Does socialization mask behavioral sensitivities?

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Postby DemoDick » January 14th, 2011, 5:41 pm

amazincc wrote:
DemoDick wrote: It is quite possible to assess a child's natural genetic talents and weaknesses.
Demo Dick

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.


I never said there was. I specified that developmental evaluations on infants can only detect physical problems. But five years from birth, genetic potential is very evident.

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Postby amazincc » January 14th, 2011, 5:52 pm

DemoDick wrote:I never said there was. I specified that developmental evaluations on infants can only detect physical problems. But five years from birth, genetic potential is very evident.

Demo Dick


Right.
That's why I'm glad to see that most people here seem to realize that puppy evals are not a great indicator of a dogs true potential once he/she gets older. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 14th, 2011, 5:58 pm

amazincc wrote:
DemoDick wrote:I never said there was. I specified that developmental evaluations on infants can only detect physical problems. But five years from birth, genetic potential is very evident.

Demo Dick


Right.
That's why I'm glad to see that most people here seem to realize that puppy evals are not a great indicator of a dogs true potential once he/she gets older. :)


And this is why it's hard to be an owner-trainer of a Service Dog...unless you find a good adult dog. I remember reading Debi Davis (clicker trainer and SD user) talk about how she ended up with like 5 dogs, because all of the pups she got didn't work out for one reason or another, and she was too attached and couldn't rehome. So by the time she got to a good prospect, she had four others that lived there too. lol

I always warn people of this when they say that they want to raise/train their own. It's hard to find a GREAT dog for SD work.
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Postby furever_pit » January 14th, 2011, 9:02 pm

Sorry I am so late to this thread guys. I am crazy busy finishing up work and getting ready to move several states away next week. I'm going to try my best to answer all the things that have been brought up so far, forgive me if I forget something or end up making multiple posts.

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


There are dogs who are not socialized who are extremely stable dogs. My Dylan is an example: he lived the first year of his life on a chain, and finally ended up with me after being confiscated for the third time due to neglect. Dylan is the most stable dog I have ever owned, but he is more than that - he is bomb proof. Different environments, peoples, sounds, etc do not bother him. I am constantly amazed by what this dog is and my experience with him has played a big role in what I expect and want out of my future dogs.

Additionally, I know many dogs that were not raised or whelped with the socialization programs that Erin and Alyssa are talking about and these dogs are very stable animals. It's not because someone had to do anything special with them, it is in their genetic material.

airwalk wrote:what I think was meant (again I don't want to speak for Allison) is that when she is choosing a dog initially she wants to see the most base temperament.

I don't think she is saying don't socialize or desensitize, she just prefers to see them before that happens.


Correct. I am NOT saying not to socialize or desensitize a pup. But I want to see the pup before any of that stuff happens. I want to know what is represented in the dog's genes. If something does freak it out, does it recover? How quickly does it recover? Does it run and hide? Will it not bite a rag if you tie a bottle with pennies in it to it? Etc, etc. These are all tests that tell me a little bit of what to expect as that dog matures. Does it tell me exactly what I am going to end up with? No, but I think it stacks the chips in my favor.

I do actually socialize my dogs guys. I don't just throw them in dark kennels and never take them anywhere but the training field. :wink: I just do it differently than your average pet home.

plebayo wrote:How does exposing a dog to different things make their reaction any different if the dog is not exposed to things? I mean, a puppy who truly lacks confidence, like their personality is insecure - sure if you expose them to things you help gain their confidence, however if the dog isn't confident by nature they will still approach things in a cautious way. By socializing them you help them cope with their fears, but the dog is still an insecure dog.


EXACTLY. Just because you expose a pup to these stimuli repeatedly in no way ensures that the weaknesses in that dog will not resurface in the future. Weakness will display itself under increasing pressure. So why would I want to see a pup react to something it has been around for weeks? It doesn't tell me anything about the dog.

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I guess my question for you, Allison, is what age are you seeing these pups? If you're seeing them exposed to things for the first time around 4 weeks, that's a lot different than waiting until a pup is 8 weeks.


I saw and selected Cairo at almost 7 weeks of age. I did not see Gator's puppy evaluation and he was selected for me by the breeder.

sismorphine wrote:Though with older dogs we can desensitize them and can train through behavioral issues so that they don't LOOK like they have a problem, I don't believe that socializing a pup to humans/dogs/environment etc as a youngster is going to mask anything, instead it is going to become part of their final temperament.


