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wary of strangers/ new thing


New Member
Nov 11, 2010
Ziggy and Jazz mini longhaired dax, Merlin-FCR, Molly and Mica - ESP, dobi and yami - cats
i wrote this article for a daxy club newsletter thought it might be of interest

A note to all daxy people
Have you noticed how so many daxies are wary with strangers? Some bark, others hide behind their owners' legs and some do a mixture of both, but at home and with people they know they are the most loving things ever.
"It's part of the breed," you may say, but I beg to differ; although a small percentage of the wariness to strangers is an inherent genetic predisposition, whether this affects the dog in everyday life is entirely up to the breeder and dam of the pups to put a good foundation in the puppies learning development and then for the new owners to carry this on, but as I said that foundation of learning is the key. Let me explain:

It's all down to something called imprinting. Imprinting is what the puppy learns within the first weeks of its life and what is learnt at this point will stay with them for life. The behaviours/boundaries that are learnt through imprinting are so strong it’s the next strongest thing to instinct in a dog (remembering that instinct cannot in anyway be ‘untrained’ or trained out of a dog, only managed.) Taking this into consideration this can either work greatly in the dog/owner's favour or severely against.
"How does this relate to wariness? surely it’s just down to socialisation on the owners part?" You may be asking. Well yes, socialisation is an important aspect of imprinting, but this is done before 8 weeks when the puppy goes to its new owner. For example; Mrs Jones from down the road has a black Labrador, Rex and lovely Dachshund bitch, Daisy, and wants to breed from her. She can be a tad wary with strangers, but she’s lovely when she gets to know people. Having done all the relevant tests and having a waiting list for puppies and a vet check she mates Daisy to a stud dog and eventually three little bundles of joy are born. At about four weeks old a stranger visits to view the puppies, Daisy barks at the stranger, this then imprints on the puppies to trust the person(s) you live with but be wary of strangers. Mrs Smith, Mrs. Jones’s friend, pops round the next day with her dog Bess for a cup of tea and a catch up. Daisy has never met Mrs. Smith's dog and barks and or hides from Bess. This then imprints on the puppies to be wary of strange dogs but trust dogs that you live with e.g. rex. It is almost a certainty that Daisy was taught the same thing by her mother with her litter at a young age. Careful socialisation on the new owners’ part will help Daisy’s puppies but they will never eradicate that initial wariness that was imprinted upon them.
So if you are looking to adopt a new daxy pup keep this article in mind and try to initially meet the dam before she whelps to see if she is wary of you and also so you won’t have those cute little daxy pups staring at you in the face tempting you to take them home no matter what the temperament of the dam.
If you are looking to breed from your Dachshund bitch question yourself objectively about her level of ‘wariness’ to new things.
My name is Sarah Roper, I am a dog trainer and owned by five dogs, two of which are miniature longhaired Dachshunds; Ziggy and Jazz. I breed from Jazz – but only because she is very confident with new people of all ages and sizes and the same with dogs. She is head of our pack which comprises of Ziggy, Merlin a large flat coat retriever and two Springer Spaniel bitches Mica and Molly.
MY Dachshunds are so well balanced we regularly get asked to help with the rehabilitation of retired greyhounds for socialisation with small dogs, puppy socialisation sessions ( not puppy parties) and I use them regularly to help teach dogs that are fear aggressive with other dogs that they are no threat to them. We have done numerous children’s talks on responsible pet ownership in schools where Ziggy and Jazz lap up the attention from the children.
Having ‘non wary’ daxies has made such a difference to everyone involved – including countless children who had previously never even touched a dog who after meeting Zig and Jazz not only stroked them they became more confident and no longer lived in fear of people with dogs on the street etc.
Interesting article! You also subscribe to the theory that temperament is most often from the Dam, not Sire, tho inherant temperament issues can come from the sire, but most "attitudes" are learned from the Mother. Nurture over Nature :)

I also have a confident little Doxie, She's not unsure of people or dogs... tho she is a bit bossy. Unfortunately, as she is a rescue and we have no information on her parents, I dont know if she is a case of Nature or Nuture.
tho inherant temperament issues can come from the sire, but most "attitudes" are learned from the Mother. Nurture over Nature :)
Hi thanks for reading and commenting i find that from experience it tends to be about 15-20% nature (obviously combined from sire and dam) and the rest nurture, rather like ourselves.
i was noseying at your album earlier and i have to take my hat off to you, what a lovely looking bunch and deaf? well a round of applause, not many will have deaf dogs as im sure you know. :D


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Hi Sarah welcome to ths site, and thank you for that informative post. I understand why my Dog Sam is weary of strange people and dogs while molly is fine. Molly will go to meet the person with a wagging tail while Sam will hide behind me and bark.
I tend not to worry about where my dogs get their issues from... I just need to fix it :) I work with a rescue that rescues off of First Nations Reserves, so alot of those dogs need alot of work. However this is where anctidotal evidence can go for or against your theory... about 50%. but then, there are many variables for those puppies to deal with. But I do believe that Mother's reactions help define puppy behavior... for the most part :)

I have 2 deaf dogs, and 2 hearing dogs. Soon to be 3 deaf dogs! it's true not many would have a deaf dog, but there are many who will. And most of us become so enamoured with them, that they'll continue rescuing deaf dogs forever. a saying we have: they're like the chip, bet you cant have just one! I like deaf dogs better. I'm not sacrificing anything by adopting deafies, It's purely selfish!
thank you Houndhelper

We have two dauchshunds and each one of them are different in their behaviors. Henry Longfellow came from a dame that was very friendly and Oscar Meyer came from a dame that was leary of everyone. strangers and family. Oscar's dame came from a bad home. We found Oscar in a new but bad home. Both of our boys were rescues from their owners. Oscar is getting less leary of people. But we know that this may never change...we are careful about his socialization. We try not to set out boys up for failure on new adventures. Thank you very much for your insightful post.
Hi, our dog was 6 months when we got him home. He is a bit wary around strangers at first. He barks and stay on a distance untill he smells them and accepts them. An hour later he can lie on their lap :)

We learned that he´s not so wary if people ignore him at first untill he is confident enough to smell them. If people dont talk to him or look at him he will not be as wary. And so we train. We dont force him to great everyone. Many people we meet on walks want to say hi to him but we dont let them. He dont need to meet everyone just people we deside he can greet if he wants to.
My dog is a rescue we got him at 9 months, his previous owners had him a month and got him in a petshop where he lived for about 5-6 months. Needless to say he had some phobias from lack of socialization. Almost 2 years later he is doing really well! He is still a little nervous with some new men, but loves all women. He doesn't bark at people and if he isn't sure he generally backs up and tries to get a sniff of them. He is a bit of a ham so it doesn't take long for him to be looking for them to play with him or pet him or something.