Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Few More Comment-Questions Answered

1. How much does puppy Tuc weigh now (at 5 months old)? Don weighed Master Tuc yesterday (aka Master Tuc-monster still -- what an imp!), and he weights 61 pounds! No worries; he's still a snuggle bug, and he's quite the lovable imp!

2. Do all Lab puppies sleep on their backs? I'm no expert in all things canine, but I suspect the answer is, actually, no. Rolling on their backs generally means one of two things: the pup feels safe (sleeping on their backs and relaxing); or the pup is submitting (on their backs when awake and with another pup or human).

For Lab puppies to sleep on their backs exposing their tummies and, by implication, their vital organs, they have to feel confident they're free from the potential for harm. In the wild, belly-up is the most vulnerable position animals can be in; it makes them easy prey and easily killed. It's no different with canines. So, if a Lab (or any other dog), puppy or adult, doesn't feel secure, safe, and comfortable, it will not sleep on its back, nor will it be willing to be handled on its back.

Now, have all of our Labs slept on their backs? You bet. Do they still? Yup. Every single one and every pup from every litter. All that means, though, is that they feel safe and secure here with us (we work hard at that). It took Ridge living with us for at least six months, for example, before he started rolling on his back and sleeping on his back with us (remember, he came to us as a three-year-old). He had to learn to trust us and to realize that his new home was safe. He also had to recognize that we were dominant (humans need to be "top dog" with their canine pets, but that's an earned position, and one that needs to be accomplished with loving leadership, not cruel authoritarianism).

But all of he pups from our litters and all of our own dogs after we brought them home have slept soundly at ease on their backs regardless of where they fell in the dominance hierarchy of our pack.

3. Is sleeping on their backs a Lab trait? I wouldn't say it's universal (characteristic of all Labs) nor would I say it's a trait reserved for Labs (unique to the Lab breed), but it is quite common (remember, I'm no expert). If you think about it, though, it makes sense it that it is so. Labrador retrievers, by nature and breed standard, are an affectionate, loyal, people-oriented, people-loving, people-trusting breed. Naturally, if handled and socialized well from birth, they'll feel safe with us and be willing to submit to us. And that means they'll sleep easily on their backs around us. Not all breeds are so people-oriented or submissive by nature and design (think of those dogs bred specifically to be guard dogs or attack dogs, for example). Because Labs are who they are as a breed, it's more likely that they'll roll for us,

Thankfully, all of our pups are happy, secure, confident, and very trusting of people; we often catch them snoozing away and dreaming flat out on their backs.

And we wouldn't have it any other way. :o)

That's enough for now.

'Til next time,

1 comment:

Meesh said...

Being a first time lab owner, I respect your opinion and it makes sense what you said about labs being the people loving breed they are, they would feel comfortable exposing their vulnerable bellies. What do you think it says about my boy Chester sleeping on his back, never crying the very first nights he came to live with us at 8 weeks old? Did I mention that he has a dominant/confident personality? I have learned a tremendous amount about the necessity of being the pack leader because of him. By the way, I had never thought about the logistics of taking 9 pups to the vet and the wagon load of pups really gave me a laugh! Good thinking! Chester's mom