Sport/working Enthusiasts > On/Off Switch. All genetic or not? (28 replies)
On/Off Switch. All genetic or not?
by Ace952 on 11 March 2012 - 05:21
|I was having the conversation about this and wanted to know some various opinions on this.|
Is a dog having a onn/off swtich all genetic? Can it be really taught and if so does genetics play any part in it or is it all a matter of training?
Is there a difference between off/on switch in the house as opposed to on the field? Can a dog have it in one venue and not the other?
by darylehret on 11 March 2012 - 06:43
|I think so, but I also think that training can affect it's expression. Also, there are different ideas about what having an "on/off" switch means, so perhaps it should be defined for the purpose of this thread as how you refer to it. I recall some people saying that the switch doesn't really exist, or maybe that it's part of "normal" behavior, and that a dog without that ability is the un-natural norm.|
by Cassandra Marie on 11 March 2012 - 12:20
I had the unfortunate or should I say heartwrenching experience of having a GSD without an "off" button. This poor dog was a combo of German WL and American SL - so apples to oranges breeding. The behavior began to manifest itself when our girl was a baby and increasingly worsened as she aged. The behavior finally expressed itself as OCD- obsessive compulsive disorder. She would "pattern run" endlessly to the point of not eating or drinking water. In other words, IMO the lack of an "off" button at the very basic level affects a dog's survival not to mention excluding them as a partner and family member. It turns out that most of the litter lacked an "off" button. When I notified the breeder about our issue - her response " that comes from the mother and maternal grandfather - ask your vet for prozac". My response "no can do".
Fortunately, I found GSDs with "on/off" button and have since bred such dogs. These are dogs that I suppose people refer to as being "clear headed". They can distinguish when it's appropriate to work and when it's time to relax. They can distinguish between friend/ foe and act appropriately. They do not waste their energy needlessly but preserve it when for when it's needed - i.e. work, play or protect.
Based on my experiences, having an on/off switch is genetic. IMO having this ability to turn on/off is exhibited in all aspects of the dog's life.
by BlackthornGSD on 11 March 2012 - 13:29
|I have a puppy who wouldn't stop on her own--she just started ramping up when she got tired. I have enforced "naps"--calm crate time and she'd just crash when I made her "stop" -- and now, at 6 months, when loose in the house, she calms herself nicely and often naps when loose. I think it would have been easy to have this girl be a dog who wouldn't stop. So, I think there is an element of learning here--and it started early.|
by laura271 on 11 March 2012 - 13:41
|My experience is the same as Christine's. I wonder if responsible crate training coupled with appropriate outdoor exercise helps teach a young dog to have an off-switch in the house. My two GSDs (1.5 years and 17 weeks) both understand that they chill inside the house but are always ready to rumble the second we go outside.|
by BlackthornGSD on 11 March 2012 - 13:51
|Yeah--it was and is crucial to give this puppy lots of exercise *and* mental stimulation. She's a very smart puppy as well as being high energy. I think that if I hadn't given her lots to think about and lots to do--as well as defined "downtime" periods, she would have come up with something on her own--maybe even an OCD type behavior. That isn't to say that all OCD-behaviors can be avoided--but they definitely can be "fostered" by not giving the dog appropriate outlets.|
by beetree on 11 March 2012 - 13:55
|My dog does the OCD pacing... if we let him. Heard it comes from the Arminius lines...but I could have that wrong. He can be commanded to stop, and he will, but left to his own devices would track a perimeter, endlessly, no doubt. People need to recognize this kind of behavior early on, and deal with it appropriately for the off switch to be ingrained... or learned. The on switch I believe is innate.|
by laura271 on 11 March 2012 - 15:30
|Agreed. Working adults' and puppies' minds is essential. I'm typing this as the pup is snoring loudly beside me and we only practiced a neat, tuck sit for 5 minutes.|
by Emoore on 11 March 2012 - 15:46
|I think it also has to do with the owner. If the dog is never allowed to be "on", or not "on" enough, then they can never truly turn off. I think some people, especially pet owners who don't do work or sport, complain about dogs not having an "off switch" because the dog isn't really ever allowed to be "on."|
by beetree on 11 March 2012 - 16:00
|Well, I'd think just the oppostite, because a pet is more likely to be a free ranger and thinker, since the containment level, and therefore restriction isn't there. My pet any way. lol|
Also, with any OCD type of "on" switch, I don't think the level of exercise has much to do with it. It helps in other aspects of the dog's well-being and learning of manners, and general obedience, but with OCD's like the pacing, my experience tells me, no: you need to condition them to stop. If you do that, it is no big deal. IMHO
by Nans gsd on 11 March 2012 - 16:19
|Definitely training; the hyperness is genetic. Nan Or I should say, can be genetic but teaching the on/off is important, yep early on. N|
by Nans gsd on 11 March 2012 - 16:27
|Refocus the energy; change the pattern, very important not only physically but mentally. Nan|
by Emoore on 11 March 2012 - 16:41
|"Well, I'd think just the oppostite, because a pet is more likely to be a free ranger and thinker, since the containment level, and therefore restriction isn't there. My pet any way. lol"|
I think we might be thinking of different types of pets. I'm thinking of folks who buy a WL GSD and then leave it in the house or in a crate 8-10 hours a day while they're at work, take it for a 30 minute walk, and then wonder why their dog doesn't have an "off" switch.
