®, take too long to eat, causing the dog to lose attention.

If praise is used as a reward, deliver it in high singsong tones, which are most pleasing for the dog. Also, enthusiasm in your voice will be much appreciated. If petting is to be used as a reward, it should be in a way that the dog enjoys, such as stroking the dog’s hair on the side of his face in the same direction that it grows, or scratching him on the chest. Note: Petting on top of the head is not appreciated by most dogs.

6. Timing of the reward is important. After a correct response, reward your dog within ½ second of the command to ensure that your dog makes the connection between his behavior and the reward.

7. Use short commands such as sit, down, leave it, quiet, out, and off. Say the word once. Do not repeat the command. Dogs will remember a command for about two minutes before the notion is lost. Shorter words are better than longer words and words that end in a hard consonant (C, K, T, X) are better than those that end in a vowel because you can “spit” them out.

The only command that should have three sounds associated with it is come. In this case, you first have to attract the dog’s attention by saying his name, ROVER, then COME (the actual command word) and GOOD BOY, even before the dog comes so that he knows he is not in trouble. Make sure your tone is crisp and cheerful.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
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Red Flags to Look for When Choosing Dog Trainers

Dog owners often seek professional advice when it comes to training their animal companion and there are many options available. From DVDs, books and television programs, to local dog trainers offering private lessons and group classes, consumers have choices about the methods and styles in which they want to raise their pup.

Are you supposed to be your dog’s parent or pack leader? Do you want your dog to be an obedience champ or do you just need him to stop jumping on strangers? What are the boundaries you want set?

According to Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for companion animals for The HSUS, “Just like with human communications and psychology, there are varied philosophies, methods and approaches when it comes to communicating with your dog. It is important to define your goals and find a system that works best – and safely — for you. Unfortunately, we know of many cases in which a private trainer’s methods were abusive and the animal was injured or killed.”

Shain warns that if people do choose to work with a trainer, they must be sure that the trainer’s methods are safe. The HSUS offers these tips to help ensure that your dog is trained safely and successfully, as well as the red flags that may signal abusive training.

Red Flags:

  • Trainers should never use electronic aids like shock collars which will hurt your dog and can damage your bond with him.
  • Rubbing your dog’s nose in an “accident” will never work and will only confuse your dog. This method is harmful, unnecessary, unsanitary, and shows your dog that you do things to him that are scary and unpleasant.
  • Screaming is not training. While a confident tone of voice is helpful, yelling may work against you by instilling fear in the dog. Dogs will learn better when they feel safe and secure. Screaming takes that feeling away.
  • If your dog is afraid of a trainer, you should be too. A dog who is not normally fearful should not be cowering or whimpering around a trainer. If your dog is not comfortable, the training will not be successful and you should stop the session immediately.
  • Never let a trainer dominate you or your dog. People who try to physically dominate their dogs may get bitten. Trainers should never sit on, kneel on, or otherwise force your dog onto his back. Do not let anyone talk you into doing this. Your dog may try to bite or could get seriously injured from this process.
  • Choking is not training. Always avoid the use of choke-type collars and trainers who would lift a dog off of the ground by his collar. Recent scientific studies show that choke collars cause injury. Even if the trainer uses a regular collar or harness, they should never yank your dog around on the leash.
  • “Don’t worry, he’s fine,” is something a trainer should never have to say. If your trainer is constantly reassuring you that their methods are safe, it’s time to look for another trainer. Training techniques should always appear safe without reassurances.
  • Physical violence is unacceptable. This may seem obvious, but never let a trainer hit or kick your dog. Such methods are ineffective, dangerous, and possibly illegal. Training should never be abusive.
  • Bleeding is bad. Your dog should never bleed, vomit, or foam at the mouth as the result of a training session. If any of these things occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. Injuries should not be a part of a training session.
  • Trust your instincts. If you are ever concerned or uncomfortable with anything that your trainer is doing to your dog, end the session. Your dog depends on you to keep him safe, and you have an obligation to speak up to protect him.

