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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

First time lab owner here. We have viewed and selected a pup from a litter with good health tests and healthy looking pups.

We are due to bring our chosen boy home in under 2 weeks but I’m after some advice before I make a mistake as the bitch appeared to be slightly nervy around us. The breeder said she’s “soft” and is absolutely fine with other people and dogs. I’m wondering how much her personality would be imposed on the pups. They were weaned from her at 4 weeks as I understand it and they live in an outdoor shed/pen while the mum is in the house at nightyhe

My question I guess is this: is a bit of quietness (standing very still during petting - best way I can describe it) normal for a mother dog with a litter near by (pups were 4 weeks and we visited again at 6 weeks). If she is a little “soft” will this trait be passed on to the pups? Dad is not shy as I understand it and is a well known stud dog.

we have two kids - 5 and 7 so can’t afford to make a mistake. We’re desperate to give our gorgeous boy a home and with patience and training raise him to be a happy confident boy. We have him booked for puppy training and have already planned out his training at home, socialisation etc to give him the best possible start.

Any advice gratefully received :)
 

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Can I ask, is this show or work lines? Show lines have, by the very nature of the game, to be a little out going and bold around people, or they are not going to perform well in the show ring. Working dogs on the other hand are often a little more sensitive. It is this sensitivity which helps with trainability, less questioning.

I'm guessing working lines by the pups being kept outside. Many working dogs are kennel dogs so many breeders of working dogs, knowing that many of their clients will be kenneling their pup start the pups on that route early.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, working lines - Gundogs.

So as a family pet, will the pup be young enough to adapt well to a family setup if we pour energy into training and socialising? Our last dog was reactive to everything but she was very small (papillon), badly trained (my fault) and had a terrible experience with a large dog which starting it all off. Im just keen to try and do everything right this time round and keen for a little peace of mind and to stop worrying so much and start getting excited!
 

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A working dog has to be able to get on with other dogs. My Chloe can be a little sensitive, loves people but can be a bit standoffish around other dogs who she does not know. She just takes a time to get to trust them. But working dogs have to travel in the beaters trailer or the picking up truck so a good temperament is essential. I often have anything up to 6 dogs in the back of my truck traveling between drives.

26838
 

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I think you'd have to go with your judgement, it's really hard to say with working/show lines, as John has already said, the working lines tend to be more desperate to please, but I have known people breed on from a nervous bitch and the pups weren't a good solid temperament. That said, I wish my youngster wasn't quite so solid, as it makes my knees hurt.

Joking aside, I see the difference with my FCR bitch, she's from predominantly working lines and is mortally offended if I rough house with her in the same way I would with my Labradors, but then she's absolutely a people person and not at all shy in that respect. But if I whacked her over the bum in play with a piece of paper or cardboard, her reaction would be completely different to if I did the same with my Labradors, who'd just try and grab the offending item, Rhuna, however, would be desperate to know what warranted it, until you convince her you're actually playing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks Tarimoor. So what would be your definition of a nervous bitch (signals definitely to avoid), what would be the outcome on the offspring and when would these traits become apparent? I’ve read that pups can appear bold/steady, but nervousness can appear in adolescence.

I appreciate you can only advice as best you can given the limited information.
 

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I wouldn't want a bitch (or dog) who was hand shy or petrified of new comers. It's really hard because I am having problems with my bitch currently, although I've got her used to a lot of things, because of lockdown she's not used to some situations and is genuinely frightened, but generally speaking she's really outgoing and confident. I took her to have her hips and elbows done recently, and she was petrified of being led off by a strange person, into a strange building that would obviously have smelt a lot of fear to her, just generally because of what vets do. I'm hoping it hasn't had an adverse affect on her general opinion of vets, as all my girls love the vets. But I'd be more worried if Branta were shy of every situation, and every person, ok, the odd spook at something or someone scary is fine, every pup/dog does this from time to time, but generally I want a confident and outgoing personality.

