Discussion question: Could shipping trauma change a dog's personality?

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Discussion question: Could shipping trauma change a dog's personality?

This is a discussion on Discussion question: Could shipping trauma change a dog's personality? within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Here's the scenario. I was talking with my approx 80-yr-old aunt who has raised dogs from puppies her whole life. The only time she had ...

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Old 10-03-2013, 04:04 PM
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Discussion question: Could shipping trauma change a dog's personality?

Here's the scenario. I was talking with my approx 80-yr-old aunt who has raised dogs from puppies her whole life. The only time she had a real problem (as in wild, crazy) puppy was one time decades ago when her parents (my grandparents, incredible lovers and breeders and trainers of English Setters) shipped a puppy to my aunt, who at the time lived many states away (NY to TX). She said when she called her parents after a week or two and told them how insane the dog seemed to be, they couldn't believe it because they had picked out the calmest, sweetest, most docile of all the puppies in the litter to send to her.

This conversation came about because I was telling her that I had spoken to Cobber's breeder a week after getting him, mainly because he was going wacko with the biting thing (as you may recall), and the breeder said she couldn't understand it because he'd been the mellowest, most docile pup in the litter. And that even though he's much better now in terms of the biting, he's in no way mellow or docile at all. My aunt's opinion -- obviously based only on 2 dogs, so not exactly scientific research here -- is that being taken from the mother and siblings at 8 weeks and shipped by plane, which is a very loud, very alien, and potentially frightening experience, actually changes pups. And ever since that one experience she had, she has only ever gotten a puppy from breeders where she goes to them, meets the litter parents and litter mates, and picks the mellow pup herself. And I have to admit, she has had some incredible dogs -- happy but very calm, very sweet. She's also never had any of them go through the teenage phase (I was telling her about that with Cobber and she said she'd never heard of such a thing)...

So anyway, just as a discussion topic, I wondered if anyone else had any thoughts on this, on whether it's possible as my aunt described it that the trauma of being shipped could potentially change a puppy's demeanor.
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Old 10-03-2013, 05:02 PM
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Well, we drove 12 hours to pick up one of our puppies and he is the crazy one. The other puppy, who flew halfway across the country, is the mellow sane one.

Not sure we can learn much without masses of data.


My experience and intuition both say that genetics has a lot more to do with temperament than most anything else that normally happens with a puppy.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:38 PM
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I agree with Tess: more data (collected in a systematic, unbiased manner) is needed to draw any conclusions.

I don't think that shipping would necessarily change the dog's inherent temperament, but it may bring out qualities that may not have been noticed otherwise. For example, a dog with a genetic predisposition to be shy or nervous who did not have any early stressful experiences (like shipping) may never exhibit any fearful behaviors. On the other hand, if that same dog experienced a stressful event at some point in his life (especially young while still developing), he may become overtly fearful.

By the way, I grew up in center PA. Nice area.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:00 AM
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If that's the case, what is Theo's excuse???
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:57 AM
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I doubt it, especially that one short trauma can make much difference. I believe Tess is right. Genetics and probably very early environment (prenatal and first few weeks) pretty much decides. Charlie ( my puppy), illustrates that well. At 5 weeks, shy and fearful. At 5 months, after an VERY supportive puppy-hood,great socialization, no negative experiences whatsoever - he is still quite fearful. He is great, my little hero fighting his limitations and demons and I'm proud over the work we've done together, but he'll always be fearful and shy, and probably not able to fit into most homes.
I believe prolonged stay in bad environment can damage great potential (Charlies brother is an example of that) - maybe permanently, but it takes more than just a flight.
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:47 AM
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I haven't experienced any long term stress/behavior change with shipped puppies. That said, not all puppies temperaments are suited for shipping, and all puppies should be accustomed to crating and traveling before the big day.

I'm also kind of wondering if the two breeders you've had this experienced this with, in picking the "sweestest, most docile" etc pups, also ended up picking the more shy/reserved, sensitive pup who probably did get super stressed from the shipping. But even so, I don't really think that it would cause that dramatic or lasting of a personality change. My thoughts, similar to above, are that it's just the way they have continued to develop, according to their genetics and environment.
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:41 AM
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I think personalities as puppies don't really reflect well as to what they're actually like...environment has a huge effect on personality, imo.

One of my friends has a beagle cross who they thought was the quietest dog at the shelter....She turned out to be the loudest of his beagles after she started being treated a bit better and since she had been tied outside she never learnt how to play-instead when she gets overstimulated she howls until she falls asleep. Gotta be ready for anything XD

So I don't think the breeders should be surprised at all since I would expect this to be common...
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crock View Post
I'm also kind of wondering if the two breeders you've had this experienced this with, in picking the "sweestest, most docile" etc pups, also ended up picking the more shy/reserved, sensitive pup who probably did get super stressed from the shipping.
I was king of wondering that, too.

I don't think a puppy's core personality can be changed by a single experience unless it is exceptionally traumatizing. But I think a puppy without good "bounce back" could have some fallout from a stressful experience.
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