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How much of a dogs temprement do you think is genetic vs. how the dog is socialized as a pup?

My trainer has a female malinois who he didn't do any exposure work with, he says he's tested it, raised 2 pups from the same litter in 2 different ways, n by the time they hit maturity, they both work equally well. Alot of people have told me that socializing isn't neccesary, because when the dog hits maturity they change anyway and make up their own mind of how they should be.

Cujo was the most social pup you'd ever met, loved everyone, would run up to perfect strangers and go crazy with joy. It annoyed the hell outta me. Now if I take him somewhere around strangers, or even people he has known since puppyhood, he will ignore them, or if they insist on calling him over to them, he will wag his tail, walk by them, then go and do what he wants to do somewhere else.

Lÿka is the complete opposite, she's cautious of people, she takes time to warm up to people, she raises her hackles and postures at strangers and won't go up to them if they want to pet her unless they have food in their hand, and even then she is very cautious of them. When she postures, barks and hackles at people, she runs toward them, but will never get closer than 3 or 4ft away from them, her tail straight up and her ears perked forward.

People she has warmed up to, my trainer, people at training, my family, close friends, when she sees them she goes right up to them as happy as could be, but if she doesn't know you, she doesn't want anything to do with you n barks if you walk in her direction.

I'm interested in seeing how people believe socialization helps their dogs, and how far you can change a genetic predisposition thru socialization. If a dog is level 8 on the scale for antisocial, do you think socialization can bring them down to a level 3, or do you think that there is only so much you can do to socialize a pup, and they will never be more social, or perhaps only become a level 7 on the imaginary scale?
 

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I believe that about two thirds or better of it's social development is set in by it's 8th to 12th week, during the time with the litter. This includes mothers nurturing, environmental influence related to it's genetic predisposition, pack socialization, and any socialization with people during that time. I'm guessing a third or less determined afterwards, and biggest changes over long terms with maturity or short terms with traumatic experience / increased stress. It's probably easier to teach an antisocial dog to be avoidant than sociable.
 

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IMO, A dog's temperament is genetic.

A dog's responses are "socialization", upbringing, exposure, stress, training, nutritional, environmental, etc. and not to be confused with temperament.

Merriam Webster doesn't commit:

TEMPERAMENT
1: constitution of a substance, body, or organism with respect to the mixture or balance of its elements, qualities, or parts.

2: characteristic or habitual inclination or mode of emotional response <a>

...so I guess, take your pick.
 

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"How much of a dog's temperment do you think is genetic vs how the dog is socialized as a pup?"

I would put it at about 90% genetic and 10% "socialization" - if the dog doesn't have the genetics to be social - you aren't going to change that.
I have dogs that are very social with strangers that weren't exposed to much more than family and the odd stranger. I have dogs that are genetically shy that got much more socialzation and are still shy. I have a dog that is genetically suspicious and sharp and I socialized the hell outta him because of how he was from the time he was tiny and he is still suspicious and sharp with strangers.
Now I don't think socialization hurts anything but I don't think you can instill something that ain't there. I do think it might help moderate the response a bit.
We had some of the outfitting dogs I worked with were very shy and over the course of the winter were exposed to lots of different people - they would be less shy by the end of the winter but would backslide over the summer so by the time fall came around -they were very shy again.
I would say training and socialization can modify the response but not really change the dogs basic temperment.

Exposure to enviromental stuff is different though has a lot more effect on the the dogs confidence and ability to handle stress and unusual situations.
I would put more emphasis on exposure to crowds, vehicles, noises, smells,machinery etc. than having a dog make nice with everyone and their dog. Speaking of dogs- I don't go out of my way to socialize my dogs with dogs other than my own except as they are exposed to them at work or travelling with the team. But they are pretty "dog-social" types of dogs so that is not generally a problem. These dogs are very low aggression kind of dogs and don't have any type of defensive response to people so my answers might be very different than those concerning herding/guarding type of dogs.
90%/10% - that's my final answer....
 