by darylehret on 11 March 2012 - 21:26
|For me, thie difference is first to NOT equate the OCD type restless behavior as having anything to do with drive. Drive is what motivates the dog, the desire to get what it wants. So then, the on/off switch (for me) really applies only in terms of DRIVE, and not hyperactivity levels. For the dog to switch "off" it's protection drive, for example, he simply ceases to be motivated to fight the bad guy, in compliance with his handler's instruction. The ability to switch drives, and NOT anything to do with restlessness.|
by beetree on 11 March 2012 - 22:17
|Okay darylehret, I am pretty sure I get which drives you want to talk about, but what would you say if I said I think the OCD hyperactivity is a drive... the herding drive gone overboard? Not just ... "restlessness"? There is a german word for it and it is buried in one of the SC threads. Maybe someone else will know what I am trying to talk about.|
by darylehret on 11 March 2012 - 22:56
|I think the OCD behavior might be the way a particular dog might manifest expression "of" it's drive, but it is not "the" drive itself. A drive is a motivating force that perpetuates a dog toward it's goal. Hyper, restless or frantic behavior is not a drive.|
by beetree on 11 March 2012 - 23:12
|Hmmmm, well, I think there is a goal, but nevermind. This is not frantic, it is deliberate, just sayin'. The compulsion is innate and comes from somewhere...and if you are a dog, ... what else do you have except drives and instinct? There are triggers a person can learn to perceive in a dog, if you've actually delt with a dog who does this behavior.|
by Cassandra Marie on 11 March 2012 - 23:45
|When I shared my story about my OCD GSD, I should have stated that the first puppy that I selected from this litter turned out to be a fear biter. I had the puppy evaluated by a famous Schutzhund exhibitor who has represented the US on more than one occassion. He confirmed this and advised to return her. I then returned that pup and was given her sister as a replacement. This 2nd puppy is the one who grew up to have her behavior manifest itself as OCD. This puppy was intro to puppy obed class at above mentioned exhibitor's highly respected training school. At 6 mons of age, said puppy began SAR training. She also was my jogging buddy. As time passed her "on" button became stuck As she reached adulthood this single faceted focus, i.e. pattern running,, precluded any training, interaction with the family, eating or drinking water etc. Any type of confinement to help her collect herself, resulted in a psychological panic. I had her eval'd by a breeder who has produced numerous LE K9s and also the above mentioned Schutzhunder. Their advice was the same as my decision when the breeder recommended Prozac - no can do. In hindsight, a red flag for this type of behavior was when our dog was an infant. She only focused on biting our hands non-stop, despite introducing distractions such as a tug toy, a ball, a bone or even a harsh "no".|
Since that experience I have been blessed with dogs who not only have an on/off switch at work and home but also produces it in their progeny who also serve in the work force. IMO having on/off switch is genetic and is needed for any animal in any species to survive. Observing any animal in the wild there is on/off switch and if an individual lacks one or the other, they are eliminated from the gene pool by nature.
by beetree on 11 March 2012 - 23:59
|Cassandra, I don't think biting your hands non-stop as a puppy is a good indicator of a future OCD with pattern running. Matter of fact, I have exact opposite experience. Your other dog sounds more likely to have suffered from many issues besides this particular aspect relating to the thread.|
And really, I think this thread wanted to talk about a dog who is easy to settle down, or not. I think the real answer is, some dogs might need some help by being taught or conditioned. Others, are naturals.
by BlackthornGSD on 12 March 2012 - 01:18
|I don't think all dogs who can't settle develop OCD problems. Nor do I think that OCD indicates or is related to drive level. But some OCD problems do manifest when dogs are not given appropriate outlets for their drive and energy. Some OCD problems will manifest no matter what. And some dogs will never develop OCD problems no matter what.|
In addition, I don't think that energy and activity and drive are all perfectly correlated.