Know your dog’s job before adopting them, trainer says

Every dog ​​has a job. Some were born to run for miles, and others were destined for a slightly slower life. Knowing what job your dog needs is key to keeping it – and your family – happy.

Dog trainer Alex Schanzer has spent his career watching mismatched dogs long for their forever home after being handed over to shelters by unhappy owners.

He said when people picked out dogs based on impulse, they ran into the problems of sustaining that dog’s best life, and it could end badly for everyone.

In the absolute worst case scenario, the dog wrecks property or bites someone, maybe even a child, out of frustration.

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‘High-drive’ dogs like German pointers, Vizlas and border collies make perfect best friends, but they need much more than the average city-dweller can give them, Schanzer said.

“German pointers have become popular now which is great if you’re a hunter, and you can give the dog that outlet, but I have seen people buy them because they like the look of them,” he said.

“Vizslas are the same. They are known as Velcro dogs because they like to be with their owners, but they do need exercise. ”

People don’t need lots of space, like Schanzer has at his Pukekohe home, or time to make their dogs happy.

Alex Schanzer and his dog Tama.  Alex is a dog trainer, with experience in urban search and rescue dog training.

Chris Mckeen/Stuff

Alex Schanzer and his dog Tama. Alex is a dog trainer, with experience in urban search and rescue dog training.

One of the best things they can do is occupy their nose with scent games, Schanzer said. That tires them out much more than a run.

Scatter their feed on the lawn, or through a snuffle mat or slow feeder, which is a dog’s bowl that looks more like a maze, he explains.

“They can smell 100,000 times better than we can, so something like that, it’s such a good exercise, it feeds them, it allows them an outlet for that hunt drive.”

While some dogs – like greyhounds or labradors – were perfectly content to laze at home all day while their owners are at work or out socializing, all dogs were at risk of depression without the right activities, Schanzer said.

Last week, Auckland Council reported that its three dog shelters across the city were nearly at capacity, and that they were desperate for people to come and adopt.

Trade Me reported that dogs were among the list of things people were looking to trade online now that lockdown is over: there had been a 36% jump in the number of dogs to adopt on Trade Me between June 2019 and June 2022.

Alex Schanzer uses a “flirt pole” to entertain his dog Tama.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

Alex Schanzer uses a “flirt pole” to entertain his dog Tama.

“Breeds come predetermined,” Schanzer said. “Even if they have been crossbred, there are certain characteristics, depending on what they are, that are going to shine. They are also going to be the issues if they are not dealt with. ”

Schanzer specializes in helping owners understand exactly what their dog’s shining attributes are.

“Dogs are integral.  They've been with us for 15,000 years, ”dog trainer Alex Schanzer said.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

“Dogs are integral. They’ve been with us for 15,000 years, ”dog trainer Alex Schanzer said.

To know if your dog isn’t getting the enrichment it needs, watch out for changes in behavior, especially when you haven’t changed their routine.

“But if it starts to defecate in the house where it never used to, starts to rip things up, starts to get snappy… People need to learn to read these behaviors.”

Schanzer is an expert in training dogs for urban search and rescue. He would often head out to shelters to look for dogs he could train up for the job, and the types of breeds he saw filling those shelters broke his heart.

Dogs need to use their nose more than anything else, Alex Schanzer said.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

Dogs need to use their nose more than anything else, Alex Schanzer said.

“There are always dogs there that you know are not going to get the home they need, but the shelters need to get rid of them,” he said.

“These dogs go out, and you know they’ll come back. Border collies, kelpies, Australian cattle dogs, huntaways. People will buy these dogs but they don’t give the dog enough. ”

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