The term ‘purebred’ is relative. No breed has been so isolated that it’s never mated with another.
But taken over the last hundred years or so, there are populations of Golden Retriever, German Shepherds and many others that have bred only with their own kind. As with any inbreeding program, the results tend to produce extremes, both good and bad.
The bad aspect is that, for technical reasons, genes that lead to undesirable conditions will occur more frequently the narrower the population. Instances of hip dysplasia in Golden Retrievers are more likely to be passed on if programs are careless. Fortunately, they rarely are.
The other extreme produces show dogs or simply companions that tend to have a higher capacity for learning and stronger bodies. But even in these ‘better’ types, training is challenging.
Along with superior physical capacity comes the confidence to tackle larger obstacles, the need for more interaction, and – there’s no other way to put it – a more finicky character. Mutts, on the whole, are more relaxed than purebreds.
As a consequence, be prepared to commit extra time and attention to the standard ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’ basics. Expect a greater capacity for attention, but also a higher likelihood of willfulness. Purebreds tend to be more independent.
Both mixed and purebreds love exercise and play. But the purebred will often want to play ‘his’ way. Increased repetition and a refusal to compromise will help you maintain and reinforce your alpha (leader) status. Fortunately, as can be seen from show trials on television, purebreds can exhibit a wide variety of complex behavior flawlessly.
That behavior comes, though, from the many hours over many months or years of focused training. A superior potential is just that – a capacity. To bring out that capacity, focus on the dog’s strengths.
One well-known woman on the show circuit has trained her companion to perform a complex dance routine lasting several minutes. The dog backs up, shoots through her legs, winds around in a circle, and much more but always in a pattern. Taking what would be random movements and turning them into choreography requires breaking down the routine into short segments.
Focus on a specific, say moving backwards as you move forward. Face the dog, who starts in a sit position. Then ‘up’ and step forward. Even highly intelligent dogs don’t spontaneously back up on command. Encourage the behavior by holding a treat or toy above the head and slightly beyond the eyes, moving forward in steps.
Try one step, then two, then six, then twelve. Repeat the exercise daily until the dog has it completely automated and executes flawlessly.
Accompany your movement with a unique tone and word combination. Praise lavishly for correct execution and display firm patience, not harsh condemnation, for errors.
Consistency will eventually lead to the desired results.
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