What made you get into dogs?

amberdyan

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#1
Since someone brought up Chaz being pretty empty, I'll make a thread! : p

So, since we're all a bit more "dog people" than the average pet owner, what got you started? Was it one dog (yours or not)? Seeing a demo? A trainer? Reading stuff online? How did you get to where you are now?

For me, I was given a puppy when I was 7. She was a BC/Lab mix and super sweet. There's no way I would do what my parents did (got 2 puppies at the same time, one for me and one for my little sister) but we lived on 60 acres and it ended up working out. I named her Princess Diana (haha) and we basically grew up together. She was a wonderful dog and super smart. My mom had no experience with training dogs and they just kind of intuitively worked together and learned tons of stuff.

I volunteered at an animal shelter when I was old enough, training dogs really basic manners (sit, down, wait politely for food, greet a stranger politely, etc.) to make them more adoptable. I loved it for the most part and it made me desperately want a dog of my own. I wasn't in a place to have a dog for most of my college, but when I moved into a nice big apartment my senior year my schedule evened out, life became a little more predictable and I got Hugo : )
 

Samsonyte!

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#2
Ever since I was teeny tiny I could remember asking my parents for a dog. Apparently dog was one of my first words. But what really got me wanting to go above average pet owner with said dog was when I was six years old. My parents took me to a dog show and they had an agility demo there. I remember seeing the dogs running and thinking it was the coolest thing ever and ever since then I knew that I wanted to get into that with my future dog. I didn't end up getting my first dog (Sam) until I was 14 so in the meantime I spent all sorts of time reading up on training and behavior and breeds and being a giant nerd.
 

straw

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#3
I think I was always a huge dog nerd. I remember teaching my childhood dog to shake a paw when I was like 7 or 8? I recall doing it in secret because for some reason I thought my parents would have been mad. And apparently I corrected my 1st grade teacher when she got breeds wrong.

I grew up overseas and didn't speak the local language well, and I remember watching an agility club near me and wishing I could join in.

Then once I started fostering I got really into training and I think things just blossomed from there.
 
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#4
I've been a dog person since I was little. I'd watch dog training tv shows and study dog breed encyclopedias for hours. I even researched breeders in my area that health tested and seemed reputable, so that if my mom ever allowed me to have a dog I'd be ready.

When I turned 13 I started volunteering for a dog rescue 2-3 times a week. I learned a lot about dog behavior there as well as training and grooming. Volunteering there fed my obsession, and I became even more determined to get a dog. I tried to convince my mom several times to adopt various rescue dogs, but she always said no. But when I started fostering about 6 months after signing up to volunteer, she became a lot more relaxed about the idea of having a dog.

I foster failed Fable when I was 14. My mom finally broke down and let me keep one of our fosters. And now I'm 16 and have a second dog! I've always been interested in sporting competitions (specifically disc), and I'm looking forward to training Cy to be a disc dog.

I feel like having dogs has just confirmed for myself that they really are my passion. Before I had one of my own, everything I knew about dogs was hypothetical and I had absolutely no experience with them. But being around them and training and volunteering are all things that are really important to me now, and I can't imagine a time in my life when dogs were not really important to me.
 

Laurelin

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#5
I always had dogs, always begged parents for a dog of my own. Loved watching animal planet (agility especially). When I was in middle school I started played petz on the computer and got really interested in conformation that way.

Then I eventually got dis-interested in conformation and hooked on agility.
 

Paviche

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#6
I've always had dogs, literally. My first dog, Oliver, was 3 years older than me. We got Kirby when I was 3, then Lucky when I was 5. Oliver died when I was 10 and we got Baxter that same year. Kirby died when I was ~16 and I got Rowan a couple weeks shy of my 17th birthday. Lucky died when I was 19, Baxter when I was 21. Riff came home a few weeks after Baxter passed, and then of course Stitch joined the family last year. I've never been without at least one dog.

