Part 1: What Dog Breed are you?
with Ruby Leslie of WelfareForAnimals, Training Advocate

If you google what dog breed you are, there are an endless array of quizzes, articles and matching your birth month to dogs, to find out which dog group you fit into.

Herding dogs like border collies have endless energy, terriers love to dig and are feisty (they were after all ratters), hound dogs like greyhounds can have a huge burst of speed but mostly like to laze about on a couch, working dogs like Belgian Malinois are incredibly intelligent, physical and need a lot of stimulation, mutts are a mix of Heinz 57 and toy dogs are often small dogs with big personalities.

The above list are very common breed group labels and stereotypes which are very easy to fit into - I fit into 90% of them!

Everyone has their own individual characteristics:

  • Curious
  • Intelligent
  • Kind
  • Adventurous
  • Hard-working
  • Easily stressed
  • Anxious
  • Dopey
  • Stubborn
  • Tolerant
  • Introverted
  • Extroverted
  • Sassy

The different sports and hobbies you enjoy doing, your motivations, your friend circle, the things you like to eat and drink- these are all dependent on you- an individual.

Your individual personality and characteristics are shaped by the environment you grew up in and around, your race, gender, friend circle, what your grandparents and parents went through, their and your income, education, experiences, learned experiences and even what your mother experienced and ate and drank while you were in her womb.

Your dog is an individual too. Their breed characteristics, maternal influences, what they were exposed to during the socialization phase, genetics, their experiences, learned experiences, health (how much stress and pain are they in) and environment they are raised are all factors that shape their personality.

Was your dog raised in a shelter, the streets, a puppy mill or a good home? How was your dog previously trained? Did they learn through punishment or positive reinforcement? Have they been positively exposed to new objects and walking equipment? Do they have the ability to express natural behaviours?

Even though our dog is a certain breed, their environment is the primary influence on their behaviour. For example a study in the journal of veterinary behavior discusses how puppies being raised in a puppy mill and take away from their mother too early leads to increased fearfulness and reactivity.

When our dogs act out, we label them.

Many people message me complaining that their dog is "crazy", "stubborn" and "unwilling to listen", "guilty", "naughty" and the list of labels goes on. Dogs are expected to highly tolerant to living in our homes or apartments, being interacted with by kids, us and other dogs, handle all of the daily experiences without a fuss, and then cuddle with us on the couch. Our expectation is that our dogs should be able to instantly adapt to living our lifestyle.

That's a lot to ask for!

Especially for dogs who have certain breed characteristics and natural behaviours that need to be fulfilled like a herding or working dog or experiences that make them highly fearful.

The behaviours often seen as inappropriate in our human-entered world such as barking, chewing and digging are natural dog behaviours. They are behaviours that your dog is using to communicate something to you such as stress, anxiety or teething when chewing or fear when barking.

Instead of thinking that your dog is giving you a hard time, think about your dog as having a hard time!

Find solutions to help them express their natural behaviours, which will provide them with appropriate outlets in our human created environments.

Let's go through a few solutions!

  • Digging- make your dog a digging pit
  • Chewing the tables- provide enrichment. make sure your dog is able to cope when you leave, and/or has rubber chew toys for teething
  • Bark at people walking past- work on recall, positive interrupters or barrier frustration (send me a message)
  • Don't like all dogs- well that's fair we don't like all people, so maybe a dog park isn't for them, perhaps a long hike is instead
  • Bites at clothes- puppy nipping is a normal part of puppy development, especially when going through teething (if you want help with this send me a message)
  • Eats garbage on walks- your dog is foraging and scavenging as they would normally. A leave it on walks is highly useful to learn!
  • Can't calm down- high-energy dogs often need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, but don't do high adrenaline sports with them until they're over 18 months due to developing growth plates! Provide them with calming activities such as a sniffari, scent work, and puzzle games
  • Highly fearful- work with me on a desensitization and counter-conditioning programme

Next time your dog shows such behaviours understand that it might be their breed characteristics, an expression of natural behaviours or due to their experiences and the the environment.

Let’s toss away all the labels and expectations of what defines a “good dog” and think about each dog as an individual, not a stereotype.

Oh and in case you were wondering, according to an online quiz, I am a Terrier- stubborn, bored easily, feisty but intelligent.

Ruby Leslie of WelfareForAnimals

Training Advocate
Dogly loves Ruby because she brings her rescue experiences to our dogs - to increase our bond, decrease behavior issues.

Ruby guides you

New Dogs - Manners - Enrichment - Reactivity - Barking - Walking

Ruby is certified

Low Stress Handling - Fear Free Veterinary Professional - Fear Free Shelters - Shelter Welfare - Enrichment - & Canine Behaviour