Nature Vs Nurture

by Clare Brash
Published: Last Updated on

by Clare Brash BVet Med, MRCVS, Station House Vets

Magpies’ puppies all came back to stay over the Christmas period and at one point we had 9 dogs in the house. Mayhem! But what struck me most was the differences in them in just 4 months of training in their new homes.

Where some were incredibly well behaved: excellent recall, house-trained, car-trained, sociable and had even advanced to choreographed spins. Many had restricted careful exercise regimes and twice-daily tooth cleaning, properly weighed out food and organic healthy treats, while at the other end of the scale we had “Rizla”. Despite all his training, he resculpted the kitchen chair legs, salad servers and piano stool. He repeatedly mounted all the other pups and Granny’s spherical dachshund ’Tulip’.

He peed and pooed nearly everywhere and crowned it all by eating a large chunk off the turkey as it rested just prior to Christmas supper! It emphasised to me the importance of good early training classes. This is something we are aiming to set up at the practice, but there is a huge amount of excellent advice to tap into to help with these issues. Choose a guide and stick with it. Hopefully, it will save your furniture, carpets, and sanity!

Poor “Rizla” stayed in Yorkshire long enough to reap the rewards of his excessive marking and mounting behaviour and has left a changed man. The other pups will be neutered in spring. There has been much debate over my career as a vet as to when to spay bitches. We are still neutering small and medium breeds after 6 months of age and larger breeds after their first season. Giant breeds are normally castrated later than poor “Rizla” to allow for their extended growth period. The operation is a simple day case and both males and females are running off the lead after 10 days of restricted exercise.

I miss the pups, its great to have seen them as adolescents, and they just loved to be back in the pack again but am very glad they all went home!

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