Just like humans, dogs have personalities. Yes, a dog’s temperament is somewhat determined from birth, but there are some things you can do to shape your furry family member’s personality. The key is to first fully understand what your dog’s natural temperament is so that you can work with it rather than against it. Here are a few tips that can help.
The first step in discovering your dog’s temperament is to research the breed. You may have done this before you brought your new pet into your home. Whether you did or not, it can never hurt to put a little more time into research. The American Kennel Club has a complete breakdown of breeds and their personalities. Here are a few examples:
The AKC also ranks dog temperaments on a scale from “Aloof/Wary” to “Outgoing.” A Shih Tzu, for instance, ranks toward the end of the “Outgoing” end of the scale. Some pet owners look for a dog on the “aloof” end of things in order to find one that doesn’t require as much attention. You can use the Dog Breed Selector to find a pet with the temperament that best matches your preferences.
If you have a new puppy, it’s important to pay close attention to what’s known as the imprint period. This runs from weeks 5-16, but puppies are still very impressionable up to three months of age. During this time, try to ensure your puppy gets supervised socialization time with other animals. During training, focus on positive reinforcement and gentle coaching rather than corrections.
During those early socialization and training attempts, pay close attention to your puppy’s reactions. If he or she appears to be timid or fearful, instead of running from the situation, learn those triggers and try to work your dog through them. This doesn’t include real dangers like another dog who comes at your pet with hackles raised. But if your pet is afraid to play with other dogs or go out in the rain, use positive reinforcements like treats and encouraging words to help conquer those fears.
No two dogs are alike but understanding your dog’s unique personality will help you, especially during training. I specialize in helping pet parents work with their dog’s temperament for best results. Check out my blog for more training tips that can help as you get to know your pet.