Sunday, December 4, 2011

Owning a Basset Hound


Something happened recently that got me thinking about writing up this particular post. Oh, it was nothing bad. One of former classmates I had from Ripon College was looking into getting a Basset Hound (Layla; you go girl and represent your breed) and wanted some feedback. I was more than glad to help out! In all honesty, owning a Basset Hound was one of the best decisions that Stu and I have ever done for ourselves. 

So...what is it like to own a Basset Hound? 



It is difficult to own a Basset Hound. You think you are disciplined. You think you have the upper hand. But before you know it, the Basset Hound is on the sofa in the living room, and it becomes a battle to convince this stubborn dog to give up the luxury of sitting up with humans. 

Let me see.....

Layla is certainly:
Stubborn
Unyielding
Laid-back
At times, languid
Unhurried
Gentle
Playful when she feels like it
Curious

Layla has: 
Poop breath (no matter how much I brush her teeth)
Floppy lips
Droopy jowls
Ducky paws
Did I mention Poop breath?
Food fixation
Constant drool effect

Layla will never be: 
Spry
Lively
Wild
Athletic
Peppy
Hyper

But you know what.....we would not have changed a thing about her....except maybe her poop breath. 


Since I have been getting a lot of inquiries about Layla's well-being lately; I am very happy to let you know that Layla has been doing wonderfully, and has made huge strides from the day when we got her. Layla no longer nips now that we know what triggers her grouchiness reaction. We don't allow her on the sofa anymore because it gives her a sense of entitlement and can cause her to be a bit more possessive. This is called resource guarding. The common myth states that resource guarding is not normal, however, this is not true. Resource guarding is an ingrained behavior in wild pack of wolves or dogs, and can show up in genetically dominant dogs. It can show up in passive dogs as well. 

To manage Layla's resource guarding; Layla is no longer a sofa dog, and is given a dog bed which she absolutely loves. From time to time; when Layla is being bratty, we do catch her attempting to jump on the sofa or sitting there, and we have learned how to safely remove her by either treats or leash. I prefer leash because she gets too smart for her own good and realizes that sofa means she can get treats. Um no. 

Her food guarding aka stealing food has completely reduced. Layla now sits at the doorway frame and waits for her food until one of us calls her to get her food. Her dog food is locked up in a dog bin and placed in a pantry closet. She has also reduced her street scavenging and doesn't do this much anymore. However, sometimes a poop is too tempting for her and she eats it. Gross, I know. This is her favorite munchies especially on the Farm. Hence, her poopy breath and ... just don't let her lick your face, okay? 


We are able to have food out in the open. Within moments, she walks away and lays on her dog bed. This is a huge improvement for her. We have guests over all of the time. Layla loves the attention from our guests especially if they are people that Layla has already met. For people she has not met; she barks for a moment then cautiously approaches them, and relaxes once she is sweet-talked. Yes, that's the secret. Sweet talk to Layla and she will love you forever. Layla like kids, to our surprise, and can tolerate them pretty well. When she feels she has enough; she walks away to relax, and it is when we tell the kids that she needs a "bed time". 

Layla sits at every curb when we stop during her walks. She does this automatically now. What a smart dog!  Layla enjoys getting petted and talked to by random people on the street during our walks. She prefers smaller or similar sized dogs to the larger ones. Large dogs makes her hair raise up. We are not sure why she reacts in this way, and realizes that she is simply not just big dog fan. She also does not like to be touched in a certain way which is touching/squeezing her lower back on her hip especially if one is standing behind of her. It makes her react negatively. It is a result of poor socialization and possibly abuse in her early life, we think. So we manage this by not pulling Layla away by her lower back and forcing her to remain calm around larger dogs during walks despite Layla's barking and dominant stance. Fear not; she talks the talk, but not walk the walk, if you get my drift. 

Some of mannerisms that you see above are not characteristically of a Basset Hound, such as being overly cautious around new people, not liking certain dogs, and resource guarding behavior. This stems from poor socialization, and some dogs are able to improve with management (this cannot be resolved permanently for that it is already ingrained in a dog) while some other dogs does not have their issues to be improved  even though the issues can be stabilized. 

Rest....are all characteristically Basset Hound...yes, that includes eating poop (to clarify; not own poop, but others).  



If you want to adopt a Basset Hound then keep it in the mind that you may be getting a dog with some issues or if you are lucky then a dog without any issues. If you do end up having a dog, any breeds really, with issues then please do not give up on the dog unless if the dog is extremely aggressive and dangerous. It will take from several months to a few years in order to see improvements in your dog. 

If you want to purchase a Basset Hound or ANY breed from a breeder then please check out the breeder's background and credentials. Make sure you meet the parents of the puppies. Ask for the AKC credentials on the parents. Question the breeder about vet care of parents, birthing care on mother and puppies, and puppies' vaccination updates. Look where the puppies and parents are kept. Ask about the genetically potential problems in the breed. If the breeder is able to answer your questions, allow you meet the parents, provide appropriate credentials then the likelihood that the puppies are not run by a puppy-mill breeder and have less issues in a longer run.

For Layla; she is still improving despite having come from a very long way in a few months, and we are proud of our Turdpants. Everybody who have met Layla have also fallen in love with her, and tells us how gentle & sweet Layla is. It is a continuing karmic message that we are doing a right thing by Layla. We wouldn't have traded her for any other dogs. She is ours. 


With a Barkingly plenty of Love,
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