Friday, July 7, 2017

Social Setters

I enjoy the doggie meet and greets on our walkies just as much as my three English setters...nothing like lingering for a moment, enjoying banter and breathing in the morning air, warm sunshine on my back. So many new acquaintances have really brightened up my life, opening a whole new world of friends distinct from work, dance and family.
Nobunaga is a real poodle lover, and Jin loves him right back, no signs of fear at his large size, just a long savory hello sniff under his belly. When we pop by Jin's house, Nobu drops down on the stoop while I chat and refuses to budge, even when it's time to go home.
Always out for something to eat, Sherlock loves humans as much or more than other doggies, and is blissful when he gets rewarded for a sit. He's not so good at taking food gently though unless it's me: in his haste to secure his portion, he tends to use too much teeth for most people's liking. 
I've been looking at problems which develop in dogs from early separation from their mothers and siblings: according to a referenced article in The Nest, the ideal time seems to be 10-12 weeks with their families, to learn 

Life Lessons

When puppies stay with their mother and littermates for a minimum of between 8 and 10 weeks, they have sufficient time to develop a strong foundation of social skills. In regular playing with their siblings, puppies ...learn when too much is too much, whether with pouncing, biting or chasing. They fine-tune the technique of playing around without allowing it to hurt the other party. They gain an understanding of how to send messages to other dogs -- and how to decode them too. They develop patience and problem-solving skills...
At first I was wary of greeting shiba Gen in the park, because many shibas are fearful or even aggressive, sometimes biting...Gen's dad agreed, many were like that, but Gen was from a reputable breeder and spent his first three months with his Mum and family, so he's really balanced and good with other dogs. We spent quite a while chatting. Reading about an Italian study on dogs removed from canine families at or before 60 days, I was shocked to realize Sherlock's symptoms. He's just a wee frightened baby after all...good thing we're all about reassuring mothering, happy exercise, good food and relaxing...
Two behaviors were the most frequently reported among all dogs (those removed early from litters and those removed at 60 days) according to their owners:
  • 68 percent of the dogs were attention seekers – they nuzzled, pawed or jumped up on family members looking for attention and physical contact
  • 60 percent showed signs of fear when exposed to loud noises...
... absent the security of their mother and siblings, the early separated dogs were much more likely than the other group to exhibit avoidant and fearful behaviors. Specifically they were:
  • 15 times more likely to be fearful on walks
  • 7 times more likely to have attention-seeking behaviors and noise reactivity
  • 6 times more likely to bark excessively

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