bottle fed puppies

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lucyandbella
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bottle fed puppies

Post by lucyandbella » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:58 pm

I am asking here because there are a lot of differing opinions on this and I am very curious. I have read that bottle fed puppies (by this I mean puppies that were taken from the mother or abandoned at a very early age and didn't interact at all with the mother) will have behavior problems in the future. I have even read some professional opinions that say that these dogs will never be "normal". Behavior problems some say are tied to bottle fed puppies are aggression, frustration, more stressed and anxious, and more prone to behavior problems in general. Other people’s opinions I have read say that bottle feeding won't matter if the puppy is then well socialized. I am sure that there are always exceptions and that this isn't a black and white case, but does anyone agree with the assessment that bottle fed pups will or can have behavioral issues in general? (I am not looking to get a orphaned puppy by the way, mine keep my busy enough, just find this interesting)

My sister works with horses, and she says that many people she knows will never buy or take on a hand raised foal if they want an actual working horse (like ranching or competition) because of behavior. These people believe hand raised foals will grow up to be aggressive, immature, and not workable. Now I am not saying this is true or false (these people aren't behaviorists) I just that I find it interesting that in both the dog world and horse world people hold these views of hand raised animals. Do you think there is truth to it?

jacksdad
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by jacksdad » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:05 pm

I am highly suspicious that bottle feeding has anything to do with it.

Do these people just pass on this "wisdom" expand on why bottle feeding leads to any of these alleged problems? Do they have any other info or explanation than just "bottle feed leads to..." ?

If I had to guess, what is really going on is what Patricia McConnell hypothesizes in one of her DVDs. That being, there is more going on between Mother and Puppy during the weaning process than just "cutting off the milk". A puppy (or foal) bottle fed don't get the benefit of what ever that is. And in the case of puppies, a single pup isn't learning lessons learned from being one of many pups.

So my gut is...there is both truth and myth in this claim and most people passing it on don't understand what is going on. Because if you did, I suspect you could develop training to help the pup or foal over come whatever "risk" of undesirable behavior due to not being raised by their mothers.

That is my gut feeling. But I don't know for sure. I hope nettle jumps in, she would probably have some experience and knowledge on this question. I am curious to see how close my gut "feeling" is to what she knows/thinks.

Suzette
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by Suzette » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:31 pm

I can tell you from my own first hand experience with this that a litter of puppies my good friend and former breeder raised on bottle feeding from birth turned out to be lovely dogs with no more issues than any other pup would have. (Sandy, the breeder, always seemed to make friends with the folks who bought her pups and stayed in touch with many of them, usually for the life of the dog.) And they weren't even issues, just normal puppy behavior. The only difference we truly noted was that these pups were far more bonded with their "people" than the other dogs she bred whose mothers raised and nursed them. Not to the point of it being problematic, but they definitely had an especially strong bond with humans.

I can't tell you if this was a happy aberration or the norm, but either way it tells me that it is possible to raise well rounded, happy, non-neurotic bottle fed pups. Also, I believe that, like all pups, much comes down to the early training they receive as to how they will behave as adult dogs.

I too am eager to hear Nettle's take on this. :D
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lucyandbella
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by lucyandbella » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:53 pm

Jacksdad, some did give "reasons"(not scientific), they say that the mother adds stress to the puppy in a good way. Puppies must struggle and crawl to the food, mother walks away from puppy that wants food, puppies get stepped on, etc. So they say bottle fed animals never experience stress and will not develop coping skills at a critical time. Some also say they need a mother to teach them dog behaviors and that dogs without mothers will not be able to read social cues, etc. ( I guess they think that other adult dogs cannot teach the puppies the same thing)

Also, with the horses, my sister sees them as just more attached to people. They become more like dogs in that they follow people around, stand really close to them, and seem to like being around people more than your average horse like Suzette said about the puppies being more human bonded. She has never seen aggression or seen them as dangerous as some really do believe.

