The Forgotten Factor of Responsible Dog Ownership

By Karen A. Soukiasian

Nearly all dog owners know they must provide at least an adequate quality of life for their dogs. That includes food, shelter, health needs, and safety. Responsible owners add training and affection, as they are responsible for their dog's actions and behavior. They also know they are accountable for their dog's happiness and well-being.

The forgotten or missing item is often the cause of why many dogs are surrendered or abandoned. It is knowing and providing for the animal's inherent needs. Specific breeds have specific needs. To peacefully co-exist with a dog, those needs must be met. A dog that is not allowed to satisfy what their DNA dictates will become frustrated, neurotic, ill mannered, aloof, aggressive, depressed and/or destructive.

They are not a happy dog.

Ideally, before acquiring a puppy or dog, one must do their homework and research their chosen breed thoroughly. If it is a mixed breed, all known breeds in the mix should be researched.

Know the dog's instincts. Learn their origin. Understand and respect the dog's inherent behaviors. Something as simple as that, may be a deciding factor. Don't think the dog will change your lifestyle...usually it won't and the dog is the one that suffers for it. Be honest with yourself, as to just how much time and energy you are willing to commit, before, not after you get a puppy or dog.

To help balance a dog's mental and physical well being, it is imperative the exact needs of their breed be satisfied as much as possible. Sporting, Working, Hounds, Terriers and Herding breeds normally require oodles of physical and mental exercise. If those needs are not met, you will have behavioral problems. Dogs love to work. By attending to their instincts, they are working.

If you decide on a Terrier, expect digging. Be prepared to provide a designated place and train them that is the only place they are allowed to dig. If you have a Sporting or Herding dog, expect to take them some place where they can run off lead. If you have a Herding dog, expect them to herd you, if you don't find something for them to herd. Dog parks are a dream come true for herding dogs. Even sitting on your lap is the "job" lap dogs were bred to do.

Know what you are getting into before you regret it. Learn all you can about the breed.

Breed Groups recognized by the American Kennel Club include:

  1. Sporting - Usually agile, active, stamina, alert, active. Breeds include: German Shorthaired Pointer, Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Golden Retrieves, Irish Setter, Gordon Setter, English Cocker Spaniel, American Cocker Spaniel, Brittany Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Curley Coated Retriever.
  2. Hound - Usually amazing sense of scent and sight, strong prey drive, active, stamina, speed, agility, active, runners, noise (barking and baying). Breeds include: Beagle, Basset Basenji, Greyhound, Dachshund, Wolfhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Whippet, Afghan hound, Saluki, Borzoi.
  3. Working - Traditionally bred to guard, police/military, rescue and messengers. Runners, agile, active, assertive/aggressive, independent, Breeds include: Boxer, Alaskan Malamute, Mastiffs, Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Siberian Husky, Rotteweiler, Giant/Standard Schnauzer, Great Pyrenees, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Doberman Pinscher, Newfoundland.
  4. Terrier - Bred to hunt vermin. Stamina, active, loud, assertive/aggressive, fearless, diggers. Breeds include: Airedale Terrier, Australian Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Scottish Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Skye Terrier.
  5. Toy - Based on tradition. Most commonly found as companion pets today. Usually smallest dogs whether lap or working dog. Can range from affectionate to independent. Alert to calm. Friendly to aggressive/protective. Gentle to rough. Breeds include: Affenpinscher, Miniature Pinscher, Pomeranian, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Japanese Chin, Havanese, Papillion, Pomeranian, Poodle, Silky Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Pug, Pekingese.
  6. Non-Sporting - Originally bred for specific need, including fighting and guarding. Can range from affectionate to independent. Friendly to aggressive/protective. Gentle to rough. Alert to calm. Breeds include: American Eskimo Dog, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Dalmatian, Lhaso Apso, Shar Pei, Finnish Spitz, Shiba Inu, Bichon Frise, Keeshound, Poodle, Chow Chow, Standard Poodle.
  7. Herding - Bred to heard livestock - cattle, goats, reindeer, sheep. Intelligent, agile, stamina, assertive/aggressive, loud, independent, runners. Breeds include: Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd Dog, Collie, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog, Old English Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Border Collie, Belgian Malinois, Puli.

Bottom line: Being aware of your pet's inherent needs, plus providing an outlet for them is fundamentally important. At minimum, enroll in positive reinforcement, punishment-free basic obedience classes. You will be astonished by what you will learn about your dog's potential. Recognize the strength of the relationship that develops between you and your puppy or dog rests not only on your commitment of time, attention, leadership and affection, but also your knowledge of their breed.

Karen A. Soukiasian
Article by Karen A. Soukiasian
Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! - DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training - Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida - AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator. Visit my website at: and