Large litters vs small litters. Which is best for puppies development, temperament,

In my opinion, resource guarding can occur in any litter from a singleton to 8 or 9 in a litter. I'm not sure why an individual puppy becomes aggressive over food within the litter. It seems to develop later once the puppy has left the nest. Where a puppy becomes 'dominant' about food in my experience the others just accept their place. It seems strange to me to attempt to give the pups separate bowls unless they are physically separated from their siblings. I would only take this action if absolutely necessary.

Resource guarding is fairly simple to deal with - I have cured this with the 'nothing in life is free principle'.

I'm not sure why this subject seems to have degenerated into bad feelings - it's interesting otherwise.

@Patty:

In my opinion, resource guarding can occur in any litter from a singleton to 8 or 9 in a litter. I'm not sure why an individual puppy becomes aggressive over food within the litter. It seems to develop later once the puppy has left the nest. Where a puppy becomes 'dominant' about food in my experience the others just accept their place. It seems strange to me to attempt to give the pups separate bowls unless they are physically separated from their siblings. I would only take this action if absolutely necessary.

Resource guarding is fairly simple to deal with - I have cured this with the 'nothing in life is free principle'.

I'm not sure why this subject seems to have degenerated into bad feelings - it's interesting otherwise.

We agree that that this topic is interesting and needs to be explored. That is why we posted it.

What we do know and accept in the world of animal behavior is that we are constantly learning. We also understand that if one correct formula existed, then all litters would be perfect. There would be no developmental issues, no temperament issues, and no socialization issues. All the dogs in a litter would receive all the food and nurturing they needed. There would be no competition for food, and weaker puppies would not be bullied. There would be no problems when dogs left their litters to join their new homes.

Perfect litters would be a great and wonderful thing, but at the current time it just is not the case.

Maybe we can help you understand why some breeders would choose to separate puppies. In large litters, some breeders choose to separate puppies into smaller groups in an attempt to insure they can get nursed by their mother.

In large litters, some breeders choose to separate puppies as soon as they are weaned and starting to eat kibble or whatever diet they are started on. They feed them in crates and in separate bowls instead of one or two large communal bowls, in an attempt to insure each puppy will get there fair share of food.

Did you mean food aggressive when you used the word Dominant?

While we agree the "nothing in life in free principle" is a powerful tool, can you say without a doubt that it works in all cases? If so then why do other methodologies exist?

Patty, my experience is in line with yours. Resource guarding occurs in puppies from all sizes of litters and often doesn't begin to manifest until after the puppies have left for their new homes. But that also goes along with my experience that my dogs will not exhibit certain behaviors around me and their "pack" that they will around other people or dogs.

My personal belief is that resource guarding starts with fear. And resource guarding is not limited to food.

I further believe that puppies, having individual personalities, will exhibit behaviour that reflects their surroundings. A confident puppy has no use for resource guarding which is why socialization to all aspects of life is important. I have taken mine to home depot, school yards, the downtown tourist area of Niagara Falls (talk about a lot of people) and introduced them to clattering pans, vacuums, saws, drills, machinery, wheelchairs, etc. I believe it all helps with their mental development to be more secure in strange surroundings. My two youngest, that I bred, are used to people and dogs. Doesn't mean they like them, just means that they are not particularily nasty to others. However, I do believe that a bonded pair of dogs will show more aggression to other dogs trying to infiltrate their union. (being neutered may also affect this scenario as well)

That is why I tell people to socialize everywhere they possibly can. When the puppies leave here, I have no control over how people socialize their pups. The one litter I had four males, one is not good with people, dogs, strange situations, etc. The people that took them had health issues and could not socialize him properly. The other one started out reserved, but with lots of socialization and hard work on the owners part, became a well adjusted dog that is good with situations and people, dogs. The other one started getting a little to big for his britches (he was always the first one to get in trouble and a tri to boot. He had a show contract on him, but I believe a good home is so much more important than a breeding/showing contract), so, with my permission, they neutered him, socialized the heck out of him and he's now become a well adjusted dog as well. The one I kept back has always been good with people and other dogs (if Rose, his friend, is not around) He became quite bonded with Rose to the point that he is now a jerk if he can't see her. But, he is never, ever aggressive with people. I also don't put up with a lot of crap from them (just like children they need limitations) so if something becomes an issue, I'm on it right away. I don't have time to waste so I am particularily firm on certain things. Growl at me? Off the furniture and away from me until you realize that is not nice. Don't want me to touch you there? I touch all the more. So there are four different dogs, all with different personalities, with three good outcomes. The fourth could have gone either way, but due to health issues, we can't say that he couldn't have been good. (and they know and acknowledge that this is their fault).

However, with that one that was placed with the people with the health issues, a girl was also placed from a different litter and she remains very, very sweet to everything. With the same limited socialization.

That's why I say every litter, every dog, is different and it depends on how much you put into the dog to make him well adjusted. MO only.

We want to thank you for a great, honest, and very informative answer. We very much agree that we feel resource guarding starts with fear.