One of my dogs was bottle raised in a foster home. Her mother was euthanized by animal control after she attacked a person when her puppies were four days old (why they would enter the cage of a stressed animal that had babies and expect it to act friendly? I don’t know) that being said my dog is fine. She is very friendly to people and other dogs and is not aggressive or anything like that. So do I believe this, no…I think that if dogs develop problems they look for a diagnosis or an explanation. They look to the past and try to pinpoint an answer. If she does develop, or had developed a problem it would have been easy for me to blame it on her lack of a mother. I actually had a vet(that I don't use anymore) tell me she would be problematic in the future (which makes me so curious on why some hold these views and why I am asking here, though I think we all hold the view that if problems do arise you can work through them). I have been reading about the critical socialization period in puppies and some sources bring up the whole "bottle fed" idea which made me want to ask opinion here. I am really curious why people have these views. Has anyone else heard or read these views or have experiences with bottle raised animals?

jacksdad
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by jacksdad » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:31 pm

lucyandbella wrote:...I am really curious why people have these views....
just a guess...but a couple of possible reasons come to mind. it's been passed on for so long, people don't question it anymore thinking they understand this "wisdom". And/Or they are so used to dealing with dogs where everything works out to plan, they don't know what to do when it doesn't or how to "fix" it.

in terms of dog. I can see where a pup taken from it's mother and/or litter might not learn frustration tolerance. I can also see where this could become a weak point for the dog throughout life. But I don't see why people would "write" off a puppy simply because it was bottle fed. plenty of puppies that weren't bottle fed have all the issues they point to with bottle fed pups.

So I am back to my gut feeling. there is truth in what "they" are saying, but only to a point. And based on what I have learned to date, I would challenge the insinuation that such a dog is automatically prone to behavior issues and should one turn out to have issues, that there is nothing you can do.

Sarah83
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by Sarah83 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:42 am

The hand reared single puppies I know have issues with behaving appropriately around other dogs. It's not aggression, it's more that they don't seem to even notice the subtle signs. One of them has been around other adult dogs all her life and her owner has put in a lot of work on socialising her with other dogs due to her being a single puppy and hand reared but she still has problems with it.

But then I know many dogs who haven't been hand raised who have problems reading other dogs too.

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Nettle
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by Nettle » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:36 am

PuffPuff sorry I'm late :lol:

There is the potential for bottle-reared puppies to have behaviour issues, but then there is the potential for any puppies to have behaviour issues. Puppies I hand-reared were fine, and I also worked closely for a time with a very astute animal rescue lady who bottle-reared all sorts of animals, and she taught me a lot!

Puppies can start weaning at 3 weeks (raw-fed puppies seem very forward and many start at 2 and a half weeks) so if pups are being bottle-fed, it isn't for long. Once they are on solids, they experience all sorts of challenges with finding and eating their food, so if 'challenge' is the issue - and I'm not honestly sure it IS - they get plenty.

The most important aspect is for the puppies to mix with older dogs, even if it is just a sniff and a lick, as soon as possible. They live with other puppies, so they know they are puppies, and they learn dog communication from older dogs. If they did not encounter older dogs at a formative age, I could foresee a problem with this communication - just as you often get with puppy-farm and pet shop puppies. I do feel that anyone hand-rearing should put themselves out to find a maternal b itch or even a mellow male dog to interact with the puppies some of the time. It needs to be known that mother dogs don't spend a lot of time with their puppies after the first two weeks. They feed, clean, and clear off until the next feed is due. They don't, no matter what the received wisdom is from people who have never bred a litter :wink: spend all day and night holed-up with their puppies, adoring them.

Singleton puppies again don't need to have to have problems, as long as they mix with a/some suitable adult dog/s. Even better if they can have a few weeks with same-age puppies, so they can tumble about and learn bite inhibition etc. A singleton pup that never meets other puppies or dogs during its early weeks is likely to have issues, however.

All hand-reared puppies need to meet a LOT of people as soon as it is safe, so they realise there is more than one person in existence - but you can say this for normally-reared puppies too.

