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How much of dog aggression (or lack there-of) is nature instead of nurture? Is dog aggression a trait that can pass from generation to generation?

I was wondering about this because of what happen to Ike a few days ago. The extent of Ike's socialization when it comes to dogs is ... well ... he knows what they look like. That's about it. I have never ever let him play with dogs other than the two at home. So while he has seen plenty of dogs and he has being near them (mostly on the training field on weekends) he has been never actually interacted with any.

So yesterday we were playing ball at the park and out of nowhere came this dog. He ran straight to Ike and I was expecting the worst. But much to my surprise, Ike didn't do anything. He let the other dog sniff him and he sniffed the other dog. Then the dog started play bowing and Ike didn't want to play with him so he just stood there and watched. I guess the dog sensing that there was not going to be a game ran away (two minutes later I see a guy walking by with a chuck it launcher and a leash in his hand
). I really was expecting Ike to go crazy at the dog but he didn't. And that led to me to wonder if his non-reaction to dog is genetic or not - because it certainly wasn't me.

Of course, he is 5 months old. This could all change tomorrow LOL
 

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I couldn't say how much is nature vs nuture, but good boy Ike and good "other" dog:))

I'm sure it was the approach of the other dog as well. If the other dogs approach was hostile, Ike probably would have picked up on it and things could have been much different.

I DID expose Masi to alot of other puppies(older) when she was quite young, puppy class, lets just say was a big disaester, sent us back to square one:((

She is almost 2 now, and is pretty indifferent to dogs she doesn't know. I do know, if they come on to strong/charge her she is going to go straight into defense mode. She doesn't start stuff, but she won't back off if another dog does.

I'll say it again,,Good boy Ike:))
 

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Personally, I think a lot of it is 'nature', though modified by 'nurture' like most other traits. If the dog has a solid temperament and has been exposed to enough dogs (littermates, your dogs, etc) to read body language, they'll be likely to respond appropriately. I.E. not see threats where none exist. So since the other dog was NOT aggressive (just 'sudden'), Ike did not react with fear/aggression.

And I agree, GOOD IKE!!
 

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I guess little Ike did do good
And you guys are right he probably picked up on the approaching dog's friendly vibe and therefore didn't react.

I was just surprised because something similar happened two months ago when he was 12 weeks old (and from what I could tell, that was another friendly dog) and back then Ike went ballistic. Also - add on top of that - he is a loudmouth and if he sees another dog in the neighborhood, out comes the barking. So I was shocked to see him react that way to a dog that literally popped out of nowhere (I didn't even see the dog coming. I turned around and WHOA there was the dog).
 

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Dog aggression in most cases is genetic whether it is due to dominance or nerves (fear). How dog aggression is expressed is due to environment.

Ike sounds like a very good natured young dog.
 

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Lisa,

That's a really nice way of putting it. I wonder if this applies to other aspect of socialization. For example, if you take a pup with good nerve and you don't socialize him much so he has neither positive or negative experience with people and then one day when he is 1 years old you take him out to places to meet people and see things. I wonder how he would react ...
 

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Keep in mind, too, that puppies go through 'fear stages' where something might bother them that, a few weeks earlier or in a few more weeks, won't at all. So maybe the earlier 'loudmouth' part was during a more hyper-reactive stage. Or he might have read something in that dog's body language that you didn't. It's always hard to tell for sure.

As far as the 'good nerves but not socialized' scenario, I've heard stories of dogs raised on a farm or something where they never left the area and then were given/sold to someone living in a city that made the transition with NO issues, so I'd say that good nerves will carry them through just about anything.
 

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I have also heard from police dog handlers/trainers that they have taken dogs that have grown up in a kennel with nothing done to them and the dogs adjusted quickly. Sounds nerves are able to over come much that the environment hands them.

Yes, pups do go through fear stages. My young female, Deja, decided that the tile floors in the hotel down at Nationals were awful. Slick floors had never bothered her before and don't now, but she sure thought she couldn't walk for several days when we were there. This is why many "working" handlers don't buy puppies.
 

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Sam my young gsd is ok most of the time with dogs in a controlled setting like our agility class....although i can tell who the dogs are that give off bad vibes to him and the dogs he's ok with. i do not let him make eye contact with the bad cats, just keep him busy.....because unfortunately the owners of these dogs are not aware that their dogs are giving off bad signals.......
i guess, the best thing to do is try to pick and choose the situations your comes in contact with and try to have positive dog interactions this is how they learn good dog edicate...
as said above most solid dogs will recover even from a negative situation if handled properly......less solid dogs may not bounce back as well....
 

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I agree that the good stong nerve plays into a lot. But, I also think that good manners goes a long way in dog interactions.

My guess would be that Ike has learned about interactions with other dogs from his buddies at home. The polite sniffing was a very good boy. A pup with drive and engery like Ike could just as easily jumped all over the other dog and caused a nasty situation.

When Bison was a puppy, we socialized him at an indoor dog park. The indoor park is much more controlled than outdoor park. In addition to shot requiremets the owner who is a behaviorist monitors the play as well as the owners. I really learned a lot from observing each week. It was very interesting to see the greeting ritual with a new dog. Those that behaved in the way that you described were welcomed into the "pack". Those who were overly timid, fearful, or agressive were not. (at least not right away)
 
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