We took in a rescue dog recently with the improbable name of Tiny. He wasn't. He was a tall, long, slab-sided wheaten boy who tipped the scales at 28 pounds with his ribs showing. "Why are you giving him up?" I asked the owners. "He bites children," they, replied. "Did you get him from a pet shop?" I asked. "Oh, no!" they stated emphatically. "We know better than that! We got him from a breeder." As it turns out, we know this so-called "breeder." Tiny is the third Scottie from the same litter to find his way to our rescue program. All biters.
The well-meaning owners called this "breeder" when things began to go wrong. She offered no help. They called her again when they made the difficult decision to let Tiny go. She refused to take him back.
"Maybe you'll keep him?" the man asked, hopefully."This color is really rare, you know, and you can "stud him" and make some money. He might even be a show dog."
"What makes you think so?" I asked in amazement. "The breeder told us so," he replied.
They said goodbye to Tiny. The kids cried.The husband, once again, suggested the possibility that he might stay here with us. I assured them that I would do my best to find him a good home.
Several weeks later, however, Tiny was not in a new home. Tiny was dead. His aggression toward children, and, indeed, toward anyone with whom he was unfamiliar, was so dangerous and uncontrollable that we
knew we could not place him safely in anyone's home. His brief and troubled life ended at our veterinarian's office, cradled in my husband's arms.
I've thought a lot since then about "breeders."
We work hard to educate the public about the evils of the pet shop. "Buy from a breeder," as the bumper sticker says. But how do we set ourselves apart from "breeders" who thought- lessly and carelessly and selfishly produce misfits like Tiny?
My vet, whom I adore, is retiring and I'm faced with the daunting prospect of finding another vet whom I trust and with whom I share rapport. When I suggested several names to a friend, she warned me not to bother. "They hate breeders," she said. "How can anyone possibly find fault with people who take care of dogs like we do?" I asked. "We're not backyard breeders!"
"I know we're not backyard breeders," she replied, "and you know
we're not, but they don't know the difference."
And if some of the vets in the area look upon all breeders" as belonging to the same, unsavory category as the woman who bred Tiny, how can we expect the puppy-buying public to tell us apart? Perhaps we need to expand our educational efforts beyond the dangers of the pet shop, to include a serious attempt to educate the public to the differences. "Buy from a breeder" is not enough. We need to tell puppy buyers to buy from a responsible breeder. But how does one tell the difference between "them" and "us"?
First of all, a responsible breeder is dedicated to improving the breed. No mating is ever planned or consummated without the intention - and the expectation of producing the next "great one."
The responsible breeder studies pedigrees and the traits of the dogs therein. Breeding plans are often mapped out for several generations hence. It's interesting how the old advertisements always included the sire and dam of the dog, as it was just as important to know what he came from, as what he looked like. Next time someone inquires about using your dog at stud, ask them to name his parents and grandparents!
A responsible breeder ensures that breeding stock is free of genetic defects, insofar as possible. And educates buyers about what constitutes a healthy Scottish Terrier. I have had several puppy calls recently in which the prospective buyer asked me about vWD and cramp. Someone is educating these folks, and we need to add our voices, too.
A responsible breeder offers a stud dog only to suitable bitches, and seeks to educate those owners whose bitches should not be bred, no matter how tempting the stud fee. Should a breeder, for example, offer a stud dog who is a known producer of cramp, to a cramp-affected bitch? Unfortunately, it's been done.
The STCA breeders' guidelines say that a responsible breeder does not breed primarily for the pet market, even if the sale of copious pet puppies subsidizes the careers of the show dogs. There is certainly nothing wrong with making a profit in dog breeding (although, Lord knows, I've never gotten the knack of it!) but to breed puppies simply to pay the bills is unconscionable.
A responsible breeder stifles the urge to sell every bitch puppy on a "puppy back" contract. With quality bitches, it is a viable way for good breeders with space limitations to keep their breeding program moving forward. With pet quality bitches, it is simply a way to take advantage of innocent puppy buyers. It not only results in their ultimately paying several times more for their pet than they probably would have paid for a future champion, but also leaves them with a litter of puppies to find homes for; puppies which are, in fact, not their responsibility, but yours.