My real interest in dogs started young, probably as early as 5. I've been fascinated by breeds and training for as long as I can remember. Later on in my childhood I was diagnosed with autism which made my single track mind about dogs make a lot more sense. They're still my primary focus and interest. My mental health is also almost entirely dependent on having them around... I went for a 6 month period as a teenager without a dog (Lucky was living in Texas with my mom still after I moved to Colorado) and it was a bad situation.

I will never not be a dog person. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that without dogs I would have no identity, and that's okay with me.
 

Elrohwen

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#7
My family has always had dogs, and I was an animal obsessed little kid for as long as I could remember. I was always interested in trying to train the dogs, and I rode horses as well. I never got that far training our family dogs, I think because the internet wasn't really around then and I didn't have anyone to help me in person. I knew that when I got dogs as an adult that I would get involved with dog sports. I don't ride horses anymore because it's so expensive and time consuming, so the dog sports fill that niche too.

I think it was kind of inevitable that I would do dog stuff and be really into dogs. I can't remember a time that I wasn't on some level.
 

taterz

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#8
I don't know life without a dog. There was a dog in the house when my parents first brought me home from the hospital and the same is now true for my kids. It's hard to imagine a home without one.

During those sad times when you're in between dogs the home just feels like it's missing something.
 

Southpaw

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#9
I've loved dogs since I was a kid, but always in your typical dog owner sort of way... take them for walks, play a little fetch, hang out at home. I loved watching the incredible dog challenge on TV but had no desire to actually do that stuff with my dog - I thought you needed a really special dog to be able to do sports or teach tricks lol.

Then I got Juno right before I turned 18. I had no goals with her, just wanted a nice companion. Aaaaand I quickly realized boxer puppies are a lot of work and energy and actually need to be trained. And the more I read about dog training, the more I got into it and other dog stuff. And I started enjoying spending all this time with my dog. Still didn't do anything crazy with her but was much more involved than the average person and learned a lot.

Next came Cajun and after we got her is when I started seeing more people doing disc with their dogs. I got curious and wanted to see if she was interested. She was, and from the 1st roller she chased we just kept building and learning and eventually competed, so then enter Sawyer, who is the 1st dog I've gotten with the intent of really working with and doing sports with.

Basically it's like every dog I get builds new interests for me.
 

Moth

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#10
I can not remember a time when I did not want a dog. When I was a wee tot I was asking my parents to get me one already, but because my father was afraid of dogs I did not get one until my teens.

Until I had my own dog I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandfathers little poodle.

I read dog books as a kid. I had dogs on the brain...

When I became an adult I got my dogs and never looked back :D
 

Maxy24

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#11
My family got our dog Max when I was 4 years old so he was part of it for sure. But I was always an animal person, I loved animal planet (back when it was about animals) and all those animal documentaries, I liked reading the dog training book we got when we got Max (has lots of pictures) and watching the dog training video we got as well (Uncle Matty) over and over again. I liked learning everything I could about animals. I think for me it was one area that I knew a lot about that my older brothers and even parents did not (since it wasn't something that interested them that much). So every time I learned something new and told my parents about it I actually felt like I was teaching them something they didn't know, and I liked that feeling, so I wanted to know more and more. I think initially I was more into wild animals than dogs/domestic animals.

I got gerbils when I was in 2nd grade, and basically just added more animals as I went (frogs, hermit crabs, cats, leopard gecko, fish, etc.). I loved all animals, they were my passion. It wasn't until I found this forum that I started to really focus in on solely dogs, now they are my main interest. After Max died (I was in high school) I started spending time with my aunt and uncle's shih tzu Phoebe and would teach her commands and tricks and that's how I really became passionate about dog training, she was so much fun to train!
 
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#12
I've had dogs my whole life growing up - always rescues.

About 8 years ago my dad opened a dog boarding and daycare facility and it really sprung my interactions with dogs and my desire to be with dogs.

