I’m about to start a training that reminds me of just how little people understand dogs. I was called by a family with a Brittany Springer Spaniel they bought as a pet and hunting companion. Their main complaint was the dogs nonstop mouthing. Of toys, people, kids, and stuff around the house. They even mentioned that they are “worried” about the mouthing and considered giving it back to the breeder. My reply was that if a hunting dog prospect isn’t that energetic and mouthy, THEN the dog should go back to the breeder because this behavior is EXACTLY what you look for in a working dog pup. And there’s the problem.
Working dogs and pet dogs can be and often are raised differently. Behaviors like mouthing and retrieving need to be encouraged, but channeled. Unfortunately, most people think of them as their lapdog, and they’ll get there, but there is quite a bit of training, socialization and drive building to do first. In fact, the dog needs to learn its job before the average person starts inhibiting behaviors for house manners that the dog will need in the field.
Basically being upset that a hunting dog for has prey drive (chase the game), mouths and retrieves things non stop, etc, is exactly the same as being upset at the dog for walking. Yup, walking folks. Dogs were genetically built to walk. Some were genetically build to do different jobs. When worried about a dogs behavior, please take into account what that dogs breed purpose originally was.
Labs were originally bred for bird hunting. Some can do their job, some can’t. My ex-wife has my two labs that watched birds and squirrels hop by. Jake and Elwood were great companions, but terrible working dogs. Pit bulls were originally bred for dog fighting. Some, unfortunately, are still genetically dog aggressive, some like Walter, thankfully isn’t.
The important thing for owners and novice trainers to understand is that a dog aggressive pit bull isn’t a problem. It’s correct behavior for that breed. Treating such “correct” behavior as a problem creates a bigger problem for the dog and owner. Understanding it, redirecting attention, and working with the problem can control, minimize and sometimes eliminate the behavior so that dog aggressive Pit, can sit quietly two feet from another dog and quietly watch the world go by.