Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where Does K9 Behavior Type Begin?

Sometimes I think communication styles would be a better way of referring to dominance or leadership styles, maybe it would be personality profiles.
Anyway here's what I do know:
A dog's behavior is how they get across their wants and needs; when these have been met there is social/recreational behavior.
The innate abilities of the neonate become honed by the puppy's life experiences. They all get similar gifts, great hearing and sense of smell, etc.

I remember reading an old Swiss study of mothering styles and behavior. If you want to change behavior; there's the place to start, right out of the box.
The study focused on how the mothers corrected their young when they suckled too vigorously; scratching or biting mom when they got those annoying little milk teeth.
Some mothers deliver inhibited nips, flip the pups on their backs & lick aggressively enough to make their babies cry. Other mothers will lick the puppies into submission in a way more gentle fashion.
It seems reasonable to conclude that the offspring of each of these styles of mothering will start out with different views of the world.
Years ago I had two rottie bitches whelp litters at the same time. They were half sisters, same father different mothers.
Belle was the sweetest mom, she lovingly did long licking sessions. These babies were exhausted after Belle licked, they slept well. By the time their milk teeth came in, all she had to do was put her nose by the head of an aggressive suckler to get it to ease up. She had licked them into submission. If one didn't get it she would go into her licking thing; it was beautiful.
PeggyO would do the front teeth nip thing, when she would lick them to stimulate urination they would cry. She was a fastidious mother, her babies were clean. Peggy rolled them all over the whelping box when cleaning.
Later, all the puppies played together. Belles' puppies were a few days older. I sometimes wonder if play would have been different had Peggy's puppies been the older.
Belle and Peggy O were wonderful, wonderful dogs. Peg lived with us for the rest of her life. If she could talk I'm sure she would have said, "Gimme the car keys, I want to go for a ride."
Belle went to live with a family. During that time she attacked a man who grabbed the five year old daughter as he tried to get the child over the back yard fence. I heard all about how fierce this loving creature could be and was glad to hear it.

So what do you think about that? Any breeders with a story about your dam's mothering style?


  1. I can't think of a time that Nilla corrected a very small pup. I am excited to watch closer for those small gentle corrections. I whelped a litter for a friend and kept the bitch and puppies at my house. It was the bitches first litter and she had her first puppy on my couch. (She was unattended for about 10 min. Scott hopped in the shower when I called on my way home from work). I came home to a trembling new mother who was on the opposite side of the room. Five goldens fanned around in a cirlce around Nilla and a puppy. The puppy had been born on the couch where I assume the mom left it and retreated. Nilla cleaned it, ate the sac and was keeping everyone else at a distance (supported by the green all over her teeth). The mother proceded to have the rest of her puppies in the whelping box and cared for them well enough. Nilla insisted on inspecting the puppies several times every day. She would check each one over and then leave. The mother of the litter allowed Nilla in the whelping box with her, but no other dog in the house was allowed the privledge of even looking in the doorway of the room. This mother was not nearly as attached to the puppies, nor was she as tolerant.

    This makes me wonder if others have had this "nanny" type behavior or if this happens with the dogs on the island. I like to think that Nilla is just that special. ;)

  2. It is very special when one being cares for the offspring of another.
    Nilla is quite the grand dam!