Does socialization mask behavioral sensitivities?

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Postby mnp13 » January 14th, 2011, 12:35 pm

amazincc wrote:I'm still majorly confused. :?


How does NOT socializing and exposing a puppy to all sorts of things and people make for a well-rounded dog in the future?

It doesn't. It often makes dogs that can be handled by only a select few people, can't be out in public, and are unpredictable.

I know of a person who picks the most defensive, fearful, standoffish puppies for protection work. I'm sure you can guess what those dogs are like when they are adults. I met a bunch of them, and they were completely unapproachable for any reason.

Exposing puppies to everything under the sun doesn't mask problems, it prevents them (or causes them if it's done wrong.)

I've been around a TON of dogs in protection sports, quite literally hundreds while on the field as a photographer. It's very rare that I've been asked to move (or even leave the field) because the dog couldn't tell the difference between me and decoy. Those also seem to be the same dogs that you can't approach off of the field either. I don't think that's a coincidence.
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Postby DemoDick » January 14th, 2011, 12:47 pm

You guys are talking about the difference between training and testing.

When testing, you want to see the raw material. This requires inducing stress (defined from the dog's perspective) and evaluating how the dog responds. Not everyone wants to put these weaknesses on display, however, as I'll explain in a minute. You take that raw material and work with it through training to bring up the dog's performance, whatever his job will be. But it's important to knwo what you're working with as a baseline, especially if you're going to breed.

In the working dog world, it is very common for sellers to "cover up" individual dog's genetic weaknesses through training/socialization. The older a dog gets, the more time they have to cover them up. It is also common, when considering purchasing a dog, to intentionally uncover those weaknesses to either weed out a dog with genetic problems or negotiate a lower price.

Obviously if you're buying a dog for a specific purpose you want to know EXACTLY what you're getting, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately the person selling you the dog is usually interested in getting the best price, and often times, a training agreement to go with it. So they try to make the dog really shine.

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Postby mnp13 » January 14th, 2011, 1:06 pm

You guys are talking about the difference between training and testing.

Not really - we're talking about socializing puppies.

Exposing puppies to things so that they are not afraid of everything under the sun is not a bad thing. Shoot off a gun every day for the first 8 weeks of a puppy's life and you'll end up with a puppy that doesn't give a second thought to loud noises. Never expose the puppy to noise, then suddenly shoot a gun and many will head for the hills.

Ok, the other argument here would be that the ones that aren't afraid have "better genetics" but frankly I don't agree. When you start them off not being afraid, you're not going to get default fear behaviors later on. However, if you don't bother to get them used to loud noises (to continue the example) and end up with a dog with noise fears, then you train to fix it, often you end up with the default behavior (fear) when the dog is under stress.

I think there is a big difference between training and socializing. There are many elements that overlap of course, but they are distinct.
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Postby amalie79 » January 14th, 2011, 1:14 pm

I'm so glad this was made its own thread... Having a couple of fearful adult dogs, I'm fascinated by what makes them that way, how to counter it, and how to prevent it from happening should I ever subject myself to being owned by a poopy little puppy ;-)

It doesn't. It often makes dogs that can be handled by only a select few people, can't be out in public, and are unpredictable.


I know very little about protection work and working dogs in general, so I'm curious... wouldn't this make for a working dog that's more of a liability? I'd think you'd want a dog that's so well socialized that it can discern what's going on around it, not one that's more likely to fly off the handle. Wouldn't you want a dog with a lot of control? :| :| I guess that's why some people want to see the "genetic baseline," but if the end result is a less skittish dog either way (naturally or nurtured to be so)... why not go ahead and socialize?
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Postby DemoDick » January 14th, 2011, 3:09 pm

mnp13 wrote:Not really - we're talking about socializing puppies.


I know. I was speaking more from a breeding perspective. Of course you always want to socialize your puppies for functionality, but you also want to know what's there as a baseline, hence the need for a test. It's never a bad idea to know what you're dealing with before you start to socialize the dog.

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Postby amazincc » January 14th, 2011, 4:00 pm

What's a baseline, anyway?

Let's say Erin and Allison "evaluate" the exact same litter of seven-week old pups... would Allison weed out those puppies who responded w/fear or caution when being exposed to x amount of people/things for the very first time immediately, but Erin would make an extra effort to work w/those same pups to help/teach them how to deal w/the world more appropriately? :?

And how is that fair to the pups? Isn't that like trying to "evaluate" a human infant to see how well he/she will do in grade school, years down the road?
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Postby mnp13 » January 14th, 2011, 4:03 pm

amalie79 wrote:I know very little about protection work and working dogs in general, so I'm curious... wouldn't this make for a working dog that's more of a liability?

In my opinion, yes.

