Hamiltonstovare are not an at-risk breed of developing serious temperament issues but like every breed they thrive on socialization. Socialization is the controlled act to introduce a dog to new and stimulating things. Socialization should always be a positive thing and corrections should be kept to a minimum. Socialization is something that should never stop and needs to be worked on all the time.
Hamiltonstovare are an at-risk breed for developing anxiety related issues, especially separation anxiety. Generally separation anxiety has a trigger and is related to an excessive response to change. Separation anxiety is most commonly seen in dogs adopted from a shelter but it has been seen in dogs that have never been in a shelter. Some theories are that separation anxiety comes from not being properly socialized from a young puppy through adolescence. Some theories that it is partially genetic based but not fully.
Typical symptoms of separation anxiety within the breed are: destructive behavior, urinating and defecating in the house, excessive whining, excessive barking, exclusive attachment to one person in a multi-person home, excessive licking, and escaping or attempting to escape from crates, kennels or homes . If your dog has a majority of these symptoms then they probably have separation anxiety.
My journey with separation anxiety in the breed started February 12, 2010, the day of Alice’s arrival. The first few days, she was great and really absorbed everything. I took a several days off from work and my first day back was when it all started. She became extremely destructive and even attempted to bend the bars of her wire crate. I thought that it might have been related to her not being used to the crate, so I left her out the next day, big mistake. Within the span of just 2 hours, she destroyed over $400 worth of electronics, books, bed sheets and other miscellaneous items. Each day after that she got progressively worse. It got so bad that I was asked to move out from 2 different places. After that, I took her to her vet and he prescribed Reconcile, the dog version of Prozac. Her first very visit when she arrived showed that she was healthy and not suffering from any medical issue, so it was very easy to determine that the issue was separation anxiety. Within 2 weeks of being on Reconicle, I noticed a huge difference. She stayed on that medication for 4 months and the behavior modification training that I was doing started to work.
Rolo has never been formally diagnosed as having separation anxiety but he does have some of the same symptoms as Alice. However, his big one is stress licking. He has some abnormal responses to stress and separation but they are not as bad as Alice.
When my first litter was born, I made it my personal mission to socialize these puppies in the same manner that other at-risk breeds are socialized. I started early neurological stimulation at 3 days old and started introducing people 10 days after that. The results were dramatic, these puppies looked to people for guidance but nothing phased them. The girls that we kept are now at the same age Alice was when she was starting to show signs of separation anxiety. Raven has no symptoms of separation anxiety at all. Selene was difficult to house break and seems to be a bit more needy than her sister but she is also not exhibiting any symptoms of separation anxiety.
My socialization plan for the litter was far and away more aggressive than what others do but I think that they benefitted immensely from it. From the time they received their first vaccinations, I allowed outside exploration. At 6 weeks old, they started going to PetCo, Petsmart, and Lowes all while riding in the shopping cart. Any person that wished to touch them had to use hand sanitizer but the more people the better. At 8 weeks, they started going to PetCo and similar places on leash. The first puppy left home at 10 weeks old and that is the earliest that I will allow them to leave. New evidence is showing that the puppies really benefit from being with their mother up to 10-12 weeks in age. The other puppy left home around 14 weeks of age. He went to a therapy dog home so I did even more socialization with him. After the brothers left, the girls went out with an adult hound at least once a week until they were 6 months old. They still go out on socialization adventures at least once a month.
For the adult hounds, I still socialize them, that never stops. From training classes, to service dog trips, to shopping at dog friendly placed, they are out with me at least once a week. They are on a rotation and I alternate who goes out and when. Raven and Selene are going in different paths based on their temperaments. Selene will be shown until her UKC CH and mainly be an agility/performance dog. Raven on the other-hand will be shown a lot in conformation, may try some performance sports and become a service dog for me. Alice is nearly at retirement age for service dog work, so Rolo is prepped to pick up where she left off but Raven just started her training to replace Rolo in a few years. Raven’s training trips are more often and she is slightly more socialized than Selene.
The ultimate benefits of socialization are numerous but the main one is a better reaction to stressful situations. Raven and Selene show that in spades, they are not stressed in any way and generally only whine when they need to go outside to relieve themselves. Another benefit is a better reaction to people, my well socialized girls approach people instead of mistrust, like Alice. Another is that they are much easier to handle be it on a walk or taking them to the vet.
So take them everywhere, they will be better for it.