Responsible breeders screen puppy buyers carefully and do everything possible to place each puppy in the perfect home. Most of us want to finish champions, but sometimes the best place for a puppy is on someone's couch, as a pampered pet. The breeder who would rather sell this pup to a less suitable show home should rethink their commitment to the breed.
A responsible breeder waits until bitches are old enough, and mature enough to breed safely and retires them when they've made their contribution in the whelping box. My vet's new associate was amazed to learn that I planned to spay my six year old bitch after her third litter. When she asked why, I told her that this special girl had given me everything I had ever asked her for - three litters of lovely, healthy puppies, some great moments in the ring, and six years of devotion. I felt that she had given me enough. "Most breeders wouldn't do that" she said...another one who doesn't know the difference between "them" and "us."
A good breeder pampers the oldsters as much as the current star. If unable to provide the kind of attention a senior Scottie deserves, the responsible breeder unselfishly finds a loving home in which the retiree can live out his or her life as someone's beloved pet. Don't think that they will pine away for you. I have seen few things as gratifying as the look on the face of one of the most beautiful Scotties I've ever known - a Best In Show winning bitch - curled up on "her" sofa in a house surrounded by love, after a life in which she basically went from crate, to run and then back again. Old timers deserve better.
And, a responsible breeder gives unselfishly of their time and expertise in educating those who are just beginning their love affair with the breed. But mentoring is not limited to newcomers. I owe my sanity to an experienced Scottie and Sealy breeder who lives 1000 miles away from here, who spent virtually the entire night on the phone with me, helping me through a very difficult whelping.
Hopefully, the folks who read the Bagpiper - responsible breeders all - in rating themselves according to the "ten commandments" above, would score a perfect "10". Tiny's "breeder" would be hard-pressed to come up with something above a zero. And that, as I'd like to tell my new vet, and the people who call about puppies, and the family who left poor Tiny with us, is the TRUE difference between "them" and "us".
Original Document: them&us.doc
Rage Syndrome Reexamined
By Ian Dunbar, PH.D., M.R.C.V.S.
Source: AKC GAZETTE, July 1990, pp 24-25.
As with many bite incidents, "rage" attacks involve bites which occur 1) without apparent reason, and 2) without apparent warning. The aggressive episodes have a precipitous onset and offset; the dog may appear quite normal immediately afterwards; and, after the first incident, several aggressive episodes may follow within a short time. The unusual and serious features of rage attacks are that each bite is severe, and each aggressive outburst comprises a number of bites.
No Apparent Reason or Warning
As explained in my February 1990 column, "Subliminal Bite Cues," the dog has warned the owner numerous times since puppyhood that it may bite; it certainly warned its victim prior to the attack; and the dog had many reasons for biting. A series of subliminal bitestimuli, none of which may have been sufficient to elicit aggression on their own, occurred together, compounded the dog's anxiety, and prompted it to attack. Some stimuli are quite subtle; for example, it is fairly common for rage attacks to be precipitated by eye contact (both threatening and loving).
To confuse matters further, some subliminal bite stimuli may be superstitious on the part of the dog (created when a previously neutral stimulus immediately precedes an extremely frightening, painful - or pleasurable - event). The owner may have no idea that the stimulus could be contributing to the dog's aggression. One of my cases involved a dog that attacked its owner when he picked up his car keys. Another dog bit its owner whenever she was about to sneeze. A single chance pairing of the stimulus and the extreme event are all that it takes for some dogs to assume "cause and effect" and to respond dramatically to the stimulus in the future. The car keys and the sneeze were superstitious bite cues for those dogs. Once identified, however, superstitious stimuli are usually easy to desensitize.
The severity of rage attacks is in marked contrast to the dog's seemingly normal and friendly demeanor both before and immediately after the attack. Especially following the attack, the dog is often described as quite unconcerned, unremorseful and even cavalier and nonchalant in its attitude - sometimes approaching, licking and nuzzling, or perhaps wandering away, yawning, scratching or urinating.
It is quite normal for dogs to resume normal relations after an aggressive interaction. Approaching and licking are friendly appeasement gestures; the dog is trying to communicate that it really likes the person and desperately wants to make up; it just didn't like the person's actions that prompted the bite.
Several times in my behavior studies I observed a low-ranking individual (usually a bitch) severely reprimand a high-ranking male dog for overstepping his mark, and then instantly show deference and appeasement. The high-ranking male accepted both the rebuke and the apology. Higher rank does not necessarily entail trampling those beneath. This is a human interpretation of social dominance. Dogs tend to be much fairer and much more forgiving.
