Temperament Testing a Puppy

A puppy may be the only relative you can choose! Here are some quick tips to ensure the one you bring home has a temperament and personality to love for a lifetime.

Honest Appraisal Take a quick look at yourself before you peer into a puppy’s eyes. Are you mellow and tolerant—even bemused by a puppy’s normal impulsive antics? A spirited pup might brighten your life tremendously! Are you driven to perfection and want a dog to reflect your vigor and enthusiasm? You’d do best with an intelligent dog who is eager to follow your lead. Are you easily frustrated, or already pinned down with so much responsibility that a low key dog would suit you better? No matter what breed you choose, you find a range of personalities within the very same litter. High drive, sweet and soulful, or laid back—a quick assessment can help you to make the right decision.

Look Before you Leap Watch a puppy or group of puppies in their natural setting before you interact with one. How do they act with each other and with stimulations in their environment. The puppy who is alert and attentive to every noise, stimulation or movement will act similarly in your home. A puppy who enjoys rough play has a different personality then the one content to play alone or who cringes when ambushed. An active puppy will need more direction; a puppy who is content to play with toys while the other puppies jump about may be more laid back in your home, and a sensitive puppy will need more reassurance and attention.

One-on-One Bring your puppy into a quiet room if possible. (If in a new setting, give the puppy a few minutes to sniff about before you engage him.) Spend some time interacting with him. How does the puppy approach you? If excited, does he calm down quickly or start to nip? Offer him a treat- how does he react? Now play with a toy—is he showing interest? Pretend your at home and see how the puppy reacts to normal disruptions…standing apart from the puppy, pretend to trip and fall, shout at someone in the distance, drop your keys… Does the puppy get wild, ignore you or get scared? Copy the chart offered in my Puppies for Dummies book, and take notes. Though your heart may lead you to quick decision, the choice to adopt a puppy is a tremendous one…so consider it wisely!

The rewards of a well thought out decision can enhance your life for a decade, or bring tremendous heart ache. Do your homework ahead of time—you’ll be glad you did!