It shouldn't have to become part of their temperament, it should just be there already genetically.

mnp13 wrote: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.


The default behavior, whether it is the fear or never being afraid, is what is being bred on. Doesn't matter what is fixed by training. I've seen lots of dogs look better on the field than they really are because I know about the training that went into them. When those dogs are bred it is not their training that gets passed on, but their genes.

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?


For me, a baseline is the raw dog. It is the firsts that that dog experiences and how he/she reacts to them.

When looking at fear and caution you also have to look at recovery rate. A pup who runs away from something and hides...wash out. A pup who is startled by the first pan you throw to the ground but then cautiously investigates it without being influenced by the handler to do so (depending obviously on a lot of variables and how quickly the dog goes to investigate, body language, etc) would be watched. You also have to take into consideration how the dog reacts to things both in and out of drive.

Personally, I don't really care about being "fair" to the pups. If the pup is weak at 7 or 8 weeks of age, it's going to be a weak dog. I don't want to put my time, money, and effort into training that dog. I want the dog that has the raw materials that allow me to build what I am looking for.

theredqueen wrote: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?


Depending on the breeder, pups who are displaying fearful or otherwise unstable temperaments may very well be put down. Some may just have a spay/neuter contract put out on them and then placed in an experienced pet home. If, god forbid, I ever end up with the dog that Erin describes the dog would either stay with me and be managed or be put down.

Demo's posts are spot on with my way of thinking.

I'll be back later to check on this thread. Fun discussion!
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Postby mnp13 » January 16th, 2011, 10:38 am

furever_pit wrote:Correct. I am NOT saying not to socialize or desensitize a pup. But I want to see the pup before any of that stuff happens. I want to know what is represented in the dog's genes. If something does freak it out, does it recover? How quickly does it recover? Does it run and hide? Will it not bite a rag if you tie a bottle with pennies in it to it? Etc, etc. These are all tests that tell me a little bit of what to expect as that dog matures. Does it tell me exactly what I am going to end up with? No, but I think it stacks the chips in my favor.


Those kinds of observations can only happen once, and should be ongoing. If you are getting puppies from a breeder who does nothing with them until they are 7 or 8 weeks old, then you are not dealing with a good breeder in my opinion.

You have to rely on the breeder, who is seeing and working with the pups daily for the info that you are seeking on this and if you don't trust them to be honest with you why on earth would you be getting a dog from them?
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Postby furever_pit » January 16th, 2011, 11:53 am

mnp13 wrote:Those kinds of observations can only happen once, and should be ongoing. If you are getting puppies from a breeder who does nothing with them until they are 7 or 8 weeks old, then you are not dealing with a good breeder in my opinion.

You have to rely on the breeder, who is seeing and working with the pups daily for the info that you are seeking on this and if you don't trust them to be honest with you why on earth would you be getting a dog from them?


Yes, I am aware that these observations are ongoing. I continue to watch the behaviors in my pups as I take them out and about and put them in positions that they have not been in before. My desire to see a pup in its raw form is not about me not trusting a breeder. It is about me wanting to see the genetics being represented in the dog, not the effects of socialization.

Whether or not you think a breeder who is not going *above and beyond* to do these kinds of socialization exercises with their pups is a good breeder is really of no consequence to me. I have seen enough very nice dogs that don't go through this type of exercise to know that a truly good dog doesn't need it.

Does this mean that I would not consider getting a puppy from someone who does all these socialization exercises? No, because that would be silly.
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Postby amazincc » January 16th, 2011, 12:04 pm

furever_pit wrote:

Yes, I am aware that these observations are ongoing. I continue to watch the behaviors in my pups as I take them out and about and put them in positions that they have not been in before.


How many pups have you evaluated that way? And how often did a pup mature into the kind of dog you thought it was going to be, after your evaluation?

I know for a fact that mine would've failed miserably at 7 weeks old... :rolleyes2: lol
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Postby furever_pit » January 16th, 2011, 12:56 pm

amazincc wrote:
furever_pit wrote:

Yes, I am aware that these observations are ongoing. I continue to watch the behaviors in my pups as I take them out and about and put them in positions that they have not been in before.


How many pups have you evaluated that way? And how often did a pup mature into the kind of dog you thought it was going to be, after your evaluation?