Yawning, scratching and urinating are all displacement behaviors; stereotyped displays for the dissipation of excess energy created by anxiety and/or conflict (the dog wants to make up, but it dare not approach the person). No doubt the dog has learned that it gets too close it will be chastised once more.
Several Incidents of Attacks
The dog's first bite, usually occurring in late adolescence or early adulthood, is often followed by a series of attacks. Following the first incidence of biting, the entire family dynamics fall apart: No one trusts the dog, and the dog loses trust in people. The level of reprimands and physical punishments escalates precipitously. Thus, the dog has many more reasons to bite. Aggression fosters aggression on all fronts.
The factor that makes rage attacks unusual and frightening is their ferocity. Each incident involves multiple bites, and the bites are severs, usually puncturing the skin and mutilating the victim.
The severity of the bites is an advertisement of the absence of bite inhibition in the dog. Perhaps the pup did not have the opportunity to play and play-bite with many other puppies; perhaps the pup did not have the opportunity to mouth many people; or perhaps it was discouraged from mouthing altogether (the owners inhibited the incidence of puppy-biting before they inhibited the force of biting). Shy and sensitive pups are not very mouthy when they play. Fearful pups seldom mouth at all, because they do not play. There are a couple of breeds (Chows and Akitas) which tend to be distinctly asocial as puppies and seldom play with dogs or mouth people. It is an extremely urgent warning sign if a puppy neither play-bites nor mouths. Such pups must be taught to play and mouth, otherwise they will have no opportunity to learn to inhibit the force of their bites. Teaching bite inhibition is much more time consuming and dangerous with adult dogs, especially with those that have already bitten.
Single-bite attacks are usually the product of defensive aggression, in which a single bite and quick release (and retreat) occur in response to the victim's approach, appearance or actions (provocation). Multiple-bite attacks are the result of offensive aggression, whereby the dog takes the initiative to approach and bite the victim. Such attacks are usually the product of "playful" aggression (uncontrolled puppy-biting behavior in an uncontrollable adolescent or adult dog), or predatory aggression ( a dog that simply has not been socialized to people, notable strangers and/or children, and so views them as prey).
Rage attacks are quite unique: They are most certainly defensive, but they characteristically involve more than one bite from an other-wise fairly well-socialized dog. They are best described as defensive/offensive aggression. The dog acts perfectly fine most of the time, but feels the need to defend itself in certain well-defined situations, usually those it feels hold the prospect of a severe reprimand or punishment. It is as if the dog realized that the best defense is an active offense, and so issues a preemptive strike. The attacks are ferocious because, presumably, the dog feels it is fighting for its life. Ironically, the so-called "treatment" for aggression (punishing the dog for displaying warning signs) is the cause of most dog bites, including rage bites. (For more on this aspect of rage, see Gail Fisher's "It's All The Rage" in the January '90 GAZETTE.)
There do appear to be breed dispositions towards rage attacks (Spaniels, and all Shepherd breeds: sensitive working dogs). However, breed prevalence does not necessarily reflect bad lines or bad breeding, but rather, seems to be the product of general temperamental characteristics of the breed - largely sensitivity and reactivity - characteristics that are otherwise extremely beneficial for training. It is only with poorly socialized dogs that these traits become maladaptive. Sensitive dogs tend to react aversively to heavy-handed training and treatment techniques. And it is only with dogs that have limited bite inhibition that the tantrums are dangerous. Rage syndrome represents a defensive temper tantrum in a poorly socialized dog that has little bite inhibition. Without a doubt, socialization, routine confidence building and bite inhibition exercises are the solutions to potentially dangerous problems.
For years now (like Peter Finch in the movie "Network"), dogs have been shouting, "We've had enough, and we don't want to take it any more!" It's time to listen to our dogs.
Dr. Dunbar, a native of Hetfordshire, England, is an animal behaviorist, veterinarian and author. He has developed a series of behavior bookletsand a video, Sirius Puppy Training.
Original Doc: rage.doc
Boys Will Be Boys
The role of testosterone in sexual differentiation
Like most mammals, males and female dogs differ in a number of marked respects. Apart from the obvious primary sexual differences between genes, gonads, genitalia and mating patterns, dog behavior is sexually differentiated in other ways. Male dogs tend to be higher‑ranking and more prone to fight than females, and they employ quite different urination postures.
