Female seeing puppies as Prey - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-02-2016, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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Question Female seeing puppies as Prey

Hi everyone!

I'm struggling to find the right search terms to try to find answers to my problem, so I thought I'd just up and post. I hope this is the right forum to post in, please let me know if I've messed it up

I have a 2 year old female that I purchased with the intent to breed. She happened to be a singleton out of a dam's last litter. My girls breeder didn't really do enough research on raising a singleton and she came to us and had to go through a lot of training to learn pretty basic lessons on how to deal with a pack. She definitely thought she was queen of the world. 2 years later she still doesn't have the most patience and does have trouble dealing with frustration. She can be a bit of a bitch all around frankly. But, she's extremely respectful to us, she's got her place figured out within our pack (we have 6 adults, 3 males, 3 females all intact). So she's manageable and when you are working 1 on 1 with her, she's great! We flew through puppy classes and then lvl 1, 2, 3 and 4. We went to training weekly for a year. Starting when she was 12 weeks old. She's been a challenge, but a manageable one.

Where my real concern comes in is recently one of our other girls had puppies. It was her last litter, and it turned out to be a small one, just 2 boys. We started introducing the rest of the pack to the pups when they were about 4 weeks old. Just through an xpen at first.

At first my singleton girl really looked like she was loving the pups and really wanted to play....they would follow each other on the other side of the pen and she would nose their paws when they put them up on the bars with tail wags. But the first time I lifted one of the pups over the pen to let them meet nose to nose, she nipped his ear and made him yelp. I scolded her and used our command 'easy' and gave her another chance she nipped again..but didn't make him yelp that time. I tried the other puppy, same thing, tried to nip.

We tried to continue having the pups around and have them integrate more with our lives and hers. I should mention every one of our other dogs are fine with the pups and treat them as mini-dogs as I would expect. Even the boys are extremely gentle, patient and will invite the pups to play. We can have all 5 of them and the pups loose together without issue. We've tried having other dogs in the puppy yard with the pups and then our singleton girl on the outside of the fence with another dog...we've tried having pups inside the yard with mom and singleton outside....and any other combination you can think up. We've had singleton girl in the pen, puppies outside the pen.....i've tried her on leash with the pups loose, i've tried putting my hands between her and the pups and let them lick me, sat with one in my lap in front of her....in all cases she acts like the pups are prey. She paces outside their pen and runs at them at tries to nip through the bar if they move quick. She's obsessed in a way that doesn't make me comfortable. I haven't had her lose with the puppies free because based on all of her movements, i don't trust her to not hurt them.

My singleton did come into heat when the pups were about 6 weeks, so after she had the first meet......but I frankly don't think horrormones are an appropriate justification for not being able to recognize puppies as being mini-dogs. This girl was a singleton so had no littermates and always played with bigger dogs until we got her into training classes. Then she did play with other puppies roughly her size...both smaller and larger. She definitely was an aggressive little thing (to adults and her age) and her play started off as stiff bodied attacks, but she did learn how to play. For the most part she would appear as a fairly well adjusted, but more dominate bitch.

So finally after all of this preamble..... should we consider this girl too nuts in the head to breed? Is her issue all singleton related so therefore not her core personality and therefore less likely to be passed on? Or do we just cut our losses and not take the risk?

Has anyone experienced anything similar???

Thanks in advance!

(Sorry my first post is such a doosy!)
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-02-2016, 11:25 PM
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It sounds as if she never imprinted on other puppies as a pup herself and you're right, she sees them as prey. When they whine and carry on, she probably perceives them as wounded prey.

I personally would not breed her. I'd never feel safe leaving her alone with the puppies. What a shame.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 12:18 AM
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I agree, I don't think she has the mothering instincts to raise pups so they will have a confidence and good temperament level you want. How many pups were in previous litters with her parents? I would be concerned about small litters /genetics are at play. Or could it be environmental(as the other litter was also small?)
There are so many things that may be influencing. I don't think I'd breed her, if I were in this situation with the info presented. But you obviously have more info, so can discern better.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 07:02 AM
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I know very little about breeding so my only thought is this: If in doubt, don't.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 08:52 AM
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why? "We started introducing the rest of the pack to the pups when they were about 4 weeks old. "

too much commotion , too much risk .

How much time are they getting privately with their own mother.

She should have enough maternal instincts to safe guard and ward off the other members of your 6-pack.
Are you weaning them already.

This is the beginning of the primary socialization stage where YOU should be part of the focus .
YOU , dam, and littermates .
An opportunity is being missed to have a dog with a human orientation - bonding , and later on working in
co-operation with the handler -- not just a doggy dog .

The youngest female - what was her dams history as far as her litters and her maternal attitude?