I know for a fact that mine would've failed miserably at 7 weeks old... :rolleyes2: lol


1) Gator:
I did not see Gator's puppy evaluation. However, between 8 and 10 weeks of age I knew he wasn't the dog I wanted. He displayed environmental sensitivities with a recovery rate that was slower than what I like to see. I socialized the crap out of that dog. Nonetheless, I washed him out of my program at about one year of age because, lo and behold, his environmental sensitivities interfered with his ability to work at an appropriate level.

2) Cairo:
I evaluated and selected Cairo at almost 7 weeks of age. I was fortunate in that I got to stay with the breeder for 4 days. While I was there, I assisted in caring for the litter and I spent hours and hours every day just observing them and testing them. Cairo is very close to what I thought he was going to be at the time. He maintains an intense prey drive and is less defensive and serious than 3 of the other males in his litter, but is more so than the other male (which I predicted). He continues to remind me more and more every day of his maternal uncle, Titan, something I noted when I first saw him. This is a sentiment that has been echoed by decoys and trainers from both the US and France who have seen Titan. Cairo is obviously pulling a lot from that side of his pedigree, which is also where his possessive aggression comes from, which I saw signs of during the evaluation. Noises, different textures (on his feet or in his mouth), crowds of people have never bothered this dog. He continues to have a drive to bite that is phenomenal and can easily be driven 16+ hours, pulled out on a field he has never been on and be put on a decoy he has never seen. He has had a natural retrieve ever since I have known him. He is a confident dog who will wander off on his own but is very bonded to his handler - even at 7 weeks when I took all the pups outside and let them wander around he is one of two who would follow me when I started walking away down the long driveway. He is still insanely social with the people that I allow him to be around.

The things I did not predict accurately for this dog: He is a sharper dog than I expected him to grow into. He is a little more hectic mentally than I had anticipated as well.

3) E:
Not my dog, I did not see any puppy evaluation but I know the breeder of this dog and I know that the puppy socialization exercises that have been discussed in this thread are used by this kennel. The first time I saw this pup at 8 or 9 weeks of age I told his owner to send him back. He was environmentally sensitive and is sensitive to people - he would tuck his tail and be hesitant to approach new people. When in drive the dog works fine because it pulls him through his sensitivities. However, he still displays the issues that I noted when off the field. This is not a dog that I personally would want to own or breed on because I believe bulldogs should be well-rounded and extremely confident dogs. I have spoken with the breeder about this pup and he pegged him as being a less confident male from the get go.

4) T and C:
Two pups from the same kennel, but not my dogs. Both have insane prey drive and are very confident dogs. Environments and people don't bother them. In the female there was a minor insecurity about the gun the first time I used it around her but her drive pulled her through and it is a non-issue. Both dogs are a little hectic mentally and lack brain but both are clear-headed. For the most part, I like what I see in these dogs and because of them I would consider getting a dog from the kennel they are from. They are both growing into the dogs I figured they would be based on seeing them and working them at 8 weeks of age.

5) N:
This pup was bred by a good friend of mine and I transported her across the country for someone I trained with. SUPER confident female. Great drive, very smart. Has an attitude. I was tempted to pay the guy I trained with quite a chunk of change for this girl. She is still young, less than 6 months old but I expect she will be a very very good dog.
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Postby mnp13 » January 17th, 2011, 1:15 am

furever_pit wrote:Whether or not you think a breeder who is not going *above and beyond* to do these kinds of socialization exercises with their pups is a good breeder is really of no consequence to me. I have seen enough very nice dogs that don't go through this type of exercise to know that a truly good dog doesn't need it.


You're missing the point. Getting puppies used to loud noises, weird places, different surfaces, etc is NOT "above and beyond" it's getting a future dog ready for the real world. For a breeder to leave puppies in their pen and do nothing with them because "people want to see a dog at 7 weeks with no socialization work" is a little odd to me. 7 weeks is a lot of time to do nothing...

If you can't trust the breeder to be honest with you about the way the puppy acted the first time it walked on a slippery floor, the first time they made a huge banging noise while the puppy was walking by, the first time you held it out at arms length, etc, well, like I said, maybe you should re-think your breeder.
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Postby furever_pit » January 17th, 2011, 1:29 am

Puppies aren't stuck in a pen for 7 weeks. They do the normal puppy stuff. Go outside, wander around. Walk through the building where they are housed. Hear whatever is going on inside and outside that building.

You're missing my point....a truly GOOD dog doesn't need all the extras. It will be just fine with the normal puppy stuff and with the socialization that its new owner provides.

