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I think this is something interesting to think about.

In humans, if you grow up in an environment with lets say...anxious parents, chances are you might have anxiety in adulthood (speaking strictly nurture, not genetics).

Is it similar for dogs? If you bring home an 8 week old puppy into an anxious household is that dog more prone to becoming anxious/stressed vs. being raised in a calm environment? I'm not talking being raised in an abusive household or anything. Just maybe an environment that is full of stress.

I've been thinking about this with Vito. Even on days where he has had PLENTY of exercise, he tends to portray tendencies. He can't settle down, paces, constantly on guard for noises, etc. I mean- these could be nothing but I always wonder if it relates to his puppy hood. Vito was obviously NOT a match to be a guide dog, but he was constantly pushed in that direction. Him not responding the way you would expect a puppy-in-training is should, would make me anxious. Sometimes I wonder if the constant anxiety and stress put on him has to do with the way he is now.

Anyway, something I've been thinking about. :)
 

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Tess and Liza
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Interesting question...I've always heard about dogs looking like their owners (or was it the other way round? (LOL). It doesn't sound strange, though, dogs being fairly sensitive to things.
 

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The whole nurture nature thing has me completely confused--in humans and as you ask, in dogs.
If it were just nurture, every dog and human raised in that environment would be similar (there would be some variation, because no environment is stagnant).
My SIL who is an oncologist, describes colon cancer as often a combination of genetics and environment. The genetics predispose one for a certain thing, the environment either contributes to it or prevents it.
 

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nature vs nurture

Certainly a good question. I have seen pups placed in homes with anxious owners be less confident in strange situations. Dogs really que off their owners. A person who shows boldness and confidence in situations would be more likely to bring up a pup that exudes confidence in unfamiliar situations. BUT...I dont think a genetically shy prone dog would ever fully be so outgoing. No matter how kind you are...genetically agressive dogs will be prone to aggression.
High strung "wired" dogs would not bode well in a family that had similar children. Perhaps such a family lacks the structure and consistency necessary to get such a pup manageable.
This is the main reason I NEVER allow puppy buyers to "pick" their pup. Each pup has a personality that can be molded and enhanced but never really "changed." Temperament testing is so important to help assure a good match between pup and owner and the venue in which the dog will eventually be used. Be it field, show or couch potato!
 

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Old Gold is the Best Gold
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YES!

I cannot tell you how many times I get in a rescue dog and am told he's this, that, or the other, but here he is NONE of those things. That said, I have a pack of dogs included in the household, and I'm a confident handler who knows what I'm doing. I also exercise the hell out of my dogs- all these factors combine. I'm a calm and confident with dogs (unlike with people!) and while genetics certainly can make one's job way easier or way harder regarding socialization and training, I believe environment is very important.

I've had dogs turned over to me for barking- JUST for constant barking- and never heard them bark once in months here. I've had dogs turned in for jumping and biting at the owner on walks, ripping clothes, etc (a common complaint here on the forum) and they never do it once with me. So, I think the way you carry yourself and deal with the dog makes a HUGE difference. It's not about dominance, but about reading dogs precisely and having steady, patient confidence when handling. JMO
 

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Without a doubt. As long as a dog has a sound temperament to begin with, confident, gregarious owners will have confident, well socialized dogs. I've seen neurotic, anxious owners who fret over every blink of their dog's eye have neurotic, anxious dogs. Change that environment, or the behavior of the owner, and the dog can be made more confident and social, and vice verse.
Now, if the dog has an unsound temperament to begin with, things can go south no matter what.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The whole nurture nature thing has me completely confused--in humans and as you ask, in dogs.
If it were just nurture, every dog and human raised in that environment would be similar (there would be some variation, because no environment is stagnant).
My SIL who is an oncologist, describes colon cancer as often a combination of genetics and environment. The genetics predispose one for a certain thing, the environment either contributes to it or prevents it.
Ah, nature vs. nurture. Truly, it's nature AND nurture. A combination of our environment and genetics make us who we are.

Anyway, I just wonder how much of this can relate to dogs. I mean, yes, dogs have inborn, temperaments that probably can't be changed. I know dogs are more flexible than humans and don't necessarily "hold on" to the past and can change easier. But how important is our personality/abnormalities in our dog's development?

Truly, I just wonder how different Vito would be if his life was completely different as a puppy. If I wasn't as anxious and if he wasn't pushed into uncomfortable situations.
 

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chew chew chew
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Yup! I find in general the stressy owners tend to create a lot of stress in their dogs by fussing and becoming emotional when the dog has no clue why. I had one owner and her daughter drop off their dog for boarding, I asked if they had said goodbye and they said yes, after doing a lot of stressy high tone talking to the dog (you'd think the dog was going to be killed, not boarded). Then, the daughter kept going around to the back of the building outside where the dogs were and calling her dog so she could say goodbye again - dog was of course in a run and couldn't get to her and was starting to freak out more... then they wanted to bring the dog back inside so she could say goodbye again, same thing, stressy situation and the dog almost in panic mode by then. Finally said it was in the dog's best interest for them to make it short and sweet and GO HOME - this was half an hour of this. Nope, they went to the other side of the building and behind, way out of their way, and proceeded to try to call the dog to the fence there to say goodbye again... needless to say the dog was a nutcase for the whole time it was with us, because of all of this.

Owners who give a calm pat on the head and don't react almost always have a dog that's just as easy going and relaxed...

Lana
 

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Opus and Tasha
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Yes.


I adopted a Wheaton Terrier from friends that were getting divorce. They cautioned me that the dog was wild and uncontrollable whenever it was out of the kennel.
Duh!? No wonder, I thought as the dog was kenneled and alone from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. almost every day. Instead of kenneling the dog we took it to work with us, After 6 weeks the previous owners couldn't believe that it was the same dog.
 
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