Chapter 6
How To Temperament Test For Your Best Dog
Impact of Breed on Behavior In addition to examining the temperament of an individual puppy, you'll need to consider a few other things when making your choice of a dog. Cute, cuddly puppies attract many people. However few people give much thought to what traits the puppy will have as an adult dog. One of the advantages of buying a purebred puppy is you can expect the adult dog will have behavior common to its breed. However, this behavior can come as quite a surprise unless you have researched what is normal for that breed. When dogs are converted to companion animals, the behaviors they were originally bred for typically cannot be expressed in the roll the breed was intended to function. This can result in those behaviors coming out in a "displaced" manner. For example, herding dogs like the Border Collie sometimes herd children when they have no sheep to herd. Dogs originally bred for their independence and their sled-pulling ability may always pull on their lead and be difficult to train because of that independence. The highly protective nature of Rottweilers can be mistaken for aggression. Bred to dig vermin out of their den and kill them, most terriers love to chase small animals and to dig. As a result, many purebred dogs are taken to an animal shelter after growing out of the cute puppy stage simply for having the traits for which they've been bred. The way to prevent this mismatch is to decide what traits are important to you and what traits you want to avoid then finding the breeds that meet your criteria. This approach makes it is possible to find a dog that will fit your lifestyle and can truly become your best friend. However, it is your responsibility to research the dog. As amazing as dogs are, they are still unable to research your wants then tell you whether they will meet your expectations. Temperament Evaluation Remember, dogs are like people in that each one has its own personality. A dog is not a manufactured product. Just because a book or a breeder says a specific breed has a particular trait doesn't mean the puppy you choose will follow the norm for that breed. Choosing a puppy should be a thoughtful and deliberate process. You are making a significant commitment. You are assuming responsibility for a puppy for its lifetime, which can be 15 years or longer. Every dog owner must hold themselves responsible for the decisions they make concerning their pet. A puppy needs guidance to develop into a good pet. It will be your responsibility to provide the training appropriate for its age. It is well worth the effort. It will strengthen the bond between the two of you and will allow you to earn the unconditional love and loyalty of man's best friend. What Age to Bring Your New Puppy Home The first few months of your puppy's life are a very important period. You should avoid bringing a puppy home too early. Puppies that are removed from their littermates too early can display a range of behavioral and temperament problems. Conversely, if you wait too long to bring a new puppy home, you can miss out on important periods in his life where you could spend valuable time socializing and bonding with your pup. Most dog professionals consider eight to twelve weeks of age as the ideal time to bring your new puppy home. Some breeders will send a new dog home as early as 6 weeks- after it's weaned. But it's important for your dog to spend time with his littermates during this period. Your new puppy learns valuable lessons from his mother and littermates, such as bite inhibition and other lessons on how to interact with other dogs. If you remove a dog from its litter too early, it won't have an opportunity to learn these important skills, and may have trouble interacting with other dogs which can transfer to problems interacting with people. If you wait too long to bring your new dog home, you've missed out on valuable opportunities to socialize your dog. The period between about 8 and 16 weeks is an extremely valuable socialization period for your dog. The lessons he learns during this period will be with him for the rest of his life. If he misses any of the lessons he should learn during this period or learns any bad habits, you may need to work much harder teaching him what he should have already learned. Dogs that aren't properly socialized with humans and other dogs during this period may be fearful or shy when exposed to new people or dogs later in life. This can lead to fear-aggression or other undesirable behaviors and temperament issues. If you wait too long to bring your new dog home you'll miss out on this formative period and lose your chance to play a role in this important developmental phase in your puppy's life.