Temperament Testing A Puppy

Adopting or rescuing a new pet is always exciting and you may find yourself falling in love with a certain breed, color, or body type. Keep in mind though, the personality of the new puppy is even more important than the wagging tail, floppy ears, or soft coat. After doing some research and finding a breed or few breeds that have characteristics and energy levels that fit your home, you need to then meet the pup, and spend some time with her because regardless of some general traits, each dog is still an individual.

Some pups may be more shy than their breed personality lists, some may be more rambunctious, and some may be more dominant. Before you adopt, a temperament test can give you some clues to the personality of the pup you’re meeting so you can figure out the level of annoyance she has and what you may have to work on in puppy classes and behavior modification as she grows.

Temperament Test Steps: (you’re looking for tolerance levels)

1: Before you enter the room, observe the puppy from a window or area where you’re unnoticeable and make note of any shy, fearful, or timid reactions. Also, look for signs of aggression or dominance. If there are a few puppies together, watch them play and socialize, and see if there’s one that seems playful but not too pushy.

2: When you meet the puppy you’re interested in, pet the puppy from the head to toe. If she’s excited she may keep squirming to sniff your hand, you sneakers, face, etc. But does she like being pet? Does she jump at any spots that seem sensitive to her? Does she not care at all? Does she turn and try to mouth your hand?

3: Now gently tug the ears, touch and squeeze the paws, and tug the tail. How did she react? Does she mind?

4: Toss your keys or something loud onto the floor, see how the puppy reacts. Is she scared and hides but then goes to investigate? Or does she bark and growl?

5: Finally, after spending some time with the puppy, try rolling her onto her back with her belly up. This is a vulnerable position for dogs. Rub her tummy, how does she react? Does she prefer to be on her side? She might be overstimulated at meeting a new person and not stay there but does she fight against being handled?

6: When she met you did she run up immediately? Did she take her time and sniff you cautiously? Were her ears pressed back and was she walking low the ground? Did she come over with curiosity and ears perked?

7: If the shelter or rescue group has some food, ask to see how she acts and if she has any possession or aggression when it comes to treats or meals. Is she ok with someone being near her food and taking it? Does she show her teeth and growl or stare at your foot or hand as it comes closer to her bowl?

8: If there’s a chair, place her on it and see if she immediately jumps off or stays there for a minute or two. The pup that takes a minute before jumping down and romping is probably more submissive than a pup that immediately jumps off and does what she wants.

Keep in mind that the puppy may be excited to meet you, play with you, and curious. She will probably be hyper and incredibly cute. You’ll need to take your time, watch for signs of dominance, aggression, or stubbornness. Talk to the people who care for the pups and ask them what they think of her personality and how it will match with your family’s lifestyle. Be honest with yourself, choose a dog that matches you. It might take several visits with different pups and weeks or months till you find your furry friend. The patience will pay off.

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