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Nature VS Nurture

Think of genetic traits as building materials. You can mold a dog either magnifying a trait or curbing it. Genetics are not solely pure in their expression; they are formed, altered, repressed or enhanced by their exposure and reaction to the environment. I have seen poor dogs made "better" by proper raising, handling and socialization. I have also seen good dogs "ruined" by poor raising, handling, and socialization.
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  • Everyone strides to create the perfect dog, what can you say about traits and their source. What would you say are traits solely emergin from genetics? How about traits that can be taught or influenced by the way the dog is raise? I think knowing what traits come from a breeding and what traits can be magnified by nurture can really help educate about breeding practices and goals. Is there any scientific data to support findings in genetic traits other than looks?
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    • Think of genetic traits as building materials. You can mold a dog either magnifying a trait or curbing it. Genetics are not solely pure in their expression; they are formed, altered, repressed or enhanced by their exposure and reaction to the environment. I have seen poor dogs made "better" by proper raising, handling and socialization. I have also seen good dogs "ruined" by poor raising, handling, and socialization.
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      • this is what truly fascinates me about breeding. I would love to see this development from a dog at the earliest age. I have had two dogs under slightly different scenarios. One I got when he was 5-6 months of age, he wasn't really socialized was very dominant. He wanted to kill anything that walked, the dog never redirected on me, my wife, cat or chihuahua. He was neutered and all of the HSUS protocol. THe dog got worse and worse with his agression and became a liability because he wanted to go after people and strange dogs. This dog was socialized as soon as I got it but was kicked out of day care around 7-8 months of age and simply could not be trusted around other dogs, he also redirected a lot at the vets office. We had to put him down because it was a matter of time before he hurt a person or killed someone's pet. MY Bernie was obtained at 8 weeks of age, heavily socialized has all the tools to be a complete dominant Bully size, structure but I have yet to see a hard challenge against me, wife or pets. This dog on paper should have more prey drive and animal agression but lacks it. It puzzles me to this day how he is the most submissive dog ever tippy toes around the cats laying down to not hurt any of them. I wonder what I can do to a different breed with my method of raising a dog.
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        • David, can you explain what you mean with "with my method of raising a dog"? Thanks
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          • I meant that I would like to see how I would raise a dog with completely different temperament traits than the one I own. My 8 week old pup was taken in a shopping cart to the pet store once a week for an hour or two on the busiest adoption day to be petted by hundreds of strangers. The dog was also taken to every single place that dogs were allowed and I made sure that by the time he was 3 months of age he had met every type of person possible, wearing glasses, hats, black , white , latino, tall, skinny, short you name it he met them. He was then take a a puppy social class where he would be introduced to dogs of his own age and allowed to play off leash with the instructor in the middle of the room supervising the play. We were also in the room but we were not allowed to get up or reach to the dog. The puppies were also fed treats on the floor to stimulate good behaviors and discourage resource guarding. At 6 months he attended an advance obedience class and became a canine good citizen. Now at 1.8 years of age he will attend an attention/obedience/offlead class aimed at dogs that want to compete in obedience trials. Basically I raise a dog systematically to not fear any scenario. I do not promote bad behaviors and the dog is treated as a dog with extreme discipline (no forcecul corrections). Right now my dog is very good but can be better, however, none of the characteristics of the breed type have been displayed for the most part. This is why I want to know if it is my method of raising a dog that causes a balanced well mannered dog that lacks agression or if it was the fact that I dealt with a dog genetically predisposed to act this way.
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            • Oh I see. I am doing exactly the same thing with my 12 weeks old, and just started her puppy classes last week. My previous dog was so agressive with people, kids, dogs, etc., it made life pretty hard at times. I prefer to raise my new female to be friendly, and test her personal protection abilities when she reaches 18 months. Have you tested your dog in PP yet? I want her to be well balanced and behave with great manners, but she'll also need to be agressive if and when needed. Hope she'll turn out that way, but for now, it's puppy time...)))
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              • My dog wasn't bred to do PP he loves all people lol Pit Bull type dogs in my opinion aren't wired for that. The standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier calls any unprovoked human agression a fault, my dog is not APBT but it generated off it.
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                • Some pits do real good in PP. I like to believe that a good dog should have the natural instinct to protect his owner and engage if needed even without PP training.
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                  • I am sure there are a few but I am purist when it comes to the breed. The creators of this breed never meant for it to be this way. I dont think the breed in general has the right software to run a protective temperament. At least the true pit dogs are culled if they are HA. I guess nobody knows until you are in the situation to see if your dog will attempt to protect you. I am sure any breed will jump at someone trying to hurt you, the important fact is whether they can stick around and pursue the target if they are getting hurt. I rather have a dog straight out of the box that is suspicious of strangers or territorial and harness it and train obedience to it. Instead of starting off with a dog that was bred to love people. That is just me because I am on that side of the fence when it comes to pit breeds.
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                    • Well, I guess there are always exceptions to the rule. About a year ago or so, this pit made the news when an intruder entered the house of his owners forcing the mom and 2 young daughters to lay down on the ground face down. He had a gun and they complied right away. Their pet pit was in the other room when he heard the commotion, came running to the rescue and engaged right away. He was shot three times. One shot in the head, one in the neck and one in the body. And guess what, he didn't let go of the intruder even after being shot three times!! The intruder got spooked, managed to get away and ran for his life. The beauty of it is that the pit lived and recovered within a couple of weeks. Very impressive for a pet quality dog that never received any training, and that stayed on the target after being shot three times!
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