With horses it is a little different, because while dogs are social, horses are 'herd', and horses need to learn herd manners and appropriate prey-species behaviour, and the way to learn it is from other horses (I did have dealings with a pony reared in a cattle herd, and he was a difficult animal - but a lot of that was down to his not being handled enough rather than being too familiar with people). Also horses can hurt us a lot more easily than dogs, because what is a nudge or a nip from a horse is a damaging kick or bite to us. It is hugely important with bottle-reared foals that they have a herd environment to live in.

Horses change homes a lot more often than most dogs, and spend a lot more time doing things they don't want to do, so they need to see humans as aliens, and rather strong forbidding ones at that. We can have have a kinder relationship with our dogs because they naturally have a lot more 'attack' inhibition than horses. You can be with dogs all your life and never get bitten, but almost everyone who keeps horses gets bitten or kicked at some time.
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Suzette
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by Suzette » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:42 am

Nettle wrote:The most important aspect is for the puppies to mix with older dogs, even if it is just a sniff and a lick, as soon as possible. They live with other puppies, so they know they are puppies, and they learn dog communication from older dogs. If they did not encounter older dogs at a formative age, I could foresee a problem with this communication
This is interesting, and most likely the key to why Sandy's hand-reared pups turned out so well. Though their own mother would have nothing to do with them, Sandy's other two dogs (pets, not breeding dogs) adored the pups and gave them lots of attention and interaction as they grew, along with my sister's dogs and my own golden retriever at the time. :D
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lucyandbella
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by lucyandbella » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:01 am

Very interesting. Probably part of why mine is good around other dogs too, the foster home had three adult dogs.

jacksdad
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by jacksdad » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:49 am

Thanks nettle, I suspected there was more to this than just bottle feed = bad.

Patricia in the DVD I have where she talks about single puppy litters, also mentions that it was her observation that during the weaning process the mother does reengage with the pups and she felt that there was some important stuff there. finalizing some frustration tolerance, some dog/dog communication polishing (expanding the vocabulary so to speak) and maybe a point or two more, but I would have to go back and watch again.

It was her opinion, and she was clear to state this was based on watching her dogs, that letting the mother dog wean the pups verse humans doing it might be also be a way to head off some futures possible issues. basically trying to stack the deck in our favor so to speak. she was also up front about there needing to be more work on this opinion/hypothesis.

Just curious what your observations have been in this area.

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Nettle
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by Nettle » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:42 pm

I never had a mother dog wean the pups.

What would happen is, when I felt little teeth arriving (easy as puppies nibble at your fingers) I would put a dish of food in the puppy pen while Mommadog was out. Puppies would crawl to it, investigate, taste, and either eat or not.

When they had all done whatever they wanted, I'd let Mommadog in. She would eat the remaining food and suckle the pups.

As the days went by, puppies would eat more and suckle less. Mommadog would visit less often. By four weeks she'd be in 2-3 times a day, by 6 weeks hardly at all. She would dry off naturally and they would eat solid food by choice and in their own time. One or two would be a few days behind the early feeders.

There was always the option to suckle more if they wanted, and they did seem to enjoy a suckle for comfort, which Mommadog would find progressively less comfortable and so would visit for shorter and less frequent times.

I wonder if P McC weaned onto raw?

The way I started this was with my second litter (the first had to be hand-reared - talk about baptism of fire!) when I put a dish of food in for Mommadog, who was in the puppy pen at the time, and the pups all piled into the dish and started eating :shock: so she walked out and left them to it, and I found her another dinner :lol:


Apparantly (though I've never seen it) some Mommadogs snap at the pups when they try to eat solid food, because the Mommadog herself is food-aggressive. I wonder again if this is a stockmanship issue rather than a 'normal' behaviour?
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jacksdad
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by jacksdad » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:27 pm