Since I never had my own, I took to training and working with the family dog, Leo (8 year old Am Staffie x)

6 years later, I now have my own pup. 1 year old Ada, a chi/basenji/Italian greyhound (super mutt). Even before I got her, I had a plan on what I all I wanted in a dog and what I wanted to do with her. She has accomplished at least 80% of my goals.

I'm hooked. I'm graduating in July. Next year I plan on adopting another dog, preferably 4-5+ years old once my future is a little more settled.
 
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#13
I've been an animal person my whole life but for the first 15-20 years was more into horses (and reptiles to a lesser extent) than anything else. I didn't really get into dogs specifically until I got divorced, got Astro out of devastation and a need to care for something, and he turned out to have more issues than I bargained for. I basically had to do more learning than I thought I'd have to because he didn't back down to pressure like my childhood dogs had, and he started resource guarding everything from everyone.

I really think that if Astro had been an easy, tolerant dog, I would just have dogs as sort of a periphery thing rather than them being front and center in my life as they are now.

The thing that got me into "behavior academics," if you want to call it that, was an Ian Dunbar seminar. Was totally hooked from then on, it was instantaneous.
 

milos_mommy

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#14
I was OBSESSED with dogs as a kid, probably for a few reasons:

I didn't have the most stable childhood, and although I had friends, I saw my own dog and thought of future dogs as more like family members who wouldn't be as crappy as actual family. My dog was like my brother that didn't threaten to kill me and someone I could talk to without getting an earful of judgement and negativity back. My childhood dog was protective when I didn't feel safe, a playmate when I needed a distraction, a listening ear when I needed to vent, etc.

I also was kind of obsessed with the idea of living off the grid as a kid, although I didn't know that was a term back then...so I'd daydream about farm/hunting dogs helping me live off the land far from civilization. I also wanted to be like some kind of wilderness pioneer and so books like Call of the Wild egged that on.

I got over the obsession once I hit middle/high school, but a few years later I got Milo. I needed to learn a lot about dog behavior to enjoy him, and started working in grooming two years later, basically because a job in the neighborhood opened up, so I also started pet sitting and training professionally shortly after that. Then fostered, got into rescue, etc.
 

joce

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#15
My parents bred labs when I was young and they were my siblings and best buddies. Kept me out of trouble! We lived in the middle of a couple hundred acres and would go on long walks and it was the best childhood. I loved those dogs. Had many more dogs after the labs passed. All special.

My dad's dog was very important to him and I think I saw that and imprinted it? I dunno really.
 

amberdyan

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#16
My parents bred labs when I was young and they were my siblings and best buddies. Kept me out of trouble! We lived in the middle of a couple hundred acres and would go on long walks and it was the best childhood. I loved those dogs. Had many more dogs after the labs passed. All special.

My dad's dog was very important to him and I think I saw that and imprinted it? I dunno really.
That sounds like my experience as a kid. I had my dog and my dad had 3-4 hunting dogs always. Usually pointers and hounds. I would run all over our land and the 200 acres across that road that was used to graze cattle and just play and adventure all day. I literally grew up with my dog as a best friend (there were very few kids near us). In the summer we would camp out behind the house and pretend we were stranded survivors. Definitely the best childhood with the best dogs.
 

