Health Care

Over-Mothered Puppies Less Likely To Graduate From Guide Dog Training

Over-Mothered Puppies Less Likely To Graduate From Guide Dog Training”

If a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor, so an overprotective mother doesn't make a successful guide dog.

Early interactions between puppies and their mothers seem to have lasting effects. Some dog moms hover, constantly nudging and licking their pups, making sure each one is fed and groomed and showered with attention. They take care of their puppies' basic needs, but they don't coddle.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, dogs that did well at the problem-solving tasks and took longer to bark at novel objects were more likely to succeed in the guide-dog-training program.

The researchers found that puppies with doting mothers were less likely to graduate from the training program and become guide dogs compared with their counterparts with less attentive mothers. The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It is striking to see these puppies with their mother for only five weeks and that this short period after birth has an effect on their success two years later", said Emily Bray, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania, the principal author of this study. This can also lead them to rebel and to seek to live their own experiences, even the most risky.

"Basically the puppies are kept in a kiddie pool lined with towels". Nursing while standing is a key point to help puppies become tough, as they have to struggle more to get to the milk. Are they reacting to their upbringing somehow?

A statistical analysis of all data collected, including levels of a hormone linked to stress in the dogs separated momentarily from their puppies, has revealed differences in attitudes between mothers especially, and those which were less.

Puppies with mothers who doted on them grew up to be anxious and more afraid of new situations, and tended to fail out of a rigorous training program to assist the blind.

Puppies have to work harder when they stand up to nurse.

The first of its kind study involved almost two dozen dogs, including German shepherds, and golden retrievers and labradors as well as their 98 newborn offspring - all bred as guide dogs.

Are the overcoddled puppies picking up on their mother's anxiety? It's easier on the pups if the mother is lying down; if she's sitting or standing, the puppies have to work harder to eat. If they are training to become guide dogs, they are more likely to succeed if their mothers hadn't pampered them.

The idea is that the smaller challenges of nursing and being independent as a pup likely prepare them for the larger challenges they'll face as guide dogs, Bray tells NPR.



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