Chapter 6
How To Temperament Test For Your Best Dog
Temperament Testing to Find the Ideal Puppy. Many things influence a puppy's temperament. Like humans, some personality traits result from their genetic makeup and some traits are the result of environmental influences. It is unlikely that you can change any of your puppy's personality that is determined by genetics, and there may be little you can do to change behaviors that have been shaped by early influences in the puppy's life. Since an important part of a puppy's temperament is established before the two of you ever meet, it is important that you are able to judge the basic characteristics of a puppy's personality and temperament so you can better choose a puppy that is appropriate for you. To understand this further, let's look at the development steps a puppy goes through in the early stages of its life. Understanding Puppy Development. Science has shown that a puppy must successfully complete several developmental stages in order for the resulting dog to have the temperament associated with a good pet. Knowing something about this process enables you to discuss the way the puppy was raised with the person offering it to you and allows you to judge if the puppy may be at risk for behavior problems because of poor rearing. If the person offering you the puppy is unable to discuss its upbringing with you, this increases your risk of getting an unsuitable puppy. This does not mean you will have a problem with the dog. What this means is you do not have one of the many pieces of information that helps you understand the influences that affect the dog's future development. Not having this information increases the risk that you could have a problem with the dog. Week 1 - 3 The primary needs of a puppy are sleep, food, and warmth from its mother. Instinct and reflex determine how the puppy responds. The puppy is still developing both physically and neurologically. Little, if any, learning takes place. Week 4 Sensory development accelerates. Neurologically, the brain enables message receiving. The puppy is still extremely vulnerable and continues to be almost totally dependent on its mother. Puppies need to complete this stage before weaning takes place. Week 5 - 7 Primary socialization period. The puppy learns how to relate to other dogs. Removing the puppy before this happens can result in a dog that will be either occasionally or consistently aggressive toward other dogs and/or people. Light human contact should begin. Gentle training can begin. Week 7 - 8 This is the ideal time for a puppy to be placed with its new owner. Bonds formed at this stage of development are very strong resulting in great loyalty. The puppy's brain is now fully developed so it is able to learn anything an adult dog can learn although physically the puppy may not be capable of performing certain tasks (like bladder control). Familiarizing the puppy with a kennel crate can begin during this stage. Week 8 - 10 Fear-imprinting stage. Socialization should continue with the puppy. This includes supervised exposure to new things that are non-fear producing. At this stage, traumatic events could have a permanent impact. Early crate training can begin. Week 11 - 16 Human socialization stage. To avoid having the puppy become skittish, it should have supervised exposure to many different people in many different situations including calm children. If a puppy is only around other dogs during this stage, a strong bond with people may never develop. A lack of exploration and exposure to new things may result in the puppy being unable to accept changes in its environment as it continues to grow and develop.