Again, I trust my breeder(s) fully. Don't stick words in my mouth.
Funny how a litter of pups who were "only" exposed to normal puppy stuff were just fine with the things we threw at them. How does that happen? Is it magic? Nope, it's called genetics.
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Postby furever_pit » January 17th, 2011, 1:39 am

So what about the dogs who are not socialized at all for years? The ones that are stuck on chains and in crates and hidden in the woods? The ones who are *still* stable dogs and who are confident enough to go on to become therapy dogs, sport dogs (no I don't mean just protection), and wonderful pets? Are they an anomaly? Or are they just proof that when genetics provide, the dog will live up to standard?

What do you think of Dylan's story? How about the very nice dogs I know who were not socialized prior to 7 weeks of age? Is it magic? Is it God's will? Luck?

If socialization is not provided prior to 7 weeks of age and the dog STILL becomes a stable and confident dog what do you attribute that to?

ETA: What do you think about dogs who are heavily socialized and STILL display sensitivities or other issues related to insecurity or fear?
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Postby plebayo » January 17th, 2011, 3:40 am

furever_pit wrote:
ETA: What do you think about dogs who are heavily socialized and STILL display sensitivities or other issues related to insecurity or fear?



I think regardless of socialization a dog's personality does not change. You can curb a dog's reaction to things, you can teach a dog to cope, but I think in the end you really can't change their true personality. I think if the dog comes out of the womb sensitive or fearful the sooner you spot this, and the sooner you build their confidence the better off you'll be, but I don't think the dog will ever truly be a confident dog. They will always have some cautious tendencies. The same with an overly confident dog, you might be able to curb some of the confident behavior but you're never going to have a timid scared dog if the dog's personality isn't that way.

furever_pit wrote:
So what about the dogs who are not socialized at all for years? The ones that are stuck on chains and in crates and hidden in the woods? The ones who are *still* stable dogs and who are confident enough to go on to become therapy dogs, sport dogs (no I don't mean just protection), and wonderful pets? Are they an anomaly? Or are they just proof that when genetics provide, the dog will live up to standard?


That's kind of an unknown because you don't know what kind of socialization they had as a puppy. The dog may have had a decent upbringing but was sold/given to someone who put it on a chain. I think it is somewhat proof of genetics because I think again the success of the dog depends on the dog's individual personality and how they cope with things.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 17th, 2011, 9:35 am

I'm adding enrichment and new experiences for them. What do you think I'm doing all that differently? They're allowed to explore and experience new things...I just add different surfaces, different types of playthings, or whatever at different times so their environment isn't the same all of the time.

They are allowed to wander through part of the basement, and when we go outside, they wander through the driveway area and go up into the backyard via two stone steps into the grass. I've put some different things out for them to play on (much like a preschool would have different things for the kids to play on). I don't force them or lure them onto each thing...if they don't get on the surface they don't get on it...and I note that down for future reference. (so if they become a SDiT down the road, we can look back and say..."ah no wonder they don't want to walk on slick floors, they had an issue from day one!)

I'm not "testing" the pups or "training" the pups. I'm adding enrichment, and I'm evaluating them as they play with different things, and watching them closely. So when I write up their bios for the Petfinder page, I can mention what type of home that they'll need.

And yes, I'm trying to change how they feel about certain things, so they become more well-rounded...as I mention, Shelby has been more hand-shy from day one. This morning...she came to me and climbed my legs so I could pick her up for petting...THREE times! And the last time, she sighed and laid her head down in the crook of my neck.

And yes I've evaluated many a puppy...and we've had many a dog wash out of being a SDiT...and we've had many work out. It's a crapshoot as mentioned...but at least the pups that washed out were able to make nice pets!
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Postby tiva » January 17th, 2011, 10:43 am

Genes and early environment aren't separated. Early environment plays a huge role in shaping which genes get expressed in a particular individual. "Genetics" aren't the real issue here. Epigenetics are. Epigenetics means which genes actually get (turned on or turned off in an individual. And that depends on perinatal environment--fetal development AND the first months of an individual's life. So all the very early socialization work that many of you are advocating for (along with excellent nutrition) affects which genes are expressed in that individual, with permanent affects. SO the real question shouldn't be genes versus socialization/environment/nutrition. It should be: how does socialization and nutrition turn on and off the genetic material we want to see expressed in an individual?
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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 10:48 am

