Purchasing or adopting a new puppy can be very exciting but it is important to thoroughly evaluate the puppy's personality before making your decision. Theoretically you should have already done a great deal of research to determine the right breed for you and your family, but it is important to note that not all puppies of a particular breed are the same. There may be certain characteristics which are prevalent in a particular breed, but not all puppies will display these behaviors. Likewise, some puppies might be dominant while others are submissive. Some puppies may also be independent while others are insecure and clingy. You should take all of these factors into consideration when choosing a puppy.
The type of puppy you are seeking will depend on your experience in training puppies as well as your personal preferences. When performing a puppy personality test, the test criteria and evaluation results will depend largely on what you are looking for in a puppy. For example, if you wish to compete in competitive dog sports such as fly ball, agility or herding, you will likely want a puppy who is independent, intelligent and athletic. If you have a dominant dog, you may be seeking a puppy who is rather submissive. All of these considerations about puppy behavior are very important. Here are some easy tests to try when choosing a puppy:
- Dominance testing can be performed by restraining the puppy on his back. To conduct this test, gently roll the puppy onto his back and hold him down for 30 seconds. A puppy that spends the entire 30 seconds fighting you and trying to escape from this position is likely a dominant puppy. This does not necessarily mean he'll grow up to become an aggressive dog, but you should be aware of this tendency. Conversely, a puppy who immediately looks away, relaxes and licks your hand is likely to be submissive. Puppies that fight for a few seconds and then relax are not overly dominant or submissive.
- Independence can be gauged by walking away from a puppy while you have his attention. Puppies that ignore you when you walk away are very independent. Less secure puppies will follow behind you in a subdued manner with their tails lowered.
- Prey drive can be evaluated by using your hand or other object to tempt the puppy. You may move your hand or the object along the ground in front of the puppy. If he reacts by pouncing on your hand or the object and chasing it, he has a strong prey drive.
- Friendliness towards dogs and humans can be evaluated by observing the puppy. Ideally the puppy will behave in a friendly manner towards all humans and dogs in the room. Examples of behaviors which are not considered friendly may include showing the teeth, raising the lip and holding the tail stiffly upward. Mouthing, which is essentially a form of mock biting, is also considered inappropriate behavior. Dogs often display mouthing behavior when they are playing together. Although they are not really biting, it is preferred for them to not display this type of behavior on humans as some dogs may do this harder than others. Dogs who mouth humans may not mean harm but do not realize they are not being gentle. To avoid this type of problem, mouthing should be discouraged.
When selecting a puppy, owners may wish to search for one particular breed or remain open to a number of different breeds, including mixes. The best way to evaluate a puppy is for the potential dog owner to pay particular attention to the temperament of the dog. Some breeds may be more prone to particular behavioral characteristics than others but not all dogs conform to these stereotypes. For example, most Labrador Retrievers are friendly and willing to please but there are some who can be quite stubborn and even become aggressive. For this reason, evaluating a particular puppy's behavior is far more important than relying on breed standards when choosing a puppy.