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 10:13 AM
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I've never bred GSDs but I have been involved in breeding since 1994. There's no definite answer. Maternal instinct kicks in. However I've had friends with bitches like this who bred theirs. There were okay mothers, decent mothers, and some were horrible mothers. A few killed their litters. And these are two breeds that are bred as lap companions, not working. Most puppies learn much of their mothering from their own experiences from their mother. Odds are she won't be a good mother. I recently had a bitch I bought who went after puppies. When I talked to her breeder she told me her mother hadn't been a good mother and maybe that was why. I refused to breed her and returned her to her breeder who does want her bred. (Personally, I don't want a bitch or dog on my property that would hurt my puppies.) She called me two weeks ago that she was bred. We'll see.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2016, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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To answer the questions about the our singleton's family history....her Dam was a wonderful mother and loves puppies, no matter who's they are. Our singleton was out of her 4th and final litter. It was an AI breeding and there is the strong possibility the timing was off, or it could have been she was just less fertile..she was 6 years old, so not old, but not a spring chicken either Each of the dam's previous 3 litters had between 6 and 8 puppies. So the singleton was definitely unexpected. I have no concerns about our singletons fertility or worries about small litters.

In response to carmspack:
I think you misunderstood what I meant with introducing our pack to the pups, the introduction was no more than 10 minutes with 1 different dog every other day. The intro starts as the big dogs get to come into the room and meet the pups through the xpen. The pups primary interaction was with, as you stated, us, siblings and their mother. We put a lot of time and research into how to properly socialize our puppies. We introduce them to new sights, new smells and new people and as many new gentle experiences as we can to build their confidence. I do appreciate the concern tho. Those first 8 weeks of a puppy's life can have such a significant impact on the rest of their lives so it's always important that the breeder recognizes their role in that development. I just wanted to give you some confidence that we do understand the implications and we aren't as clueless as I might have sounded in my too short intro above

Back to the general message:
Thanks everyone who's provided their opinions to date. The responses certainly seem to be in line with my fears. I was really hoping to hear from someone who had run into a similar scenario but I imagine it is pretty rare. I was really hoping for better news. I'll keep an eye out to see if there are any more responses on this thread....but sounds like i'm going to have a difficult call to our Solo's breeder.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2016, 04:44 PM
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I raised only one litter for a shelter. What I observed and learned is that the mother introduced the pups to the others when they were 7 weeks old, keeping a close eye on the other dogs. Up until that time she protected the litter from my males. My female dog was allowed to check on the pups when they were 5 weeks old.
So maybe you introduced them too early.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2016, 06:59 PM
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At 4 weeks old the dam is still in protect-mode or should be. Yes, yes, it is cute to see the big dogs with the puppies -- too much risk and it adds stress to the dam -- even if she isn't trying to attack, or get between the other dogs and her puppies. She still has an important role to play with the puppies, and I leave other dogs out of the picture until the pups are 8 weeks old or so.

Now let's talk about the singleton bitch. Why do you want to breed her? What is it about her temperament that makes her a breeding candidate. All the rest of it: pedigree, health, structure, coat/appearance -- all of this is secondary. A bitch is most important to their pups, especially in temperament. 50% of genes come from the dam, but she also imprints her personality on them in the important weeks of her life. If she is nervous or high strung, they will be too. Some of it is nature, some nurture -- double whammy when we are talking about the dam.

There is another thing to consider here. I have heard of bitches who have killed their puppies. Sometimes they have had some experience, changing hands, being in the shelter, etc. Or a C-section. Or just young and inexperienced. Maybe they go after the umbilical cord and keep going. Who knows why some bitches do this, but they do. If yours does, will you continue to love her the same as you would have?

Ok, let's suggest this: if this singleton bitch had hips that did not pass OFA screening, what would you do? Would you keep her but not breed, or find her a new home? Both are ok answers. You have 6 intact adult dogs and you have them working together as a pack, and that is fine, but at some point, keeping dogs that you do not to use will mean less time for each individual. Finding this one an appropriate home will mean she will have a family of her own, and they will have a nicely trained dog already past the dreaded puppy stages. It can work very well. Win, win, win situation -- you win because you have only 6 adult intact dogs, and if you bring in another, it may have a good chance of being a breeding prospect for you; the pup wins because it is an only, or one of two dogs, and is the center of someone's life; the new owner wins because they get a great dog, already with training in and they can enjoy her. It would be ideal.

The alternative, keeping the dog and not breeding, means either spaying her, or avoiding accidents during her heat cycle -- not impossible, but maybe inconvenient. Continue to spend time working with her, training her, and all the rest of your dogs, but nobody gets quite as much attention. And you will always have to be extremely careful with her when you have puppies around. Not the end of the world.

The other alternative is to deliberately breed this dog. The chances are, she will pass on her temperament to her puppies, and you will have puppy buyers concerned about a variety of issues.
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