Watching a Breed of Dog Implode

Over the years I have seen various breeds reach astounding popularity then you almost never see them anymore.

Recently I have been sent many articles about German Shepherds and how they have “had their day”. It seems law enforcement and military all over the world are now replacing this breed with the Belgium Malinois.

Policeman and German Shepherd

Malinois doing bite work

The German Shepherd dog led the way through the 20th century for loyal and vigilant work. This breed was a hero in World War I and dogs like Strongheart and Rin-Tin-Tin captivated the hearts of millions. They were a leading breed as Guide dogs, rescue and tracking. I have always said that there are very few breeds with the reliability and stability of the German Shepherd.

Rin Tin Tin


So how does this happen to such a great breed?

Over breeding:

With popularity comes over-breeding. Where there is a market, people being the creatures we are, will do what we can to profit. What happens with over-breeding is lack of caring in regards to health and temperament. You want a better dog for work; this is what you focus on. You want a better dog for show; this is what you focus on. In many cases temperament, health and structure suffers. We are the ones that create the dog that the judges look at. When people fall in love with a breed such as this they want to produce more without actually learning the principles of responsible breeding.

German Shepherd dog

Puppy Mills:

A “puppy mill” or “puppy farm” is a large-scale commercial breeding facility that focuses on profit without considering genetic quality. According to the Humane Society of the United States, in 2008 and 2009, they assisted in the evacuation of nearly 5,300 dogs (and many other animals) from 24 puppy mills across the U.S. and in Canada. It is said that 98% of dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.

puppy mill

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How important is it That You Learn to Communicate with Your Dog?

I recently spoke to a man about his dog. He was remarking that his one year old dog has so many behavioral problems because it is still a “puppy”.

I have heard this excuse often. I have met dogs that the owners complained about that were four year old “puppies”. For some reason many people believe that if your dog is a puppy then they don’t have to be well behaved.

Whether your dog is four months or four years, it’s important to learn how to communicate with them. I’m not sure how frustrating it must be to a dog with an owner that won’t attempt this, but I would hate to hear what a dog would really say if they were ever given a voice.

confused dog

Learning how to communicate with your dog:

The eyes of a dog

If you have ever watched dogs they are almost constantly communicating with each other. We as humans only understand a very small part. It’s fascinating to watch the non-verbal eye contact and what response they get.

I recently had a litter of puppies. The mother was inside the box and my older Doberman came to the side of the box to look at the puppies. There was no problem with this. Soon another dog, not a part of our pack, joined the Doberman so see what was inside the box. The mother dog didn’t growl, posture, get up or show any sort of aggression. She just looked at the dog. Not a sideways glance (a term called “whale eye”), no shifting of the head what so ever. She just looked. Immediately the second dog backed away and the mother quickly shifted her attention back to the litter.

Watch the full episode. See more Through a Dogs Eyes.

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You Think You Have Control of Your Dog?

I am constantly telling clients that unless their dog is 100% reliable on recall (returning to you when called); you have no control of your dog.

This is a subject I have written about before. Hopefully reading this will make an impression on you.

Your dog may sit, down, heel, stay, but unless your dog comes to you when called none of the previous matters.

Dog running

Group Obedience classes are a valuable tool. Learning to gain control of your dog in a group setting with other dogs under the same controlled situation is valuable. What you are doing is gaining what we are talking about; Control.

dog sitting at heel

If your dog learns to

Sit the first time you tell them,

Down the first time you tell them,

Stay the first time you tell them,

Then you can begin teaching your dog to return to you the first time you call him.

If I had only one command to teach my dogs, it would be recall. Your dog must return to you when called. If your dog slips out of the gate or the front door and doesn’t return to you and there is a car coming his way, it doesn’t matter what else he knows.

I have found the most successful way to begin to teach a dog control is on the leash. Once I have control of a dog on a six-foot leash in public under distraction, then I will begin to teach my dog on a long line and then off the leash and eventually in public under distraction.

This command should be your first priority

puppy learing recall

Many people think they have control of their dog off-leash. However it only takes one distraction to lose the control you think you have very quickly. The problem is once your dog knows he can “break space” with you, you have lost any control you think you had. It’s much easier to never let the dog “get” that you are not in control. If training a dog that already knows he doesn’t have to come, be patient and consistent. Even the most stubborn dog can learn that he must come to you when called.

dog standing in highway

Learning to implement the tools to follow-through, gaining respect from your dog and creating the kind of control you need to have a dog respond to your commands will possibly save his life one day.

Click HERE for more information on teaching your dog the recall.