Sexual differentiation occurs during early embryonic development and undergoes progressive elaboration throughout a dog's life. In genetically female (XX) fetuses, the cortex of each gonad develops into an ovary, whereas in genetically male (XY) fetuses, the gonadal medulla develop into testes. Fetal testes, but not the ovaries, begin to secrete (testosterone‑like) hormones, which in turn cause irreversible effects on anatomy and behavior. In the presence of testosterone, the male (Wolffian) duct system develops, and the previously undifferentiated genital tubercle forms male genitalia.
In the absence of fetal testosterone, the female (Mullerian) duct system develops into fallopian tubes and a uterus, and the genital tubercle forms female genitalia.
The brain is also affected by fetal testosterone. In the absence of testosterone, the hypothalamus retains its cyclic influence over the pituitary gland, which in turn causes the cyclic release of ovarian hormones, giving rise to the characteristic seasonal monestrous cycle.
In male dogs, however, fetal testosterone "masculinizes" parts of the brain. Fetal testosterone organizes neural development, preprogramming the dog to develop in a male fashion so that as an adult it will be more likely to mount and fight with other dogs, and to lift its leg when urinating. Testosterone also suppresses the cyclic nature of the hypothalamus which, via the pituitary, controls testosterone secretion from the testes.
As a word of caution, many drugs (including a variety of antibiotics) may either mimic or block the effects of testosteron, altering the masculinizing process and causing anatomical, physiological and behavioral abnormalities. In such cases, if the masculinization process is interrupted, genetical and gonadal males will develop female genitalia and will tend to act like anestrous bitches.
Other drugs cause genetic and gonadal females to have the outward appearance of castrated male, dogs, with a penis (and os penis), prepuce and empty scrotum. Additionally, masculinized bitches tend to be more aggressive, and are more likely to fight, mount other dogs and lift a leg when urinating. Obviously, the administration of drugs during pregnancy should be avoided. (See "Dangerous And Safe Drugs For Pregnancy" in the May 1990 GAZETTE Veterinary News column.)
The bitch's seasonally monestrous sexual cycle is quite unique in the mammalian world and, similarly, the reproductive endocrinology of male dogs comprises a variety of unique features. In male dogs, the blood levels of testosterone start to rise around four to five months of age and reach a peak at about ten months. The rise in testosterone correlates well with behavioral signs of puberty: sexual preference, sexual interest, increased mounting behavior, increased aggression and the development of adult male urination postures.
Pubertal increases in testosterone are the norm for most mammals. However, following the ten month testosterone peak in dogs, testosterone titers fall to adult levels by eighteen months of age. Thus, adult dogs have lower testosterone levels than eight‑month‑old adolescents. This is quite unusual in the mammalian world.
The "Smell" Hormone
The canine pubertal testosterone peak appears to have an important social function. Testosterone is the hormone which makes male dogs smell male. Hence, adolescent male dogs smell "supermale." High testosterone is a convenient meansto draw attention to maturing male pups and adolescents‑‑future potential competition on the social scene‑‑so that adult dogs (primarily males) may put the pups (primarily males) in their place before they become difficult to handle. Indeed, it is common for adult male dogs to relentlessly harass adolescent males (with high testosterone levels) until the youngsters learn to show deference to their elders and
social superiors. Thereafter, voluntary displays of active appeasement by young and/or low‑ranking dogs allay harassment from older and/or higher‑ranking individuals and form the cornerstone of a harmonious social structure.
For most mammals, the increase in testosterone at puberty is essential for the activation of normal sexual development and the manifestation of secondary sexual characteristics. Certainly pubertal testosterone facilitates sexual development in male dogs, but it does not appear to be essential, as evidenced by the behavioral development of castrated dogs.
Effects of Castration
Castration holds a few surprises in store for the novice breeder. Castration has no apparent effect on sexual orientation and olfactory preferences, which are predetermined during fetal development. Castrated male dogs still prefer to interact both socially and sexually with females. Castration during development and, to a lesser extent, during adulthood does decrease the fervor of sexual interest (roaming, sniffing and licking, for example), but it does not necessarily reduce mounting during sexual encounters. On the contrary, some neutered males appear to mount more frequently and vigorously than they did prior to castration, or compared with non‑castrated counterparts. The developmental and/or long term effects of castration may impair the dog's ability to achieve intromission during mating, but castrated dogs do not necessarily give up trying.
