I took this article from a recent post I found on facebook. There is lots of truth to it. I know I can relate to this article and I bet I have a few friends that can relate, too. :0)
Talent and Puppies
Posted on November 25, 2011 by dfenzi
Talent is innate.
In dogs, we increase the odds of having talents through selective breeding. If two dogs show talent for a given ability, then the odds increase that their offspring will also show that talent. No guarantees, but certainly better odds.
At what age will that talent emerge? How will environmental influences encourage or discourage that talent?
Many trainers expect puppies to express their talents from the day we take them home. If the trainer has had prior dogs that showed their talents early, then the expectations will be even higher.
In the sport of Schutzhund, we talk about “sleepy” puppies. That is how puppies are described that are slow to mature; slow to show any real interest in the work required in the sport. But sleepy puppies have a way of waking up if the genetics for work are there. These puppies are something of a gamble, and many in the dog sports want a sure thing. Let’s face it; it can be hard to put energy into a puppy that seems unable to do what others of the same age (or even littermates) can do.
Fast maturing dogs who show their talents early are prized – they are trained with joy and energy because their responses to our efforts reinforce our training. Sleepy puppies are trained less well. We have fewer opportunities to celebrate and more opportunities to express our frustration. The lack of positive feedback for our efforts, and the slow progress that might be made, lead to a vicious cyle. We train less, celebrate less, and give less. With my students, I’ve noticed that sleepy puppies do best with novice handlers. In most cases, they don’t even know they have a sleepy puppy. When the puppy starts to show it’s talent, the owners are delighted as opposed to relieved. The lack of pressure allows the puppy to flourish.
Slow maturing dogs with experienced handlers can be a trainer or breeder’s nightmare. Their owners are frustrated, disappointed, and pushy. They worry….the winner they were hoping for isn’t panning out. If that person spent a lot of time identifying a litter that showed great promise – great parents with a great pedigree, the problem will be even worse. They “did everything right” and the puppy turned out wrong.
As a breeder and trainer, I find myself hoping for early maturing puppies. Not because I believe it’s better, but because I’ve seen what happens to goal driven trainers who develop doubts. They ruin their working relationship with their dogs. There is no worse combination than an ambitious trainer with goals and a “sleepy” puppy with normal ups and downs.
If your puppy is temperamentally sound and you have a reasonable belief that the genetics for work are there, don’t give up on your puppy. Don’t pressure her to grow up faster.