I'd think you'd want a dog that's so well socialized that it can discern what's going on around it, not one that's more likely to fly off the handle.

Yes again.

I think it is crazy to teach a dog that has no manners and no idea of what is a threat or not to bite. There are many many dogs in protection sports that can't be touched by anyone but their owner. And in my opinion, if your training really is all that and a bag of chips, why can't you teach your dog to calm the heck down and stand still for someone to touch them. I'm not saying give the dog a big hug and yank on their tail and have them lie on their back for belly rubs. I'm talking about touching the dog on the head and patting it's back. If a dog can't handle that, it shouldn't be biting people because it obviously has no clue what a threat is and what it isn't.

At one time, the judge touching the dog was part of the Schutzhund exam. I believe that has been removed.

I've been on many protection boards where people talk about how their dog is ruined because it is "too friendly." Yeah, it's horrible when your dog doesn't want to eat everyone it sees.

Now, of course, I'm sure people are thinking about Riggs and his problems... but that's the difference... I know they are problems. Are they fixed? No, but we work on them. I don't look at his behavior as a highlight of owning him.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 14th, 2011, 4:16 pm

Darting in again...I'll be back to respond more fully in a little bit...puppies are crying *again*.

I'd like to also get viewpoints on puppy testing, as many experts in the field have shown time and time again that puppy testing is a crapshoot. I myself have picked numerous pups for SD work, only to have them wash down the road. The more I see and hear, the more I am siding with puppy testing not really being a true test of what the pup is going to end up like. The pup could have a bad day, the pup could be tired, the pup could be hungry or full, etc...and that same pup could test completely differently the next day.
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Postby amalie79 » January 14th, 2011, 4:21 pm

all that and a bag of chips


Heh. 8)

I've been on many protection boards where people talk about how their dog is ruined because it is "too friendly." Yeah, it's horrible when your dog doesn't want to eat everyone it sees.


That's why I was so stunned when a woman was impressed that Robin was frantically barking and growling at her (while being stared at from inside the car :nono: )-- I doubt she's ever had a dog of her own back up that warning with teeth. I have, and it was devastating and embarrassing. If I were to teach mine to bite, it'd be a nightmare. People try to pet her and Simon all the time and they never want to listen when I say no. A dog like that is liability enough without actively honing those skills, as far as I'm concerned. I know Robin has problems and we are working on them.

It also doesn't seem like it would be very practical for working; a dog who is truly anxious or fearful usually has a hard time focusing on anything else, and that often includes handler commands. Just doesn't seem like a very practical approach, to me.
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Postby amalie79 » January 14th, 2011, 4:41 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:Darting in again...I'll be back to respond more fully in a little bit...puppies are crying *again*.

I'd like to also get viewpoints on puppy testing, as many experts in the field have shown time and time again that puppy testing is a crapshoot. I myself have picked numerous pups for SD work, only to have them wash down the road. The more I see and hear, the more I am siding with puppy testing not really being a true test of what the pup is going to end up like. The pup could have a bad day, the pup could be tired, the pup could be hungry or full, etc...and that same pup could test completely differently the next day.



Patricia McConnell talked a lot about this on her blog last year while she was seeking out a new puppy from a breeder; she ended up taking one back and rehoming the second, for various reasons. But she talks about testing and some about personality changes as they mature. Starts in May of 2010 on her blog...
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Postby SisMorphine » January 14th, 2011, 4:42 pm

mnp13 wrote:I've been on many protection boards where people talk about how their dog is ruined because it is "too friendly." Yeah, it's horrible when your dog doesn't want to eat everyone it sees.

This is something that just KILLS me. For anyone who's met Blue, you know she is one of the friendliest dogs out there. He loves human interactions, adores sitting in people's laps, at training he has to go around and socialize with everyone first before he works because he just loves to say hi to everyone. But if there is a threat he turns on his protection side and he's all business. If your "protection" dog can be ruined by being too friendly, then frankly he's not such a great protection dog is he?
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Postby DemoDick » January 14th, 2011, 5:01 pm

amazincc wrote:What's a baseline, anyway?


The behaviors the dog exhibits before socialization (exposure to various stimuli) begins.

Let's say Erin and Allison "evaluate" the exact same litter of seven-week old pups... would Allison weed out those puppies who responded w/fear or caution when being exposed to x amount of people/things for the very first time immediately, but Erin would make an extra effort to work w/those same pups to help/teach them how to deal w/the world more appropriately? :?


Possibly. As already mentioned, puppy evals are a crapshoot.

And how is that fair to the pups? Isn't that like trying to "evaluate" a human infant to see how well he/she will do in grade school, years down the road?