A few years ago now I boycotted a veterinary practice, where one of their vets was breeding on from a bitch with a nervous disposition and it did pass down to the pups. It was awful really, he hardly did any health tests and used his status as a vet to sell the pups, claiming they were fully health tested. Thankfully he stopped breeding Labradors, not that he had to as he was obviously earning enough as a vet, going by the brand new Landrover Discovery he had.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My partner took a video of the bitch in her kennel but it won’t let me post it since the file is too large so all I can do is describe it! He approached the bitch and her tail wagged a little and she sat. He put his fingers through the bars and she turned her head away slightly whereas the other dogs in the other kennels would be up trying to get at us, licking through the bars and when they were out they were all over us having a great time.

As I say I’m back down on Thursday and can ask to see more of the mum. Are there any tests I could try? Wish I could send on the video but alas it won’t allow me to!
 

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That just sounds like a soft bitch as the breeder has said, if she was nervous she would have backed away completely and probably put her head right down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, so “soft” is a term that I find hard to grasp, but it’s not a bad thing is it? As in she won’t be more likely to develop fear aggression?

I know it’ll sound like I’m being very pedantic, but we had a reactive dog previously and I’m keen to make sure I do everything I can to make sure the best start for our new family member! The pup in himself seems pretty outgoing and happy.

They do have another bitch, born during lockdown and raised by them but from a different bitch than this litter. She is definitely fearful, skulks around the back of her cage, barks if we go anywhere near, very afraid when they let her out. It was probably her that had me worrying so much, but that seems to be down to poor socialisation more than anything.
 

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As Joanne said. But also you have to remember that she has puppies and could be feeling a little apprehensive and defensive, worrying about the "Strangers" and the safety of her pups. For that reason you dont always see the "True dog" at that time.

Dogs sometimes seem odd in the things that worry them. Chloe for example was so worried about heavy lorries. Probably understandable as she was born in the middle of nowhere, and I doubt if her mum, or her grandmother had ever saw a big lorry. But plenty of happy talk when they were approaching and now she is pretty good with them. But she also gets a little skittish with loud noises, but strangely will sit beside a 12 bore shotgun without a care in the world!

Soft. Best way I can describe this, if you dived straight in to make a fuss of Chloe she would back off, but stand talking to me for a few minutes and she will be coming forward to be petted and the next time we meet she will be wanting to give you a kiss!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you both for your responses. My mind is far more at ease now and hopefully we can introduce the new chap to as much of what he will be expected to be on with as possible. We live in the suburbs (but with buses, school runs, parks etc) whilst he currently lives in a shed in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks again for the advice is it so gratefully received and my own anxiety is beginning to dissipate :)
 

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Socialising a young pup is so important, but unfortunately is not always understood. This was something I wrote a while back on the subject.

SOCIALISING:- That much misunderstood word!

What do people think of in human terms, when talking about socialising? Going out to the pub or clubbing, a wine or beer or two, dancing and chatting up the opposite sex!! So is it surprising that people, when talking of socialising a puppy think along the same lines? But really, that is not what canine socialising should be all about. Socialising is simply the wrong word for what we should be doing. Familiarising is a far better word, learning to meet and deal with all things the pup is going to come across in later life. Uncontrolled playing is not what should be happening, this is simply training your pup to be a hooligan! We want to be the centre of our dog’s life, not running off to play with every dog he sees, where the play becomes the focus and we become an afterthought.

Almost all people love to see a puppy, but few people like to see muddy paw prints on their nice clean clothes just as they are going out shopping. But they are their worst enemies, making a fuss of the puppy one day then complaining about muddy paws the next, and you go from, “That woman with the lovely Labrador puppy!” one day, to “That woman with the uncontrollable dog!” the next. Better for you to take control from the start, it’s your puppy and your responsibility. When people say to me, “Oh it’s all right, I don’t mind.” my answer is, but the next person might. Teach your pup to meet and greet with all four feet on the ground, then to sit quietly beside you while you chat about the weather or old Mrs so and so at number 46. Aim to be “The lady with that lovely calm Labrador!” That does not just happen, that comes with training. Exactly the same applies when meeting another dog. Dont stop all playing, but limit it and BE IN CHARGE! It finishes when you say. A minutes hoolie which finishes with you calling your dog too you, praising it for coming and then walking away together gives a wonderful feeling to both humans and dog. Remember what I’ve said so many times on these posts of mine, “Everything is a training opportunity!” Aim to be the place where your pup’s fun comes form, not other people and dogs.