Castrating a dog at any age after it is born‑‑in adulthood, prepubertally or within a week of birth‑‑neither directly reduces the dog's aggressiveness, nor does it reduce the dog's ranking in the social hierarchy. In fact, castration may afford a dog a competitive advantage, since other dogs (especially males) view it as less of a threat (because it smells more like a female) and therefore challenge it less vigorously. This explains why castration often reduces the incidence of fighting.
Although neutering does not decrease aggressiveness towards other dogs, it does reduce displays of aggressiveness by other dogs towards castrated males, which consequently feel less threatened and have less provocation to respond aggressively themselves. This is a common event in behavioral endocrinology, whereby altering the hormonal status of one dog radically changes the behavior of other dogs and, in this example, indirectly reduces aggression.
Both juvenile and adult urination postures are sexually differentiated. Females almost exclusively squat when urinating. Young male pups usually urinate standing on all fours, leaning forwards slightly. Some males may flex their rear legs somewhat, but the posture differs from the characteristic female squat. At any time between four months and two years of age, male dogs begin lifting a hind leg to urinate. (Many females may raise a hind leg when urinating, but the posture is quite distinct from the characteristic male dog‑leg abduction. Females tend to raise the leg off the ground and bring it forwards, usually while squatting.)
Castration does not affect the type of postures used by male dogs, but it does appear to alter the time-course of development by lengthening the transition from juvenile to adult postures. Most castrated males eventually lift a hind leg when urinating. Castration appears to alter the dog's sensitivity to social and environmental stimuli and, for example, it is not uncommon for castrated males to lift a leg in their own back yard, but to stand, lean or flex when urinating on walks or in the presence of other dogs. Other dogs may do exactly the opposite.
Testosterone appears to exert two quite distinct effects during sexual differentiation: 1 ) Developmental. The presence of testosterone during development permanently organizes (both defeminizes and masculinizes) parts of the anatomy, including the brain and peripheral nervous system, so that the course of male development is now predetermined. The animal will no longer act like a female. Whether or not‑-and to what degree‑‑it will act like a male depends on the species and individual, and whether or not it is exposed to testosterone in adulthood. 2) Activational. In the majority of mammals, circulating testosterone in adulthood is essential for the expression of sexual behavior and the development of secondary sexual characteristics. With dogs, although both pubertal and adult testosterone appear to be unnecessary for the activation of male behaviors, its presence during puberty speeds up maturation, augmenting some behaviors but having little or no effect on others.
Dr. Dunbar, a native of Hertfordshire, England, is an animal behaviorist, veterinarian and author. He has developed a series of behavior booklets and a video, Sirius Puppy Training.
Pets or Livestock?
Kennel‑reared dogs are not pet quality.
By Ian Dunbar, PH.D., M.R.C.V.S.
Source: GAZETTE - Behavior Column, pp 28 & 30.
Breeders select for working ability, temperament. physical soundness and conformation to approximate (or better) the breed standard: They are breeding championship stock--show dogs. However, individual pups vary considerably within any litter, and it is customary for breeders to divide puppies into "show quality" and "pet quality," with a differential price structure based on this distinction. Show quality pups are more expensive, and the label pet quality connotes inferiority, a second‑rate animal.
Defining The Dog's Quality
The notion of show quality varies greatly from breeder to breeder and from judge to judge. Similarly, the percentage of show dogs which become champions varies greatly from breed to breed and from kennel to kennel.
Let's consider a hypothetical kennel producing fifty percent show quality puppies of which ten per‑cent become champions. This means only five percent of the total kennel output is actually championship stock. So what are the other ninety‑five percent? Pet quality? Well they should be, but in many cases they are not.
A pet dog is a socialized domestic dog which is friendly towards all people, other dogs and other animals, and has been raised and trained to live as a household companion. Unfortunately, the majority of kennel‑reared pet quality dogs do not fit this description. The term has become a misnomer. Many breeders fail to appreciate the true nature of their kennel--a facility that should be raising exclusively (100 percent) pet dogs, fifty percent of which may additionally be considered show quality, ten percent of which may become champions. Breeders are breeding pet dogs, and therefore breeders should be raising pet dogs. Puppies which have been reared in a kennel isolated from the house can hardly be described as pet quality. How can we truthfully describe a dog as a pet if it has never seen children or men; never played with a cat or other breeds of dog; never walked on carpets or encountered a vacuum cleaner; never been housetrained; never walked on lead; and never been taught to come and sit. "Livestock" is a much more accurate and descriptive term.
