Why contact a professional before you get a dog, a client's perspective.
Below is a discussion of what went wrong and why involving a professional such as yourself could have saved a lot of heartache. Consider this a plea to urge others to utilize your service of breed and puppy selection services.
This whole experience has been devastating. I found our dog to be a tremendous dog. The issues I found manageable drove my wife crazy. While our dog has been improving tremendously since we saw you, we ran out of time before the baby was born.
I have been going through extensive questioning of myself what went wrong. While the obvious answer is that my wife's pregnancy created issues that would not have been relevant otherwise, that is only part of the answer. This experience has convinced me that it is not really possible to make a truly informed decision about a breed without consulting with a professional.
The sheer number and variety of dog breeds are stunning. Each breed has rock-bottom hard-wired behavior that is very different from another breed. With each dog breed, you must accept the genetically determined behavior, good and bad. We needed a dog that was good with kids, low shedding, low maintenance, low dominance, and low indoor activity. On dog breed selection web sites, the breed we selected rates highly on all these criteria. Add in her athleticism, intelligence, affection and charm, and she seems like a recipe for a great family dog. On all those counts, she was indeed everything we asked, a great dog.
However, we did not anticipate her adverse behavior because we did not find any references to it before hand. We spent hours at a time over several months researching the breed. So the issues we confronted came as a surprise. General behavior books address issues only for more popular breeds if they are breed specific at all.
Web sites and books devoted to the breed are rarely candid about the adverse behaviors common to the breed. Only lovers of the breed build the web sites and love is blind. They long ago accepted even the adverse breed specific-behavior. As advocates of the breed they sometimes minimize or euphemize this.
There is also the propensity for the various references to contradict themselves. Depending on which place I look, the breed we chose is easily house broken or is difficult to housebreak or may be revenge wetters. They should not be bribed or you should always have a treat ready. They are quick learners or they resist training. They are good with children or they are good only with older children. They need moderate exercise or they need a two-mile run daily.
Even in retrospect, it is hard for some one not trained in dog behavior to make sense of all this.
I will not repeat this. In retrospect, my lessons:
1) I acknowledge that, as much as I love dogs and while I had great success with another breed, I am not a professional. Even if I take extensive time to research the breed, I can only find out the obvious. I cannot possibly know all there is to know about the breed.
2) It is not in the nature of the fanciers of the breed to disclose all the risks of the breed. They are advocates, not balanced judges. They don’t see the risks because they accept them.
3) One-size all training does not work. Knowing one breed does not mean knowing all breeds. Training techniques successful for one breed may backfire on another.
It comes down to this-- Your fees are cheap compared to the heartache of losing a dog. Money paid you up front in the breed selection, preparation and early training programs would have paid tremendous dividends.
So, my wife and I have agreed to the following program. We will try again once when our baby girl is three to five years old. At that point, we will not even consider another dog without consulting with you first. The breed selection decision is too important. It is genetic destiny. Here we must have a balanced evaluation of the behaviors, good and bad, we would buy into with any recommended breeds. Then once the puppy is home, we will sit down with you for a home training program designed specifically for that dog.
Thank you so much for all your help.