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Andres Martin said:
IMO, A dog's temperament is genetic.

A dog's responses are "socialization", upbringing, exposure, stress, training, nutritional, environmental, etc. and not to be confused with temperament.

Merriam Webster doesn't commit:

TEMPERAMENT
1: constitution of a substance, body, or organism with respect to the mixture or balance of its elements, qualities, or parts.

2: characteristic or habitual inclination or mode of emotional response <a>

...so I guess, take your pick.
Isn't that "Potential" temperament, though? It begs the question of what kind of initial environment and pack the dog is brought into...I thought really dramatic events in early puppyhood could wreck an animal for some time, if not forever. That is a response, I agree, but it's a response effective enough to distort the dog permanently...at the very least, I would say genetic predisposition seems to be altered easily and permanently by bad environment.

Although Trading Places proved me wrong.
 

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Temprement affects how a dog will react to a negative situation (or this can also be applied to how a dog reacts to socialization). If a dog is on a leash and hits the end of the leash n swings themself into a tree.... some dogs may be fearful of the tree or act stupid about it, another dog will shrug it off....
 

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A scorpion asked a frog for a ride across a river one day.
The frog did not like the idea, as she knew the scorpion would surely sting her and kill her. She said no to the scorpion.
But the scorpion, being a persuasive creature, proposed that the frog should stay enough away from the bank, so that when the scorpion reached her to climb on her back, the scorpion would be at a point of no return. The same would apply when they got to the other side. The scorpion also argued that she could not sting the frog, for then they would both die.
The frog acceded.
The scorpion skuttled onto the frog.
At midriver the frog felt some trembling on her back, she looked up, and saw the scorpion crying and the stinger gleaming in the sunlight, ready to kill.
The frog asked the scorpion why she wanted to kill them both, to which the scorpion replied, "It's my nature."

No such thing, IMO, as potential temperament. Just potential responses. In the best case, Nature can only be brought forth to its fullest expression. If you want unnatural BASIC behavior, it can only be repressed; permanently in some cases.
 

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Andres Martin said:
No such thing, IMO, as potential temperament. Just potential responses. In the best case, Nature can only be brought forth to its fullest expression. If you want unnatural BASIC behavior, it can only be repressed; permanently in some cases.
I never really liked the scorpion/duck analogy.

Any organism is born with the genetic coding it will have for the rest of its life. That would absolutely be determistic assuming correct and consistent nutrition, environmental stimuli, etc. and would never deviate. At a biological level, the randomness of any of those things will affect the eventual development of the animal. You, me, dog, worm, moss on a tree. You absolutey, positively can impact genetic potential. My kid (this isn't a sympathy story) is three and diabetic. His body was genetically predispositioned to attack its pancreas and give him diabeties. My kid is also smart. However, unless we manage his diabetes properly--minimize the number of lows of his blood glucose--we may impair his brain development and thereby limit his genetic potential.

This is a biology thing, I think, and not a dog thing.
 

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I think you can only manipulate what you have. The more you know, and the more resources you have, the more you can manipulate WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.
 

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Andres Martin said:
I think you can only manipulate what you have. The more you know, and the more resources you have, the more you can manipulate WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.
I agree with that, mostly...flows from the point I was making...I just think that manipulation can be done at a genetic level to enhance or inhibit what is there to begin with. You and I have had this discussion before about "selfish genes"...favor one genetic disposition over the other at particular phases in a dog's life, you will affect things permanently. That can be in the form of nutrition, other environmental effects (radiation, absence/overabundance of affection, lead, light, heat, whatever). Genes will turn off, other genes will stay on.

