dog training, dog behavior, dog health
 
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The most popular breed of dog kept as pets in the U.S. is the Labrador Retriever.  Other dogs in this group are also quite popular – the American Cocker Spaniel, the Golden Retriever and the Irish Setter are much loved members of many families.  Over-breeding to fill this demand for popular pets has led to some bloodlines displaying negative traits such as over-excitability.  To purchase the best of these breeds, it is recommended that even non-hunters purchase from reputable breeders of sporting dogs.   The long-running popularity of Cocker Spaniels has resulted in a pet that is farther removed from its Spaniel roots than any other breed in the Sporting Group.  Watching AKC dog shows, you may notice that the Cocker Spaniels being shown in those classes have a much different appearance than those usually seen as pets. (continued below) 


Labrador Retrievers are adorable puppies and wonderful companions as adults but are often prone to chew everything in sight as puppies.  Although chewing is normal for most puppies, with such a large, strong breed it can result in serious damage to personal property.  These pups often aren't particular about what they chew.  It may be your shoes or a table leg, but could as easily be the track of your treadmill or the drywall in the room where they are confined.
 
Most owners tolerate this behavior because of the funny antics and sweet nature of Labradors.   Unfortunately, lack of understanding and training by naive dog owners leads to many of these wonderful animals ending up abandoned at shelters as "bad" dogs.  For a Labrador with a serious chewing problem, a wire cage muzzle is often a good tool to use.  Because the muzzle doesn't impede either vision of the ability to bark, drink, etc it is a humane solution to surviving the dog equivalent of teen years for a lab owner.
 
The best response to a dog that is chewing excessively is to increase the exercise time to allow the animal to expend energy and reduce stress and to train the dog to a large kennel to be used when the owner is not available to supervise.
 

This group of dogs is the most likely perhaps to chase cars, bikes and other rolling, moving objects.   "Fetching" is instinctive to them and to some a car may look like a game of chase.  If your pet has this tendency, training is needed to keep him safe.
 
Keep the dog on a longer lead and work to develop his attention span by keep his attention on you – while walking either near a street with occasional traffic or, alternatively, by having your child or a neighbor ride his bike across the path of the dog.  When the dog's attention moves to the car or bike and he seems to be preparing to give chase, turn in the opposite direction and call him to heel.  If he doesn't turn with you immediately, one quick tug of the lead and a low pitched "no" (or whatever sound you use to indicate "bad") will usually get his attention.
As soon as his attention comes back to you and he rejoins you on the walk he gets a small training treat and praise.
 
This takes repetition and some dogs will need professional training to overcome this chasing trait.  Other dogs may not chase cars or bikes but will race them instead – while a last group will totally ignore these large moving objects as totally beneath notice.
 
With the exception of Setters and Spaniels that are long-coated, dogs in this group are blessed with easy-care coats.  The longer haired variety need daily brushing to avoid matting but grooming is easily done by owners.  Though shedding occurs, even the long hair breeds do not exhibit the heavy fur loss often found in long haired breeds of the working dog group and drifts of fur everywhere in the house is not a big problem with Sporting breeds.
 
Golden Retrievers and some Labradors are also heavily used as companion, assistance and therapy dogs.  Their trainability and gentle nature combined with their genuine love of people make them some of the best Seeing Eye dogs.  As assistance dogs, they are trained for many

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