When we go looking for a new puppy we all seem to have one common problem. We tend to think with our hearts and not our heads. Let's face it, we all fall in love with the fluffiest little puppy, or the one that has those big beautiful eyes that seem to see into our souls. But this makes absolutely no sense when you are choosing a dog that will live with you for years to come. Try adopting a child just by looking at their photo.
We need to take out time when choosing a puppy. We need to assess the puppy so that we will pick the right one that will fit into our lives and the lives of the family as a whole. For this you have to decide whether you are really ready to have a dog in the house. If you have decided yes then you need to find a really good breeder. (Or you could adopt a puppy from a shelter.) Now you will need to meet the puppies and get to know them before you make the final choice of which pup to take home.
Assessing the Behavior Of A Puppy
Once you have a pretty good idea of which pup you are thinking of bring home you still need to assess its behavior. You must determine what kind of personality the puppy has so that you can get some idea of what kind of dig it will be when it grows up. This is done through a series of temperament tests. Keep in mind that these tests are not scientific proof of behavior. Rather they are meant to give you a general idea of the behavior and personality of the puppy.
Just remember that as a puppy grows the results of these tests can change rapidly. For instance, you test a puppy today and you get one result. Come back in two or three days and test again and now the puppy might behave completely differently. This is why it's important that you do these tests at least three times over a couple of weeks so that you can get a clear indication of its personality.
Some Simple Tests You Can Do
Here are eight simple tests that you can do to assess the personality of the puppy. This list was found at dogtime.com and is by no means a complete list. They should, however, help you to assess the puppy to a fairly good level.
- Put the puppy on her back and cradle her in your lap, hand on her chest, looking in her eyes. If she struggles and tries to flip back over, she’s considered an independent pup; if she calmly submits, she’s considered less self-reliant and more likely to look for direction from you.
- Pick her up by her front armpits, legs hanging down. If she struggles, that’s considered a sign of willfulness. A pup who submits is thought to be less headstrong.
- Watch how the puppy reacts when a stranger (probably you) walks into the room. Kneel down, clap your hands, and speak to her encouragingly. Does she walk right up, tail high and wagging? If she ignores you, or retreats into a corner, she may end up being shy, reserved, or need lots of socialization to become friendlier.
- Drop your keys, bang a pot, or clap loudly. How does the puppy react? A quick startle is normal, but watch to see how long it takes her to recover. If it takes a while, the puppy may grow up to be high-strung and scared of noise.
- After playing with the pup for a bit, get up and walk away, making sure she sees you. Does she follow? Sit there watching you? Ignore you and move on to something else? Her response may signal how independent or clingy she’ll be as an adult.
- Bring in a small animal in a cage–a cat, rabbit, or hamster, for instance. Your puppy’s reaction may signal how strong a prey drive she’ll have. A dog who gets really excited probably isn’t a good match for a home with other small critters. It also means you may not be able to let the dog off-leash when you’re walking outside.
- Watch your puppy play with her littermates. Is she the one chasing, nipping, and forcing her littermates to roll over? Is she the one rolling over or tucking in her tail? Or is she somewhere in between? Most homes do best with a dog who’s somewhere between the leader of the pack and a shrinking violet.
- Bring the whole family with you and watch how a puppy reacts to each member. If your pup is going to live with your energetic kids, or your tall husband with the booming voice, find out how she reacts to both prospects before bringing her home.
Deciding Which Puppy Is Right For You
Once you have tested a few puppies you need to make a decision. This decision requires you to answer a few questions about yourself. They should help you to match the puppy's personality to your personality.
What Is Your Training Style?
The first thing you'll have to do is decide on what kind of dog parent you want to be. For instance, are you the type of person who is comfortable of setting and enforcing house rules or are you more relaxed and basically allow people to get away with a lot of things. Bold pups really need someone who is confident and sets rules. They need a person who can gently, but insistently, get the dog to follow those rules every time. Timid or sensitive pups require a real gentle touch from someone with a lot of patience and consistency. These dogs tend to do well with senior couples where there are no children in the house.
What Are You Looking For In A Dog?
Are you looking for a dog that will follow you everywhere? Do you work all day and want a dog that is comfortable being left alone for several hours at a time? Do you want to be able to walk your dog off-leash? If you like the follower you may want a pup that is very clingy to its human. For people who work all day choosing a more independent pup is the way to go. And for those who like to walk their dogs off-leash you should choose a dog that has a low prey drive and is not listed in the hunting dog group.
Are There Any Problem Puppies
No matter where you go to look at puppies there will always be one or two in the litter who show signs of problems. Experts are always warning people to stay away from problem puppies. These dogs require an experienced dog owner who can tend to their needs and offer them lots of training. Unless you have had dogs before and can handle the special cases you are well advised to stay away from them. No matter how cute they are.
It's Time To Bring Your Puppy Home
Once you have chosen the perfect puppy it's time to bring her home. The formative years of your new puppy will give you countless hours of happiness and enjoyment. You are now in control of your dog's personality. So start the training process by housetraining your new puppy right away. You will also need to start the socialization process right away also. Get your new puppy used to people and dogs. And don't forget to sign your puppy up for puppy classes also.
What's the Bottom Line?
Great companionship is always the bottom line for me. But this is not achievable unless you complete the temperament test to help you asses the puppy's personality. Even though they are not proven to work they will give you an indication of the puppy's overall personality. This, along with the training and socialization techniques that you will use, will almost guarantee that you have the best BFF you could ever want.