Month: September 2016

Is The 'Designer Dog' Trend Bad For Dogs?

designer dog

With the rising discussion surrounding “designer dogs” in the media, I believe it’s important that people thinking about purchasing this type of dog are educated about what a “designer dog” really is, how they are bred, and what the consequences are of this type of breeding.


As a strong rescue advocate, I’ll admit that I’m strongly biased when it comes to this topic; however, the scientific facts that support my position strongly outweigh any emotional attachment that I have to rescue advocation.


So first off, what is a “designer dog”?


To put it simply, it’s a cross between two purebred dogs of different breeds.


Often times, these dogs are given a breed name that combines the two parents’ breeds.


Take a goldendoodle, for example. A goldendoodle is a mix of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle—both purebred dogs with sought-after qualities.


People often purchase designer dogs when looking for certain qualities from each breed.


A goldendoodle sheds much less than a golden retriever, due to its poodle gene, but often has the family-friendly disposition of a golden retriever.


This recent trend is leading people to experiment with breeding in order to find the character makeup in a dog that best fits their personality and/or family needs.


Not even bringing the statistics of abandoned rescue dogs into the equation, but rather, a scientific analysis, it is very important to be cautious about where each “designer dog” comes from.


Unfortunately, puppy mills still exist today and that is where many of these designer dogs are bred.


What in the world is a puppy mill?


Puppy mills specialize in breeding dogs that they can put on the market and sell for the most profit. Therefore, with the rapidly rising popularity of “designer dogs,” puppy mills are jumping on the opportunity to financially capitalize on this trend.


The horrible fact about puppy mills is, as I stated earlier, their sole mission is to profit—most of these mills couldn’t care less about the dog after it leaves their confines.


While there’s certainly nothing wrong with capitalistic intentions when conducted ethically, many puppy mills treat dogs in inhumane ways and leave them subject to horrific living conditions in order to maintain a low overhead.


Many do not care about the dogs at all, other than being their next sale, and thus, do not care if they are breeding healthy dogs, as long as they get their paycheck from the next eager family.


As a result of this, many of these puppy mill puppies are not being bred reputably, so they end up having extreme health and behavioral issues.


However, let’s say that you actually find a reputable breeder who cares about and properly raises the “designer dogs” that they breed.


Even with incredible care and attention, there is certainly still a potential for issues.


How so?


Due to the simple reality that every single dog breed is at risk for and predisposed to unique health issues.


If you paid attention in high school science class, then you’ll know that when crossing two different breeds, there is no way that a breeder can control which genes they are crossing for each puppy.


Therefore, there is a small probability that you could get lucky and get all the desirable, healthy traits in a puppy, OR you could get double the health and behavioral issues, resulting from the so-called “bad” genes of both of the different breeds.


Let’s use the ever-so-popular Corgi/Golden Retriever mix as an example.


When a Corgi is bred with a Golden Retriever, you could get the desirable traits from both breeds.


However, you could also get the less than desirable traits from the breeds, such as the Golden Retrievers’ high risk of developing cancer and hip dysplasia, and the Corgis’ predisposition to intervertebral disc disease and epilepsy.


This causes two major issues for dog owners:


1. The young family taking home their new Corgi/Golden Retriever puppy has unknowingly purchased a dog that is much more susceptible to developing a serious disease or illness that could vastly shorten the dog’s life expectancy.


2. Every breed possesses certain behavioral genetics that every dog of that particular breed is predisposed to developing.


This combination of experimental breeding coupled with genetic dispositions often creates a recipe for disaster.

For example, Golden Retrievers are in the Sporting Group of dog breeds, and were bred for this specific purpose.

Pembroke welsh corgi puppy sitting in flowers

Corgis, meanwhile, are in the Herding Group of dog breeds, and were bred to perform this specific task as well.


Despite how well a Corgi/Golden Retriever may be raised and trained, he will have some degree of behavioral genes from both of the breeds he derived from.


This is where behavioral/mental problems can occur: is the dog supposed to be a sporting dog, or a herding dog?


This may cause the dog a lot of confusion and hinder their training abilities and can also lead to mental health issues or behavioral problems.


When it comes down to it, most designer dogs are not bred to enhance health and behavioral traits, but are instead bred to just be “cute” to look at (expensively cute, I should add).


While this may be nice when purchasing a new puppy that everyone wants to pet and provides a nice ego boost, in the long run, statistics and probability are going to catch up to you, and you’re going to experience a multitude of health and behavioral issues with your dog down the road.


The most critical problem with this fad of “designer hybrids” is the fact that people are blinded by the cuteness.


These are living, breathing, complex beings; not designer handbags. The issue of being blinded by the cuteness is an issue people have concerning all puppies in general.


Most people do not realize the amount of work it takes to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved, and well-trained dog.


Many people purchase puppies on impulse or are sucked into getting a designer dog because of all the ones they’ve seen on their newsfeed. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with this..


However, what 99% of these people I just described don't realize is that it takes an extensive amount of research to determine which dog breed is right for you, an unlimited amount of time and energy to put into training and raising the dog, and strict budgeting to account for the multitude of costs that your dog will incur over his or her entire life.


