Virtuous circles of trust in breeding dogs

Grace has been incredibly trusting with us throughout the process. She’s not very insecure about the puppies – she’s left them a few times, and we’re allowed to handle them all the time. She also allowed us to help her extensively during the whelping process.

These might seem like obvious things, but after reading a lot about this process, there are also dames who only allow one person at most to help. Others won’t leave the puppies at all in the first days or get extremely distressed when they’re picked up for weighing.

I’m very grateful that Grace trusts us, but I’m also realising that building it has taken a huge amount of work – ours and also her breeder. Why? Because Grace already came to us as a dog who implicitly and completely trusts people, and that is thanks to the hundreds of hours of work by her own breeder.

The consequences of that trust are lower stress for her and, therefore, the pups which creates a virtuous cycle of happy, stable temperament dogs who feel at ease in the human world. For every dog you read about having emotional issues, a good question to ask what the puppy’s life was like before they got to their new home.

What was the mother like? Insecure, anxious and stressed mothers often create pups whose nervous systems are imbalanced. How much did the mother trust their humans – what is their bond like? That can (apparently) also depend on breed, but no doubt the relationship still matters hugely. These are some of the hundreds of things that build up happy, stable dogs who are mentally and physically healthy.

I want to talk about this because the work good, responsible breeders do is very unappreciated – largely because it’s not visible and therefore poorly understood. I might be doing this for the first time but what I lack in practical experience, I hopefully compensate in appreciation and respect for the craft (yes, craft) as well as its importance, so want to share our journey – even the less shiny parts.

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