Does socialization mask behavioral sensitivities?

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Postby TheRedQueen » January 17th, 2011, 7:45 pm

mnp13 wrote:
furever_pit wrote:I just don't think that a truly good dog *needs* to be crazy socialized. I've seen enough to prove that to me.


And again... what is crazy socialized??

Loud noises, strange flooring, a little adversity... how is that "crazy"??


Exactly, that's what I'm wondering. I've explained what I've been doing with the pups...which is nothing MAJOR in my life...it's not like I've set up an obstacle course for them or something. lol I've invited people over to visit...I've taken them on a trip to see my sister and her kids (which was already planned before the pups arrived...and it wasn't like I could leave them for hours at home alone). I don't think what I've been doing is "CRAZY SOCIALIZED". What I have done is added some new things every day into their environment, allowed them a little more freedom, and noted what their reactions were...and tried to keep everything positive and happy for them. They've met rabbits, cats and older dogs...because that's what lives in my house.
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Postby DemoDick » January 17th, 2011, 7:49 pm

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?


I would like to get Tina's opinion on this, as she kinda sorta knows a thing or two about genetics. Not socializing puppies on purpose is just silly. If I'm buying a pup I EXPECT that neonatal neural stimulation has been done through handling and human interaction, at minimum. As the dog ages, no harm can come from carefully exposing it to environmental stressors in a context favorable to development.

Regarding working dogs: I see a lot of people who wash out dogs with "environmental issues" because they either have no idea how to train or don't want to be bothered with it. Most people these days are just into drive manipulation and don't want to problem solve, hence the second the dog shows any issues it gets washed out. Dog sport competitors go through prospects like crap through a goose. The new dog is the greatest, awesome genetics, naturally full, hard grips, environmentally sound, etc. Then six months down the road the dog is sold or retired because of a "genetic" issue...but the NEW dog is the greatest, awesome genetics, etc. Silly, really, because I've seen dogs with all kinds of "issues" who show no interest in bitework at all explode at 18 months into solid workhorses.

I can't tell you how any "wash-outs" I've seen that just needed a few good training sessions and/or time to develop.

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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 8:00 pm

My take on this is it hits the nail on the head. Epigenetics is just coming into its own in the scientific field. Main factors are not only what the puppy is exposed to prenatal and postnatal. Parents health and genetics play a role as well. How the parent was raised and fed DOES effect the puppies. The genes are programed and it caries through. There was an excellent program on PBS not to long ago that does an incredible job explaining it in lay mans terms. I would recommend anyone interested in any way how this would effect puppies or people for that matter to watch it. They studied a village with excellent history records and it gave the first clue that there may be something to all of the factors. History and health, upbringing and environment all play a part.
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Postby mnp13 » January 17th, 2011, 8:03 pm

I worked an adult dog who was from "the best of the best" genetically. All that and a bag of chips, would eat concrete, destroy decoys, blah blah blah blah blah.

Had been on carpeted floors or outside his entire life. Literally his entire life. first time he stepped on a linoleum floor he about had heart failure. Would... not... move...

Genetically bad, or just never experienced it so had no freekin clue how to deal with it? What part of the "genetic code" includes the slippery floor gene? There isn't one, of course, I'm not stupid. HOWEVER, perhaps if the dog had seen a linoleum floor before it was suddenly called across one at a full tilt run and suddenly couldn't walk perhaps he wouldn't have freaked. The excuse, of course, was a "genetic problem."
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 17th, 2011, 8:08 pm

I knew a labrador raised as puppy to be a SD...as an adult worked fine...except for slippery floors. Never exposed to them as a pup...no good reason...just didn't. Before I came along as the puppy coordinator, of course! ;)
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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 8:11 pm

That is why it is importaint to involve everything. Genetics only do so much. Experience counts for part of a dogs mental stability. As you know Michelle Gator comes from great working genes. Look at the brain basket I have.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 17th, 2011, 8:32 pm

Inara never went up and down stairs as a puppy so it took her a long time to figure them out when she was older. She still won't do stairs she can see through. And those of you who know her know that she throws herself head first into any situation. Just not stairs. Bad genetics? I don't think so...I think I just failed in introducing her to that item when she was younger. :|
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Postby amazincc » January 17th, 2011, 8:34 pm

furever_pit wrote: Sensitivities are sensitivities. Doesn't matter what you do to try and get the dog through it - they will resurface under pressure.


