How to Test a Puppy's Temperament

Bringing a dog into your family is a big commitment. Dogs can live for 15 years or more, so you want to pick a dog that has the right temperament for your household. Choosing a dog based on appearance alone can cause problems in the future. You need to make sure the puppy has no obvious behavioral problems before you bring it home.


Tip #1 - Separate the puppy from its littermates and bring it to a quiet and neutral area of the house or structure in which it is living. Make sure there are no distractions.

Tip #2 - Pet the puppy from head to tail. The puppy should allow you to pet it without struggling or biting. Pick the dog up and cradle it in your arms, placing your hand gently on its throat. The puppy should allow you to touch his throat without a struggle.

Tip #3 - Throw a crumpled piece of paper or a squeaky toy a few feet from the puppy. The puppy should either chase after it and play with it or retrieve it. The puppy should not run away with the toy or ignore it.

Tip #4 - Test the puppy's touch sensitivity by gently squeezing the webbing between its toes. Steadily increase the pressure while counting to 10. Stop when the puppy reacts. The puppy should react within three to five seconds. A quicker reaction means that the puppy may be too sensitive to touch, while a longer reaction may mean that the puppy's sense of touch is not sensitive enough.

Tip #5 - Test the dog's reaction to noises. Make a high-pitched noise, a hoarse sound and a whistling noise. The puppy should react favorably to these noises and exhibit curiosity and interest. If the puppy runs away, it may have a nervous temperament.


Do not test a puppy right before or after meal time. It may affect the results of the test.
Be wary of dogs that show aggressive tendencies. They may not be suitable around children or other pets.

By Allison Lyndsay

About the Author
Allison Lyndsay has been writing about nutrition and lifestyle issues since 2004. Her articles have appeared on several blogs and in the "St. Petersburg Times." Lyndsay received her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of South Florida.