"I'm looking for a guard dog," says the voice on one end of the phone. "I have just what you are looking for," says the other. All the formalities are completed, paper work fill out and the proud new parents have their "guard dog" in hand. As the puppy grows it becomes sweeter and sweeter, barely resembling anything guarded about it. What was bought as a guard dog type is now a giant Rottweiler lap dog; and the would be guard dog owners? Well........they adore him. It just so happened that he turned out to be an amazing therapy dog. They thought that they wanted a guard dog but as it turns out it is probably a good that he was who he was for this couple. Scary enough in his appearance they were not well equipped to be a full on guard dog.
Many people get a dog by looks; you know, the shell. "Look how cute that puppy is," "I want the one with the black body and white tail." So you bring home the black dog with the white tail only to find out you have a high driven, job demanding dog. You have no idea what to do with this dog and you are going out of your mind as your dog takes on every job that he can think of.
What is a dog's job? There are too many to describe but finding the dog for the job has much more to do about each specific dog more than a breed or "supposed" lineage. Dogs ending up in the wrong hands is not all the doing of the would be new owners. No, many breeders place dogs just to place them instead of finding the right place. Many breeders also don't know about temperament testing and miss small behaviors that will grow with age. There can be vast differences in a litter of dogs. I do temperament testing and it always amazes me to see how different puppies can be that come out of the same litter box.
Many people and breeders included think that activity level is a main ingredient for a working dog. But that is not the case, just because a dog is active does not mean that they can take the rigors and stress involved in being an actual working dog. Just like being a calm puppy does not make a therapy dog. There is much more to look at when choosing a dog for a very specific job. Balance is what I like to see in all dogs; of course balance in body but in temperament as well. Lots of dogs are being bred for one thing and one thing only. I really don't like to see this specific need breeding as overflow always finds it's way into regular pet homes. Not too many regular pet owners can handle overdrive.
Humans have a tendency to want more; what's good in a small amount is greater in large amounts. If we see something we like we want more. But more is not always a good thing; often it leads to very bad things. Many dog sports involve drive; a dog needs a certain amount of it to be driven in the sport of choice. What I am seeing in many dogs is too much drive, uncontrollable drive which in the hands of someone who is not doing a driven related sport, means trouble. When one trait is focused on; other great traits may fall aside leaving a dog less capable in the working field. Calm mixed with drive as well as a good level of confidence makes for an amazing dog. Believe me, I've met lots of high drive dogs that would work themselves ragged around the clock. I've looked into the eyes of a driven dog who's pupils were constantly dilated with desire to work. Those who were also scared to death of anything that didn't involve very specific chasing. There needs to be balance.
A dog's main job is to be a companion as is ours. We are meant to be the leader with a dog at our side. If a dog is so driven that companionship is of little concern then that is a sad thing. A dog's first job for me is that they be happy. They need a solid connection to a human, physical touch, an emotional connection and an education. They also need a outlet for their drive; whatever level that may be and be allowed to be a dog. To do their job correctly they must be equipped with all of these; it is our job to give them this.
Elsa comes from hunting lines, she most definitely has drive. Do we hunt with her? No, I am not a hunter but she is given many outlets for her drive which keeps her very fulfilled. She also loves snuggling up on the couch and enjoying the good things about sharing life with humans. She is my constant companion and we take great enjoyment in each other. It is my job to make her happy as she makes me happy just being Elsa. Giving her what she needs is essential to creating a happy dog. They don't come complete, there is always work to do.
I like balance, in my life and my dog's lives. Being that I meet so many dogs in so many aspects of life; I get to experience lots of different takes on life itself. No one can do a job to perfection without the proper tools. That goes for dogs, they need outlets and the opportunity to be dogs. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing; balance, we all need it.