LIVING WITH A PORTUGUESE WATER DOG
By Barbara Belicose & Chris Dostie
electing a dog for your fam- ily can be an overwhelming task. Th ere are so many dif- ferent breeds to choose from, and hopefully one has taken the time to match the dog
with their family’s interests, and lifestyle. If you are active, enjoy the outdoors and love the challenge of training a dog that at times would love to outsmart you, then the Portuguese Water Dog is for you. Watching a group of Portuguese Water Dogs hard at play with each other cer- tainly gives us a glimpse of what made this dog the breed of choice for the Portuguese Fisherman. Th ese fishermen were a hard- working, dedicated, persistent people with a sense of humor and a flair for fun and whimsy. Sounds like a good description of the dogs that shared this life! Living with a Portuguese Water Dog or PWD is an adventure. As described in the breed standard, they are working dogs first and foremost who are very intel- ligent, curious, energetic and a ff ectionate and at their best when given a job to do. A bored PWD will most definitely create their own forms of entertainment! Th ey require a trainer that is able to think as quickly as their dog. Th ey respond well to the reward based methods of training that encourage them to problem solve and think things through. Th ey don’t respond well to repetitive training. A PWD does not see the point of doing the same thing over and over so trying to sneak in a lot of repetitions will definitely bring out a mischievous side that will leave everyone laughing. Th ey often need a consistent but benevolent hand when discipline is required since they will take correction as long as it is fair. Portuguese Water Dogs are great family pets. Th ey are patient and loving with children though boundar- ies are best set early so puppies and kids know what acceptable play behavior is.
Th e PWD is a watchdog by nature and they can and will take their job very seri- ously if allowed to. Th e breed standard uses the expression strong willed in its descrip- tion. Th is trait shows itself the most when it comes to their watchdog duties. Th e PWD must have a clear and well-defined leader of their pack or this breed is more than happy to take that position. A dog that sees itself as king of the domain can become quite protective and overzealous in guarding that domain. Portuguese Water Dogs need to under- stand from the start that they work on
this “fishing vessel” and they don’t own it. Socialization is really critical for the breed since they can be wary of strangers. Teaching them to accept strange people and situations is vital to having a well- rounded dog that will be a pleasure to live with. With their quick minds and love of learning and one of the best things you can do with a PWD is to enroll them in a “puppy kindergarten” or beginning obe- dience class. Introducing them to a con- trolled environment of other people and pets can reinforce your role as leader and o ff er them socialization with dogs and
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