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Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 17

When the dog in question is a breeding prospect, you will have to evaluate the strength of the problem and try to identify its source. In the above case, we looked at the behavior of our dogs and decided the problem lay with a common ancestor. Almost all the males and some of the bitches with her behind them had some oddity of behavior, although it was by no means the same from dog to dog.

 

Two dogs, for instance, disliked anything with wheels. No, they had not been run over as puppies. In fact, they had only the one bitch in common in their pedigrees; they just had the same phobia. Some males didn't like children; others didn't like strange adults. We ultimately abandoned this line completely in favor of ones that produced more stable temperament.

In fairness, this action wasn't all that difficult since none of these dogs were big winners, and in accordance with Murphy's law, the very best ones in terms of conformation had some of the weirdest behaviors. Breeding is after all a balancing act, so had we been unable or unwilling to sacrifice breeding these dogs, we would have looked at lines very strong in temperament and bred to something line- or inbred on it. Then, to continue, we would have used only the dogs that showed improved temperaments.

Research on all sorts of animals, including humans, tells us that the basic composition of our temperament is inherited. It is constructed of building blocks we receive from both parents. Although we have elements in common with each, the material we receive is unique to us. The exception to this, of course, is identical twins. Studies of twins separated at birth have confirmed the inheritability of temperament just as studies of identical twins living together show the powerful influence of environment on these elements.

Similarities between the former are eerie in their consistency. For instance, one set of twins separated at birth were phobic about water but wanted to swim. Independently, they arrived at the same solution to their fear; they backed into the water. Another pair lived in neighboring towns and were both firemen. They both did woodworking in their spare time and had built identical benches around trees in their back yards.

On the other hand, most of us have met identical twins living together who work at differentiating themselves from each other. Often, these pairs are like two sides of the same coin with complementary personalities--one is extroverted, the other shy; one likes science, the other arts; one is bold, the other cautious.

Inheritance gives each of us a set of building blocks that represent our basic nature. Our experiences, interactions with others, and environment determine how those blocks are arranged. With almost the same components, one structure may have a good foundation and great stability, while another is likely to topple into disarray.

The foundation of a dog's temperament is laid early and will influence his behavior throughout his life. The structure is dynamic and reacts to outside influences so long as the animal is alive. We can reinforce strengths and shore up weaknesses in the dog's nature. We must be careful not to undermine strengths and encourage problems.

 



 

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