Owner's Affect on Genetics - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
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Owner's Affect on Genetics

Let's discuss this aspect of the GSD. Over the years, I have witnessed the rather significant affects the people can have on their dogs, both good and bad.
For the purpose of this thread, lets just talk about the negative effects the things people do, can have on their dogs. Cases where the people are maybe trying to fit a square peg in a round hole or where something about them just brings out the worst in their dogs. This can be the handlers or maybe helpers in SchH. Trainers you hired etc.

Have you ever witnessed a case where the people actually made a very good dog look like a very "bad" one?

Do you think the dogs should be bred to overcome the deficiencies in the people?

Please share any experiences where you witnessed a case of the people having this kind of impact on their dog.

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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 10:50 AM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

I can't really comment on the SchH aspect but one thing I see alot when I do the all-breed training clubs is that everyone seems obsessed with their GSDs being buddy-buddy with any ol' dog on the street (or the dog park *shudder*), and if their dog is not very outgoing or friendly towards other dogs, then they label it "aggressive" and run off to some "positive only!" behaviorist who really just pressures and stresses the dog sometimes beyond repair by constantly forcing it to confront other dogs, all in the name of treats and clicker training. To me there is a difference between a dog who is aggressive and will charge and provoke other dogs, and a dog who is aloof, under the control of the owner, and simply does not care to make friends with other dogs. I do not understand the fascination with trying to force the GSD to openly accept all other dogs in any circumstance and being OK with using so much pressure to try to achieve this, especially with really young, immature dogs.
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 11:06 AM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

It's a bumpy ride down the road of nature vs nurture. I see it right here with a few members and nope not gonna talk about them!

My own experience with rescues is to say yes, found a lot of good dogs who's original owners/guardians whatever politcally correct expression you prefer couldn't handle the dogs core personality, dog didn't fit their life. They weren't willing to let the dog be themselves so they gave them up.

I still have one of those dogs. Morgan is not really outgoing. She could care less about meeting people or adding new people to her inner circle and tends to act like a nazi bitch around other dogs. Loves children though. It's been a hard road to get her to accept my friends coming over. She does it for me now, to make me happy. Only took 5 years to get her to that point...


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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 11:08 AM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

My feeling is that although I would like my dog (2 yo male GSD) to be friendly with other dogs all that I will insist on is that he tolerate another dogs presence and not get aggressive. (PS he does have the right to defend himself if that ever becomes needed).

he must also be tolerant of kids and puppies as any normal adult dog should be.
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 11:12 AM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

Well, Bixler, my first dog, got from the newspaper, genetically not the best, Me, 18yo, knows nothing about dogs, training, etc, quickly turned into a bad situation, just as quickly turned around when I realized I was causing a lot of his issues, and I realized that you have to train your dog (and the addiction began!) he still has his issues but with training he's come a long way, and Ive learned a lot about handling a dog like him and how most of the time I triggered his episodes.

Also, In just the last few months I've seen 2 dogs come out to SchH training, having both been worked with 2 different helpers at 2 different clubs, both owners were being told their dogs were basically crap. These dogs might not be national level dogs, but they have both come so far in a very short time.

Dog A, first time on the field, extremely defensive barking, and would hardly bite, the sleeve just kinda fell out of her mouth. The dog is 2 or 3 yo and had been put under a lot of pressure in previous training. This dog is actually turning out to be a nice dog. Its hard for me to believe its the same dog I saw on that first day.

Dog B, apparently people at previous club would run away when the woman brought out her dog, why, I have no idea. The dog is soft if anything. Started her out on burlap rag, built confidence, and now, again, would never guess it's the same dog.

Same with obedience, Ive watched both these dogs, and others come along in obedience, leaps and bounds!

Even with my Hexe, who I thought had nice obedience, a couple months with an excellent teacher and her nice obedience is even nicer!

Ive really come to appreciate having a good teacher and helper

As far as being bred to overcome deficiencies.. I think if you have a really well bred dog, they SHOULD be able to overcome these deficiencies (in less someone is just really stupid and maybe shouldn't have a dog period) I think its more that the dogs who aren't as genetically superior are the ones who are more susceptible to have issues due to poor handling. But that's just my opinion with limited experience.
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 11:16 AM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

Originally Posted By: SunCzarinaIt's a bumpy ride down the road of nature vs nurture. I see it right here with a few members and nope not gonna talk about them!
I have to agree not the dogs fault though!

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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 11:46 AM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

Anne, you are somewhat familiar with this one....

Elf-- GSD female showed tons of promise as a puppy. Social, agile, drivey and obnoxious
I did not work her until 2 . She came out first time, met the decoy head on, showed lots of aggression, hit sleeve hard and full.
But I forgot that she was a baby. Forgot that she still needed to be built up (or just did not realize it).
Decoy continued to pressure her, I had never bothered to learn protection from a trainers view point.
Now the dog is screwed up. Fixable? Maybe, maybe not.
---But should our dogs be bred without that aggression?? I don't think so. It certainly has its place and even now my girl is managed with just a little common sense.

Anik- as a handler, I get nervous when people come up to my dogs. Heart rate goes up, hand tightens on leash. Anik is VERY stable but I am afraid I will screw him up by sending these signals out.
I try to minimize it by only going places and around people in situations that I know I can control.

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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 03:31 PM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

I had a little bitch several years ago that was an ADHD dog. She could not focus for more than a few seconds off leash. i tried everything -- treats, toys, corrections, etc. All I did was make her nervous about working because she didn't want to fail, but she couldn't meet my expectations. So I changed my expectations. I put her on a buckle collar and just decided that points really didn't matter and qualifying did. She is the only dog I have every trained that would relax after the off-lead healing portion of AKC Open obedience. She got her title with scores in the 180's.
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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 06:57 PM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

unfortunately I did what Lies refers to in her post, with some twists, as in, I could care less about my puppy being a social butterfly with other dogs, I just want all my dogs to be able to go out into any situation, mind their own business and deal with life.

Suffice it to say, I could have (and thought I did) really wreck my puppy but thankfully I was able to turn around all the 'negative' stuff. Even tho I say "I", I"m sure alot had to do with genetics as well.

I think if you have a sound dog to begin with, turning things around are easier than having an unsound dog.

I also think with an unsound dog, figuring out what works for them vs us, is key to management.

I couldn't comment on the breeding aspect, as I have no aspirations to breed)

and yes, unfortunately I see alot of good dogs look bad in the wrong hands...I guess I would ask, is it uneducated owners? Dogs that are mismatched with owners??

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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 01-12-2010, 07:34 PM
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Re: Owner's Affect on Genetics

I've always had easy to train, good temperamented dogs...til Onyx came along. It made me really step up as a trainer, handler. She has taught me so much and I thank her for that.
I was uneducated before, even though I had dogs all my life. I never had a fear aggressive dog.
I think I may have screwed up Onyx's foundation. Her first ob class was with a compulsion based trainer. I saw it immediately, and didn't let her use her methods w/ Onyx, though the imprint had been done in the first class. She harshly corrected her when she lunged at another puppy. I didn't know better and let the trainer do it, my bad.
Though, a dog with good genetics would have overcome it.
I was inconsistant in my methods and it took us over a yr for me to learn that she would not be the social type dog that I've always owned. Cool with me, now that I know.
If she ended up in a place that the owner didn't learn, or used compulsion on her, she would have been either euth'd due to bite history or who knows, I hate to think about it. We manage, one day at a time and as time goes by, she has really gotten much better.

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