Rare Dog Breed: Training And Behavior Modification

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Sam Basso
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The Rare Dog Breed: There are over 500 dog breeds in the world. There is no dog trainer or behaviorist that has worked with them all. Yet, from time to time, I get the opportunity to work with a rare dog breed. I enjoy it, and I’m good at it. A rare dog breed is comprised of a population of pure, or semi-pure dogs that often aren’t widely available, and exist in small numbers around the world.

Special Needs: A rare dog breed requires special dog training skills. These breeds are different than the average European breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, German Shepherd Dogs, or Asian breeds, such as Chow Chows, Akitas or Shar Pei. The popular European and Asian breeds are typically more refined, more able to deal with urban environments, and are generalists, able to adapt to a wide variety of situations… though, I’d say that the popular European breeds are more refined than the popular Asian breeds. That’s why we have more behavior problems with the typical Asian breeds than the European ones… people are buying them as pets, but these Asian breeds have fewer generations of purposeful breeding for living as pets.

The truly rare dog breed is even less refined, a more raw dog, is a specialist, and often is less able to deal with living in urban environments. You need to know more, and have better skills, to own them successfully. You also need to know that some of these dogs can’t fit well into every home environment.

What Is A Rare Breed? So, what do I consider to be a rare dog breed? First off, I’d eliminate almost every popular breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. If the breed is recognized by the AKC, then it is probably not a rare breed. On the other hand, probably these following AKC breeds should be considered rare breeds and trained accordingly, such as: the Ibizan Hound, Irish Water Spaniel, Pharaoh Hound, Lowchen, Swedish Vallhund, Curly-Coated Retriever, Xoloitzcuintli, Puli, American Water Spaniel, Glen of Imaal Terrier, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Sussex Spaniel, Pyrenean Shepherd, Sealyham Terrier, Skye Terrier, Norwegian Buhund, Komondor, Finnish Spitz, Canaan Dog, Otterhound, Norwegian Lundehund, English Foxhound, Harrier, and American Foxhound. We’d also have to include rare American breeds such as the English Shepherd or Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog. Then there are the hundreds of rare foreign breeds we see here sometimes, such as the Spanish Water Dog, Thai Ridgeback, Fila Brasiliero, Ainu, Akbash, Cao de Bou, Bully Kutta, Ainu (Hokkaido Dog), Karelian Bear Dog, etc.

Any trainer that says they have trained every breed in the world isn’t telling you the truth. I readily admit that even though I’d love to work with and own every breed in the world, I’ll never live long enough to fulfill that wish. I love dogs. I find all breeds interesting. But, it isn’t possible to work with every breed, much less own every breed. What I can say is that since I am a behavior expert, I can puzzle out any breed and then show you how to best train that dog, and work out any behavioral problems you are having. And, I’ll be honest with people when they are trying to make a pet out of a dog that isn’t really a pet. Those breeds require special attention. For example, a Caucasian Ovtcharka is not a good urban dog. Neither is a Fila Brasiliero. They were never meant to be pets. They are very territorial working dogs, and will have a hard time living in close quarters with a lot of strangers and strange sights. If you own one, then you need to take special steps to own them. I really don’t consider the Norwegian Lundehund a pet, either. They are another specialized working dog, and you will be mighty upset with it if you get one thinking that it is just like some other breed you’ve owned. They are notoriously difficult to house train, for example. Then again, I think a Lowchen is a great pet, and is easy to own and a good choice for some people. And the Komondor can be a pretty cool dog to own, too… for some people.

How Do You Train Rare Breeds? A rare dog breed requires more background research. You need to gather as much information about the actual dog and its history, plus you need to research the propensities of the breed itself. With that knowledge, you can devise an appropriate program. You can’t just train these rare breeds as if they are any other dog. They aren’t. In fact, many were never meant to be pets, and you’ll be miserable owing them if you don’t work around their special talents. You can’t treat them as the dogs you are familiar with. If you have a rare breed, then you shouldn’t be signing up for pet store training. You shouldn’t be shopping for the cheapest class you can find. You shouldn’t put this dog in a board and train situation. You need specialized help… with a specialized type of trainer and behaviorist. You can easily get in over your head with some rare breeds. And in fact, some can be quite aggressive in certain circumstances, such as the Karelian Bear Dog. These breeds aren’t for everyone, and you need to respect what you have, and train according to their specialized temperament. Because I’m an experienced dog behaviorist, I’m able to puzzle out a rare breed and give you expert advice on how to train them, or deal with their specialized talents. Some of those specialized talents cause problems when in urban environments. And these dogs can develop neurotic behaviors if they aren’t managed and led properly.

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.