"I hate this dog." "This dog is driving me nuts." "What's wrong with this dog?" These are all phrases that I've heard far too often. Much of the time the owner is completely at fault. For lack of a better term, they failed. They never trained their dog, never gave them an education, were absent through the formative months and now have a dog that was left to their own devices, to figure out life on their own. Other reasons that I hear these statements are that the wrong dog is in the wrong home. This again can have many different angles; many distinctive causes that lead to the same result.
When we look at the all of the dogs in the world there are so many to choose from. More often than not, prospective new owners see a breed that catches their eye. Not that the dog was acting perfectly, had an amazing temperament or inner quality that they loved but by their outward appearance. Perhaps it looked like a tough type dog, maybe it was as cute as a button, distinguished in appearance or scary looking. I have often told people when I was out and about with Jessie that they did not want a Jack Russell. "She's so cute," they would state when they met her. They'd seen several on television and thought for sure that this was the dog for them. After several quick and easy questions I would inform them that they really did not want one.
How many dogs and owners lead a life of frustration because they are mismatched? A lot. Sadly there are dogs that come and go, breeds that are fashionable; the "in" dog to have. Herding dogs are a big problem when put into the wrong life. I have worked with many "herding" breeds that were absolutely amazing dogs; the problem was that all of their spectacular herding talents were high up on the undesirable traits in this particular family that had chosen them as their dog. A nice little family, living in a quaint new development with 2 children and no yard. They desperately wanted a dog and loved the look of the beautiful Australian Shepherds that they saw on television. Not surprisingly it isn't working out.
These problems are not exclusive to purebred dogs; on no, there are mixed breeds that end up in the wrong places as well. Even shelter or rescue dogs can end up somewhere that they should not be. I've seen many people looking for their next wonderful dog at a shelter or adoption event; they are looking at all the different dogs and stop on the one with two different colored eyes. "This one, I want this one;" the woman says to her husband. They take their new dog home; the one that was the cutest and most unusual looking. After only weeks of living together the woman is ready to throw in the towel. The puppy is so high energy and with such a elevated degree of intelligent that the she simply can't cope.
I worked with a family where the Dad had wanted a huge Alaskan Malamute. He'd seen them somewhere on his travels and thought that it would be a perfect fit. Unfortunately he called me after the fact; his very large male was 10 months old, living in the backyard but running the household. He had too much energy, too much attitude, a very dominant temperament and a tiny yard to release it all. It was a sad situation because he was simply in the wrong place with the wrong family. The house keeper who's job it was to care for this big boy was petrified of him. It was an accident looking to happen.
Sadly there are times when people think they want a dog and even after acquiring one, they really do love it. But they work long hours, they socialize long hours and truly don't have time for a dog. The dog is left alone to figure it all out. An alone dog is a sad dog; often labelled a bad dog. They have no guidance, no companionship, no energy outlet, nothing. So they make do as dog will and for that they are bad. It may not be that it is the wrong dog; it is just a dog with needs that are not being met. The same dog in a different environment might be a superstar; perhaps with some training and guidance they could be paired perfectly.
Dogs are work, a lot of work and when people get a dog as a "token" object it does not work out. A family can be complete without a dog (of course not my family); not all families need a dog. Many families should never have a dog; it just is not a fit.
Dogs have personalities, different temperaments, varied levels of drive and intelligence; they are by no means a one size fits all.