When we adopted Lucas, it was clear he had no life experience. He was terrified of everything: plastic bags, riding in the car, bicycles, the TV, the city bus, everything. Over time, he overcame most of his fears. He became a social guy who now goes to doggy daycare and loves meeting new people. We encounter the occasional reminder of his past fears – like, he still can’t greet other dogs on leash – but for the most part he’s friendly, outgoing, and usually confident. He’s come a long way since those early days.
Cooper, on the other hand, has been exposed to everything, yet he’s still afraid. We take him on errands, car rides, to doggy daycare, to the pet store, and so on. But he dislikes strangers. New places scare him. He would rather be home, snuggled on the couch, than out and about.
Lucas didn’t have the benefit of early socialization like Cooper did, yet Lucas encounters new things better than Cooper does.
All this leads me to the question: How much of behavior is personality and how much is training?
And, of course, the corollary: Can both/either be addressed through even more training?
I don’t have an answer, but I am experimenting. Cooper started agility on Sunday in the hopes of building his confidence. More on that later. Lucas started doggy daycare in the hopes of getting him to love being around lots of other dogs. So far, so good. I’ll keep you posted…
What do you think? How much of your dog’s behavior is personality and how much is training? Can you train around personality?