Dog Training – Don’t Breed to Teach
By C. Rogers Upson
In the world of dog breeding, the predominant mindset is to improve the breed, or breed as close to the standard as possible. Most breeders that follow this plan will also be very careful about who they sell puppies to and what happens to those puppies in the long run.
However, in the world outside the show ring or working dogs, there is a tendency to breed dogs for “educational” purposes. To teach the children about life. It does not matter who the parents of the litter are (usually), they simply want their female dog to have a litter of puppies so the kids can watch the delivery and see “mother nature” at work.
Let me make this suggestion to you. Don’t Do It ! ! !
For one thing, you’re not looking beyond the “miracle of life” aspect. Once the puppies are born and weaned, what are you going to do with them? I’ve seen advertisements by people for puppies four weeks of age and let me tell you, those puppies are NOT ready to be removed from their mother. They will require a whole lot more work than an eight week puppy would.
Think all your friends will be delighted to have an offspring of your dog? Think again. When she’s pregnant, they might say it, but when it comes to actually taking one, 98% or more of them will have a reason not to. So, there you are, stuck with anywhere from one to twelve or more puppies.
And, once they are weaned, think of the expense of feeding them until you find them homes. Not to mention the expense of shots and worming for each of the little adorable bundles of fur.
Did you know that dogs can have venereal diseases? Well, they can and responsible breeders will have the dog and the bitch (female) tested so that they do not pass on such things as brucellosis which can lead to infertility in the animals, abortion, and still births. For breeding programs, this can be disasterous. For the dog not in a monitored breeding program, it can be deadly.
Will you choose instead to take them to your local humane society? Have you read the statistics for dogs that are killed annually in pounds and humane societies? According to the Humane Society of the United States (http://www.hsus.org/), between 3 and 4 MILLION dogs and cats are euthanized per year. That is an estimate, as they cannot get total statistics from some places. Imagine, though, 3-4 MILLION per year. The number one reason they cite? Pet overpopulation. It’s not because of behavior problems, not because of diseases, but because people do not spay or neuter their animals and then let them either run free or turn them in to shelters.
Oh, another thing you ought to be prepared for, what if the bitch doesn’t want the puppies? She might reject them outright, in which case you get the job, or, she might even kill them. Won’t that be something for the kids to see?
And, by the way, a first litter will be pretty confusing to your dog, so you’d better be prepared for lots of strange behaviors. Do you know what to do if the uterus stops pushing puppies out? What about a prolapsed uterus (where the uterus comes out of the dog)? Do you know what that is and what to do about it? Would you recognize mastitis (infection of the mammary glands–deadly to pups and could kill the mother) and know what to do about it?
Then, there is the possibility that with all of you watching her, the poor thing won’t be able to push those puppies out due to anxiety. Have you thought about that?
You say dogs and wolves in the wild do it all the time? True and do you have any idea how many of them do exactly what I’ve described? Neither do I, but if it happens in the domestic dog, you can bet it happens out there and they don’t have vets to take care of them.
So, what I’m saying here is save yourself and your bitch a bunch of heartache and get her spayed. Rent videos for the kids if you want to educate them, but don’t make the dog do it.
C. Rogers Upson has been training dogs and studying them for nearly 40 years. Her website is http://www.dogpotentials.com and she has two dog-related stores at http://www.cafepress.com/keepbts (Keeping to the Borders) and http://www.cafepress.com/dp52 (Dog Potentials).
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