Gets more profound over time (e.g., a controlled breeding program). And more damaging...favoring one genetic strain over another gives us neat-looking dogs but also hip dysplasia, tricky guts, whatever. But I can still make you a banana-eating dog, Andres. ;-)
 

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I just think that manipulation can be done at a genetic level to enhance or inhibit what is there to begin with.
Quote from a science study
A newborn rat that is not sufficiently licked, groomed and nurtured by its mother is associated with epigenetic alterations of the gene encoding the glucocorticoid receptor. This protein plays a key role in the response of the rat to stress and in the poorly nurtured pups the gene is partially silenced by these epigenetic modifications resulting in pups with increased levels of stress hormones and a decreased ability to explore new environments. These effects are permanent.
Immediately after birth, a bitch licks her young with her saliva, and also her nipples. Without this process the newborn pup would not be able to locate, identify, and latch on to the nipple. Sufficient amounts of saliva help to encode for development of the adrenal glands, leading to a more confident, aggressive, and often larger pup of stronger contitution against health problems.

Epigenic alterations such as this convince me that genes can be altered dramatically after birth. Whether it's just enhancing or degenerating what genes are already present, that's possible.
 

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Daryl Ehret said:
Epigenic alterations such as this convince me that genes can be altered dramatically after birth. Whether it's just enhancing or degenerating what genes are already present, that's possible.
WORD. :lol:
 

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Daryl Ehret said:
Immediately after birth, a bitch licks her young with her saliva, and also her nipples. Without this process the newborn pup would not be able to locate, identify, and latch on to the nipple. Sufficient amounts of saliva help to encode for development of the adrenal glands, leading to a more confident, aggressive, and often larger pup of stronger contitution against health problems.

Epigenic alterations such as this convince me that genes can be altered dramatically after birth. Whether it's just enhancing or degenerating what genes are already present, that's possible.
This process has also been studied in humans (okay, Woody, cover your computer screen; we're headed to a human lactation comparison).

First and foremost: mammalian nipples secrete a substance which can be smelled by the offspring. No licking is required. I have videos of human babies crawling to the breast MINUTES after birth once placed on their mother's abdomen. A pup is, IMO, licked after birth to remove the amiotic sac (which also stimulates the pup's lungs -- directly after birth he's still attached to the uterus and receiving oxygen via the placenta, but that only works for abou 10 min...his lungs have to start working on their owna nd licking and rubbing stimulate that; we do the same with human babies and towels). Once the bitch accomplishes this, and the placenta is delivered, she consumes umbilical cord and placenta, which gives her extra oxytocin, a hormone which stimulates further uterine contractions to either deliver the next pup or shrink the uterus nad clamp it down to prevent further bleeding from the placental wound. The pup suckling a teat also produces oxytocin (as well as prostaglandin, a horomone which stimulates milk production and promotes claming and relaxation, as well as numbing pain).

Now: mammalian milk does not just contain water, fats, antibodies, lactose, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains horomones and proteins that signal to the body's organs, cells, and glands to start beginning certain processes. There are signals in the proteins about how large an animal should be, and what gut flora should be present, how the endocrine system should function, and what course the brain should take to develop (this is the issue, BTW, with cow milk based human infant formula: the cow proteins send the wrong signals causing permanent changes in teh way the person's body will function during his lifetime).

Genes aren't being changed in the least. They are what they are, and what they were at hte moment the egg and sperm met and the zygote formed and implanted itself into the uterine lining. There is no altering them. However, many alterations can be made environmentally to the muscles, tendons, bones, organs, glands, and brain of the animal despite its genetic code.

Temperment is not fully genetic, though at least 50% of it IS. However, as someone else has already stated, a dog's first 12 weeks have a seriously significant impact on his temperment; no amount of socialization after that can change certain aspects of the dog's personality; but I do think that you can train the dog to ignore some undesirable impulses (i.e. dog aggression, or aggression towards strange humans if you want).
 

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Andres, ever seen the movie Gattaca? Great flick, check it out if you haven't...

Anyways, as someone trained both as a biologist and a behaviorist, I'm torn and IMHO it is not a static thing at all as we suspect or want to give it labels (like 50% genetic, 50% environmental). I'll give the cop out answer of it being the environmental conditions working on the genes. There is still so much we don't have a clue about on the molecular biological level about (let's just say mol bio ain't Maren's favorite thing), so no opinion on this really should be set in stone.

