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If someone is consideringa dog breed that can be shy and fearful, what types of things should the breeder do before the puppies go home, to try to socialize them? I realize genetics play a part in temperament but I’ve heard a lot about breeders doing things to help. What are some of those things?
 

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I love breeders that use Puppy Culture or Avidog, or elements from both. They are structured socialization programs that really help build overall confident puppies. It is a lot more than just having them hang out with the kids. Think along the lines of service dog raising programs.

I like to see each puppy worked with individually to teach them to think and desire to learn from people. New objects and sounds introduced very frequently. Barrier challenges that help them learn to deal with frustration. Uneven and strange surfaces because I do agility.. but it's great for any dog. Crate, car, leash, grooming and handling introductions. Of course people and other dogs (appropriately.. doing this wrong can cause more issues than it prevents).. but a puppy raised to be confident will often take most new people/places/things in stride.

Nothing beats good, solid genetics. But when you don't have that one your side with certain breed traits.. I really like to see a breeder go above and beyond.
 

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For what it's worth, I don't know of a dog breed, or a good breeder, who produces any dogs I would call "shy or fearful". Yes, certain breeds and individuals are more aloof towards dogs or people, some are more social than others... But shy and fearful does not describe any breed. It is a product of genetics, trauma, and/or lack of socialization. No breed should be shy or fearful. Not that there is anything wrong with shy or fearful dogs.

ETA: I know MANY shy dogs and NONE of them came from good breeders. Every well-bred dog I've encountered has been confident. It doesn't mean they are social or loves everyone. But certainly sure of themselves.
 

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In fact, if a breeder blamed shy or fearful characteristics on the breed or made similar claims, I would absolutely not get a dog from that breeder.
 

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While I also would not get a dog from a breeder that often produces shy or fearful dogs.. it can be pretty prevalent in some breeds. For example.. Pyrenean Sheepdogs are a very strange and rare breed. According to some Pyr people they have the nickname "Fear-Sheps". I've met a few of these quirky, extremely sensitive dogs and can see it for sure. None of them came from bad breeders.. and they are just too rare for that anyway.

Shelties come to mind too. Sooo many of them I meet are pretty shy whether from good or bad breeding. It is so common in the breed it can pop up in any lines. So, to be safe it is best to do better socialization with breeds that might have those issues. (And of course only continue to breed the more confident dogs in the breed, but that takes time, trial and error sometimes.)
 

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I define shy and aloof as two different things. I think sensitive and shy are different too. I think a dog can be aloof and even prefer to not be around strange dogs, people, situations, etc. But the "nervousness" and "timidity" associated with "shy" are what I think should not be the standard of any breed. I mean, are Pyr people proud of calling their breed "Fear-Sheps"?

But, semantics :D "Fear" is a bigger red flag word in my books.
 

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Afraid I have to disagree with you on this one, Canyx. While you're right that no dog breed has 'fearful' as their ideal temperament, a lot of breed traits like 'wary of strangers', 'sensitive', or 'aloof' have element that can very easily become fear or reactivity. And I personally wouldn't trust any breeder who claimed that there was no way they'd ever produce a dog with fear issues, esp. in a breed where they're common, because behavior is so complicated. Even really careful breedings of two solid dogs with appropriate temperaments for the breed can occasionally produce a pup with behavior issues, fear included. Just like a really good breeder who does everything 'right' can occasionally produce a puppy with hip dysplasia, because HD is a complex problem with genetic and environmental factors that we don't fully understand yet.

(EDIT: I do agree that a breeder shouldn't blame behavioral issues entirely on the breed, however, and provide their buyers with support and guidance as with anything)

IMO, good breeders produce fearful dogs more rarely because they BOTH plan their matings really carefully, AND do a great job puppy-raising and socializing. Thereby stacking both genetic and early environmental factors as much in their favor as possible. So Petsrkids' question is actually really good and important to talk about, and look for in a reputable breeder.

@Petsrkids, Puppy Culture is a really awesome program that takes a lot of things breeders have been doing for years and combines them into a program that is really thorough about giving pups the absolute best start in life. It includes things like early neurological stimulation for newborns (seems to help in physical and neurological development), introducing lots of different enrichment items (including things that, for example, make weird noises), and how to handle developmental fear periods. A big thing is the breeder not forcing any puppy to interact with something they're nervous about, but allowing the pup to observe and learn from a distance so they can learn how to handle fear on their own. This kind of thing is at least as important as introduction to various humans and dogs, imo, at least in the first few weeks of life.
 

