Early separation from mom or breed causing probs?

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2010, 8:42 am

I've read a ton of information and talked to a lot of people that all say separating a pup from its mother too early can cause reactivity later in life because they don't have an adult dog to teach them proper manners. I fully agree with that.

However, yesterday I went to a 2-hour seminar on Canine Body Language put on by a local CPDT. It was at my training center, but not put on by Ginger, just another trainer. It was the same info I've already seen a million times, but I like to keep seeing it as I think that helps me spot it in "real" dogs instead of just pictures.

Anyway, at the end of the presentation she was taking questions, and somebody asked her if separating dogs from their moms too early caused problems. She said a very emphatic no. She feels that dogs are all born inherently knowing how to read and communicate with other dogs effectively. I then asked her if she felt any breeds or types of dogs were less inherently skilled at communication, and she immediately said the bully breeds are often very difficult to read because they've been bred to NOT show language to other dogs.

I know we've discussed the bully breed part before, but what do you think about her saying removal from moms too soon doesn't affect anything? I would have to disagree, but she has a lot more education than I do.
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Postby tiva » February 22nd, 2010, 9:53 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:She feels that dogs are all born inherently knowing how to read and communicate with other dogs effectively.


She's completely wrong about this. Communication skills are not inherent in any mammal or bird; the ability to learn to communicate may be inherent (in varying degrees depending both on the individual and the species), but any individual that's isolated from conspecifics during early developmental stages will NOT learn to communicate properly. Communication is a mixture of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors.

When I'm back at my main computer I can post some links to some of this research, if you like.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2010, 10:15 am

I'd love to see some of the research when you get a chance, Nancy. I was quite surprised with this instructor's vehemence that dogs are born knowing and early separation doesn't affect it. Truthfully, it made me very glad she wasn't my instructor because I didn't trust her as much after that. I was quite confused as she's the only one I've ever heard disagree about the early separation!
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 22nd, 2010, 10:41 am

From my own experience, *my* first dog was my basset hound...she was 6 weeks old when I got her. She didn't have good dogs to grow up with in our household either...and she always had trouble with other dogs. She was friendly enough...(she had the luck of being a hound...and they've been bred to get along with others)...but she didn't know how to play (she learned later in life...but only with her adopted siblings).

Part of it was her age, but part of it was that I didn't do things well (she did get a lot of experiences, just not good dog-dog/puppy-puppy experiences)...
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Postby tiva » February 22nd, 2010, 12:54 pm

Zotero seems to be down, so I can't get to my library of files, but here are some good places to start:
Alexandra Horowitz. Her recent popular book, INSIDE OF A DOG, is fun but a bit basic. Her dissertation is a lot more interesting (ok, I'm a nerd). It explores how dogs learn to play from each other, and what that means for a theory of mind. She's a clear writer. If you go to this blog, the author describes a little bit of her work and more important, has a link to a pdf of her dissertation. Chapter 3 is the chapter to read:
http://blogs.dogtime.com/smartdogs-webl ... -smart-boy

Marc Beckoff and Mark Hauser are other great researchers in this field.

And if you don't yet own a copy of Raymond and Lorna Coppinger's wonderful book, DOGS: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution, you're in for a treat. Chapter 4, Developmental Environments, is the key chapter.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2010, 1:06 pm

I LOVE LOVE LOVE "Inside of a Dog." I've re-read it several times. For some reason, the chapters on their vision just fascinated me.

I have not read the Coppinger's book, but between you and Greta touting it over and over I shall have to add it to my "my checking account hates me" book list. lol Is it a tough read or is it written for average people?
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Postby tiva » February 22nd, 2010, 1:28 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I have not read the Coppinger's book, but between you and Greta touting it over and over I shall have to add it to my "my checking account hates me" book list. lol Is it a tough read or is it written for average people?


Average people!
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2010, 1:35 pm

Awesome! It's in my cart, saved for later!

And I'm not seeing the link to Horowitz's dissertation...is it staring me right in the face? lol
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2010, 1:38 pm

Strike that! I found the link - their links show up as almost the exact same color as the text so I didn't realize it was a link. :)
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Postby Malli » February 22nd, 2010, 2:18 pm

I also disagree.

I know my friend who handraises kittens for the spca says it matters in cats, and that they don't necessarily need their mom, but in those first few months not having siblings or surrogate siblings around really affects them, hand-raised kittens raised on their own are known for behavioral problems with people : biting, attacking, bad moods.

