“It’s all in how you raise them.”
A saying I have grown to hate over time as a dog trainer. Simply because it just isn’t true and does more harm than good.
You can start a puppy from scratch and provide it all the love in the world and it can turn out quite terribly behaviorally as an adult. Even with some of the best early training in the world they still won’t become that lovably social goofball you imagine as the stereotypical generic family dog.
Genetics play a much bigger role than people care to admit in the dog world. A poorly bred dog can become a genetic nightmare overtime even with the best of care. Genetics can lead to serious anxiety issues, natural aggression, and other behaviors. Genetics are why herding dogs like to herd and why retrievers like to retrieve. Genetics feed particular behaviors naturally. It’s why you can’t just pull any dog out of the shelter and make it a service dog…its why you don’t see Shih Tzu’s herding sheep or why you rarely see huskies in the police force.
Genetics can make or break a dog sometimes. Yes, some dogs were genetically bred to fight. Yes, some dogs were genetically created for specific purposes. The day you deny this is the day you quite possibly set a dog up for failure. Now with training many of these genetic traits can be seriously managed for a dog to live a functional and happy life. Some lines of breeds of dogs over time have been bred to no longer carry certain genetic traits. Every once in awhile you also get a dog who just doesn’t fit the breed standard either but don’t expect every dog after that to be the same.
Often I hear of people complaining about their (insert herding breed) barking constantly. Or their (insert northern working breed) running off. They get upset that their (insert hunting breed) is destroying their yard yet they never exercise it and the dog has never had a job in it’s life.
You have this beautiful and intelligent dog bred to DO something yet you confine It in a house or yard and expect it to live a content and happy life?
It’s why it is so important to research the breed of dog you take home before they are actually home. It’s why you purchase from a reputable and responsible breeder if you’re going to buy a dog. It’s why things like the Wisdom Panel are pretty cool so you can kind of expect certain traits from your mixed breed pup you own.
What about rescues? If it was all about “how you raised them” rescues would be doomed from the start. The awesome thing is a dog can bounce out of a traumatic background and still become an amazing pup thanks to their internal modification.
Now this doesn’t mean training isn’t important. Early socialization and training is extremely important. We are in charge of teaching our dogs the proper do’s and don’ts in the human world with guidance and communication. Training is a life time commitment and should never stop. With training, many awesome cues can be taught and managed throughout your dog’s life. Some dogs even with faulty genetics can still live wonderful lives thanks to training and management. A trust and bond can be understood between human and canine thanks to training and lots of it.
A well loved dog does not mean they are a “safe” dog.
Training, management, and genetics play the real role.
A photo of my very well loved, managed, genetic hot mess.