Does Your dog have “people”?

H&R Block thinks we need “people”. In their version- “people” help us do our taxes. Many times I have heard others reference their “team”- meaning their lawyer, accountant, tax preparer, financial assistant- and the list of experts we use in life goes on.

Dogs need a team of “people” too. No single person has all of the answers or provides all of the services a dog needs, so a team of people who collectively have the answers and provide services is important for them as well.

First- start with a good breeder. This “team member” should have breed knowledge, dog knowledge, and be a good resource. You should be able to ask them questions about nutrition, grooming, health issues, training, toys, teats, supplies and “other things dog”. Most breeders that I know love to talk about dogs and are always learning. Breeders should also encourage owners of the dogs they produce to “build a team”. Often times one question a breeder will ask is, “do you have a good Vet you are working with?” This question is important because a good local Vet is an important member of “the team”.

What are some of the things that make a Vet a “good” Vet? They listen to you. If they don’t know what is wrong, they don’t “fake it”- they figure it out. Vets should not be expected to know “everything”, but good Vets are interested in learning more and when a problem comes up they have not seen before, they take the opportunity to learn more about it- OR- they refer you to another Vet (also a good solution).

A good trainer would be a third team member. This member of the team is the most important for the first year of the dogs’ life. Good puppy classes are Very Important. I recommend going to a puppy class that is taught by an AKC or UKC affiliated club. As a generalization, trainers from clubs that are affiliated with these two registries keep up to date on the latest (currently positive) training methods. People who compete with their own dogs are always attempting to figure out the “best” training method and often modify training class curriculum to reflect what they have learned. Clubs are also good places to find a “new” trainer if the person who is currently teaching your class is not all you hoped for in an instructor.

I recommend finding a club near you even before you bring your puppy home. Go and watch a few classes. Watch the instructors. Talk to the instructors. Talk to a class participant. Ask what the general philosophy of the club is towards training. Ask what methods of training they use. A breeder (team member #1) will be so impressed by your “homework”. If you are having trouble finding a club, the breeder may be able to point you in the right direction. The breeder will also be able to discuss the training methods with you. Shelties can be a sensitive breed. Positive training methods (I use the clicker method) get the best results with shelties. Some think that shelties are “born trained”- but as I like to say, I feel that training strengthens the bonds of friendship in ways that truly allow them to become your "best friends."

A fourth team member is a good house sitter or a good boarding kennel. Personally, I much prefer house sitters. I think that keeping a dog in its home while you are away is much easier on the dog and the dog is much less likely to become ill as a result of your vacation. The trick is finding a responsible house sitter. This may be the teenager next door who loves dogs or an adult who is offering a “pet sitting” service. Of course boarding kennels are “predictable” and you can go see exactly how your dog will live while you are on vacation. Really, it is good to have both on the team. If you go away for a weekend, you may want a pet sitter, if you go away for a month, a boarding kennel may be your best option. It all depends on the members of your team!

A dog who has “people” is well looked after and loved.

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Does Your Dog Have “People”, by Cadie Pruss January 4, 2009

Luann –   – (January 7, 2009 at 10:45:00 AM PST)  

Excellent Article! Very well done. Thank you for being a great resource. And yes, our doggies have "people".

SquirrelGurl  – (January 27, 2009 at 12:55:00 PM PST)  

Reading back through some of your posts, my sheltie has people. Actually you might even be able to say he has a "following"!

Thanks for the great tips for first time dog owners, I will refer people to this article of yours.

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