I disagree... I think you (as in "general you") can teach most dogs to successfully cope w/all sorts of "sensitivities", provided you put in the time and effort.
I know next-to-nothing about the two litters (BYB, of course) my boys came from, and I'm going to hazard a guess that "good genetics" and "great blood-lines" weren't a deciding factor when those breedings took place. :rolleyes2:
Sepp was an absolute mess when he first came to live w/me... he was terrified of everything. The collar, the leash, walking on grass (literally), you name it, it scared the crap out of him... :crazy2:
Faust was in a bad place as well... very little positive association w/people and the world at large, to say the least.
I can't imagine what it would've done to either one if I hadn't put an emphasis on socialization/positive experiences and working through issues, once they started living w/me.
It also made me realize when, and how, I dropped the ball w/Mick. :(

The healthy (and loving) nurturing of a living, breathing being can never be a bad thing, IMO.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 17th, 2011, 9:03 pm

amazincc wrote:
furever_pit wrote: Sensitivities are sensitivities. Doesn't matter what you do to try and get the dog through it - they will resurface under pressure.


I disagree... I think you (as in "general you") can teach most dogs to successfully cope w/all sorts of "sensitivities", provided you put in the time and effort.
I know next-to-nothing about the two litters (BYB, of course) my boys came from, and I'm going to hazard a guess that "good genetics" and "great blood-lines" weren't a deciding factor when those breedings took place. :rolleyes2:
Sepp was an absolute mess when he first came to live w/me... he was terrified of everything. The collar, the leash, walking on grass (literally), you name it, it scared the crap out of him... :crazy2:
Faust was in a bad place as well... very little positive association w/people and the world at large, to say the least.
I can't imagine what it would've done to either one if I hadn't put an emphasis on socialization/positive experiences and working through issues, once they started living w/me.
It also made me realize when, and how, I dropped the ball w/Mick. :(

The healthy (and loving) nurturing of a living, breathing being can never be a bad thing, IMO.


Spoken like a true rescue mom! Taking what you've got and molding a great dog out of it! lol

I've got three dogs that I know came from puppy mills...you want to talk about a genetic crapshoot...but you'd be hard pressed to guess which ones (well, one's pretty easy...lol) came from a mill.
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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 9:08 pm

Once again everything counts. The other factor that some seem to forget is dogs can learn. They for the most part are not simple or dumb. Given the right tools almost any animal can make true improvements. Some can make leaps and bounds.
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Postby call2arms » January 17th, 2011, 9:53 pm

Very nice discussion to read through, super interesting to see different points of view and 5 pages of civilized thread is pretty cool - I love this place.

I was thinking about something, and I may have a hard time expressing myself here, cause my brain is very french today.
Greyhounds - most of them, as a population, live a very similar life. I'm not so familiar with the kennel/racing scheme, but my impression through adopters is that most of them have lived kenneled lifes, have a hard time at first adapting to stairs, new flooring, being in the house and other issues.

Now - most of them end up being fine, or at least doing ok, and a few just seem traumatized by life in general.

It just sort of struck me how as a population, Greyhounds are a nice, "homogenous" group to try and sort out this kind of thing - the ones who end up doing perfectly fine vs. the "ok" vs. the OMG! ones... They've all pretty much had the same upbringing (I guess there's a variation from kennel to kennel) and react in very different ways.

Get my drift? Or am I just uttering unrelated weirdness?
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Postby mnp13 » January 17th, 2011, 9:58 pm

amazincc wrote:It also made me realize when, and how, I dropped the ball w/Mick.


Stop it.

