The Biggest Lie of Dog Training

Nature and Nurture in Dog Behavior: Why it’s Important to Understand the Underlying Factors Behind Your Pet’s Personality

“It’s all in how your raise them”

This is probably one of the most deadly sentences in the dog industry. 

It’s not all in how you raise them. Saying this just makes it easy for people to forget that your dog’s genetics matter. Your dog is unique, so what your dog was bred for matters and unfortunately all the love and kisses and cuddles in the world isn’t going to change who your dog is and what their breed instinctively does. 

You cannot change your dog’s genetics 

The concept of nature and nurture applies to dogs just as much as it does to humans. Where the breed comes from and the purpose of that pedigree affects their behaviour. Their lineage affects their behaviour, along with their experience. 

Nature gives a specific genetic makeup a dog inherits from its parents. This includes traits such as breed, size, and body shape, but also personality traits such as energy level, sociability, and aggression. Some breeds are known for being friendly, while others have a reputation for being independent or aggressive. So you really need to research the breed you’re looking into and what they are known for – eg: working dog, protective, friendly etc and understand what their breed was designed for. Along with its genetics, you also need to find out as much as you can about the dog’s early life – how many were in its litter, what practices did the breeder use for house training, socialising etc. 

Is the dog displaying territorial , or anxious behaviours or is it showing a really high prey drive that you can’t control? Seeking training help is the only answer for these situations. And while you may love your dog very much, it won’t change the fact that they’re struggling to fit in a human environment. 

The Interplay Between Nature and Nurture:

It’s important to understand that nature and nurture are not mutually exclusive and that both play a role in shaping your dog’s behaviour. For example, a dog with a friendly and confident personality may have a genetic predisposition for these traits, but the environment in which they were raised and the experiences they’ve had can also have some impact. Conversely, a dog with an aggressive personality may have inherited this trait, but the environment and experiences they had during their life can also influence their behaviour.

The behaviour of a dog is influenced by a complex interplay between nature and nurture but many dog owners have a tendency to over-inflate the importance of one over the other. Understanding the impact of both can help you work with your pet’s personality and reach the goal of a happy, healthy, and well-behaved puppy. 

Our team can help you have a positive impact on your pet’s behaviour by working with you to provide a supportive and loving environment, consistent training, and positive reinforcement.

Rather than saying it’s all on how you raise them, we need to change it to it’s all about how you raise them and how educated you are about the dog in front of you. 

Get In Contact With Us Today

Eleanor (Ellie) Todd

The Obedience Specialist

Eleanor has been a dog lover and owner for as long as she can remember. Her career in dog training started out with some light volunteer work for Katrina a couple of years ago and she hasn’t looked back since. Having completed her Certificate III in Dog Training & Behaviour in 2018 through National Dog Trainers Federation of Australia, Eleanor has been a part of the Think Canine team since 2019. Her focus is primarily in areas of dog training are obedience, and trick training. She loves working with dogs and teaching them skills (that are both useful for the owners and fun for the dogs as well). She is also a doggy mum to an 8 year old Border Collie-Kelpie named Frodo.

Katrina Diem

Your Local Dog Trainer and Behaviour Consultant

As an Accredited Dog Trainer through the National Dog Trainers Federation of Australia, Katrina brings extensive knowledge of canine learning theory and conducts her training sessions based on scientifically proven methods. The team regularly attend workshops that feature renowned trainers and behaviourists from around Australia and the world – to help keep up to date on the latest training techniques and behaviour modification programs.
Katrina is also a qualified Veterinary Nurse with over 18 years experience in Brisbane and Toowoomba, with a focus on general practice and emergency nursing.