Dogs have a longer history of domestication than any other animal. Researchers estimate that dogs have been domesticated for 30,000 years and there is evidence suggesting the relationship goes back even further. Wild wolves discovered that spending time with people provides all kinds of benefits like easy meals and shelter. Humans also benefited from the arrangement because canines are good protection from other predators. As humans and dogs evolved, people began finding more uses for them including hunting, tracking, herding, pulling and companionship. New breeds were created by selecting dogs that were especially suited for different tasks. Today dog breeds have become so specialized that it is hard to imagine Shih Tzus and Mastiffs have a common ancestor!
Because each dog breed has deeply ingrained behavior, make sure to consider what type of traits you are looking for when bringing a new dog into your family. Talk to the breeder or rescue workers to select a dog with the appropriate energy level, trainability and independence to suit your lifestyle.
Regardless of the breed, all dogs need love, affection and play. Dogs want to please their humans, so it is essential to be patient when training new rules and commands. Try as they might, dogs do not understand words or hand motions so positive reinforcement is the only way to show a dog that they are showing the correct behavior when they are first learning. Inappropriate behavior such as barking or digging should be addressed immediately and quickly so the dog understands what they did wrong. Yelling at a dog after they have done something naughty does not teach them what they did wrong and will not prevent further bad behavior. Untrained dogs should never be left alone until you can trust that they will not be destructive or have an “accident” on the floor. Crates and kennels are a great option to keep pups out of trouble while they are still learning the rules of the house.