Toller_08

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#17
I grew up with dogs and just always really liked them. Well, more than liked. I was obsessed with them. I remember being the weird kid in school who would always rent all of the dog books out in the library; like, dog breed encyclopedia books and training books even. Not cartoon dog stories haha. Then as I got older, I was given more dog responsibilities, and eventually got my "own" dog when I was a young teen because after years of watching my mom take classes with one of our Rottweilers, and watching Top Dogs and the Incredible Dog Challenge on TV constantly, I wanted a dog that was good at jumping and frisbee and fun to teach tricks to. Our Rottweiler was very laid back and did not enjoy nor was very talented at these things haha. And our Dachshunds were not the most ideal for such things either, although I loved them of course. I just really wanted a Border Collie or an Aussie type dog, and my dad kept saying no because he had a herding breed negative bias. Somehow the fact that my Border Collie mix was mixed with a retriever made the "bad" herding dog stuff disappear in his mind (little did he know that Tango was pretty much all Border Collie in temperament) haha. And so I ended up with Tango, and she just expanded my dog obsession further and showed me what kinds of breeds I like. Nowadays I feel a bit like I am reverting back a bit to my pet dog ways, though. For a while I was becoming obsessed with every sport and wanted to be good at and do them all. But then I realized how expensive that was and how difficult it is to be good at everything with the time I have. I love dogs and I love training, but I have no real desire compete in anything. I just like hanging out with them, hiking, exploring and learning stuff. I'll probably always just dabble in sports, unless I miraculously become really good at one of them haha.
 

joce

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#18
That sounds like my experience as a kid. I had my dog and my dad had 3-4 hunting dogs always. Usually pointers and hounds. I would run all over our land and the 200 acres across that road that was used to graze cattle and just play and adventure all day. I literally grew up with my dog as a best friend (there were very few kids near us). In the summer we would camp out behind the house and pretend we were stranded survivors. Definitely the best childhood with the best dogs.
I try to explain it to people and they don't get it lol! I hung out with my dogs all day! I still remember these grand adventures we went on. When we moved they made it into a giant horse/walking metro park so I can and have gone back and it's nice. But my dogs were my baby sitters I swear.

I wish I had that now but I'd have to win that lottery lol!
 

meepitsmeagan

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#19
Growing up I was constantly surrounded by dogs, mainly strays that would be found on our family farm that we would take in. I was in dog 4H for several years but eventually moved to horses.

When I turned 17 I decided I wanted my own dog again since my pointerx had passed away. I started to do research on breeds I'd seen at horse shows that I'd liked, mainly BCs and Corgis. I ended up settling on wanting an ACD after ending up on DogForums and getting some advice there. Once I got permission to get a dog, I kind of got impulsive and bought Harlow (which I'm glad because I totally wasn't prepared for herding dog then). Once we were out in CO, there was less open land to just let her run so I actually had to start doing more than basic training. Got back into forum world and everything kind of spiraled from there. Now here we are!

My dogs are my life, but as I get more involved with horses again I can see myself backing off a bit from dog sport stuff. I will never be without an ACD to follow me around and help out around the farm, but I don't think I'd want to have to keep up with more than one personal dog in the future.
 

Liminal

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#20
I grew up in a multi-generational "dog family" albeit not of the ideally responsible sort. My great grandfather bred Dobes and Black and Tan Coonhounds and it kind of got passed down, if somewhat unfortunately as by no means are the breeders still in my family what I'd called responsible. We always had dogs, usually more than we needed, and of many different breeds over the years with a few staples (mainly Dobes and Mt. Curs or cur mixes). Some of them helped lightly with farm chores, in a really informal/haphazard way.

It did give me a nostalgia for them, and a certain amount of real-world if not well-mentored experience. Enough to know that I find trans-species partnerships deeply satisfying and have a knack for it compared to many people (probably not compared to people here though - I'm perpetually amazed by what people one forums like this have accomplished!). When I was a teenager I desperately wanted to show / compete with my dogs and horses in 4-H but we never had the money, and when I got my first dog as an adult I knew I'd go in that direction. I waited about 8 years into adulthood to actually get said dog because I wanted to be sure I was in a stable enough place for him.

As far as depth of involvement goes, I'm just a very research oriented personality so when I get into something I go whole hog as far as trying to cultivate my opinions and ideas in that area - and doing a good job of that necessitates discussion, which is why I join forums like this one. I did thankfully have the good sense to have learned to disagree with many of the management techniques and breeding practices my relatives used while I was growing up well before I became an adult dog owner.
 
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