Courtesy of Humane Society of the United States

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
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The Ultimate Guide to Dog Obedience

The Ultimate Guide to Dog Obedience

Dog Obedience Training

“My most satisfying aspect of animal training is a very simple moment. After a show when I leave the stage door … sometimes I hear someone say the following and it makes it all worthwhile. ‘How did they make that dog do that?’ I smile because I am the only ‘they’ and I do it with love.”

Renowned animal behaviorist William Berloni reportedly stated this in reference to his successful transformation of an abused dog from a local pound into Sandy, the dog featured in a recent rendition of the hit musical Annie.

While it’s highly unlikely you aspire to convert your canine into a Broadway star, the importance of obedience training – and theme of love – are still applicable.

Basic dog obedience training represents a critical component to nurturing a healthy human-animal relationship and creating a socially-compatible pet. With adequate training, your dog can truly be your best friend, and the feelings of love and respect can be mutual.

Here’s our guide to achieving a level of dog obedience that produces a well-behaved dog and, equally important, a healthy and happy human-animal bond.

The Importance of Obedience Training  Your Dog
The product of pack-living ancestors, most dogs need instruction and direction. Obedience-trained dogs tend to have easier lives than their untrained peers, as they learn to better cope with their surroundings and often receive more privileges as a result of their good behavior.

Ideally, you start them while they’re young, developing a foundation of obedience in your puppy and cultivating these skill sets throughout your dog’s life. But even most adult dogs respond positively to obedience training, mastering most basic commands.

The basic elements of obedience training – “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “come,” and “heel” – help produce a good canine citizen. By keeping training positive and fun, with a rewards-based approach, both you and your dog can enjoy the process and the end result.

Obedience Training Your Dog
At its core, think of obedience training as a canine’s version of an education in good manners. When you have guests enter your household, you want every family member to exude proper manners and behavior, including your dog.

While some dog owners opt to take obedience training into their own hands, there are alternative options available for those owners who lack extensive experience with this endeavor. Provided your budget allows, consider enrolling your dog in a formal class, whereby he’ll receive training to develop the foundation of lifelong behavioral skills.

In addition to teaching compliance with basic commands (“sit,” “come,” “down,” and “stay”), an obedience class instructor can help guide you through issues, such as the timing of food rewards when your dog listens and the best way to respond when he doesn’t adhere to your requests. You’ll learn training techniques you can reinforce when you’re with your dog at home.

General Rules for Training Dogs
Regardless of whether you implement formal obedience classes or opt for an independent training effort, there are a number of general rules to keep in mind. These include:

Training should be an enjoyable experience for you and your dog.
Every dog should be familiar with basic obedience commands.
Training should not involve any negative or punishment-based components.
Ensure that your dog’s motivation for reward is highest during a training session.
Make sure the reward you offer in training is the most powerful one for your dog.
Once training has been accomplished in a quiet area, you can gradually begin to practice in environments with more distractions.
Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
With a commitment to consistent practice and repetition, you can succeed with instilling basic commands within your canine companion – and do so quicker than you ever thought possible. The commands instructing your dog to “come,” “heel,” “sit,” “stay,” and “stay down” are essential for ensuring your canine remains safe and well-behaved.
Ultimately, you can convert a disobedient dog into a well-mannered member of your family by utilizing effective training strategy, consistency, and persistence. Your dedication and discipline will rub off on your eager-to-please canine.

Start with consistently rewarding your dog with a small treat for eliminating outdoors in order to achieve housetraining, and with teaching your dog that his crate is his safe haven. After these fundamental techniques are in place, divert your attention to instilling basic commands by applying a similar rewards-based approach. With any luck, you’ll soon be able to tackle more exciting elements of training, such as teaching your dog to perform tricks.

You and your dog will be together for the long haul. With effective obedience training, you can chart a course early on for a healthy human-animal relationship and the makings of a lifelong bond built on love.                              by: PetPlace Staff – Staff at PetPlace

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372