We already do this. Infants are evaluated for the timely development of sensory perception by pediatricians on an ongoing basis. That's obviously to ensure healthy physical development, which isn't the same as behavioral evals. Those come later. It is quite possible to assess a child's natural genetic talents and weaknesses.

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Postby TheRedQueen » January 14th, 2011, 5:12 pm

amazincc wrote:What's a baseline, anyway?

Let's say Erin and Allison "evaluate" the exact same litter of seven-week old pups... would Allison weed out those puppies who responded w/fear or caution when being exposed to x amount of people/things for the very first time immediately, but Erin would make an extra effort to work w/those same pups to help/teach them how to deal w/the world more appropriately? :?

And how is that fair to the pups? Isn't that like trying to "evaluate" a human infant to see how well he/she will do in grade school, years down the road?


I've already started working more with two puppies...Gremlin and Shelby are the two that don't run to me for shelter if something "scary" occurs...and both would flinch or shy away if touched by human hands. So I've been showering them with more time and attention while we're out with the pack. So far, Gremlin is doing really well...he's by my feet constantly, and is a trip hazard now. Shelby is still more fearful, so she's getting John-lap-time away from the others.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 14th, 2011, 5:16 pm

amalie79 wrote:
all that and a bag of chips


Heh. 8)

I've been on many protection boards where people talk about how their dog is ruined because it is "too friendly." Yeah, it's horrible when your dog doesn't want to eat everyone it sees.


That's why I was so stunned when a woman was impressed that Robin was frantically barking and growling at her (while being stared at from inside the car :nono: )-- I doubt she's ever had a dog of her own back up that warning with teeth. I have, and it was devastating and embarrassing. If I were to teach mine to bite, it'd be a nightmare. People try to pet her and Simon all the time and they never want to listen when I say no. A dog like that is liability enough without actively honing those skills, as far as I'm concerned. I know Robin has problems and we are working on them.

It also doesn't seem like it would be very practical for working; a dog who is truly anxious or fearful usually has a hard time focusing on anything else, and that often includes handler commands. Just doesn't seem like a very practical approach, to me.


I think it really depends on what you plan to do with your dog. Many "working" dogs that I see don't get much human interaction unless they are actively training/working. Otherwise they're kenneled or crated. So it wouldn't really matter much how friendly they are, or social they are. As long as the dog goes great guns into a threatening situation on the trial field, it doesn't really matter how it fits into society as a whole. These aren't dogs that are sitting in the car going through the McD's drivethrough for a cheeseburger with their owner, this is not a dog that you'd have your kids playing with in the backyard as you are in cooking dinner, this is not a dog that gets a fun trip to Petsmart for a new toy.

Most of us want a dog that is well-rounded...I know I do. And I do my best with what I'm given...adult or puppy rescues. I don't want a one-dimensional dog that can only do one thing (it might do it really, really well), but that's not what most people want. Regardless of a rescue or purposely bred dog/litter.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 14th, 2011, 5:23 pm

Sorry for the multiple replies...I'm remembering all of the other things I wanted to say!

This is from Furever_pit's post in the original thread:
However, for a litter of rescue pups who come from (if I remember correctly) at least a fearful mother and potentially a fearful father...it might be a good idea.


yes, my rescue litter has a fearful mother. However...going back to the nature v. nurture concept...it then begs the question of whether mom is really genetically fearful (can't tell now that she's an unknown ancestry and an adult), or if she's a product of her environement...(rural farm, tied to a 10' chain attached to a dog house, no humans on the farm other than about half a dozen peopls-and most of those are visitors) Same with the adult son on the property...he was shy, but was torn between meeting me and running away to hide.

So far, the litter is pretty bomb-proof...they'll take on any challenge, and don't get spooked or scared easily. Shelby is the most fearful, but she's just like that with me...she's one of the first ones to explore a new environment. They all love the other dogs, and they all willingly follow me through the basement outside to go potty...so they're not *that* fearful of people...lol.
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Postby amazincc » January 14th, 2011, 5:24 pm

DemoDick wrote: It is quite possible to assess a child's natural genetic talents and weaknesses.
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Not in infancy. :|
There isn't a pedeatrician in this world who can accurately predict what a child will be capable of five years from birth.

As already mentioned, puppy evals are a crapshoot.

Agreed.
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Postby amalie79 » January 14th, 2011, 5:30 pm

Glad Gremlin is doing well-- he's a looker. :heartbeat:

I think it really depends on what you plan to do with your dog. Many "working" dogs that I see don't get much human interaction unless they are actively training/working...As long as the dog goes great guns into a threatening situation on the trial field, it doesn't really matter how it fits into society as a whole.


