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5 Things to Know About Owning High-Risk Dog Breeds

A dog can be a special addition to your household, offering love, companionship, and fun like few other pets can. However, if your canine companion is categorized as a high-risk breed, there are some things you should know. High-risk breeds and mixes including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and German Shepherds (to name a few) require additional consideration, education, and understanding before taking on the responsibility of ownership. 

1. The Cost of Ownership May be Higher

Many high-risk breeds share a common theme — they can come with restrictions and extra expenses. The nature of a high-risk animal is that known risks come with caveats. Some apartment complexes disallow tenants with high-risk breeds, meaning you may have fewer options for renting. You might have to travel further, pay a higher deposit, or have a higher overall rental rate. 

Some insurance providers won’t provide coverage to homeowners or renters who share their home with a high-risk breed. Similar to home features like pools and trampolines, a high-risk dog increases the likelihood of an insurance claim. As insurers review the actuarial likelihood of issues, many have decided that taking on high-risk clients isn’t in their best interest. Get a homeowners insurance quote that considers your desired breed before you welcome them home. 

2. Understanding Breed Characteristics is Important

You may be aware that your dog’s breed is categorized as “high-risk,” but there’s more to understand than the label. Learn about your dog’s breed characteristics to better understand their motivators, history, and how other owners support their pets. Some breeds are known for their guardian tendencies, penchant for hunting, or willingness to protect others. These characteristics aren’t without value, but when applied in the wrong setting, the results can be devastating. 

Research your pet’s breed characteristics through reputable sources, making a note of consistent takeaways. Next, speak with your veterinarian to discuss how best to support your dog’s tendencies and manage undesirable behavior. If your dog is mixed, learn about their other, non-high-risk breeds, too, to get a greater understanding of their makeup. This information can help you craft your training and behavioral management plan.

3. Obedience Training is Essential

In a similar vein to the costs of ownership being higher, you’ll need to invest time and money into obedience training. Obedience training can make a major difference to your overall enjoyment as a dog owner of any breed. Working with your pet to develop cues and commands, and set expectations can manage behavioral issues. And when your breed has natural tendencies to want to be in charge, training goes from “nice-to-have” to “essential.”

Basic obedience training for commands like sit, stay, and come sets the foundation for positive behavior. While dogs are domesticated, it’s easy to forget that they are still animals. Obedience training builds connection, trust, and communication that helps establish a good, safe relationship and reduces aggression. Learn techniques to control and manage undesirable behavior like jumping, pulling, and barking to improve your daily life. 

4. Exercise and Socialization Can Improve Wellbeing and Behavior

The idea of owning a dog is often very different from the experience of owning one. As mentioned above, dogs are indeed animals, and their needs are different from humans. Many higher-risk dogs are also large, with characteristics demanding higher energy output than humans’ generally sedentary lifestyles. Before you bring your dog home, take an honest look at your lifestyle and your willingness and ability to make changes. 

High-risk dogs often also have high energy levels that, without a proper outlet, can lead to bad behavior. Take your dog on walks, launch adventures to stimulate hunting tendencies, and wear them out with a game of fetch. By providing a positive outlet for their energy, you’ll reduce their boredom and the likelihood of destructive habits. Expose your pet to new people, places, and experiences, too, as providing socialization regularly can reduce future issues. When social settings are commonplace, the anxiety and stress of the unknown and your dog’s negative reaction decrease. 

5. Supervision Never Stops

While it’s not fun to think about your beloved pooch doing anything to harm anyone, supervision is required. Even the most well-trained dog can have a moment of aggression, so ensure you’re willing and able to be alert. High-risk dogs are often strong, large, and have protective instincts, and they don’t always interpret situations accurately. 

Keep a close watch on your dog when in the same area as children or other pets. Establish safe and comfortable containment for your dog by offering an appropriately sized crate with secure closure. Crate train your pet to establish this space as a positive place for them, which can reduce their resistance to enter. Install gates within your home to provide a barrier between pets and small children when you can’t be on hand. Educate your children about how to interact with your dog safely and what cues to look for to prevent accidents.

High-Risk Dog Breeds Can Offer Meaningful Companionship

Your canine best friend adds a lot to your life and understanding them helps you be a better owner. Give your pet the support, training, and structure they need in relation to their high-risk breed’s tendencies. When you do, you and your pet can enjoy a fulfilling companionship for years to come. 

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