CHOOSING THE RIGHT BREED
Bringing a new puppy into your home will change your life forever. Puppies are definitely a lot of work, but they also bring plenty of joy to your world. Whether you are getting your first puppy or just need a refresher course, this is what you’ll need to know. From welcoming your new puppy home, to training and health information, these tips will help you get your puppy on the right track to adulthood.
You may know what qualities you’re looking for in a Family Pet, but how do you pick out those traits in a rambunctious litter of puppies, or a lineup of madly barking dogs at an animal shelter?
You talk to the people who care for the dogs; you compare the dogs’ behavior with one another; and then you give each dog you’re interested in a simple temperament test. Following are two basic tests a New Dog Owner can use to check out a potential canine companion: one for puppies up to about six months old, the other for puppies and dogs older than six months.
Take the puppy to a quiet area, away from his mother and littermates. Most novice dog owners will find a dog that is neither too skittish nor too dominant the easiest to train and bond with. In each example below, the responses are ordered from fearful to dominant.
1. Set the puppy down and let him walk away from you, then crouch down and call him back to you in a friendly, happy voice. Does he put his tail down and stay away? Walk over to you and wag his tail? Run over to you and jump up or bite playfully at your hands or feet? Ignore you and explore the room on his own?
2. Pet the puppy from his head to his tail. Does he cringe? Roll over on his back? Nuzzle your hand or wag his tail? Nip at your hand? Walk away?
3. Roll the puppy gently onto his back and hold him there with a hand on his chest for 8 or 10 seconds. Does he yelp, cringe, or tremble? Struggle to stand up for a few seconds and then calm down? Flail and struggle wildly and bite or growl?
4. Drop a set of keys on the floor to make a sudden noise. Does the puppy cringe and cower? Startle, then look curiously toward the noise? Bark loudly or “attack” the keys? Ignore the noise?
5. Gently squeeze one of the puppy’s toes. Does he yelp or jerk his foot back wildly? Pull his foot back calmly? Growl or bite at your hand?
6. Put a small amount of canned dog food in a dish and set it in front of the puppy. When he smells the food or starts to eat it, pick up the dish. Does he shy away from your hand? Look up at you? Jump up at the dish? Growl or bark?
Please know that although these tips do help to determine a puppy’s personality greatly, they aren’t fool proof. A puppy that may seem anti-social at first can be a great addition to any family with some training and lots of love.