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territoriality/aggression - innate or learnt?

3295 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  jarn
can territoriality and aggression be learnt, or is it innate? well, i guess, i know it can be learnt, what i'm wondering is, will a puppy (neb) model what he sees an older dog (teagan) doing (or will he model luc?), or does he need to have a disposition to those behaviours?

....if that makes any sense at all....

i will say, i've been working hard w/teagan, and have stepped it up even more now that neb is home. neb thinks teagan is great, and teagan really likes neb - she lay down and let him climb over her muzzle with the most blissful look on her face, and lies down a lot so that he can interact with her easily.

she is actually calmer since he has been home, and is reacting far less, but i'm just curious how much her personality and behaviour could influence neb.
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My personal experience is yes, he will model. Echo is a barker, moving to my new house we have much more foot traffic that she can actually see and react to. Cyrus is not a barker. BUT now that Echo has been reacting he is as well.
i figured he probably would. and so far, probably b/c teagan likes him, i think he's more likely to model teagan than luc.

teagan is less reactive, partly b/c while she still does look out the window (important work after all) she's doing so less b/c she's interacting w/neb.

her aggression has been disappearing in leaps and bounds, while i still need to be there to make sure she's following my expectations, i'm really pleased with her.

i keep reading conflicting things about huskies and territoriality, though it appears to be universally agreed they are not as territorial as GSDs, and labs aren't particularly territorial either as i understand.

neb thus far has not reacted when there is a dog going past on the sidewalk, but he's 6.5 weeks, so i wouldn't expect him to.

as long as teagan and luc don't learn how to howl from neb!!!!! LOL!
Originally Posted By: jarnas long as teagan and luc don't learn how to howl from neb!!!!! LOL!
For your sake I hope not as well
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Originally Posted By: ThreeDogsMy personal experience is yes, he will model. Echo is a barker, moving to my new house we have much more foot traffic that she can actually see and react to. Cyrus is not a barker. BUT now that Echo has been reacting he is as well.
Yep, I agree. My dogs are the same. They pick stuff up from each other.
thanks maggie.

most of those don't really address how aggression comes about, unless i'm just being thick today (which is ENTIRELY possible

my guess is it's a mix of predisposition and environment - with teagan, i'm sure she has a genetic predisposition to be territorial, to be highly prey driven, and confidence that means i've never seen her back down unless i require she do so (and we took awhile to work that out).

but she is improving, HUGELY, as i set out clear expectations and keep to them, so environment is obviously a big factor as well.

i'm just not clear on how much i need to worry that neb will try to model her behaviours - i'm doing my best to make sure he doesn't get to see her exhibit them, but i'm sure her attitude is still clear, even if the behaviour is not there. for instance, she knows she has to sit quietly by my side when we are outside and another dog goes past, but she still gives off an unfriendly air, even while obeying me.

even though neb is a different breed(s), i'm assuming this will be a socialization opportunity for me. luc is a good model for neb here - i find while sometimes he'll give a quiet 'ruff' when a dog is approaching, telling teagan, he's never modeled off of her in terms of her aggressive behaviour.
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Dogs definitely model. Basu was ridiculously 0 to 2000 decibels in 2 seconds! If he were alone he was a lot less likely to react to something. However, if Chama barked even the tiniest bark he turned into Cujo immediately. And Chama learned it from my brother's chow the week they spent together.
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i figured....

i've been really really careful to immediately step in if i see signs of teagan becoming reactive/aggressive since neb has come home....normally i'm just really careful

so far, so good.

when we've been outside and other dogs have gone past, i've been very positive and will continue to work to ensure neb knows he should not be dog-reactive. i guess it's as possible he'll take after luc, who has not picked up this behaviour from teagan, but so far neb and teagan are closer, so i want to be prepared.

i have contacted a trainer about puppy classes when he is old enough - i'd like him to be around other dogs and learn to be calm/comfortable/well-behaved around them, but i don't want them playing together in the class (edit: i.e., i don't want a little dog park at the puppy class) - i prefer my dogs don't directly interact with dogs outside our pack, though there are certain exemptions to that w/dogs and owners i am comfortable with (this generally works well w/luc and teagan's personalities anyways, though for different reasons).
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My experience has been that they copy behaviors so if you can interrupt the behaviors I think you'll be in good shape.

My friend has a dog reactive dog and Rafi has been doing really well with other dogs but every time he is around my friend's dog he gets weird with other dogs.

And that's great that Teagan likes him so much! My Basu learned so much from the foster puppies! They taught him a lot of really good behaviors!
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oh good, teagan and i have a well-established interrupting/redirecting routine. sometimes you can see get ready and let out an 'eerrrrrrrrs' and then she'll immediately flick her ear back to listen to me and when she turns around have a 'i knew you were going to do this' expression on her face. tee hee!

i'm really pleased with how well they're interacting.
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Environment cannot put something into a dog that isn't there genetically, so there must be a genetic predisposition toward this type of behavior. Most GSDs (and most working breeds in general) do have this predisposition toward territoriality, though in some individuals it is stronger than in others.

Yes, a young dog will learn to copy the behaviors of an older dog, and if the older dog is often showing territoriality, the younger one will learn to do so as well.

Also, territoriality is a tricky thing to deal with because it is something that is reinforced constantly. Every time someone walks by the house, the dog barks and the person keeps on walking past the house, the dog believes that it was his behavior that drove the treat away. Same with the mail man or UPS guy. He comes to the door, dog barks, he leaves. Dog thinks he drove the threat away. Dogs have no way of knowing those people walking buy were going to keep on walking, or the mail man or UPS guy was going to leave anyway. He thinks he did it, and those frequent successes reinforce his behavior.
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thanks. i've been pretty successful working w/teagan, so will continue to do so, and make sure she's on her best behaviour around neb.

that's very true about the reinforcement....which reminds me!!!!!

my friends had a bunch of stuff in the garage, which they came to get yesterday - she emailed me to say there was nobody barking or reacting at all! the dogs do know them, i don't know if that would make a difference.
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