Patricia talked about the mother dog just laying so that the pups couldn't nurse and even doing play bows and redirecting with other behaviors and signals. But she was very up front, this was stuff she observed with her dogs and not a wide sample. her questioning of humans weaning dogs verse mom dog doing the weaning..she didn't go into the methods she is aware of, but I kind of got the feeling some methods were mostly a find the pup a new home equaled weaning..BUT I could be reading into her comments.

as for her weaned to raw or even if she feeds raw. she mentions a lot of non traditional vet with her dog. Chinese medicine, acupuncture etc. But I am not aware of her ever getting into how she feeds her dogs both now or when she briefly breed her border collies. So I am not sure what she does in this area. if I had to guess based on following her blog, I would say it's a toss up between her feeding commercial food and doing home cooked food for her dogs. But that is purely my own speculation.

But anyway back to the weaning...huge assumption on my part, but I suspect she may not be familiar with your method. Because if she had, I am sure she would have shared it because what your describing is just as intriguing to me as letting the mom do the cutting off as she describes.

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Nettle
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by Nettle » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:04 am

As far as I am aware, my friends who breed dogs wean the same way that I do, but I'll have an ask around and come back with any other useful information. :) Reading textbooks, a lot of people seem to feed milk and slop to weaning puppies, and I can never understand why, as the best milk for puppies is already available from Mommadog, and the idea of weaning is to get them away from milk! :lol: I treat pups as self-weaning (never knew an adult dog yet that was still on the teat) just give them the opportunity to eat solid food and they take it when they are ready.

I'm not sure any of my bitches could withstand puppies who really wanted to suckle just by lying down, and I doubt the little besoms would take any notice of play-bowing, but these could quite likely be breed differences. My Mommadogs just stay away if they don't want to suckle.


I often read about b itches regurgitating food for their puppies, and I always warn people that they might, but from personal experience, none of mine ever have, and one of my friends who has bred dogs for 40 years says the litter she has now is the first where she has had a b itch regurgitate.

Anyway, I'll do some asking around and see what I can find out.
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easilyconfused
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by easilyconfused » Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:46 am

My bitches have always regurgitated food for the pups. The pups will eat it with allot more relish than solid food on its own.
I think its the suckling action of the pups that causes the mom to regurgitate , the same way it causes her to have contractions in the first few days. On our last litter some new owners where greeted by mom dog heaving to their new pup who was still suckling (albeit very short bursts) at 8 weeks. As our dogs are all raw fed the bones that come up for the pups are semi digested and allot easier for the pups to eat.
Rearing pups does require a strong stomach :roll:

TheIrishPony
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Re: bottle fed puppies

Post by TheIrishPony » Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:19 pm

I'm coming late to the conversation, but seeing as how these things remain linked on the internet for years, I just wanted to add in some information about the hand-raised horses.
The problem with hand-raising a foal is that the foal never learns to differentiate between horses and people. Normally, a horse understands that people are people and horses are horses...and they do NOT treat people the way they do another horse. This line gets crossed, blurred, confused, and sometimes absent all together when a foal is hand raised. But, it's not strictly a hand-raising problem either, horses who are isolated and primarily interact with only a few people can develop some of the same characteristics.