I always advise people to put in a LOT of research before even thinking about bringing a puppy home.

So, what’s it going to be, are you going to purchase a “designer dog” so you have something else to snapchat in your life other than your most recent meal (sorry, not sorry)... AND in the process, play Russian roulette to get a happy and healthy dog with a fully-loaded revolver?


Or are you going to do your homework, analyze the pros and cons, and come to an educated decision that will not only benefit your future dog, but the future of all dogs?


The choice is yours.


What’s your opinion on the designer dog trend? Let me know in the comments below.

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How I Gain The Attention of ANY Dog In 5 Minutes Or Less

How I Gain The Attention of ANY Dog Within 5 Minutes

Whenever I am out with my dogs, there is always at least one person who comments “Wow your dogs listen to you so well,” or “How do you get your dogs to be so focused on you?”


Obviously, a compliment about my dogs is always nice.


However, what actually goes through my mind every time someone asks me a question like this is it shouldn’t be out of the ordinary for dogs to be attentive and obedient to their owner!


So many people say: “My dog is just way too hyper and distracted to listen to me like that.” Statements like this are SO incredibly false and simply an excuse for an owner who’s given up working with their dog.


Every single dog has the potential to be attentive and obedient to his or her owner—no matter the dog’s breed, age, OR background.


So the question remains, why are there so many dogs that are NOT attentive and obedient to their owners?


The answer is simple: most dog owners have not spent enough time working with their dogs on training them to be attentive and obedient.


It’s sad that this is the case, but this is one of the main reasons that I became a dog trainer!


One of my main goals as a dog trainer and behaviorist has been to educate owners across the world about how SIMPLE training a dog really is. Dog owners tend to overestimate the difficulty of training a dog; when in reality, training a dog is actually quite simple.


There is no magic trick to turning your dog into an attentive and obedient one. 


In fact, getting your dog’s attention on you is one of the simplest steps to raising a well-behaved dog.


Every single time I train a dog, no matter if I am training a puppy on basic obedience, or working through aggression with a 5 year old dog, teaching the dog to be attentive and obedient to me is the very first thing I start with.


How can you expect a dog to be well-behaved and well-trained if he or she has no desire to be attentive and obedient to you? You can’t!


So how do I get a dog's attention in 5 minutes or less? 

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The unbelievably simple key to gaining your dog’s attention is to REWARD your dog for focusing on or being attentive to you.


This makes your dog want to be attentive to you, not forced! Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding your dog for exhibiting behaviors you want him or her to repeat.


When your dog is focusing on you, give him or her a reward. Treats are typically the best reward for dogs.


Don’t be afraid to use treats, treats, and more treats when working on positive reinforcement training with your pup! When your dog is looking at you and focusing on you, he gets a reward.


This is how I gain the attention and focus of any dog within 5 minutes of meeting them.


I start by saying the dog’s name, and when he looks at me, I give him a treat. ANY time the dog is focused on me, I give him a treat.


Whenever I say the dog’s name and he looks at me, I give him a treat. Within 5 minutes (usually it only takes about 2) the dog is typically sitting in front of me, eyes locked on me.

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A few days ago, I had my first training session with two 7-month-old Husky puppies.


Prior to meeting these dogs, I gathered a lot of information about them from their owner. Their owner told me he was on the verge of giving these puppies away because they don’t listen, get into everything, and are the most difficult dogs he has ever met.


I went into this training session knowing that I would be able to help this owner, but thought that I would probably be getting two very naughty little trouble-makers that would even give me a challenge.


When I arrived, the pups were jumping up on me right away.


However, it only took about ONE MINUTE for one of the pups to begin sitting in front me with his full attention on me; and about 2 minutes for the other one to do the same.


I had the complete focus of both of these “difficult dogs who don’t listen” for the rest of the training session.


The owner was astounded and kept saying, “I have never seen them act so well-behaved. You must really have a way with getting dogs to listen to you.”


I told him that it is not magic, and I am giving him the tools to have this “way” with dogs TOO!


He asked me, “So what exactly are the tools you use to get a dog to listen to you?”


What did I tell him?


The same exact thing I’m telling you right now!


First of all, find a reward that your dog LOVES. If your dog doesn’t seem thrilled about the treats you are using, find different treats or a different reward that he GOES CRAZY FOR.


I usually bring about six different kinds of treats to every training session I go to, just in case the dog is picky. If your dog is obsessed with his ball, then use the ball as a reward. If it a certain toy, then use that.


Whatever the object of your dog’s desire may be, it is very important to find a reward that your dog loves loves loves, especially if your dog is easily distracted.


What should you do when trying to get the attention of a distracted dog?


The key to getting your dog’s focus when he is distracted is having a reward that is BETTER than the object of his distraction.


Although your dog is distracted by that other dog across the street, you need to teach him that what you have is better than that dog, and anything for that matter!


Since you have that reward he loves, your dog will associate focusing on you with that reward, and thus, will want to always focus on you when you say your dog’s name.


Once your dog is very attentive and obedient to you with that reward, you can gradually wean off the treats.


And then, you’ll have a dog that not only is attentive to your commands, but also want to come to you for your love and affection.


And that, my friend, is what dog ownership is all about.

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