Certainly pure‑bred dogs produced within the fancy are superior in looks to those bred by pet owners, but in terms of behavior and temperament, a dog raised in a home (whether by a conscientious breeder and/or by a pet owner), is streaks above anything produced elsewhere. Good behavior and sound temperament are dependent on a complex and rich socio-physical environment and especially upon human attention, affection and training. Kennel‑reared dogs simply have not had sufficient socialization or training to deal with the rigors of everyday pet dog life. Kennelling a puppy or dog without socialization or instruction passively (by neglect) trains it to be asocial (and maybe antisocial), stereotypically hyperactive, and an indiscriminant eliminator, barker, chewer and digger. All these problems are the direct product of an impoverished early environment, i.e., kennelitis.
The quality of a dog's behavior, temperament and training varies inversely with the number of dogs in the household. Most dog fanciers start with a single dog which is both a pet and a show dog. Additional dogs are acquired along the way and, at some point, many breeders opt for outdoor kennels to accommodate their growing dog population.
Kennel dogs receive less human attention and affection than household pets. Most breeders are women, and less than forty percent of breeders have children living at home. This means that many puppies and adult dogs sold as pets have seldom met children or men [the two most common stimuli for fearfulness and aggression), are seldom exposed to the confusing commotion and cacophony of an ever changing domestic environment and are less likely to be walked regularly, where they would meet a wide variety of human strangers as well as other dogs and animals ln differing urban and rural settings.
Raised in Confinement
I would categorize dogs as show quality, pet quality and kennel reared livestock. Livestock applies to any animal that has been raised in confinement without the experiential benefit of an enriched social and physical environment. The label pet quality is the highest accolade we can award any canine - a true "companion dog"-well trained, well behaved and with a solid temperament. Show quality describes a pet quality dog which additionally has the appearance, structure, gait and working ability worthy of exhibition in the ring.
I can understand why it is essential to kennel the majority of a large group of dogs outdoors. However, there is no reason why 1 ) each adult dog cannot take turns living indoors with the breeder's family (for at least one day of the week); 2) bitches cannot be whelped indoors to allow the pups to grow up in a pet environment: and/or 3) the breeder cannot hold regular puppy parties to bring the pet environment to the litter at home or in the kennel.
Puppy Pet Husbandry
Auditory, visual and olfactory desensitization, and handling and gentling, should all commence before the pups' eyes and ears open and continue in perpetuity. Family members and/or kennel help should regularly hold, stroke and examine the pups. Let the pups sniff used socks, especially from babies, children and men. Open and close doors, rattle feeding cans, talk, shout, sing and play the radio-- sports programs are ideal, since they include lots of loud and excited male voices. Especially condition the pups to cheers and handclapping. Look on the bright side: The pup may be one of the five percent that later deserves to do well in the ring, and we certainly don't want the BIS cringing when everyone applauds.
Other people should handle the young pups as well. Of course, everyone (including the breeder) allowed to visit puppies (whether in house or kennel) should wash their hands and leave their outdoor shoes outdoors. Once the pups are four weeks old, it's time for puppy parties to begin in earnest. Invite prospective puppy buyers, relatives, neighbors and friends to meet the pups. Beg or borrow children. Divide the puppies' kibble into little baggies for the visitors and show each person how to teach the pups to come, sit, lie down and stand-stay using food lure/reward techniques. Let other people enjoy these puppies. And let these pups learn to enjoy other people--all types of people--in preparation for handling by strangers (like veterinarians and judges).
Adolescent Pet Husbandry
Ideally, the adolescent dog should also be raised and trained indoors, or at least allowed inside the house for one day and night a week. Continue the pooch parties, and regularly invite over a number of people to meet, train and play with the dogs. In addition, whether kennelled or not, the dog must regularly be walked on the streets. Above all, allow the pup plenty of time to sit and watch, and to assimilate all that is going on. Once the dog is over six months, it's time to give it a whirl in both the breed and obedience rings.