Our past experiences make us who we are. If you had not learned what you learned with Mick you would not have been able to deal with your present dogs the way you do. You did the best you could at the time, it's not your fault you didn't know and when you learned, you did better.

Lots of people refuse to realize what they did wrong, learn from it and grow. You will do even better with future dogs.

Accept Mick for what he was, and accept your handling for what it WAS, not what it is now.
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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 10:05 pm

mnp13 wrote:
amazincc wrote:It also made me realize when, and how, I dropped the ball w/Mick.


Stop it.

Our past experiences make us who we are. If you had not learned what you learned with Mick you would not have been able to deal with your present dogs the way you do. You did the best you could at the time, it's not your fault you didn't know and when you learned, you did better.

Lots of people refuse to realize what they did wrong, learn from it and grow. You will do even better with future dogs.

Accept Mick for what he was, and accept your handling for what it WAS, not what it is now.

I agree with Michelle. You learned a lot from him. You showed a dedication that most would not have come close to. I learned a lot from your experience with Mick. Don't discount your abilities.
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Postby furever_pit » January 17th, 2011, 10:44 pm

amazincc wrote:I disagree... I think you (as in "general you") can teach most dogs to successfully cope w/all sorts of "sensitivities", provided you put in the time and effort.
I know next-to-nothing about the two litters (BYB, of course) my boys came from, and I'm going to hazard a guess that "good genetics" and "great blood-lines" weren't a deciding factor when those breedings took place. :rolleyes2:
Sepp was an absolute mess when he first came to live w/me... he was terrified of everything. The collar, the leash, walking on grass (literally), you name it, it scared the crap out of him... :crazy2:
Faust was in a bad place as well... very little positive association w/people and the world at large, to say the least.
I can't imagine what it would've done to either one if I hadn't put an emphasis on socialization/positive experiences and working through issues, once they started living w/me.
It also made me realize when, and how, I dropped the ball w/Mick. :(

The healthy (and loving) nurturing of a living, breathing being can never be a bad thing, IMO.


I do agree that you can teach some dogs to cope with some sensitivities. However, whether or not you see things resurface will depend on the pressure you put on the dog. There is more pressure inherent in the sports that I am involved with than the everyday life of a dog. So by the nature of the sport itself, you are going to "weed out" more dogs than the average life of a dog would - which is kind of the point. This is exactly why I placed Gator as a pet, because the insecurities he does have are well managed in a routine day-to-day life.

IMO working dogs should be bred in a way that these weaknesses are diminished over time. That is the point, to improve the breed. If you take a dog that is soft to the environment and/or to people or noises or whatever and then breed that dog, you are passing on that softness regardless of what you may have been able to train the dog to deal with. Will I work with a dog to get it through some of these issues? Yes, but it does affect how I view the dog and plays a part in my estimation of whether or not the dog is breed worthy.

Christine, I don't really know all that much about Mick and what you went through with him. I have seen you mention him a few times and I can tell that he was a difficult but good learning experience for you. For whatever it is worth, you strike me as a very caring and determined owner. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself.
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Postby DemoDick » January 17th, 2011, 11:01 pm

furever_pit wrote:I do agree that you can teach some dogs to cope with some sensitivities. However, whether or not you see things resurface will depend on the pressure you put on the dog. There is more pressure inherent in the sports that I am involved with than the everyday life of a dog. So by the nature of the sport itself, you are going to "weed out" more dogs than the average life of a dog would - which is kind of the point. This is exactly why I placed Gator as a pet, because the insecurities he does have are well managed in a routine day-to-day life.


I put pressure on my dog in training. I insist on it. Connor was very gunshy when I got him (for unknown reasons). Would drag me off the field if he heard gunfire. We dealt with it, and very quickly. We still put pressure on him during training, moreso than nearly anyone I've ever trained with. Instead of writing it off an an insurmountable genetic problem, we taught him to work through the source of stress and it made him stronger in every other area. No problems with gunfire to this day, with continued stress. Ninety nine percent of trainers would agree with your assessment. They would be wrong, too.