Following on a little, I often talk about thinking about dogs in the wild. The nearest equivalent, behaviour wise, in the UK are fox cubs. I’ve often sat in my truck in the middle of the wood watching them play. But really. In this case there is no comparison between wild and domestic dogs. A wild pup will play, but really, only with it’s own littermates. Strangers would be chased off by the sire or dam. But the play period would not last long before leaving “home” and finding food becomes the priority. The pup would be forced to grow up and become an adult very quickly. Domestic dogs do not have the same priorities. Food is supplied without any work needed on the part of the dog. literally the dog does not need to even think! We do it for them. Domestic dogs have become the Peter Pan of the canine world, so don’t wait for them to become adult because in comparison with the wild canine, it aint gonna happen. Thats one reason why training is so important!

We all have different lives, do different things and want different things from our dogs. So even before we get our pup really we should be sitting down and thinking about what we want from our pup, and how best to get it. I work my dogs so they need to be familiar with livestock, sheep and cattle, birds, hare and deer. So I need to make a conscious effort to take my pup to places where she is going to meet them, so I’m able to teach her to leave them alone. Possibly if you love hiking then the same situation applies. Maybe if you live in a big city your pup might need to travel on buses and trains. As I said, think about your lifestyle and decide what your pup needs to know about. Maybe now you can see why I said that “Socialising” is the wrong word, and “Familiarising” is a so much better word. I saw a picture on here a while back, two dog walkers meeting, one says to the other, “You’re so lucky having such a well behaved dog!” and the other saying, “It’s strange, but the more I train the luckier I get.” You get out what you put in, and I don’t mean walking long distances, it’s all about quality, not quantity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That’s a really insightful post snd some very good tips within. Luckily my anxiety from my last dog has meant I have spent many hours reading, watching training videos, re-reading, asking questions in Labrador groups and trying as best possible to get a grasp on how to raise this pup well. I have written a training/daily schedule for his first week home (to be adapted as he grows and settles) and he is booked in for puppy training classes with a trainer that teaches advances obedience and manners.

I will focus on writing all the things he will need to be comfortable with as you have mentioned and try and familiarise him with these as much as possible when he is home.
 

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I think John has pretty much answered everything with great info and insight as always, and yes, a soft dog may take a few minutes to come forward, they wouldn't be in your face necessarily but will wait until they are a bit more sure of you before giving you their attention, and letting you return it.

Once you get pup home, just make sure he's exposed to the things we consider normal that might be completely new and possibly frightening to him, and just do it in a carefree way, don't focus on what might be scary to him, instead, ask for a sit and praise for doing that, it will take their mind of whatever it is that's putting them at unease.

I've just started doing ringcraft with Branta as I would like to show her, eventually, and it's a great way to get pups used to people going over them, whether or not you intend to show. The get to interact with other breeds and their owners, and have to let the 'judge' handle them, ie go over them, check their teeth, and for dogs they check their testicles as well, so it's a great way of getting a youngster used to being handled all over by complete strangers. Branta is like a wriggly eel at ringcraft, she is just so giddy and full of herself, and isn't sure whether she needs a back scratch or should roll over for a tummy scratch when the 'judge' touches her. Hopefully she'll calm down a bit by the time I get her in the ring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
That’s a really good idea, I’ll have a look to see if there are any ring craft classes in the area and sign him up to those. We had been considering Gundog training or agility or something but hadn’t even thought about ring craft!

Thanks Tarimoor :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Il see if I can get recommendations locally. I know there is definitely one which comes very highly recommended and I haven’t heard of her being heavy handed.
 

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Probably facebook is the best way to find a ringcraft class, it's how I found the one I've started going to. They are really patient with Branta, which is just as well as she's just so giddy.
 
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