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Why puppies are not 'Blank Canvas' and why this is not a scary post :)

Many dog adoption or purchase adverts use a catchy phrase claiming 'puppy is just like a blank canvas', which is supposed to ensure that the youngster will be trouble-free when it comes to learning life and all the essential skills. Many moons ago I'd say similar thing, but today I'm far from standing by such bold statements.

First thing we need to consider is genetics. We know now that apart from certain diseases, dogs can also inherit some of their parents' character traits, for instance fearfulness, which, if accompanied by improper upbringing and communication, may lead to appearance of aggressive behaviours. There's also no certainty that even with properly addressed fearfulness the dog will become the bravest dawg in da hood (of course this does not mean that we should not work with our fearful pups and try to help them the best we can! :)).

Another area are early experiences, their lack or... overflow. If the said puppies were not introduced to the world properly, did not have a chance to create a safe bond and relationship with humans, experienced difficult, traumatic even events or were exposed to far too many and far too strong for their possibilities stimuli, this may affect their future behaviour and cognitive skills.

We should not forget the experiences of dog mommy-to-be, if she was subject to hunger, pain or long-lasting stress, all her emotions were 'rubbing off' on her babies.

What does knowing all that give us apart from being a tad afraid of inviting dogs to our families?

Well, knowing how important the ancestry and background is we should demand more from the breeders. The mere existence of pseudobreeders depends on our decisions and choices.

Being aware that we do not have a 'blank canvas' in front of us might decrease our own expectations regarding the dog, which could be very limiting for the pup. Without too high expectations we can open ourselves to the dog the way he or she is and, if in need, look for professional support with training and understanding this particular being.

We might even be able to look at older dogs with a kinder eye. Their traits are more prominent and it might be much easier to find among them the perfect companion for our lifestyle and expectations :)



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