Observing the puppies
Observing the puppies will give you an idea of the pup’s personality. At this point don’t interact with the pups but take note of how they play together.
The bold puppy. Which puppy is the first to reach the food or the first to grab a toy? When the puppies are play-fighting is there one that just doesn’t give up? This pup usually has a bold temperament.
The fearful puppy. Is there one pup who sits back, observing his littermates play? It may be that this pup has a calm temperament or his behavior could indicate that he is a fearful pup, and is afraid of joining in.
The above observations are a start but what else can you do to help you understand a pup’s temperament? Ask the breeder if you can interact with the puppies. There should be no objections to this, unless the puppies are still too young. Once you’re interacting with the puppies you can try the following two tests with each one, the results of which can help you get to know the puppies better as individuals.
How sociable is the puppy? Coax the puppy to you by bending down and cheerfully calling to him, clapping your hands gently to encourage him. What does he do?
1. He comes readily with his tail up, jumping up at you and maybe nipping at your hands.
2. He comes readily with his tail up, possibly licking at your hands.
3. He comes readily with his tail down.
4. He comes slowly with his tail down.
5. He ignores you, runs away or hides.
How willing is the pup to follow you? Set the puppy on the ground and walk away from him without saying anything. What does he do?
1. He follows readily, getting underfoot and climbing on your feet and possibly nipping at them.
2. He runs to you with his tail up and possibly licks at your feet.
3. He follows readily with his tail up.
4. He comes to you slowly with his tail down.
5. He ignores you or cautiously watches you.
6. What does this information tell you?
Scores of 1 or 2: If the puppy scored ones or twos this is an indication that he is a bold puppy. Puppies that act bolder than their littermates are usually dominant puppies, and these pups may have trouble accepting anyone else as the leader of their pack. That makes them more difficult to train in the everyday commands that help keep them safe. These pups are also more likely to act aggressively if their dominance is challenged. If you live alone, work long hours or have a laid back lifestyle this pup may not be your best match. Bold puppies can grow up to be wonderful law enforcement or search and rescue dogs, however they may not make the best companion pups.
Scores of 4 or 5: A puppy that scored fours or fives shows signs of fear and submissiveness. Training a fearful pup in the basic commands may be more difficult, and socializing this pup may be more of a challenge.
Scores of 3: Many experts agree that it is safest to pick a pup who doesn’t greatly stand out from the rest as being overly bold or fearful; a “middle” pup. This pup’s behavior indicates that, given the care and training every pup needs, he will accept you as his pack leader and be easily adaptable to new experiences– and that helps to make a puppy a wonderful companion.
How accurate are the results?
Could you figure out a person’s personality on the basis of the above two checks? No, and this is true of puppies as well. However, along with your earlier observations of the pups, their responses can still provide an indication as to their temperament. To put the puppy temperament checks in perspective remember that the puppy may be tired that day, his mother or littermates may distract him or his actions may be misinterpreted. Because of this it’s best to use the checks as just one of your decision-making tools when deciding which puppy to welcome into your home.
Listen to your heart
Picking a puppy is not easy, especially when there are so many healthy, adorable pups to choose from. No matter what your method when choosing your pup keep in mind that although a pup should not be chosen purely based on emotion, he shouldn’t be chosen without listening to your heart either!