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Choosing the right puppy part 2 of 3

Choosing the right puppy part 2 of 3

Choosing the Right Puppy

Part 2 of 3


Steve Mark

East Valley K9 Services, LLC

In Part 2 of this series, I’m going to discuss personalities, or temperaments. To simplify things, I’m going to classify puppies as A, B, or C personality types. However, please understand that just like people, dog’s personalities, or temperaments, are complex. There are research studies that describe up to 9 different personality types in dogs. For very savvy dog owners that want a dog for a very specific purpose or activity, these more detailed studies can be very useful in helping them choose a puppy that suits their needs.

In my experience however, the vast majority of dog owners just want a dog as a family pet and companion. That is in fact what my dogs are; family pets and companions that I take everywhere that I can. So, with that in mind, I’ll just consider three basic personality types.

Personality Types

Type A: These are puppies that are very confident and assertive. They tend to run towards people, jump on them, and tend to bite at hands, shoes, or pants. They tend to play rough with other puppies and people, oftentimes at inappropriate levels such as breaking skin and they may also bark at people and other dogs. Frequently, they will bully other puppies or dogs.

Puppies in the A group can be high-energy, difficult to train, stubborn, independent, overly rambunctious, reactive to other dogs and people, or even aggressive if not trained and socialized properly. They require a knowledgeable, confident, assertive handler that is not a pushover.

These puppies can do well in dog sports and usually need a “job” to do; something to burn off their energy and stimulate their mind. An all adult, active household may be best for this personality type.

Type B: These are puppies that tend to play at moderate levels, or they might even not be interested in play at all. They might investigate new people, or they might not even notice new people and just continue playing amongst themselves or ignore everything. This doesn’t mean that these puppies don’t like people, it just means that they don’t feel the need to go to an excitement level of 10 every time a new human enters the area.

Puppies in the B group tend to be well balanced. They accept new people, animals, sights and sounds without being fearful, overly exuberant, or reactive. Type B puppies do well in noisy, hectic households and generally do well with children. They accept hectic schedules, new people, and new situations well. If your goal is a dog that can be a therapy dog or ESA (Emotional Support Animal), this is the personality type that you want to find.

Type C: These are puppies that are shy and withdrawn with people and/or other dogs. They are easy to identify because they avoid contact and will often retreat to the farthest corner of the kennel to “get away”. Some may even be so fearful that they will urinate if people approach or something startles them. They are afraid of noises, people approaching, sudden visual stimulation such as an umbrella opening, etc.

These puppies usually do best in a family with a quieter, more sedate lifestyle where daily life is predictable. Oftentimes, they just prefer to stay at home where they are familiar with everything and know what to expect.

Using This Information

One personality type is not necessarily better than another, they are just different. Knowing and understanding these differences allows you to choose a puppy that will fit into your lifestyle. Now that we have this information, let’s discuss why it is important.

Puppies are born within the spectrum of one of these personality types. Through proper training, conditioning, and socialization we can move them around to a certain extent within their area of the spectrum. Dogs are very trainable and moldable but there are limits. Don’t expect that you’re going to take home that puppy that is cowering and shaking in the back corner of the kennel and turn him into a hunting dog or one that you’ll be able to take camping, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. There are always exceptions but the odds are very slim. Likewise, don’t take home that exuberant, inquisitive, high energy, assertive puppy and expect to turn him into a dog that will lay quietly by your side all evening while you read or do jigsaw puzzles. The odds of that happening are slim as well.

An analogy that I often use is clay. Dogs are moldable, like clay. Give an artist a piece of clay, ask them to make a ceramic bowl, and they can make a ceramic bowl. However, try as they might, no artist can take a piece of clay and make a bronze bowl.

Before choosing a puppy, better yet before even looking at puppies, examine your lifestyle honestly and determine what type of personality will fit your lifestyle. Are you the active type that likes to jog, hike, camp, and kayak? Or are you the type that likes to spend quiet time at home and maybe go for a short walk a few times a week? Do you want a calm dog that can accompany you to the local farmers market, art festival, and coffee shop? Do you have a strong personality that can take on a puppy that is independent, stubborn, and status-seeking or do you tend to be a pushover?

It is important to assess you and your family honestly. For example, I like a dog that is confident, a little independent and a little assertive. My wife and I take our dogs everywhere we go so we can’t have dogs that are fearful around new sights, sounds, and smells. I would never take home a puppy that had a C type personality; it just wouldn’t fit our lifestyle of camping, fishing, and traveling. And truthfully, I don’t have the patience, or desire, to live with a fearful, skittish dog. That may sound bad coming from a dog trainer, but I have to be honest with myself.

In Part 3, I’ll discuss ways in which you can determine the personality type of the puppy that you are considering adding to your life.

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