I firmly believe the same applies to dogs but because dogs are so much more social and evolved to live in groups, its a dog-dog thing.

Take Oscar as an example : I got him at approx 6.5 weeks (didn't know any better and didn't have much of a choice anyway). He is extremely good at reading people and interacting with us. He is TERRIBLE with other dogs - he seems to want to interact and if he meets the right animal he'll eventually learn how to do it, but its rare. He gets excited, jumps on the other dog (I think a combination of fear from getting over-corrected by other dogs in the past and just plain no understanding of "doggy etiquette"), IF the dog doesn't react strongly and obviously right away he ignores the little hints they give off, and most of the time, if/when they growl at him, he gets over-the-top defensive and basically goes to lay the dog out on its side OR get into a fight with the other dog (depending on their reaction).

There are few dogs where he seems to sort of get it and they can growl and tell him what they don't like and he'll sort of listen, but most of the time, he'll try whatever it was again, too :rolleyes2:
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Postby plebayo » February 28th, 2010, 3:54 pm

Malli wrote:I also disagree.

I know my friend who handraises kittens for the spca says it matters in cats, and that they don't necessarily need their mom, but in those first few months not having siblings or surrogate siblings around really affects them, hand-raised kittens raised on their own are known for behavioral problems with people : biting, attacking, bad moods.

I firmly believe the same applies to dogs but because dogs are so much more social and evolved to live in groups, its a dog-dog thing.




This is SOOOO true! It's really true with any hand raised animals, take horses - bottle fed foals are nightmares!

I agree with the majority mom and litter mates totally effect behavior. I also don't think a "lack of body language" is bred into bully breeds, or even terriers for that matter. A stiff dog is a stiff dog. I can't say I've ever seen a dog aggressive Pit Bull look totally relaxed and happy just lash out at another dog without showing ANY body language.

I think it's just like the child who is the bully on the play ground, if they haven't been put in their place enough by other kids and their parents they are going to be bossy.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 28th, 2010, 4:48 pm

plebayo wrote:I can't say I've ever seen a dog aggressive Pit Bull look totally relaxed and happy just lash out at another dog without showing ANY body language.


Allow me to introduce you to Riggs... :wink:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=23382
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 28th, 2010, 6:00 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
plebayo wrote:I can't say I've ever seen a dog aggressive Pit Bull look totally relaxed and happy just lash out at another dog without showing ANY body language.


Allow me to introduce you to Riggs... :wink:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=23382


Umm...I still say that he's showing signs...they're just really, really subtle. I say that if we introduced Score to Riggs, that Score wouldn't go anywhere NEAR Riggs...I guarantee you that Score could/would read that body language.
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Postby dlynne1123 » February 28th, 2010, 6:28 pm

Malli wrote:I also disagree.

I know my friend who handraises kittens for the spca says it matters in cats, and that they don't necessarily need their mom, but in those first few months not having siblings or surrogate siblings around really affects them, hand-raised kittens raised on their own are known for behavioral problems with people : biting, attacking, bad moods.

I firmly believe the same applies to dogs but because dogs are so much more social and evolved to live in groups, its a dog-dog thing.

Take Oscar as an example : I got him at approx 6.5 weeks (didn't know any better and didn't have much of a choice anyway). He is extremely good at reading people and interacting with us. He is TERRIBLE with other dogs - he seems to want to interact and if he meets the right animal he'll eventually learn how to do it, but its rare. He gets excited, jumps on the other dog (I think a combination of fear from getting over-corrected by other dogs in the past and just plain no understanding of "doggy etiquette"), IF the dog doesn't react strongly and obviously right away he ignores the little hints they give off, and most of the time, if/when they growl at him, he gets over-the-top defensive and basically goes to lay the dog out on its side OR get into a fight with the other dog (depending on their reaction).

There are few dogs where he seems to sort of get it and they can growl and tell him what they don't like and he'll sort of listen, but most of the time, he'll try whatever it was again, too :rolleyes2:


We went to a feline bahaviorist lecture this year, and she flat out said, we've ruined domestic cats. Most should stay socialized with the litter/mother until almost 4 monthes of age to create a well rounded, socially calm and assertive cat.