Edit for typo
 

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Andres Martin said:
Whatever...
You still can't do something that your existing genetic make up does not allow.
Can you explain, Andres? In what terms are you defining "existing genetic make up"? In reference to what (physical traits, temperment, actions)?d

Genes are potential. This can either be realized or altered in some way...genes simply provide code for physical traits (and some chemical processes). Most processes of the body are controlled by chemicals, proteins, horomones, and enzymes which are altered by environmental factors. For example, your dog's genes give him the potential to be a certain size. But if he does not recieve a proper diet, or if he contracts a disease, during his first year, this potential may never be realized; his growth will be stunted in some way. If he is neutered early (before 9 montsh research says), it will affect his pituitary gland, which in turn affects the cartilage growth platelets at the end of his bones; he will end up larger/heavier than his genes are coded. His genes said he was to be a certain size; his environment dictated otheriwse.

Another example: a baby's genes tell him to develop a certain way in utero. But some babies are born with congenital defects; that it so say deformities or conditions NOT caused by a gene. These are due to environmental exposuresd during pregnancy. A good example is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. If a mother drinks alcohol heavily during pregnancy, the baby will be born exhibiting changed facial features and retarded brain development. The child's genes did not produce these problems, rather the alcohohl exposure did.

BTW, I'm fascinated by genetics (in case no one could tell LOL).
 
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Mike Schoonbrood said:
How much of a dogs temprement do you think is genetic vs. how the dog is socialized as a pup?

My trainer has a female malinois who he didn't do any exposure work with, he says he's tested it, raised 2 pups from the same litter in 2 different ways, n by the time they hit maturity, they both work equally well. Alot of people have told me that socializing isn't neccesary, because when the dog hits maturity they change anyway and make up their own mind of how they should be.
I think that will depend on what "work" is to your trainer and where he confines his work. Seen enough dogs whom handlers think had enough exposures, only to shutdown while working in strange and stressful situations and environments. What more for a non-exposed dog?

I had once a handler with a mal that worked fine in defense work, but if it has to do much more than fighting on a flat ground, then his confidence wanes. He can't do well searching in rubbles. A well-raised pup can do better. We had to drop training and began with foundation work all over again just to make sure major issues that can bog down training are resolved before work can be done.

The purpose of socializing or exposing a dog is not to make him happy and content with whoever or whatever. The "thinking dog" in him and it's being suspicious and wary towards strangers, traits why most prefer the herding breed, must be kept intact. It just makes him functional in whatever kind of work that need to be done in whatever situation or conditions, and more tolerant towards strangers.

Just my opinion...

Best regards...
 

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Andres Martin said:
I think you can only manipulate what you have. The more you know, and the more resources you have, the more you can manipulate WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.
Pretty much my thoughts on it. You can only build or destroy what you have to work with. You can't create what isn't genetically there.
 

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I believe if it's dog/dog, socialization is optional for protection dogs EXCEPT if you plan on bringing another dog into the house later on. Carbon doesn't play with any dogs anymore, because he was starting to like them a little too much. He can sniff noses and play when I say it's ok, but otherwise I expect him to not be too goofy (giving him a little slack because he's still a pup). As far as dog/people, I am socializing him ONLY with those people I know and trust. That means my neighbors and some friends can't pet him or give him treats. If I wouldn't trust them in my house alone, my dog shouldn't either.
So, for specifics, Lyka's breed (I believe) is supposed to be suspicious of strangers. As long as there is no uncalled for aggressive behavior, I wouldn't think anything of it. If you do want her to be somewhat social with some people she may come in contact with regularly, perhaps show her they are ok for now by shaking their hand or patting them on the back. That way she knows she doesn't have to keep vigil on them and can return to whatever she was doing before.
 
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