Friday Jan 30 2009
Paws and effect
By: Bruce Warren, Journal staff writer
First family or yours, anyone wanting a dog has lots to consider
Labradoodle? Portuguese water dog? No matter what kind of dog President Barack Obama’s family ends up getting, they will need to make the same basic training decisions that any new dog owner in Placer County would have to make. Will that dog be allowed to jump up on the White House furniture? Where will it sleep? When will it get a walk? What will the feeding schedule be? Georgiana Lohman, president of the Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation, has 16 years’ experience as a humane officer and knows dogs. The temperament of the presidential family’s new dog is crucial, Lohman said. “It doesn’t matter what breed,” she said. “It’s the temperament. You could just as easily have nice German shepherd, as one who wants to eat you up. What could be right for one family, might not be right for another.” Lohman works mostly with rescue dogs. For the past eight months, Jill, a purebred German shepherd, has been staying at the Masters Court shelter off Highway 49. Because Jill’s former owner tried to kill her, Jill needs more time with socialization and getting used to people. Spending time with your dog would be important for any new dog owner, whether that dog be a puppy or an adult. “You would not expect a toddler to raise himself,” Lohman said. “What you put in are the rewards you will get.” Whether it’s the first family or yours, all new dog owners will need to establish a routine for potty training, eating and exercise. House rules such as jumping on furniture or people, begging for food at the table and where the dog sleeps should all be decided by the family and kept consistent. Nancy Link of Insight Dog Training in Auburn, who has 40 years of experience in dog training, recommends the Obamas get their dog trained first. She’s not impressed with the Labradoodle choice for young children. Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, might have trouble controlling an adult Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle. “The dog should not be so large that they can’t control it,” Link said. “Temperament is controlled by genetics. You can modify it, but it’s basically decided by how their mom or dad acted.” Picking the Labradoodle because it’s supposed to be a hypoallergenic breed that sheds less is an “absurd” reason, Link said. For her, it’s all about temperament and getting a dog that the children can handle. When it comes to dogs with gentle dispositions, Link likes golden retrievers. “Golden retrievers usually have a mellow temperament,” Link said. “Smaller dogs are faster and would not be good for children. They are breakable and tend to protect themselves.” When it comes to picking a breed, Link favors checking out the dog’s individual temperament first. “Why would you pay money for any dog that you have no idea how they will act?” Link said. Due to the many visitors that the White House receives, Link recommends the Obamas get a trained dog. “They should get a rescue dog that has been temperament tested, because it will be in a high-stress area,” Link said. “There will be a lot of strangers around. It should be an adult and not a high-energy dog. The Obamas’ dog should be professionally trained before they get it. If they get a puppy mixed breed, you have no idea what you’re going to get.” Elise Morisset runs an Auburn-based dog training business. Morisset, like Link, is skeptical about a Labradoodle being the best breed for the Obama family. “The Labradoodle is a high-energy dog,” Morisset said. “They will have to exercise the dog often enough. If they don’t they could potentially have some destructive behavior like chewing or anxiety.” If the Obamas get a puppy, molding its character could be easier. “If they get a puppy it’s easier to build the character rather than trying to change existing behavior,” Morisset said. “I’m sure they’ll have a staff that will cater to the dog.” The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at brucew @goldcountrymedia.com.