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I hear what you're saying DaySleepers. And I certainly didn't mean to say that good breeding makes it a 100% chance of avoiding those traits. However, the concerning thing to me is how the OP, though looking for socialization resources, is already committed to the idea of "a dog breed that can be shy or fearful". Sure by your logic any dog can end up shy or fearful, and I agree. But to expect it in a breed as a whole is a big red flag to me.

What makes more sense is for a breeder to breed vetted dogs and socialize. Period. Owners should continue to socialize. But doing socializing to 'avoid fear/shyness in a breed' is nonsense. I mean, if you walk up to a litter of puppies and they are avoiding humans and huddled in a corner, you're very, very, very likely gonna have minor to severe fear issues with the adult dog. No amount of socialization and training will help avoid that completely.
 

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It would help if the OP would tell us what breed they are looking into. I agree that you should not be buying a puppy from a breeder who doesn't health test/genetic test or do any socialization programs from a breed that is "known for shyness/fear". It is different when they are just telling you the issues that can crop up in the breed vs just saying it is normal so you need to socialize a lot. If this is a common breed I'm sure you can "find better". I don't know the details here for this situation.

I don't think "Fear-shep" owners are proud of the issue in their breed but you have to remember that not all breeds were developed to be stable pets.. but to do the job they were intended to do. Breeders have to breed away from these qualities that are pretty common in the breeds just to keep the breed alive. Some breeds have temperament issues that breeders are working on.. but cutting every line or dog that has issues in some breeds would mean very few dogs left in the breed. Some guardian breeds have human aggression issues. Klee Kai's come to mind as well as far as breeds with issues. Lots of breeds with issues out there that need help to be "better pets".

Border Collies even.. being so reactive here and there. Ember would make a great farm and herding dog. Her whole demeanor changes when she outside and off lead. She does not make a very good pet in the suburbs. If she had lived on a farm her whole life and we had not attempted to do "sport stuff" with her we may have never even noticed her huge temperament flaws.

Regardless.. more conscientious breeders of temperament are also the ones generally using Puppy Culture or Avidog type programs as well. Genetics are the most important.. but these things CAN help bring out the best the genetics can offer.
 

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It would help if the OP would tell us what breed they are looking into. I agree that you should not be buying a puppy from a breeder who doesn't health test/genetic test or do any socialization programs from a breed that is "known for shyness/fear". It is different when they are just telling you the issues that can crop up in the breed vs just saying it is normal so you need to socialize a lot. If this is a common breed I'm sure you can "find better". I don't know the details here for this situation.

I don't think "Fear-shep" owners are proud of the issue in their breed but you have to remember that not all breeds were developed to be stable pets.. but to do the job they were intended to do. Breeders have to breed away from these qualities that are pretty common in the breeds just to keep the breed alive. Some breeds have temperament issues that breeders are working on.. but cutting every line or dog that has issues in some breeds would mean very few dogs left in the breed. Some guardian breeds have human aggression issues. Klee Kai's come to mind as well as far as breeds with issues. Lots of breeds with issues out there that need help to be "better pets".

Border Collies even.. being so reactive here and there. Ember would make a great farm and herding dog. Her whole demeanor changes when she outside and off lead. She does not make a very good pet in the suburbs. If she had lived on a farm her whole life and we had not attempted to do "sport stuff" with her we may have never even noticed her huge temperament flaws.

Regardless.. more conscientious breeders of temperament are also the ones generally using Puppy Culture or Avidog type programs as well. Genetics are the most important.. but these things CAN help bring out the best the genetics can offer.
THIS!!
If you buy a Maremma (Livestock guardian dog) from a breeder who breeds for that purpose, you probably aren't going to have a social dog or a good pet. HOWEVER, the dog does need to be confident. A great herding Border Collie is not a great pet but has to be confident to use its eye to handle sheep.

NO breed should be "fearful" or "shy" but they may well not be social or want to be around a lot of people they do not know.

I often find it unsettling that people think they can just pet any dog that they see. A well socialized dog probably doesn't want every stranger on the planet to touch it and many breeds find it unsettling (while not being either fearful OR shy).