I personally think that regardless of what type of future a puppy is going to have it is a dis-service to the puppy to not expose it to as much as possible. Any breeder who is worth dealing with will be able to honestly tell you what the dog is like in different situations. When Sis and I decided that Charles and I would be receiving one of the puppies out of the litter we were updated about the entire litter constantly. We had no idea who our final dog would be until we went to go and get her. There were pups who were eliminated due to having obvious clashes with what we wanted but the rest were still up in the air. I think that what I have is a perfect match for what I asked for in a pup. The original pup that they had slated for me was a little on the hot side for me and my home situation. She is a wonderful dog and has turned out very nice but not what Charles and I were looking for. 99% of the decision on which pup was coming home was based on observations made when I was not there.
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Postby SisMorphine » January 17th, 2011, 10:58 am

tiva wrote:Genes and early environment aren't separated. Early environment plays a huge role in shaping which genes get expressed in a particular individual. "Genetics" aren't the real issue here. Epigenetics are. Epigenetics means which genes actually get (turned on or turned off in an individual. And that depends on perinatal environment--fetal development AND the first months of an individual's life. So all the very early socialization work that many of you are advocating for (along with excellent nutrition) affects which genes are expressed in that individual, with permanent affects. SO the real question shouldn't be genes versus socialization/environment/nutrition. It should be: how does socialization and nutrition turn on and off the genetic material we want to see expressed in an individual?

:thumbsup:
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 17th, 2011, 11:09 am

tiva wrote:Genes and early environment aren't separated. Early environment plays a huge role in shaping which genes get expressed in a particular individual. "Genetics" aren't the real issue here. Epigenetics are. Epigenetics means which genes actually get (turned on or turned off in an individual. And that depends on perinatal environment--fetal development AND the first months of an individual's life. So all the very early socialization work that many of you are advocating for (along with excellent nutrition) affects which genes are expressed in that individual, with permanent affects. SO the real question shouldn't be genes versus socialization/environment/nutrition. It should be: how does socialization and nutrition turn on and off the genetic material we want to see expressed in an individual?


:clap:
Thanks! I'm never good at the scientific side of things...lol comes from being an artistic type.

I personally think that regardless of what type of future a puppy is going to have it is a dis-service to the puppy to not expose it to as much as possible


And :clap: for you too Tina! 8)
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Postby SisMorphine » January 17th, 2011, 11:46 am

TinaMartin wrote:I personally think that regardless of what type of future a puppy is going to have it is a dis-service to the puppy to not expose it to as much as possible. Any breeder who is worth dealing with will be able to honestly tell you what the dog is like in different situations. When Sis and I decided that Charles and I would be receiving one of the puppies out of the litter we were updated about the entire litter constantly. We had no idea who our final dog would be until we went to go and get her. There were pups who were eliminated due to having obvious clashes with what we wanted but the rest were still up in the air. I think that what I have is a perfect match for what I asked for in a pup. The original pup that they had slated for me was a little on the hot side for me and my home situation. She is a wonderful dog and has turned out very nice but not what Charles and I were looking for. 99% of the decision on which pup was coming home was based on observations made when I was not there.


Having had the opportunity to watch that litter and changing our picks for placement as the pups changed each day (though we didn't even start thinking about placement until they were almost 6 weeks), I really don't know how placement would have looked if I went in and "tested" them at 7 weeks old. Hell it probably would have changed depending on the time of day they were tested!

This really is where you have to trust your breeder. You have to trust that your breeder can read dogs appropriately and that they keep track of changes over the weeks and can make that ultimate decision FOR you when you go to pick up your puppy. Every single pup in that litter was picked and placed by the breeders into the appropriate homes based on how the dogs acted overall during those 8 weeks, and what the home they were going to was like and what they wanted/could handle. We didn't "test" the litter. We watched the litter grow over 8 weeks.

Then of course there's the crap shoot aspect of it. The "hot" pup that Tina mentioned, we figured she was going to be an absolute hellion as she was very dominant and her playstyle was rough. Now at over a year and a half, though she is starting to get picky about her friends, she adjusts her playstyle to the dog she is playing with and is rather low key in general.

And then you have the one pup of the litter that was softer than the rest throughout the first 8 weeks. As the other pups went through stages, she was consistently the one that was lower key and a little more cautious of new things consistently. No amount of socialization was going to change that or mask that. At a year and a half she is still softer than the rest of the litter.

