by dogsportman357 on 20 January 2022 - 00:01
I have a 9 month old WL GSD from accomplished IGP lines who is in her first heat (i plan to keep her intact). I am wondering what some of your experiences are with females maturing/developing after going through the first heat cycle from a working perspective. For example, do drives (such as prey, defense, etc) often "wake up" or intensify? Do they sometimes become more/less confident? Do they respond differently to strangers? Any input relating to these example or other areas would be greatly appreciated! thanks
by GSCat on 20 January 2022 - 02:01
Coming out of each heat for the first 5 years, my female Czech WL GSD was noticeably more mature emotionally each time.
She never had a confidence issue, and her drives didn't change (very high energy, very high drives), although as her training progressed, what we could do with them increased as her skills/knowledge/experience base grew. She also matured physically very slowly, even for Czech, but she was an early worker and her protective instincts/attitude/civilness developed very early, as evidenced by her needed, real-world, effective, protective actions even before having any such training. She was not yet 7 months old at the time of her first real-world encounter and she handled it absolutely perfectly with no direction or help from me. This was obviously before her first heat.
She gets really grumpy and hard-headed, and more handler aggressive tendencies just before and during heats. This hasn't changed. Means more patience, more attention to detail, and more directive handling is needed during these times.
by Klossbruhe on 20 January 2022 - 12:01
Having seen my five as well as many more that were in my schutzhund club come to maturity, I can tell you that your question cannot be answered empirically. Each dog is an individual and each dog obviously is different. That said, however, I can generalize. Basically, I saw no intensification or the opposite as a result of the females coming into their first or subsequent heats. Their personalities, such as they were, remained the same after the heat and they developed at whatever rate they were already developing at. Their drives, prey or defense, did not suddenly increase or decrease. This is not to say it couldn't happen, but I never saw it. The only thing I noticed was that during and after the heat, they were less focused on their work be it tracking or obedience or protection. However, within a week of the heat ending, they always were back to themselves.
by Sunsilver on 20 January 2022 - 14:01
With my other intact females, I didn't notice this abrupt change, though I did notice they seemed a bit less focused during that time.
I noticed the same thing with my mare when SHE would come in season.
by dogsportman357 on 20 January 2022 - 21:01
Thanks for the interesting responses so far. Seems most observe that a female's quality as a working dog does not meaningfully change soon after or due to an initial heat, though the initial heat does tend to take place within the broader age period that a dog's drives and character tend to develop/change/ mature anyways. This is somewhat surprising to me as I would have assumed hormones like estrogen and testosterone play observable roles in the development of a dog's quality in work or sport.
So far, ours has an endless food drive (she has since about 14 weeks old, and now continuing though heat), and has always been very high nerve/confident. Her ball drive has been gradually increasing over the last 2 months or so. She has also always had decent prey drive, and I have noticed it pick up has picked up a bit more since she finally managed to catch a pigeon one day a couple weeks back. I haven't yet noticed any changes in her that I could confidently connect to the heat besides bouts of the usual moodiness, tiredness, restlessness, etc. I also have not yet figured out how much defence drive she has as it is a bit tricky to do myself, though her parents have high defence (including the mother and maternal grandmother).