Check a dogs personality before you buy

You already know that people have different personalities, and that sometimes they can clash. It’s no different with a dog. They have their own personalities, too. It’s possible whichever dog you choose just might be prone to “disagree” with your methods.

Knowing a puppy’s personality before you commit to buying or adopting him will help you to make a wise choice in selecting the right puppy for you. If you already have a dog, doing a personality test will help you better understand why he does certain things or why he can’t seem to learn certain rules or commands.

Checking your puppy’s personality starts with understanding his breed, because many of his characteristics will be inherited. If you don’t know the specific breed, try to determine what breed cross he might be and refer to those personalities to see if they fit.

There are some excellent books in the library to help you figure out how your particular breed of dog thinks and reacts. Alternatively, you can ask a breeder or your vet.

As long as your puppy is over seven weeks of age, you can get a good result from a personality test. The main personality types are responsive, strong willed, energetic, timid, easygoing and aggressive although you’re likely to see a mixture, depending on the mixture of breeds and the circumstances. For instance, a dog might be easygoing around the family, but aggressive around strangers. This is common in dogs that are protective, rather than social and friendly.

Friendliness Test

The friendliness test will determine if your dog is a socializer.

Take the puppy into a quiet area, free of other distractions and whine like a young puppy or talk to him in a friendly, affectionate voice. You’re trying to see what kind of response you get. If he cocks his head to one side, becomes alert and happy, then he has a responsive personality.

A high-energy dog might ignore you at first, but will soon be running and jumping around barking and trying to nip at your hands or feet in a friendly manner.

A strong willed dog will become alert and will away again barking and eventually come to you. A timid dog will whine back and bark before crawling up to you with his tail down and his ears pulled back.

An easy going dog will show be more laid back and seem not to care. He is quick to lose interest in your whining, most likely because he’s decided it really doesn’t matter to him.

If the dog lunges at you and growls with his ears and tail standing straight up (rather than curled or dropped and relaxed) he is an aggressive dog with dominant qualities. If he barks, backs away and crouches down yet remains defensive, he is showing fear aggression. Fear aggression is common in dogs that have been abused.

You can do other tests as well. You can test a dog’s sensitivity to noises, how he reacts to discipline, and how tolerant he is to pain and discomfort.

Sound Test

For the sound test, put some pennies into a tin can and shake it to see how your dog responds. Keep in mind that dogs have sensitive ears and are able to hear sounds humans can’t. This test could reveal that your puppy might have hearing problems or that he is “gun shy”.

Move away from distractions and, from half a dozen feet distance from the dog, shake the can to make a noise. Try to hide the can behind your back as seeing it might clue him in to what’s causing the noise. We want the noise to be unexpected.

A responsive dog will perk up when he hears the noise and become inquisitive about its source. If you had rolled the can on the floor to make the noise, he would see it as a toy and begin playing with it.

A high-energy dog will respond to the noise, but will become easily distracted. He might even bark at the noise as if trying to scare it away.

Shy dogs will back away and lower his ears and tail while raising the hair on the back of his neck. This is a submissive posture. It’s common for shy or timid dogs to run and hide from loud noises.

An easygoing dog will saunter up to the noise, check it out but will soon return to whatever he was doing.

An aggressive dog backs away, growls, curls his lips and will make direct eye contact with you as if in defiance. A fear aggressive dog, on the other hand, will crouch and take a submissive stance. Such dogs often will urinate as a sign of submission.

Discipline Test

The discipline test can be helpful when you think about how easy it might be to train this particular dog. Understanding this aspect of his temperament can be useful in determining the methods you’ll need to use during the training process.

Be careful when issuing this test as an aggressive dog might try to attack you or bite you. If you suspect that the dog is aggressive, you might want to skip the first version of this test. Do not continue this particular test if the dog demonstrates that he is fearful.

Version 1: With your hand raised, make it appear that you are going to hit the dog to get his response. If he shows curiosity and stays happy or ignores you, he has either a responsive, easygoing or a high-energy personality. A timid, shy or insecure dog will be more jumpy and will duck, flinch and cower in response to your fake threat.

A dominant dog will growl, curl his lips, snarl and perhaps bite. If this happens, it’s best to stop the test for your own safety. A fear aggressive dog will respond in a similar way, trying to bite as a way to protect himself. A dog that responds this way, in all likelihood, has been abused or mistreated in the past.

Tolerance test

This test will be beneficial if you have children around. By knowing how much your dog can tolerate, you will be better informed whether this dog is a good choice for you and your family. This test isn’t so much to discover his personality as it is to determine how much discomfort your dog can tolerate.

A dog that is pain intolerant might be suffering from a disease such as arthritis or Hip Displasia, from previous mistreatment or simply from its breeding. Children, for example, tend to like pulling a dog’s tail or ears or riding the dog, which can be painful to the animal.

There are three areas you can test (tail, toes, skin), but for this article, we’ll discuss the tail, since that’s an easy target for many children and even some adults.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to hurt the dog. Pull his tail gently and see how your dog reacts.

If he turns and mouths your hand without really trying to bite and even becomes playful, it’s evident this puppy has a safe tolerance level. If the dog tries to stop you or tolerates it for a short time and tries to move away, he has an average tolerance level.

If the dog yelps, growls and snaps while trying to get away, he has a poor pain tolerance. If he bites and growls, the dog has very little or no tolerance whatsoever. If you have children, you might want to choose a different dog, or teach your children not to pull the dog’s tail.

Knowing a dog’s personality and temperament before he comes to your home is helpful in making a wise decision in choosing a suitable pet for your family.