Young puppies should be alert, playful, and full of vitality. Personalities vary with breed type, but a sweet disposition is essential to all. An unfriendly puppy certainly has no place as a family companion, especially with children. The unfriendly puppy may struggle and bite to get loose, or growl when picked up or petted. This puppy will require considerable discipline and training.
A puppy who shrinks back when spoken to or runs away and hides is shy. The puppy may possibly overcome this later, but taking a chance is hardly worthwhile. This puppy will not be easily socialized.
The ideal puppy for a family pet holds his tail high, follows you about, accepts petting, struggles when picked up, but then relaxes and licks your hand.
Most breeders use some version of the puppy aptitude test developed by well-known dog trainers Jack and Wendy Volhard. Ask if the breeder did puppy testing and if so, what the results are. Realize that a puppy may have an “off” day and the breeder can fill you in on his or her perspective of the individual personalities of each pup, as well as give you the test results.
Because good health and good disposition so often go hand in hand, it is perhaps wise, in making the final selection, to pick the individual who appears to be really bursting with vitality and self-confidence. The largest, most rambunctious puppy may be more of a handful than the average family can handle, though, especially if this is a male puppy. The pup with a middle-of-the-road temperament often makes the best family companion.
This article is excerpted from “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.
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