It is widely regarded and accepted that the domestic dog is descended from the Grey wolf (Canis Lupus) and it is believed that the first domestication of the dog took place at least 10,000 years ago, but possibly as long as 35,000 years ago, remains of dogs of this age were always found near humans and this is why the dog was given the name “Canis Familiaris”.
This could be said to be the point where man had actually bred a dog to perform a particular task through selective breeding, as the wolf was not now strictly a wolf, but had become an early forerunner to the domestic dogs of today. Even in this era if a dog displayed an keen sense of vision, acute hearing, or excellent scenting ability it would have been bred from to perpetuate these traits and enhance it’s ability to perform the task required of it, something that is still happening in the 21st Century. Interestingly, studies have shown that of ninety different behaviour patterns exhibited by the domestic dog, seventy-one are present in the wolf (many 1000’s of years of domestication have created some behavioural patterns in the domestic dog that wolf does not need for survival). Many breeds of dog today do not resemble the wolf as such, but one thing is sure, the instincts of the wolf still govern our dogs today. From the Great Dane to the Chihuahua, all are descended from the wolf.
When buying a dog
Search for a breeder that loves their breed and is committed to producing healthy dogs with good temperaments.
Always see the puppies in their home environment and with their mother. If possible, it is worth seeing the father of the pups too. This will help you to assess the expected temperaments of the pups and what size they may grow to.
Be prepared to answer questions from the breeder, a good breeder will want to know about you and family and if your circumstances are suitable for one of their dogs.
When buying pedigrees it is vitally important to find out whether the breeder has carried out all the relevant tests for hereditary problems. Ask the breeder to see up to date test certificates, a good breeder will not mind showing you. It is advisable not to purchase a puppy if the breeder will not show these or promises to forward them on to you at later date.
When you are viewing the puppies, make sure that their environment is clean and that they are being reared in close contact with the breeders family. This will mean that the pups will already be accustomed to everyday noises and sights and will help to ensure that their development into an adult is off to a good start.
If possible, visit the breeder as often as you can between choosing and picking the puppy up. It can be helpful to take the family along to interact with the puppy before it is brought home.
What Type of Dog
The great advantage of a purebred dog is that to a large degree you know what you are going to get. Research in depth any breeds that interest you, this can be done by reading books and magazines and by speaking to breeders and vets. It is very important to choose the right breed for your lifestyle, many of the pedigree breeds were originally bred to perform specific tasks (and still are), for example, the Dalmation was originally bred to be a carriage dog to walk alongside or in front of carriages to guard and clear the way. They still carry the instincts and energy levels of a working breed and as a result often require more exercise and stimulation than many people realize. Likewise, the Border collie, which is a very popular breed, is also a working breed and needs an incredible amount of mental stimulation. Breeds such as the terriers were bred to be tenacious and fearless and are often very vocal when stimulated. Many pedigree breeds also unfortunately can suffer from a variety of hereditary problems so make sure to research into this when decided on what breed is for you.
Unlike a pedigree a mixed breed dog can be somewhat of a leap of faith. They tend to have characteristics from all the breeds that make them up but you may not be able to tell which ones come to the forefront until they are older. It can also be hard to tell what size they will grow to, the size of the paws can be an indication but can never be guaranteed. On the plus side, mixed breed dogs are often great characters and are usually long lived as they come from a wider gene pool and suffer from less hereditary problems.
There are thousands of dogs around the country at rescue centres, usually through no fault of their own. Taking on a resue dog can change not only the dog’s life for the better but yours as well. It should be remembered that many rescue dogs can come with some behavioural issues, either through abuse, neglect or more often than not just lack of training and guidance. Watching a rescue dog’s character immerge can be immensely rewarding and you have the knowledge that you have given a dog a second chance of a happy life. If you decide that a rescue dog is for you, make contact with the rehoming centre to organize a visit and discuss your circumstance with their staff.
Introducing and accustoming your new puppy to new sights, smells, environments, other dogs (and other species) is an extremely important part of his education, and one that cannot be underestimated. Lots of positive experiences and associations early in life will help your puppy to become a well-adjusted adult dog. The sooner you can begin socializing your pup the better, although it is wise to continue to expose him to things that are both new and familiar for his first year. However, until your pup is fully vaccinated you should be careful about where you take him, don’t allow your puppy to mix with other dogs if you don’t know if they have been vaccinated and don’t walk him in places where unvaccinated dogs may be being exercised. You can however carry him for short distances, introduce him to the car and take him to visit friends. Puppy socialization classes are a great way to begin and can help your puppy become accustomed to both other dogs and humans. If when attempting to introduce your puppy to something new he becomes afraid, do not force him to confront his fears, forcing the issue can lead to negative associations which will make it harder later on. It is much better to leave the matter, carry on as normal and come back to it later.