Like you, we pay attention and if we notice a problem we deal with it right away. The firmness and examples of boundaries you set for them are a great example of what we understand the pack leader is supposed to do. We also agree that dogs are very much like children who need limitations. If those limitations do not exist then how in the world will they learn to respect you or your authority as the alpha or dominant in their pack.

Like you, we expose our Basenji's to everything we can. We expose them to different noises, like lawn mowers, big train whistles and wheels, sirens, as well as different things, like busy streets, cars, bicycles, crowds, children, adults, dog parks, and more. We do this as owners to reinforce good socialization skills. We have even been told we have very well behaved dogs, but we know they are Basenjis's so we are not buying into that.

While we do not know about others, we spend a lot of time walking with our dogs. Even the new puppy who will be 5 months old as of May 12th, is very responsive to this. In a lot of ways we are very lucky. She is crate trained and goes in her crate with no problems. We were able to house break her very quickly. Certainly we have a long way to go but we see teaching and training her as part of bonding. As issues come up, and they will (LOL) we will deal with them, nip them in the bud before they escalate into bigger problems.

It must be very difficult for a breeder to be able to notice all behaviors of all dogs in a litter. We would think it would be even more difficult to notice sometimes with a larger litter.

As problems or issues with behaviors like resource guarding can develop at different times in a dogs life, we do believe they are a result of fear and is not limited to food. We think sometimes resource guarding behaviors just are easier to see and show themselves more clearly when a puppy is separated from its litter in a situation like a new home. In our view, if the source of the resources change, or the competition for those resources change, then we as owners will have a change to see how well the puppy adjusts to that change or what problems might exist.

Frankly, I don't think the size of the litter is of any importance. What matters is the attention given to socialising the pups. As they are born, I hold each pup against the pulse in my neck as a starter and from then on, every pup is picked up, cuddled and talked to by us and everyone who comes to the house ! As soon as their legs will take the weight (most of the time, although falling over is allowed too) the new babies come out of the whelping box / maternity ward (huge crate) and play among the aunts, uncles, Mom, Granny and any other biggies.

That is where one, two or six puppies learn life-skills. The radio is on all the time, I drop pans, trip over bones and swear and the pups become socialised and bomb-proof. Some grand-parents are super trainers and some aloof but Basenjis love puppies and the interaction of the age-groups is essential to character formation.

As we insist on giving the first shot and sending the pups to their new homes with a vaccination certificate and instructions for the booster in 4 weeks time, ours mostly leave at between 8 & 9 weeks.

The NEXT most important thing to do is to email me the registered names of the pups, birthday, Mom and Dad so they can be included in the on-line database !

If you have a pup, have bought a pup, or taken in a rescue, PLEASE go to the website and check its details are included (pedigrees.zandebasenjis.com) and if not - email me and send a photo for inclusion !

Perfect litters would be a great and wonderful thing, but at the current time it just is not the case.

Maybe we can help you understand why some breeders would choose to separate puppies. In large litters, some breeders choose to separate puppies into smaller groups in an attempt to insure they can get nursed by their mother.

In large litters, some breeders choose to separate puppies as soon as they are weaned and starting to eat kibble or whatever diet they are started on. They feed them in crates and in separate bowls instead of one or two large communal bowls, in an attempt to insure each puppy will get there fair share of food.

Did you mean food aggressive when you used the word Dominant?

While we agree the "nothing in life in free principle" is a powerful tool, can you say without a doubt that it works in all cases? If so then why do other methodologies exist?

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Sorry I posted your comments instead of my reply!!
In Basenjis in large litters I've observed in the past there has always been an Aunt or Grandmother to help with the feeding. I do appreciate that this doesn't always happen and further steps must be taken. With any litter I'm vigilant and try to ensure that any weaker or less pushy puppy doesn't get left out. My experience has always been in Basenjis I'm afraid so thank you for your explanation.
I am chary about the word 'dominant' but was just trying to express what I mean. Yes, I agree, other methodologies exist but I was saying that NLIF has always worked for me. Actually I find that sometimes many ways or treatments are dismissed because the participant hasn't persevered. If something doesn't immediately work they dismiss it out of hand.
I'm in agreement with both Ivoss and Zande (and yourself) about early socialization of litters.

In the early days - puppis are GREAT time-wasters, I often stay around the maternity ward and plug on pups who are being pushed out. But nature has a way of balancing itself so a pup who may be a slow starter seems to catch up before very long. We've often had Granny lactating to feed the babies. Mom never minds, is probably grateful for the help. And while we feed in cages, with separate bowls as they get older, this is just to accustom the pups to know that being in a crate can be a good place. They all start (mostly walking through) a couple of flat bowls in an X-pen with me close by to see fair play.

As far as dominant or aggressive are concerned - I'm bigger than they are and it's MY house. And if they have a bone or a toy and I want it, I get it. They give it up and there is no talking back to this Mom !

I am just back from a long (6 mile) walk with Basenji owning friends, through lambs, fruit orchards and blue-bell woods. The 16 week old puppy achieved at least twice that distance, running free and goading the two adults who were on flexi leads. The biggies accepted the puppy, tolerated being chased, jumped on and rolled in the mud. Fantastic, well adjusted (very well socialised) Basenjis.

A delight to be with

You can figure on puppies doubling their weight in the first 7 days

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