weak nerves -- genetic - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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weak nerves -- genetic

How does this manifest itself in puppies. Can you tell by five or six weeks? Is there a pattern?

Could a dog suddenly become fearful of children or men, and start barking and growling where previously, the pup seemed fine. How do you differentiate between weak nerves that will only be manageable, and a fear stage that can be worked through.

Is it likely to have only one with bad nerves in a litter or is it more likely to have all of them, but simply different levels of the problem?

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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 07:00 PM
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

Fascinating topic, and one I've wondered about as well. I was surprised to learn the role of genetics in this whole thing, but when I saw the litter I got Lucy from it was pretty clear that there was much more than nurture at work. They were all from the same environment, yet most of the pups were gregarious, friendly and playful, with one exception. This pup was markedly different. Did not want to interact with me at all, seemed unsure at best and fearful at worst. He was the one I went to see, but he wanted no part of me. What I saw in Lucy then (a confident, forward but not pushy easygoing type of pup) is what she continues to show me.
I will eagerly await responses to this. I want to know how early the differences become apparent, as this is the only litter I've seen, and they were 10 weeks.

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 07:05 PM
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

I feel like genetics/nature may control the extent of which weak or strong nerves can be expressed, but the "triggers" that push the dog either way generally come from the environment/nurture. For example, say dog A and B are from the same litter and dog C is not. Now say something bad happens to dog B and he becomes somewhat nervey, takes some time to get over that incident, might always be fearful of whatever thing/person/environment caused the incident, but dog A never has any temperament problems however was not exposed so the scary incident. Now say dog C from different parents did have a similar experience but like dog B remains unaffected.

Sort of like how in people there are things in common when you compare psychological profiles and the life experiences/upbringing of serial killers, but that doesn't mean every person who has a similar profile and/or upbringing is going to BE a serial killer.

So I guess I see genetics as a "predisposition" but not a guarantee either way. I think *both* nature and nuture affect the dog's temperament, nature probably being more "in control" because it sets the limits.

I think the same is true for drive. It's there or it's not, but the owner/handler can maximize the expression of drive or kill it, depending on how the dog is raised and trained.

I could be totally off, this is just what I feel based on my (limited) experience.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 07:29 PM
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

5-6 week old puppies can go through some interesting periods. I wouldn't form an opinion yet if this is something new. I can usually tell by 7 weeks if the nerves are not what I want them to be.

Yes. You can't unless you keep them around until they are a bit older. I had a male in my first litter that was VERY strange at 7 weeks. He would cope with stress by grabbing onto clothing and just stay there. It went away by 12 weeks and he is now SchH3 IPO3 and one of the most sound dogs I know. Would I breed him knowing what I do? No.

I have seen a litter of 9 where all, but one were put down due to extreme nerve issues that started showing up at 8 weeks. I have seen other litters that were just weak, but because of the right environment were able to work through their weaknesses. I have seen slight weakness in a little of otherwise nice pups. If I was looking for a breeding prospect I would not keep a pup out of a litter that had more than one pup with minor nerve issues (by minor I mean reacting too strongly to noise or a strange environment yet able to recover).

Lisa Clark

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 07:46 PM
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

Sue I was just wondering if the behavior corresponded with a vaccination? When were the shots given and when did you start seeing the behavior?

Not saying it is a vaccination problem, just wondering.

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

I can honestly say that this behavior has started in my one pup right after her last set of the usual shots, lepto and her rabies shot at about 14 weeks. This is Amber, the largest pup and a nice confident pup that I chose to put in basic while the others took the puppy class slots.

Besides my regular training I was taking her to PetsMart once a week to give her some socialization there.

But she is 20 weeks old now!!! She sees a little person maybe once a week. Maybe. At about fourteen weeks old, dogs she does not know and some children are now scarey. She will bark at them. With dogs she barks, then sniffs them, says oh its a dog, and is usually fine then. The dogs in the basic class, she had no problems with. Some of the dogs at PetsMart no problems, and if she sees the dog more than once it is still ok. I am more concerned with children though.

Several weeks ago we went around the rodent area and a young girl was sitting on the floor, the puppy turned the corner, I did not see the girl, she shrieked, jumped up and ran, then Amber barked. Since then most kids are scarey.

Last night I sold Skye because she was rock solid around a five and seven year old, men, women, everyone. Violet startled a few times when the kids acted fast right near her. She did not bark or growl and recovered right away, but I could percieve that she startled. I figured with a couple of little kids, their friends and such, the more confident dog was the better choice.

But Amber, while she took cheese out of each person's hand, she was pathetic. Her hair was up, she tried to hide behind me, she backed up, she growled. (I had brought each pup in separately, then I let Violet and Skye in together as clearly Amber was not even a question.) Last week Pinkie and Skye were great with a three year old running around the house.

Not Amber she was barking.

If this was due to vaccinations, it wouldn't last six weeks would it? If this is a fear stage she should be out of it by now? I do not want to correct her. I do not want to force her to meet children. I am doing this all wrong with her. Any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks.

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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 08:20 PM
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

Quote:
Quote:If this was due to vaccinations, it wouldn't last six weeks would it?
If it's vax, I would think it would be for life in some cases. This is why over-vax is such a big issue. A dog can have lasting effects or it could die from overvaccination. But Amber just had puppy shots.. how strange, I hope everything is okay.

I'm also paying close attention to this thread. Lisa, we'd love storytime on some of those decisions you've made, especially the male who started out a pants-hugger from stress and ended up a very stable, but non-breeding dog.

Renji - 6 y/o M GSD x chow rescue


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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

I had a behaviorist in at five weeks, seven weeks, and eight weeks. She was waiting for her pup to be born and was enjoying my litter, and later trained one of my pups in classes for me.

Amber was a middle of the road pup. No problems with sounds etc. Violet was the one that wanted no part of the new person and stayed closer to me. Later on she warmed up. But we pegged her as the one who was less outgoing. Scarlet and Skye were the most outgoing/independent etc., and the rest were fine in the middle.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

My vet vaccinates puppies four times, the all four times for parvo, distemper, adenovirus, the third set includes the first lepto, the fourth includes a repeat lepto and rabies.

Is this why some people want to wait with rabies until six months?

Boy this makes me a little sick. I am trying to do everything I can to make sure they are healthy. I questioned the second lepto, but as we had just had a case of lepto at my vet's office and the guy talked to me about a puppy, I went ahead and let them give them the second lepto shot.

Shots were given at six weeks, ten weeks, fourteen weeks and eighteen weeks. It was after the eighteen week shots that she started acting like this.

They had their last shots December 11, so it hasn't been six weeks. But it was right after that set of shots that the dog started barking at strange kids.

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Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 08:36 PM
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Re: weak nerves -- genetic

Sue, what ever you do, DO NOT FORCE her on anyone. I had a female, Endi (who is on my website), that decided she no longer liked people at 6 months. First time I had ever owned a dog that was not social and I tried to force the issue. This created a lifetime of problems. She was manageable, but never fully got comfortable around non family.

The litter of 9, I had a pup from that litter and she was fine at 6-7 weeks. Started to get a bit less social by 9 weeks (I should not have taken her, but live and learn). By 4 months old she was afraid of people and would show fear reactions so extreme that you would have to have seen her. She was put down at 4 months. Littermate, same problem, put down at 3 months. Another littermate started showing issues at 2 thought he was not what I would call stable before that. Mauled his owner one day at 2.5. Put down. Another littermate did OK with a very strong handler until he was 6. This whole litter as far as we know are now dead. Very scary litter. Sometimes things are just not right and there is no explanation.

Lisa Clark

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