Vaccinations are given to protect puppies and adult dogs from distemper, canine hepatitis virus, leptospirosis, Para influenza, parvovirus, corona virus and kennel cough. Other vaccines are also available in special cases. In the majority of cases the main vaccines are given as a combined vaccine at around the ages 8 and 10 weeks, this usually means that the puppy is protected from around 12 weeks of age and is ready to go out into the wide world. It is advisable to speak to your chosen Veterinary surgeon as soon as possible after you have brought your puppy home to book an appointment for a health check and to discuss vaccinations
Like humans, dogs will have two sets of teeth during their lifetime. Most dogs begin teething at around the age of four months (although this can vary), at this time the set of baby teeth will begin to fall out ready to be replaced by the adult set, more often than not these baby teeth are swallowed but you may occasionally find one. During this period of teething the puppy will have an almost uncontrollable urge to chew and this can lead to much destruction in some cases. It is important to remember that your puppy is not being naughty when it chews things at this stage, the chewing helps to relieve the discomfort, induce the growth of the adult teeth and help with the removal of the baby teeth. Rather than punish the puppy for this it helps to redirect this need to chew onto items that are more suitable, toys such as puppy kongs, puppy nylabones, solid rubber toys and rawhide are all suitable items for a puppy to chew on. A second period of teething symptoms also occurs at around the age of seven to twelve months when the adult teeth embed and settle into the jawbone.
Raising and Training Tips
Try to understand what makes your dog “tick” and what drives him as a species. Always remember that dogs are not human, even though we often treat them as if they are.
Start training your dog from a young age and keep teaching your dog throughout its life. If you own an older dog, remember you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late for them to learn something new.
Learn how to communicate effectively with your dog. Dogs can’t speak English but they quickly learn to understand what follows certain words, sounds, and signals. For example, if you treat your dog every time that you call his name, he doesn’t actually know that that word is his name, just that he gets something nice if he comes when you call it. Dogs are excellent at reading our body language and often respond well if you match the command word to an action.
Your dog will be much happier, better behaved and responsive to training if he knows that you are pack leader. It can be quite stressful for many dogs if they feel that they have to be responsible for you. You should try never to reinforce your leadership through punishment or aggression, as this can be counterproductive.
Always reward good behaviour or correct responses to command. This doesn’t have to be a treat every time, verbal praise and a bit of fuss will let him know that you are happy and he’s done the right thing. Dogs soon learn to repeat actions that get them a reward and stop actions that get them no attention, and to some dogs being shouted at is classed as attention. For example, if when you return home your dog jumps up at you too much, ignore him and walk straight past him, and call him over to you when he’s calmed down. By doing this your dog will learn that he gets no attention if he jumps up but gets a fuss he’s being quiet. Raising your voice to tell him to get down will be considered attention and he will carry on doing it.
Timing is of the utmost importance when training or correcting your dog. You generally have 1 second to respond to action or it’s too late. After this short time it will not associate your response with the action you want to reinforce/correct. For example, if on returning home you find that your dog has chewed a cushion and you tell him off, he won’t realize that he is being reprimanded for chewing but associate your return with being told off, this can actually create anxiety and increase the chances of the chewing continuing. Timing is everything.
Be consistent at all times with your dog, and this applies to everyone in your family. If you decide that your dog is not allowed on the sofa make sure everyone follows this rule. It confuses dogs greatly when they mixed messages as they try to work out what they are meant to do. As a family, decide on house rules and commands and try to get everyone to stick with them.
Make it easy for your dog to do well, he will respond better if he knows he is doing something right. Be patient when training as to begin with dogs have to basically guess what we want them to do. As before, if you get your timing spot-on they will work it out much more quickly. Keep training sessions fairly short so that his attention doesn’t wander and always finish the session on a positive note, even if it’s only a simple sit command.
If you enrol on training classes, you will need to carry on this training at home and when exercising your dog. He won’t generalize that what he learns at training class must be repeated when he is out on everyday walks unless you tell him.