For the betterment of pure‑bred dogs, breeders must periodically step back, reevaluate their kennel protocols and get back to some common sense canine husbandry. This is part and parcel of being a breeder. Show dogs receive the very best nutrition and veterinary care to ensure their physical well‑being, and they deserve an equivalent amount of time and expertise to ensure their mental well‑being.
Dr. Dunbar, a native of Hertfordshire, England, is an animal behaviorist, veterinarian and author. He has developed a series of behavior booklets and a video, Sirius Puppy Training.
Original Doc: beha-1.doc
Avoiding Shyness: A Primer for Breeders
By Carol Benjamin
Source: GAZETTE, Dog Trainer's Diary, pp 18 &20.
''A man's rootage is more important than his leafage."
Shyness is epidemic among American dogs. The shy dog makes a poor showing in the ring. He makes an unsatisfactory pet. He should not be bred. His shyness sometimes leads to biting. Treated seriously, (after all, it is), and with courage and honesty, this problem could be virtually eliminated.
Shy Yields Shy
It should go without saying that no shy dog should be bred. If the shyness is caused by genetic factors, a new batch of puppies carrying this unfortunate trait will be brought into a world already overpopulated with problem dogs. If the shyness was environmentally caused in the bitch, it will be among the first traits she will teach her offspring. A shy mother raises shy children. And here, as elsewhere, we should remind ourselves that shy means fearful.
Even if your male were the shy one, could you ever be sure that his shyness was one‑hundred percent environmental and would not be passed genetically to his offspring? Perhaps when genetic factors lean toward fearfulness, environmental factors can best take hold. Indeed, I have seen several dogs who should have been shy and fearful, dogs, for example, who stayed in a kennel situation much too long. Yet they exhibited no signs of shyness. Perhaps their genetic programming made for bold, thick‑skinned, easy going dogs, dogs that could easily overcome the limitations caused by environment. Sadly, the reverse is more often the case--the pup that was kept a few extra weeks or months to see if it was a show prospect adjusted poorly to the change in environment. Many of these dogs get worse as they get older, becoming nearly psychotic when they are adults. Many do not respond to re‑training or socialization of any kind. Preventing this trait, painful to dog and owner, is much easier than correcting it. And here's the good news, preventing it is easy--if you are a serious breeder, if you are honest and if you have courage. (I've got your number, right?)
Ways To Prevent Shyness
Following is a primer for avoiding shyness. Point one is a given. There are no exceptions. Not coat. Not gait. Not nothing. A shy dog is not like a Golden Retriever with a white spot on its chest or an off‑color Pharaoh Hound. It won't make a good pet. It's worthless. The rest of the points take time. What doesn't when you breed dogs? What shouldn't? Sure, you've broken the record for feeding the most amount of dogs in the least amount of time, but only so you'll have more time to be with them, to socialize, to fondle and admire. Where better to spend your time than in improving the temperament of the dogs you've so carefully bred? Hence, one primer.
1/ Do not breed any dog, a male or female, who exhibits signs of shyness.
2/ Socialize all your puppies well and positively to males and females, children and adults.
3/ Offer your puppies a variety of sounds, sights, textures. Make sure that all your little puppies, by the time they are eight weeks
of age, have walked on at least four different surfaces. Make sure that one of those surfaces is grass.
4/ Praise your litter of puppies--and each puppy you work with individually--for any new thing they do that could possibly be construed as positive. Any new thing. It does not have to look spectacular. But think about it. The first time a puppy put his paws on your wooden floor, the day he first climbs out of the whelping box (see 5.), it's a gigantic event for him. The floor feels nothing like newspaper or old carpeting or towels, or whatever else is the only thing he's been on. So tell him he's a brave puppy. He is. And the confidence he gains by walking on wood, rugs, bricks, slate, linoleum. grass, dirt. etc. will help him when it's time to climb his first flight of stairs, meet a cat, ride in the car, go to the groomer. He needs to be brave. Praise him when he is. Therefore--
5/ Let your puppies climb out of the whelping box. Of course you won't let them run around unattended when they're four weeks old, loose and lost in the kitchen or basement. But, when you're there and have the time, take down the boards and let your puppies feel their oats, those brave, little darlings. Let them climb over each other and escape. Let them be daring. Big deal if they urinate a little on your kitchen floor. You've got a mop, haven't you? So let those puppies test their brand new feet and brand new courage away from mother and their siblings, on new surfaces. Tell them what brave, good puppies they are, then kiss them and put them back with mommy. A two minute escape- excursion is a great experience for a little puppy. A kind of hedge against shyness. However--
6/ Do you have to stand on your head to find STRESS for your little puppies, in order to make them brave? Not on your life. There's more than enough stress in anyone's early life. After all, mom won't be there every minute. Even the most devoted dam will leave to relieve herself, to eat, and eventually, to rest, play, take a breather. And when you handle them, that's pleasant, but it's stressful as well. And when you clean the box and put them elsewhere for a moment, that's stress. See what I mean? Enough's enough.