As for dogs, there is a reason most places require a puppy to stay with the mom until 8 weeks. Theres also a reason dogs who are brought from hoarding/situations with no socialization will never be normal, at least without lots and lots and lots of work. And still not normal. No playing appropriately, they don't know how to read other animals, they dont' know how to trust people. My dog was labeled as practically feral. As in, people were not a source for food, affection or answers. It took 4 monthes for her to eat from people. I think her issues are more genetic than upbringing, but she wasn't socialized either so it didn't help. Most of the other puppies turned out ok in the same litter.

I'm not sure about the breed specific things.
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Postby Malli » February 28th, 2010, 7:39 pm

hmm... I'm not sure if you're just adding to what I've said, agreeing with it, or disagreeing with it? Would you mind clarifying ? :)
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Postby dlynne1123 » March 1st, 2010, 4:31 pm

Yes, agreeing! Genetics, and socialization from the mom and the pups. I think it has to do with a lot of social inadequacies with dogs today!
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Postby plebayo » March 1st, 2010, 6:38 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
plebayo wrote:I can't say I've ever seen a dog aggressive Pit Bull look totally relaxed and happy just lash out at another dog without showing ANY body language.


Allow me to introduce you to Riggs... :wink:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=23382


Even after seeing the video there are still signs. Inara looks actually quite stiff at the initial interaction even though her tail is still wagging. Riggs' tail is still very erect although it is wagging. I've seen a lot of dog aggressive dogs wag their tails while they try to eat something - much like chow chows that will wag their tail and then try to bite you. I still think Riggs' signs are very subtle, probably even a change in smell and a very subtle tensing in posture that maybe can't be seen by a person but can be read by another dog. I really don't think Inara was totally clueless to it either because she got very tense when they first came into contact.

I mean we all read things differently, you know your dog but I still say there is no such thing as there not being any kind of a sign at all. It might not be something any one person could pick up on... but it's certainly there. :|

I also think sometimes what can be seen as playful behavior is really dominance or aggression.
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Postby mnp13 » March 3rd, 2010, 12:19 am

plebayo wrote: I really don't think Inara was totally clueless to it either because she got very tense when they first came into contact.

Considering the number of times that Riggs tried to nail her over the course of that weekend, I can assure you, she was very clueless. He would have seriously injured her, and she was beyond unaware of that fact.


I mean we all read things differently, you know your dog but I still say there is no such thing as there not being any kind of a sign at all. It might not be something any one person could pick up on... but it's certainly there.

I agree with this, the classes I teach are made up almost entirely of dogs with issues with people, other dogs or both. Very frequently I see things coming long before the owners do, even during initial evaluations. Of course, I certainly make mistakes as well, but when you see it a lot, you notice little things like an ear set being "hard" or not.

TheRedQueen wrote:I say that if we introduced Score to Riggs, that Score wouldn't go anywhere NEAR Riggs...I guarantee you that Score could/would read that body language.

We can try that next time, and get video. :wink: Then again, if we get some treats out, maybe Score will give Riggs the "what for" like he did Ruby. I can just imagine... lol
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 3rd, 2010, 12:23 am

mnp13 wrote:
TheRedQueen wrote:I say that if we introduced Score to Riggs, that Score wouldn't go anywhere NEAR Riggs...I guarantee you that Score could/would read that body language.

We can try that next time, and get video. :wink: Then again, if we get some treats out, maybe Score will give Riggs the "what for" like he did Ruby. I can just imagine... lol


lol...I think he learned his lesson with Ruby...since he REALLY forgot where he was, and who he was with...:giggle:
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Postby mnp13 » March 3rd, 2010, 12:25 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Anyway, at the end of the presentation she was taking questions, and somebody asked her if separating dogs from their moms too early caused problems. She said a very emphatic no. She feels that dogs are all born inherently knowing how to read and communicate with other dogs effectively.

Well THAT makes no sense at all. Communication is a learned thing, it's not automatically there in any species. When animals are raised by other animals, they learn to communicate with them, they aren't unable to communicate with the "host" just because they are a different species.


I then asked her if she felt any breeds or types of dogs were less inherently skilled at communication, and she immediately said the bully breeds are often very difficult to read because they've been bred to NOT show language to other dogs.

Ugh... I don't have the energy for this one.

I know we've discussed the bully breed part before, but what do you think about her saying removal from moms too soon doesn't affect anything? I would have to disagree, but she has a lot more education than I do.

Education doesn't imply common sense. :wink:
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