Sports do not "weed out" dogs who can't handle stress. They "weed out" dogs who require problem solving.

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Postby BigDogBuford » January 17th, 2011, 11:02 pm

TinaMartin wrote:Once again everything counts. The other factor that some seem to forget is dogs can learn. They for the most part are not simple or dumb. Given the right tools almost any animal can make true improvements. Some can make leaps and bounds.


Totally off topic but this made me think of Joxer. He only has room for three tricks at a time. Every time he's learned a new one, he loses one. He can relearn one of the one's he lost but it's always random which one he loses. :giggle:

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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 11:02 pm

furever_pit wrote:
amazincc wrote:I disagree... I think you (as in "general you") can teach most dogs to successfully cope w/all sorts of "sensitivities", provided you put in the time and effort.
I know next-to-nothing about the two litters (BYB, of course) my boys came from, and I'm going to hazard a guess that "good genetics" and "great blood-lines" weren't a deciding factor when those breedings took place. :rolleyes2:
Sepp was an absolute mess when he first came to live w/me... he was terrified of everything. The collar, the leash, walking on grass (literally), you name it, it scared the crap out of him... :crazy2:
Faust was in a bad place as well... very little positive association w/people and the world at large, to say the least.
I can't imagine what it would've done to either one if I hadn't put an emphasis on socialization/positive experiences and working through issues, once they started living w/me.
It also made me realize when, and how, I dropped the ball w/Mick. :(

The healthy (and loving) nurturing of a living, breathing being can never be a bad thing, IMO.


I do agree that you can teach some dogs to cope with some sensitivities. However, whether or not you see things resurface will depend on the pressure you put on the dog. There is more pressure inherent in the sports that I am involved with than the everyday life of a dog. So by the nature of the sport itself, you are going to "weed out" more dogs than the average life of a dog would - which is kind of the point. This is exactly why I placed Gator as a pet, because the insecurities he does have are well managed in a routine day-to-day life.

IMO working dogs should be bred in a way that these weaknesses are diminished over time. That is the point, to improve the breed. If you take a dog that is soft to the environment and/or to people or noises or whatever and then breed that dog, you are passing on that softness regardless of what you may have been able to train the dog to deal with. Will I work with a dog to get it through some of these issues? Yes, but it does affect how I view the dog and plays a part in my estimation of whether or not the dog is breed worthy.

Christine, I don't really know all that much about Mick and what you went through with him. I have seen you mention him a few times and I can tell that he was a difficult but good learning experience for you. For whatever it is worth, you strike me as a very caring and determined owner. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself.

I think you should go back and search the threads about it. It shows what can be done with a dog who has a truly dedicated owner and just how far a dog can come with coping skills that work.
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Postby TinaMartin » January 17th, 2011, 11:07 pm

BigDogBuford wrote:
TinaMartin wrote:Once again everything counts. The other factor that some seem to forget is dogs can learn. They for the most part are not simple or dumb. Given the right tools almost any animal can make true improvements. Some can make leaps and bounds.


Totally off topic but this made me think of Joxer. He only has room for three tricks at a time. Every time he's learned a new one, he loses one. He can relearn one of the one's he lost but it's always random which one he loses. :giggle:

Ah, simple dogs.

So Glad that Gator has good company. Gator and Sorsha are truly night and day. Love Gator to death but my boy really does have problems in the brain dept.
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Postby furever_pit » January 17th, 2011, 11:26 pm

I'm not going to stand here and try to defend my decision with Gator.
He was what he was and he was not the dog I was looking for. End of story.

If that makes me undedicated or not a problem solver so be it.
I don't own perfect dogs and I do work around and through things with the ones I have.
Gator was just not enough dog for me to go through it with him.
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Postby airwalk » January 17th, 2011, 11:28 pm

Wow, okay if everyone can stay focused on the discussion this is an excellent conversation. It only loses it's value if it gets personal and we all forget that each of us have a different approach to choosing and raising our dogs..but that each of us has a similar end goal of having a dog that is happy, healthy and meets our needs.
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