How to Judge a Puppy’s Personality

Each puppy has a discernable personality that can be judged at 7 weeks of age. When you’re choosing a puppy from a litter pay attention to personality type:

  • Bully: On first glance, the bully may seem overtly social and interactive. You may think “Good, that one has spirit.” However, keep watching. Does she steal the toys from the other puppies, does she play too rough? Does she scale the enclosure or climb on the backs of her littermates as though they don’t exist?

    These are sure signs of determination, smarts, and willpower, but you have to decide how those characteristics will mesh into your home life. If you have the time to channel (and challenge) this puppy, take her home! However, if you have other demands on your time and you’re hoping for a puppy to reduce your stress, pass on the bully.

  • Rebel: Puppies in this group are quick-thinking, fun-loving, and engaging. They hold an equal fascination with toys and play as their bullying brethren, but they’re clearly more sensitive. In fact, the bully and the rebel rouser may be seen playing together with the rebel rouser taking the submissive roll when the bully flexes her muscles (in “Doglish” this may be seen by a belly roll or head pinning).

    Rebel rousers are engaging without being too headstrong. This is an ideal temperament for an active person or family with older children.

  • Independent Thinkers: These puppies tolerate and interact in playful encounters some of the time but are also happy sitting or playing with a toy on their own. Stoic and contained, these independent thinkers seem to have been born with an old soul.

    These pups are ideal in a structured home where owners fully respect their sense of self and make a commitment to teach them. Because they’re mindful and alert, these puppies are ideally placed in calm homes, with older or no children.

  • Eager to Please: This lot is eager to please and is always interested in your opinion. This attitude can lead them to the head of the class or into the doghouse depending on how you play it. If you direct and reinforce good manners, you’ll have 100 percent cooperation. On the other hand, if you try to correct your puppy’s naughty behavior, she’ll see your interaction as a reason to replay it over and over and over.

    Because of their trainability, these puppies are wonderful companions, but they can end up on the B list if they don’t receive direction.

  • Just Chillin’: This relaxed lot beautifully balances play, interaction, and sleep — doing all three on their own time. Perhaps less intelligent than their more active siblings, pups with this personality type simply do what they want, when they want.

    These puppies may sound dreamy, but remember, motivating them takes some creativity. They’re not ideal for controlling owners, but they complement a relaxed household and fit beautifully into a home environment with young children, provided the breed is suitable.

  • Sweetie Pie: Soft-natured and gentle, these puppies are most often seen under the other puppies who are taking advantage of their docile nature. These pups are also passive and eager to please, so their sweetness will be palpable. Within their litter, these puppies stay close to their mother and use her protection as a shield.

    This personality is for those owners who prefer doting attention over rigorous training. Puppies with this personality are less likely to roam because staying close to home is a top priority.

  • Timid: These puppies, who are clearly not born with a strong sense of self, may appear to have been abused, even though it’s more symbolic of their dislocated character than misguided nurturing. When approached, they often creep on their bellies or arch their back in total submission.

    Your heart may go out to pups with this personality, but only select this type of puppy if you have the time and patience to devote to fostering their self-esteem.

    Regardless of your effort, timid puppies may always be overwhelmed and in need of direction, so they aren’t a suitable choice for families with children.

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