But will a truly fearful dog be able to reliably follow the appropriate commands? I'm sure it depends on the dog, but generally speaking? We've all seen a frightened dog shut down or fixate with zero concern or interest toward its handler trying to get the dog's attention. Or does that not matter in protection type work because it's being allowed to go after what it's fixated on? Just wondering "aloud" here :)
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Postby SisMorphine » January 14th, 2011, 5:31 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:
amalie79 wrote:
all that and a bag of chips


Heh. 8)

I've been on many protection boards where people talk about how their dog is ruined because it is "too friendly." Yeah, it's horrible when your dog doesn't want to eat everyone it sees.


That's why I was so stunned when a woman was impressed that Robin was frantically barking and growling at her (while being stared at from inside the car :nono: )-- I doubt she's ever had a dog of her own back up that warning with teeth. I have, and it was devastating and embarrassing. If I were to teach mine to bite, it'd be a nightmare. People try to pet her and Simon all the time and they never want to listen when I say no. A dog like that is liability enough without actively honing those skills, as far as I'm concerned. I know Robin has problems and we are working on them.

It also doesn't seem like it would be very practical for working; a dog who is truly anxious or fearful usually has a hard time focusing on anything else, and that often includes handler commands. Just doesn't seem like a very practical approach, to me.


I think it really depends on what you plan to do with your dog. Many "working" dogs that I see don't get much human interaction unless they are actively training/working. Otherwise they're kenneled or crated. So it wouldn't really matter much how friendly they are, or social they are. As long as the dog goes great guns into a threatening situation on the trial field, it doesn't really matter how it fits into society as a whole. These aren't dogs that are sitting in the car going through the McD's drivethrough for a cheeseburger with their owner, this is not a dog that you'd have your kids playing with in the backyard as you are in cooking dinner, this is not a dog that gets a fun trip to Petsmart for a new toy.

Most of us want a dog that is well-rounded...I know I do. And I do my best with what I'm given...adult or puppy rescues. I don't want a one-dimensional dog that can only do one thing (it might do it really, really well), but that's not what most people want. Regardless of a rescue or purposely bred dog/litter.

I agree. My dogs work, but they also are spoiled house dogs who sleep in bed with me at night and come to work with me or to friends houses (when I feel like dealing with them of course). And they both work in multiple arenas (Teeny is PP, PSA, and Agility, whereas Blue is PP and Therapy). Though Teeny can be rather anti-social with new people, that has nothing to do with her upbringing since she was very socialized. She's just an arrogant douchebag of a dog and unless she knows you she wants nothing to do with you. So I guess you could say that she is that way IN SPITE of her upbringing. Same thing with her dog aggression. IN SPITE of her attending daycare 5-7 days a week for the first 2 years of her life, she turned at 2.5 and has been getting progressively worse ever since. For me that's proof that socialization definitely didn't squelch her true temperament.

Oh and we don't do the drive through anymore since Blueseph tried launching himself over me and in the window at Dunkin Donuts **eyeroll** The poor girl working the window pissed herself as I caught him mid-air. Meanwhile all the rude bastard wanted was a donut hole like the woman gave him the last time we went through the drive thru. LOL!
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 14th, 2011, 5:36 pm

amalie79 wrote:Glad Gremlin is doing well-- he's a looker. :heartbeat:

I think it really depends on what you plan to do with your dog. Many "working" dogs that I see don't get much human interaction unless they are actively training/working...As long as the dog goes great guns into a threatening situation on the trial field, it doesn't really matter how it fits into society as a whole.


But will a truly fearful dog be able to reliably follow the appropriate commands? I'm sure it depends on the dog, but generally speaking? We've all seen a frightened dog shut down or fixate with zero concern or interest toward its handler trying to get the dog's attention. Or does that not matter in protection type work because it's being allowed to go after what it's fixated on? Just wondering "aloud" here :)


I'm guessing here, but I'd assume that the fearful ones wouldn't become a "working" dog. In SD work, if the dog is too fearful, we'd find it a pet home. There in lies the trouble for me...if you've bred a dog with a HUGE work ethic, that doesn't have any socialization or experience, but is too fearful to actually do the job...what happens to that dog?
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Postby amalie79 » January 14th, 2011, 5:39 pm

I'm guessing here, but I'd assume that the fearful ones wouldn't become a "working" dog.


I would have thought that, but from what I'm reading here, it sounds like some DO become at least competitive working dogs... though maybe we're just talking about under-socialized vs. truly fearful dogs. And then again, nature/nurture, etc., etc.

;-)

Also, this:

Oh and we don't do the drive through anymore since Blueseph tried launching himself over me and in the window at Dunkin Donuts **eyeroll** The poor girl working the window pissed herself as I caught him mid-air. Meanwhile all the rude bastard wanted was a donut hole like the woman gave him the last time we went through the drive thru. LOL!


makes me feel so much better about my doggies in the drive-thru. :crazy2:
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