No breeder should foster breeding dogs that are fearful or shy and dogs that are or that produce this should be culled from the breeding program.
 

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I understood the OP's question more as a way to know which breeders are doing everything possible to get puppies started on as solid a foundation as possible, which is a good thing. Not that they're hoping to get a random dog and expect socialization protocols to fix any inborn issue. The difference between a breeder who does a thorough program like Puppy Culture or Avidog (or one of their own devising) and a breeder where "the puppies play with my kids sometimes" is comparable, imo, to a breeder who has some kind of third party evaluation of temperament (and knows the temperaments of as many relatives as possible) vs. a breeder who says "well we think s/he's nice so let's make puppies". In both scenarios, the second breeder might turn out dogs who are perfectly fine, behaviorally, but they're taking a lot more risks than the first breeder. And in both scenarios, the average puppy buyer isn't going to necessarily know how to tell the difference without asking questions and discussing it - or realize why it matters.

Some breeds are more prone to fear. Just like some are more prone to escape artistry, dog aggression, separation anxiety, etc. Sure, breeders could try to breed these traits out entirely, but the end result isn't likely to behave much like the original breed, imo, because of how connected certain breed traits are to fear (that doesn't mean I think breeders shouldn't try to mediate fear or excuse it in their breeding programs, ofc!). Border collies are a good example. Without their sensitivity to stimuli and changes in their environment, they wouldn't be very good herders (at least not the way they're currently used), and probably lack a lot of the behavior that non-herding BC people find appealing about the breed. But it's that same sensitivity that can, due to either environmental factors or genetics or both, be the source of reactivity in some members of the breed.
 

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^This

Traits are interconnected. If you breed 'too far' away from reactive, in border collies, you're also going to be breeding away from fast, high drive, and sensitive to environmental and handler stimulus.

Are you going to have the same fundamental breed after a while of this?

IMO, no.

A lot of 'fear' or 'shy' in breeds is simply a case of the desirable traits going 'too far' in the litter. Pyr sheps are fast, twitchy, spooky, little dogs. That's *what they're supposed to be. A lgd that is animal aggressive? Same. Socialization in both of those cases is down to 'making the dog comfortable in the environment' not making them... something else.

Those traits serve purposes in the jobs the dogs are intended to do. You can get a lab that hates water and retrieving, and it's still a lab, and it may even be highly desirable to some people. Heck, might even make the dog easier to live with. But. That doesn't make it a good representative of the breed.
 

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Border Collies even.. being so reactive here and there. Ember would make a great farm and herding dog. Her whole demeanor changes when she outside and off lead. She does not make a very good pet in the suburbs. If she had lived on a farm her whole life and we had not attempted to do "sport stuff" with her we may have never even noticed her huge temperament flaws.
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I have realized that Molly is damned near perfect as a pet, and honestly I now have problems saying she has temperament flaws - I mean yeah, we ultimately got her doing sports with management, and she loves them but. It's more... she's not a good sports dog and would be a horrible pet in a more urban environment than the one we live in (we're pretty danged rural).

Absolutely her temperament had huge flaws, that I do consider flaws, early on. She was uncomfortable at *home*, in that fairly quiet, danged rural environment.

But is... not being a dog temperamentally suited to sports a temperament flaw, or is it a flaw in the fit between owner expectations/home/desires, and the actual dog?

Like I'm not sure I consider spooky, kind of fearful, dog selective/reactive, stranger danger, intolerant of nonsense, super sharp border collies flawed anymore. I basically just consider them border collies, because like 90% of the ones I know fit that description. I'll get another one. I'll get another one for SPORTS, even. But I will expect a slightly lesser degree of the sharp, reactive, dog selective, stuff that I got with Molly. And probably be less stressed out by it.
 

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I have realized that Molly is damned near perfect as a pet, and honestly I now have problems saying she has temperament flaws - I mean yeah, we ultimately got her doing sports with management, and she loves them but. It's more... she's not a good sports dog and would be a horrible pet in a more urban environment than the one we live in (we're pretty danged rural).

Absolutely her temperament had huge flaws, that I do consider flaws, early on. She was uncomfortable at *home*, in that fairly quiet, danged rural environment.