An example. I have a mare I raised from foaling onwards. She lived with other horses, nursed and lived with her mother and the rest of the mares in a broodmare herd, but when my mare was weaned, and then for the next couple of years she lived primarily with only one or two other horses, also young, either her own age or younger, on a separate farm for a portion of each year. They did not see much of anyone else other than myself, the farrier and the vet. From what I could tell, all the horses seemed normal, trained well and easily, good for farrier and vet, no issues with biting/kicking/any other negative behaviour, if anything, she was *really* well behaved. It was only later, when I moved her into a herd of other horses who were all adults (she was still young, only two), she *immediately* aligned herself with an elderly mare, a younger mare and the younger mare's half-grown yearling filly. She did not have anything to do with the rest of the horses, and was actually bullied by them. A year later I moved her again to another farm where I could start to ride/train her, and she was out exclusively with other horses who were fully "adult" (usually ten or older), and she would not bond with the herd. She would graze separately, she did not mutually groom or seem to have any attachment to the other horses at all. I worked at the farm on the weekends, and she would refuse to go out with the herd. She would instead stay in the barn with me, or roaming around the common yard, but primarily she'd watch me clean stalls, pick at hay, and stay with me as her "buddy" the way she normally should have been doing with another horse. It was clear she did NOT really know how to deal with a herd environment, and because I had been in her life since she was born...I had become some sort of alternative mare-maternal figure for her. She has excellent ground manners, is completely safe, very trainable, and has been very successful carriage driving shows and events...but she's NOT a "normal" horse. She's very subtle about it, but she treats me, and everyone else (including dogs and pigeons of all things...) like other horses. In her world, there is no differentiation between Horse Herd Members and Everyone Else. EVERYONE is part of the herd, and is treated as such. Fortunately, humans are always the dominant/leader...so she's very safe and very easily worked with...but she grumps at dogs and when she lunges at pigeons because they're too close to her stall...it's really ridiculous. Funny, no harm done, but **weird**. And, she interacts with me the way a foal does with a mare. She nudges, asks, and she would rather spend time with me than with most other horses...even at fourteen. In certain ways, she has never really reached adulthood.
Fortunately, when she was about five, I had to move her again (the previous farm was sold to a developer) and I was able to turn her out with an older QH mare who did an excellent job of teaching her how to be a horse. After that point, she now forms bonds with other horses and understands appropriate interactions, but still much prefers humans to horses.

So, a horse does not necessarily need to be bottle-raised to have some of those "home bred" characteristics and foibles. Just being raised by an individual and then spending the majority of their time somewhat isolated from a regular "herd" (only a small number of fellow horses) can seem to cause this as well. But my mare is a perfect example of how these guys *can* be taught how to be regular horses (she learned from an older mare at age six), and they can be completely safe, trustworthy, and fully capable of being productive animals. I DO think that it's very important with these guys to always establish that people are the leaders, EVERY TIME, ALL THE TIME to prevent any dangerous behaviour, but it is entirely feasible.

Just my two cents on the horse issue. :)

I have two dogs as well, one was bottle fed as a supplement to nursing and living in a puppy environment (mom was small and puppies were big, also there were ELEVEN of them...gah, there was no end to the mutt puppies...), and they DO have some behavioral issues...But, on that point, their mother *also* had some issues from being weaned herself WAY too early and NOT socialized with people or other dogs, and despite best efforts, my two guys got some of her problems. Same litter, one came home with me after weaning (the mother weaned them really early, she was NOT maternal at all), and was exposed to other people, dogs, pet stores, other farms and farm dogs...but he's still very fear-aggressive towards other dogs and people. The other puppy was originally going to live at the farm, but he got bigger than anticipated (they both weigh about 45lbs) and they were going to give him away, so I took him at nine months old. The second dog is MUCH more anxious and has never really learned bonded as completely as the first one. He loves his "family" but is very submissive to the "first" dog who is very, very bonded to me, and is terrified of other dogs and people he does not know. To the point that when we come across other dogs on walks, Benny runs to the end of the leash and *screams* like he's being tortured. We've done some training and it has gotten better...but he's always going to be a very nervous guy in unfamiliar situations and with other dogs/people. Again, with these two, they were socialized...but I don't know how many of their problems are genetic (they're feist-mtn curr mixes (mother is 1/2 feist 1/2 mtn cur, father is ???), breeds that are both known for being "single family" dogs, very territorial and very protective of their pack), what comes from their emotionally stunted/distant mother, and what is just somehow my failure to socialize them in a way that worked. I followed all the book and trainer advice...but I have also only had one dog prior to these two (a cocker spaniel who loved EVERYONE), so I could well have missed some vital step and not known it.

Anyway, just a bit more information/case studies of dogs with these sorts of histories and associated issues. :) Maybe it will help someone down the road. :)

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