7/ Give your litter experiences. The more things they face and conquer, the better puppies they will be, the better able to walk into the ring, heads high, the better able to put up with little Maryann' s five girlfriends who've come to see her new friend, the better able to meet any new challenge that gets thrown at them. And life is full of those. We let our puppies run around in the basement while we cleaned their pen. Of course, then we had to clean the basement--and that took a longer time than cleaning the pen. But did those puppies ever have a good time! They found an old rug wrapped in cord. They removed the cord and invented the tug of war. They found my snow tires and jumped in them and hid. Then POUNCE. They jumped on any puppy dumb enough to pass the tire. They tried the steps. They played hide and seek. They got lost - and cried. And then they got found. And, most important, they got smart. At a very young age, they got to explore a larger world than their safe, little den, once or twice or three times a day. They overcame fear. They met challenges. Then they got to go back to their warm blanket and be babies again. Back and forth it went. Their early life was chock full of experiences and it made them the very best dogs they could be.
8/ And then, when the puppies started to go to their new homes, we made sure that, for those who stayed with us beyond eight weeks of age, experiences increased and their little world was widened. Here, indeed, is the most important point, along with point one, of this article. If you are keeping your puppies beyond eight weeks--to see if they are show quality, to crop their ears, because you think they're just too young to go, you must get them off your property. In order for them to be able to adjust to moving later, to a true change of environment, they must experience that change starting at two months of age. Of course, you'll be careful to take them to places that are as clean as possible. I would not take pups that young to a park where lots of adult dogs play. But I would walk them, on show leads, down almost any suburban street. I would--and did--take them, one or two at a time, visiting to a friend's house. (Bring your own paper towels.) I would take them out any place I could get away with, so that they become super puppies, so that they do not get hooked on my home environment, so that they meet new people away from home, so that they overcome their fear of unusual noises, so that when and if they are sold. they will give their new owners the pleasure they deserve. Even if your home territory is 100 acres, it's still the same place to the puppy, He must have a true change in order to become casual about future changes in his life. He must become sophisticated. And that will only happen if he gets around. You can be creative and get your puppies out and around without exposing them unduly to viruses and parasites. We even took Scarlet down to the lobby of our apartment building so that she could see people coming and going, and so that she could be handled by them. We chose the cleanest streets we could find for walking her and, of course, we did not allow her to sniff the droppings of other dogs, if we saw any. We took her once, when she was small, to a Christmas party, by carrying her in a Canvas bag. Then she got to socialize with 25 strangers. She had a marvelous time. And, miracle of miracles, she found both the water bowl and the newspaper we had put down for her in the kitchen of this strange apartment. Many of you take your puppy prospects to kennel club meetings. But those pups are usually half grown. To prevent shyness, they have to get out when they're really young, two and three months old. In this case, if you find you do want to sell a puppy at five months of age, he will still make a good pet. But if you keep him home, or worse, in a kennel, he may make the transition poorly, acting shy and fearful, often for the balance of his days.
Shyness should not be the widespread problem it is. I have seen the sadness in breeders' eyes when their best prospect tucks his tail in the ring and no amount of loving praise or applause seems to make a difference. But the sadness in a pet owner's eyes is worse. Because in that case, the shy dog is the only one he's got. He won't sell it, cry and forget with another. He will keep it for its lifetime. Yet it will never be the dog he wished for, the one that, with a small investment of a breeder's time, he could have had.
The staff of the GAZETTE congratulates Carol Benjamin on sweeping the award field for 1985 - a "Fido" from Gaines Dog Care Center as Dog Writer of the Year, and a plaque from the Dog Writers' Association of America, for also being named Dog Writer of the Year. -Editors