Max the Movie
This weekend a new movie opens, not just any movie, but a movie about military dogs – one of my favorite type of dog. Warner Brothers is releasing the movie MAX. The movie is loosely based on a true story. A military dog with PTSD returns home and is comforted by the family of the dog’s deceased handler, in particular his brother.
I am certain it’s gonna be a great movie, and I’ll be one of the first in line to see it. That isn’t my issue and I have no issue with Warner Brothers, the director or any of the stars. I am however GREATLY concerned with the pitfalls of people who will see this movie and think they need to get a Belgian Malinois. It is important VERY IMPORTANT to point out that the dog portrayed in this movie is not a Malinois, but a Malinois mix. Not that it makes that much difference, but it’s just a point. As a lover, owner and trainer of this breed as well as German Shepherds (the other 1/2 of the mix that Max is), I am greatly concerned with lay people thinking they should get a working dog as a pet. As much as I love and live for these dogs, they are terrible pets. They are high drive, which means they need to be kept occupied all the time or kenneled.
Working Dogs are not pets. These dogs are bred for their high drive. They are built to work all the time, that means if their not working, they need to find something to do and that is usually something you don’t want them doing, like chewing or barking. They don’t stop just because you want them to. If you think you are going to sit and watch a movie with your Malinois or working line GSD in your lap, you are sadly mistaken. He will be up in your face, he’ll be barking, chewing on something or spinning around the room.
These dogs need extensive training by a professional, a professional skilled in working dogs. These are not dogs to be trained or handled by a novice. The average pet trainer will be so far over their heads with a dog like this that the results can prove dangerous. If the dog’s drives are not managed they will bite or attack. They are bred to bite, but done wrong in training they will bite the wrong people and even their owners. I’ve seen and heard of plenty of working line dogs that bite their handlers when corrected.
These dogs have immense prey drive. That means they love to chase stuff. That can be cars, bicycles, skateboards, other dogs, cats and everything else that moves. It is also not a behavior that can be trained out of them. It is something that is developed into other aspects of training. We use these drives in order to strengthen the dog. Thinking you can just put a collar on the dog and tell him no is a BIG MISTAKE.
There have been so many dogs done wrong through the movies, including Chihuahuas from Beverly Hills Chihuahua & Dalmatians from 101 Dalmatians. These dogs end up overbred, sold to people on impulse and them quickly dumped in local shelters because “it didn’t work out.” I pray this doesn’t happen.
Greedy, stupid people (breeders) will take advantage of unsuspecting buyers and sell them puppies. This will be a big mistake. Good breeders, the American Belgian Malinois Club as well as the American Belgian Malinois Rescue are very concerned over the breed they love so much. It is a scary thought to think of these dogs in homes with uneducated owners. It’s scary for the people, the dogs and the public. People who don’t understand the needs of the dog will be sadly mistaken when they find out that this dog requires intense training, exercise and management. I can tell you that I dedicate at least 3-4 hours a day to my working dogs. I drive them to training classes, I train them in my home, I exercise them, groom them and sleep with them. You can see the video of Goofy and me here.
This is the result of 5 years of daily training. It looks cool, but it’s more work than you can ever imagine.
I wold urge anyone thinking about adopting or buying a Malinois to think REALLY HARD about the commitment it takes, it’s HUGE. This is not a pet, talk to me if you’re thinking about it and I’ll probably talk you out of it.
Watch the movie – Love the Movie – then go to your local shelter and adopt a mutt that will be the best pet you will ever have!!!