Researching Canine Behavioural Genetics
When my dogs are diagnosed with a disorder, or another dog with a disease like Alice jumps onto my radar, I spend a lot of time researching the problem on the internet, talking to veterinarian professionals and to breeders I trust. Sometimes I come across really exceptional articles that are worth sharing. This one definitely is!
Caiya's diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder was really not surprising to us as her anxiety in various situations began when she was a puppy and continued to express as she grew - at home, in the car, at dogs shows, during training, in the vet's office, walking down the street, when people visited, in fact, everywhere. This article has helped me work through the various stages we have seen Caiya go through and has also given us hope for the use of therapy with/for her so that she can live a normalized Caiya life.
What is becoming more and more clear to me with respect to Caiya's problem is highlighted in the following excerpt:
"There remains considerable resistance to the idea that behavioral problems may be genetically mediated. Zawistowski comments that people are uncomfortable with the idea of genetic predispositions to behavior because of the erroneous idea that genes are destiny. Hamilton points out that “Knowledge of the genetics helps shape the destiny.” A major hope that Chang has for the project is that it will have a positive impact on the way people feel about canine behavioral problems. “There’s often a refusal to believe that this is not the owner’s fault. Owners feel so much guilt. I’d like to change that.” Decades ago, psychiatry struggled with these same issues in the “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother” view of mental illness, but now affected people and their parents are not generally blamed for anxiety or depression. The field of canine behavior is catching up to this more enlightened viewpoint as evidence mounts in its favour."
If you have a dog with high anxiety, this is a must read for you! There are multiple pages you can click through with dog stories to highlight the research. Perhaps the most critical statement (and this applies to all three of our girls and the genetic/genetically pre-disposed conditions they have expressed) is the following:
“There’s often a refusal to believe that this is not the owner’s fault. Owners feel so much guilt. I’d like to change that.”
For those of you who care deeply for your pet/s as we do and do everything in your power to provide a safe and loving environment but still, your dog, like Caiya, is so highly anxious that she can make herself ill, this is a must read! This author explains that there is often a predisposition towards this behaviour - one that is genetic. Nature not nurture can be the problem.