Imagine if... you walked out at night and it was alive with wildlife scurrying and scrapping, digging and dashing. If you couldn’t go far without tripping over a burrow, and the beam of your torchlight sparkled with reflected eye shine. Australian nights are too quiet now. When the likes...
The latest movie ‘Dog’ starring Channing Tatum is the talk of the town. However it has many of us concerned. A well-behaved and highly trained dog forms a strong and beautiful bond with their human—what more could you want? Cue lots of people running out looking for a Belgian Malinois to join their family.
Of course we’ve seen this all before, with Kelpies becoming the dog to have after ‘Red Dog’ the movie, Dalmatians after ‘101 Dalmatians’, and the subsequent flux of these same breeds into rescue organisations shortly afterwards. Just because the dog is cute in the movie doesn’t mean that they’ll suit your family. The reality is often very different and the Belgian Malinois featured in ‘Dog’ is a special type of dog. Bred originally as herding and service or working dogs, they are the mainstay breed for military and police and for protection purposes. They are intense, intelligent, highly active dogs that love to work, but that in the hands of an inexperienced owner can prove far too much! Like all dogs, they are loyal companions that can make a great addition to your family, but that doesn’t mean that this breed will be right for your family unless you have an extremely active lifestyle and are willing to put significant time into your dog, for the rest of their hopefully 12 plus years of life.
So please, consider the following when you decide to bring a new dog into your family:
Will they suit your lifestyle? Are you an active family or do you prefer hanging out at home? And can you take your dog to the places you like to go—national parks for example are not places for our dogs so that wildlife can be protected.
Do you plan to take the dog with you or spend time with it each day or is it likely to spend more time at home alone while you’re at work?
Do you have the time and money to put into training your dog? This isn’t just about basic skills such as sitting when they are young, but dedicating yourself to ongoing training throughout your dog’s life to keep their brain active, engaged and healthy so that they don’t become bored and destructive. This is the fun part—playing with your dog!
Bringing a dog into your family that won’t suit your lifestyle long term may bring short term joy for everyone, but long term if they become destructive due to boredom. If you are unable to meet their needs, it will be heartbreaking for your family to give that dog up and ultimately the dog will suffer the greatest.
The beauty of dogs is that there is a breed, mix of breeds or an individual dog out there to suit everyone, but not every dog is suited to every family. Taking the time to choose the right dog for your family is critical. Please don’t base this important decision on a picture or a movie you’ve seen, but connect with that individual dog and get to know them to find out whether they will suit you. Whilst the underlying genetics of their breed(s) will tell you a lot about their tendencies, nothing will beat learning about that individual and their own unique personality to see whether they will fit you and your lifestyle.
So take your time when choosing your next family member!
Alexia Wellbelove, as well as being a staff member of HSI for the past 13 years, is a lifelong dog lover who has had the pleasure of a dog being part of her family for more than 30 years. She has been actively involved in dog training for the last 10 years, completing her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services with the Delta Society in 2015. She is a professional member of the Delta Institute and Pet Professional Guild Australia and in her spare time she enjoys teaching people how to look after their new dog family members.