For me it's more concerning when you find the breeders who only talk about and show the good aspects of the puppies/parents. I have found I'm much more interested in the breeder who tries to talk me out of the dog first. People don't give up a dog because of the good aspects of it, they give it up because of the bad. So lay out the bad and then if people decide they can deal with that, talk about the good. It's a nice way to weed people out.
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Postby furever_pit » January 17th, 2011, 12:05 pm

I have seen way too many nice, strong, confident dogs come out of situations where the breeder didn't go above and beyond to expose them to everything under the sun. ALL puppies will get a certain amount of socialization simply because of where they are housed and needing to be led outside to go to the bathroom. Certainly they will wander around outside and climb on things, go under things, etc etc. To me that is "normal".

On the other hand, I have seen people put a litter of pups in a shed and turn on strobe lights, shake clatter sticks, push hula hoops with caution tape on it around. Then there are those who start turning puppies upside down and whichever way before the dog's eyes are even open. I mean seriously? I just don't think it is necessary.

SisMorphine wrote:For me it's more concerning when you find the breeders who only talk about and show the good aspects of the puppies/parents. I have found I'm much more interested in the breeder who tries to talk me out of the dog first. People don't give up a dog because of the good aspects of it, they give it up because of the bad. So lay out the bad and then if people decide they can deal with that, talk about the good. It's a nice way to weed people out.


Totally agree.

I still don't know why y'all are hung up on presuming that I don't trust my breeder. My conversations with him prior to going to get the pup, and while we were evaluating the dogs, has literally nothing to do with the socialization debate. I knew about the pups before I got up there, and I knew he had picked out two that he thought would be a good match for me and for his program. Did it play a part in my final decision? Absolutely. But in the end it was my decision.

I actually have no problem getting puppies sight unseen. There are two planned litters I am looking at for late 2011 or 2012 that I would not go see. I would lay eyes on the pups for the first time when I picked them up at the airport after they had been shipped in cargo. Now talk about a good test for a pup!
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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 12:11 pm

SisMorphine wrote:
TinaMartin wrote:I personally think that regardless of what type of future a puppy is going to have it is a dis-service to the puppy to not expose it to as much as possible. Any breeder who is worth dealing with will be able to honestly tell you what the dog is like in different situations. When Sis and I decided that Charles and I would be receiving one of the puppies out of the litter we were updated about the entire litter constantly. We had no idea who our final dog would be until we went to go and get her. There were pups who were eliminated due to having obvious clashes with what we wanted but the rest were still up in the air. I think that what I have is a perfect match for what I asked for in a pup. The original pup that they had slated for me was a little on the hot side for me and my home situation. She is a wonderful dog and has turned out very nice but not what Charles and I were looking for. 99% of the decision on which pup was coming home was based on observations made when I was not there.


Having had the opportunity to watch that litter and changing our picks for placement as the pups changed each day (though we didn't even start thinking about placement until they were almost 6 weeks), I really don't know how placement would have looked if I went in and "tested" them at 7 weeks old. Hell it probably would have changed depending on the time of day they were tested!
The other thing that I seriously loved about working with Sis was getting put through the ringer in our conversations. Knowing her as a person on our mutual boards and knowing her for placing a pup are very much 2 different things.
This really is where you have to trust your breeder. You have to trust that your breeder can read dogs appropriately and that they keep track of changes over the weeks and can make that ultimate decision FOR you when you go to pick up your puppy. Every single pup in that litter was picked and placed by the breeders into the appropriate homes based on how the dogs acted overall during those 8 weeks, and what the home they were going to was like and what they wanted/could handle. We didn't "test" the litter. We watched the litter grow over 8 weeks.

Then of course there's the crap shoot aspect of it. The "hot" pup that Tina mentioned, we figured she was going to be an absolute hellion as she was very dominant and her playstyle was rough. Now at over a year and a half, though she is starting to get picky about her friends, she adjusts her playstyle to the dog she is playing with and is rather low key in general.

And then you have the one pup of the litter that was softer than the rest throughout the first 8 weeks. As the other pups went through stages, she was consistently the one that was lower key and a little more cautious of new things consistently. No amount of socialization was going to change that or mask that. At a year and a half she is still softer than the rest of the litter.

For me it's more concerning when you find the breeders who only talk about and show the good aspects of the puppies/parents. I have found I'm much more interested in the breeder who tries to talk me out of the dog first. People don't give up a dog because of the good aspects of it, they give it up because of the bad. So lay out the bad and then if people decide they can deal with that, talk about the good. It's a nice way to weed people out.
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