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Puppies Are Not Clean Slates

21/04/2023 - News

You often hear people say ‘get a puppy they are a clean slate’
As a behaviourist and breeder I can confidently tell you this is not true.
Nature and Nurture has a huge impact. A puppy will inherit genes from its parents and these genes will impact the puppies genetic potential to behave in a particular way.
Such as:
Using aggression as a strategy to deal with difficult situations
Sociability towards people and dogs
Fearful responses
Strong instinctive behaviour to hunt, chase, grab and hold.
Trainability including the ability to learn self-control as humans desire it
When people breed dogs they sometimes select for specific traits and sometimes not. If someone is breeding for a particular look or just money then these traits can become altered becoming stronger or weaker.
There is of course always the exception to the rule, the sheepdog that is scared of sheep, the terrier that won’t chase anything, and the newfoundland that doesn’t like water.
Once the puppy is born what happens during the first 8 weeks learning with the breeder will have an huge impact on the development of all these genetic traits and the puppy’s general behaviour.
My puppies have all come from the same parents and been reared in the same environment, yet they have very individual personalities. The training and socialisation they receive in their new homes will only influence the genes and first learning, it won’t change their personalities.
So if you are looking for a puppy
Firstly learn about breed traits and instincts and make sure you pick a puppy that will suit your lifestyle. For example there no point getting a breed that is ‘aloof with strangers’ if you have 3 young children and lots of friends.
Secondly meet the parents (or genes), see what they are like. Make sure you are meeting the actual parents, some people buy in puppy farmed litters and then ‘hire’ an adult of the same breed to pretend the puppies were bred there!!
You will probably have to go on a waiting list for a puppy from a responsible breeder.
Thirdly make sure the puppy has had plenty of early neurological stimulation and learning before it leaves the litter. Ask these questions.
1) What have the puppies seen?
2) Who and what have they met?
2) What have they learnt?
3) How have they learned to play?
4) What do they do if they get frustrated?
5) What do they do if they get bored?
A professional trainer can help support and guide you on the process of looking for a puppy. Don’t wait 'til afterwards for help.

Prevention IS better than Cure. This goes for training and socialisation too.
First Learning is the strongest, make sure you get it right first time.
Jane Ardern BSc (Hons) Dip.CABT

Kennel Club Dog Trainer of the Year 2015
The Gundog Club Approved Instructor and Assessor
Author of Mission Control - How to Train the High Drive Dog