Written October 25th, 2010
PET DOG vs. PERFORMANCE DOG
There is a difference. A big, fat, elephant sized difference.
I never gave it much thought until today. A woman who had met one of our foster dogs over the weekend sent an email stating that we should watch how we train and socialize our dogs. It was not directed at me, I was merely copied in as the team leader. But it got me thinking.
I never gave much thought to the fact that I encourage my dogs to bite hard, and I encourage them to bounce of my body, and I encourage them to be a bit psycho. Granted, I only encourage such behaviors when I ask for them, when we're playing frisbee or working. But I ask for them all the same.
I've had TommyBoy for almost 4 months now. During this time, I have never thought to put a stop to his body bouncing. Why would I? Tommy has huge potential to be a disc dog. As a performance dog owner/trainer, thats all I see when I go to work with Tommy.
But I forget that the people who are going to look at Tommy to adopt may not want a performance dog. They may not want a dog that doesn't hesitate to bounce his entire body off theirs. Tommy has a trait that I've been struggling to pull out of my own dogs. I first saw Tony Hoard's Aussie do it. During a frisbee routine, the dog hops up and bounces off Tony's hip 3x in a row. I love it, its flashy, and Tommy does it without hesitation. Man, I'd love for Frankie or Kirby to be able to whip this out during a routine! But what I dont consider as I encourage Tommy's bouncing is the people who may adopt him one day.
There is a good reason that your average person doesn't really like my dogs. And it's not the dog's faults, it's mine. Its just that the behaviors that I ask for on a daily basis are not appreciated by your average dog owner.
But I should think about these things. I have a Lab who is a pet dog. When he jumps on me, I correct him. When he gets mouthy, I correct him. I dont even think about it.