But is... not being a dog temperamentally suited to sports a temperament flaw, or is it a flaw in the fit between owner expectations/home/desires, and the actual dog?

Like I'm not sure I consider spooky, kind of fearful, dog selective/reactive, stranger danger, intolerant of nonsense, super sharp border collies flawed anymore. I basically just consider them border collies, because like 90% of the ones I know fit that description. I'll get another one. I'll get another one for SPORTS, even. But I will expect a slightly lesser degree of the sharp, reactive, dog selective, stuff that I got with Molly. And probably be less stressed out by it.
While I definitely know that it is part of the breed and expected, I feel hers is definitely on the "too far" part of the scale. Husband decided to quit agility with her and I decided not to continue it with her because she is so uncomfortable in any close spaces with dogs. She is extremely nasty and snarly when uncomfortable.. even with me. Never bit but extremely loud and nasty. But it's a space issue. It's always a space issue and she needs space.. so in a bigger space it would barely be an issue. The ones who bred her were breeding for some attitude because they were working cattle. Something went a little wrong there.. ha. I didn't mean Border Collie's don't make good pets because they is only werking doggos or anything. Agreed that breeding some certain traits can accidentally bring you closer to some less desirable ones.

Ember is just my special case. I love her to bits and find her so much fun to take out and play. I'm not sad we aren't doing agility and she has been so much better since, honestly. I used a little bit of your experience with Molly to make that decision. She needed the decompress time and is a better dog for it. So I'm just not gonna take her back. Maybe some Frisbee or herding if I ever get brave enough to try that again. I don't expect another BC to be like her. I expect a little bit of dog reactivity and kooky obsessive tendencies for sure. Just not another Ember, please!!
 

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Space is definitely a big, big part of it with Molly, too. I'm pretty sure if we only had indoor trialing locations, and/or those locations weren't livestock arena big (so huge, and open), I wouldn't be able to compete with her at all, either. She's good outside, but the walls themselves apply pressure to her, and when you fill it up with more dogs and people and equipment it's just unworkable. (ie: We will never take another agility CLASS because the location those are held is impossible for her).

I would actually own another her, though.

I'd prefer to skip the 'explode at everyone/thing you notice exists' stage, but mostly I think I'm just broken. Or, you know, being a couple of years out from the worst is softening edges. If I ever got another her, though, I am DAMNED sure I'd regret it in a hurry :p
 

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I agree with the "going to far to one side" with the traits theory. I respect that a border collie might be aloof toward strangers...but I don't feel they should be scared or lose their minds about it, and I don't feel that any breeder should say that's "normal" in the breed. Because its not. Herding breeds had to work with other dogs and strangers about all the time, especially with large herds of livestock. Losing their minds about strangers or other dogs would not be ideal.

I'm also curious what breed the OP is talking about, too. I think that would help this discussion a lot. If the breed really, truly is prone to fear issues and you want to "socialize it out", though, that breed probably isn't for you!
 

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I mean, yes. Absolutely 'too far' with traits if the dog can't be in the presence of other dogs or strangers, but there is a vast degree of difference between 'work with other dogs in a calm and controlled way, while off leash' and 'be on leash or crated with 50 (or many many more) other dogs who are ramped up' or 'play with other strange dogs' and 'work with/for strangers/ignore having them around' and 'have every tom, **** and harry on the street want to pet you'.

Dogs on a farm have some awesome skills.

But they are not necessarily the skills that translate to 'dog who will do well in an urban, suburban, home or trial environment'. Like. At all.

I don't think that's a FLAW in the dogs or the stock, just. How would the people breeding for farm/farm work even assess that really? And more importantly why should they even care to?

Not that you can't get awesome in those environments from working dogs - seriously, Kiran's the most bomb proof animal on the planet, but I can promise you, it's accidental. His breeders cared about a good fit for working their stock and their rural farm/environment/family. Not... "Can handle 50 dogs screaming their heads off" or 'every person who lays eyes on the dog wants to pet him". There's just no way to test that.

