Home Page Forums Darwin’s Ark blog post about genetics and behavior and fear

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    dawn miller

    interesting. My she-pup was very confident. Around 9 months she went into a second fear phase, maybe it was hormones since she was still intact at the time. My boy breezed right through that time. He got a bit rowdy and sometimes cautious of new things but with a bark and a stare, learned that everything was cool.

    I enjoy reading this blog as well for dog behavior and training. Granted the section on genetics is opinion and based and anecdotal evidence, but it is fuel for thought.


    rebecca rice

    Interesting post. However, what it really highlights is that people approach socialization with the wrong idea. It’s not about having every stranger play with your dog, or coaxing them onto strange surfaces. It’s about exposing them to the situation, and allowing them to decide what to do about it, and ENSURING that the interactions are positive. For example, with the bleachers, hanging out with the dog around them and waiting to see if the dog goes and explores them. Maybe, just maybe, if the dog does seem interested in them, putting something the dog wants up on a step, so that the dog can figure out a way of getting it. And then leaving.

    Or, paraphrasing a meme I saw once: “What if I told you that socializing was teaching your dog to ignore things, not play with them?”


    kate lyman

    What I’ve seen in my fearful (and reactive) dogs is a clear connection between genetics and fearful behavior. I adopted a lab/border collie mix who appeared to be confident as a puppy until she reached about 5 months old. Then she started lunging and barking at new people and dogs.I had kept contact with one of her siblings’ owners. Turns out that her sister started displaying similar fearful behavior at the same age. Another dog I adopted as a puppy from a rescue had a fearful mother who had to be live trapped so that she and her pups could be rescued. His mother was fearful, as well as all the puppies, according to the rescuers.We were told that the pups were particularly fearful of men. And my dog, who is 12 now, is still fearful of strange men and is unpredictable, at times lunging and snapping at them.With both dogs we did lots of work on counter-conditioning,worked with behaviorists, took them to classes especially designed for fear-aggressive dogs. The classes helped us manage their behaviors, but we never could trust them.


    amanda ferris

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m 90% sure that Zoe’s fear issues are mostly due to genetics and early trauma. I recently performed an Embark Vet DNA test and discovered that she is an American Village Dog (AKA Potcake/satos/etc) with some Beagle, GSD, Collie and Siberian Husky in the gene pool. That was pretty surprising, since all North Shore Animal League told me was that she was a GSD mix.

    I wouldn’t be shocked if Zoe’s parents were fearful and if the shelter environment traumatized her. I did my best to socialize her when I adopted her at 12 weeks, but there’s only so much I can do, y’know? She’s leash reactive, noise phobic and fussy about dogs/people being in her personal space, but I’ve been working my butt off to countercondition her with the help of a good trainer and she’s on Prozac.

    I joined a Potcake forum on FB and a lot of other ‘cakes have similar issues to Zoe. Some of them are way worse actually. 🙁

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