(And point of interest, Molly is perfectly happy to ignore other dogs who are not in her space or, when off leash, physically on contacting her. She's perfectly happy to live with other dogs. She will work for anyone - and that includes people she would not let touch her. Hell she'd work for anyone when she was at her very worse. Because her work drive was and is high, but her confidence with strangers is/was not, and neither of those is the same as her desire to be handled. Different things entirely)
 

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I mean, yes. Absolutely 'too far' with traits if the dog can't be in the presence of other dogs or strangers, but there is a vast degree of difference between 'work with other dogs in a calm and controlled way, while off leash' and 'be on leash or crated with 50 (or many many more) other dogs who are ramped up' or 'play with other strange dogs' and 'work with/for strangers/ignore having them around' and 'have every tom, **** and harry on the street want to pet you'.

Dogs on a farm have some awesome skills.

But they are not necessarily the skills that translate to 'dog who will do well in an urban, suburban, home or trial environment'. Like. At all.

I don't think that's a FLAW in the dogs or the stock, just. How would the people breeding for farm/farm work even assess that really?
Well, a "round-up" (for lack of a better term, but we basically moved the cows to a different pasture or corralled them for tagging/vaccinations/whatever) can be pretty similar to a trial environment. You have an entire herd of livestock (in our case it was just 40 head, but there are certainly MUCH larger operations) bellowing, running, and generally causing an unholy ruckus. If you've got cows, it can be downright scary. They often charged the dogs! Some people were riding horses. Some people were zooming around on four wheelers. People were shouting and waving their arms and running. Neighbors that the dogs didn't often see joined in, sometimes, too. If we were working the head gate, the dog was in a small space with those strangers, those livestock. It's a giant dust bowl of chaos and noise.

Bottom line, the dog has to keep its head. Doesn't matter if theres other dogs, strangers. That's my limited experience on our family farm, and I know there are people who run more livestock, use more dogs, depend on their dogs far more than we had to, and get even stranger strangers to join in and their dogs HAVE TO be okay with that. Our dog was nowhere near as well trained or well bred as the dogs some ranchers have, either! Skye would have looked pitiful next to them!

A dog that grew anxious with the commotion, or was afraid of strange people, couldn't work? That dog would not be on the farm or ranch (or at least not WORKING on the farm). Of course, our dogs were accustomed to the livestock, the four-wheelers, and they knew that strangers showed up now and then, as they had learned from puppies. But a dog that, despite proper socialization, could not handle that environment would probably not be bred, at the very least, or rehomed.

So being able to work in a trail environment? Yes, I do think a herding dog should be able to do that, and I do think its a temperament flaw if they can't. I would not, however, find fault with a herder who did not want to be petted by everyone on the street, or did not necessarily want to PLAY with other dogs. But I DO need them to accept that strangers happen, that other dogs are about, that things get loud and crazy sometimes.

And of course I'm not bashing anyone who has a dog that is "flawed" in that way. I have one, too, as I'm sure everyone knows! I'm just fortunate he's okay at trials and likes close family.
 

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I would be willing to pet my HOUSE that Molly would have no problem in that environment.

Because it is not 100+ dogs lunging on leashes, barking in her face, trying to pet her, or looming over top of her.

She has never had a problem with livestock (horses, chickens, cows, coats, donkeys), even rude ones charging her. She has never had a problem with vehicles (bikes, four wheels, motorcycles, horses, trucks, cars). She has never had a problem with other dogs existing and doing their own thing if they ignore her or work around her.

She has a problem with:
Loud, barking, lunging dogs (when on leash - common in a trial)
Dogs pouncing on or making contact with her when off elash and not listening to a 'eff off' warning.
Humans leaning over her or grabbing at her/making contact or attempting to make contact that she doesn't want.
INDOOR locations with lots of other dogs or people.
People screwing around/baby talking to her when she's crated.

There REALLY isn't much, from her POV from even a very chaotic farm environment (and we have a friend with one, she's been there a lot) and a trial environment. Just by nature of one being work and one being... not. They just aren't the same and do not possess the same triggers - like confinement, contact, overly intense interest, and overly familiar contact.

That's not even addressing things that come from close living quarters that simply do not exist in a rural environment and are not, in fact, adequately emulated by visitors or people coming together in a secondary location in crowds.

I mean yeah, she wouldn't have made it on a farm at 18 months old. At 18 months old she barely made it in life period. But her worst triggers were, and are, NOT work/farm related. You can have an awesomely stable farm dog who can NOT hack suburban life. It's not even uncommon ; I know several.
 
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