This is a recent copy of an email I sent out to my current litters buyers as they wondered how I select the puppy for them.
We also have an application process we use before accepting the buyer which describes what puppy will suit them best. Of course there are numerous emails and conversations along the way to best match buyer to puppy. Some folks were taken aback initially when I said I would pick the puppy for them but once they understood they were fine and more than confident I would do right by them and by my puppy.
Young Puppy Temperament Assessment
Much more important than puppy temperament testing is the socialization, education and environment that the owner should provide. However, some folks recommend assessing a puppy's sensitivity to various stimuli, using techniques such as those that follow, to get a general idea of a puppy's temperament.
* Clap your hands: does the puppy look at you? Does he approach readily, in a friendly manner? These are good signs of sociability.
* Make eye contact: does the puppy engage in eye contact? This is a good indicator of a confidence pup. In contrast, be concerned about a pup who will not look at you. This could reflect a temperament problem or a vision disability.
* Call to the puppy: a puppy who ignores attempts to get his attention may have a hearing or temperament problem. Disinterest in interacting with people can indicate a disease as well.
* Praise the dog: it's good if the puppy responds to verbal praise with some welcoming behavior, such as wagging his tail.
* Follow me: after playing with the pup for awhile, walk or jog away. If he tries to follow, that's a positive sign. Not following indicates the pup has an independent personality.
* Pet the pup: does he respond in a friendly or accepting manner? Or does he try to dominate you by nipping, growling or jumping at you? Does he reflect independence by trying to escape?
* Play with a toy: roll a safe dog toy, such as a ball, or a crumpled paper ball near the pup. But don't toss the toy at the pup. See if the dog will follow it. Encourage the pup to fetch the toy and to bring it back to you. A dominant-natured pup will fetch the ball, take it away, and resist letting you take it. An independent pup may show no interest in the toy; however, this could also indicate an ill puppy. A submissive pup may be a little fearful of the toy. A highly social pup will bring the toy back to you on his own. Normal behavior would involve the pup getting the toy, chewing on it, but allowing you to take it away. Willingness to retrieve can be an indicator of a dog's interest in training exercises.
* Rollover test: gently take the puppy and roll him onto his back. Gently hold him in place with one hand on his chest for 15 seconds. A dominant or independent pup will tend to resist the whole time. He might yip or try to nip you. A submissive pup does not struggle at all, and may try to lick you in deference. Most puppies will resist for a few seconds and then contentedly accept your handling.
Note: this rollover test is not an alpha roll. Never perform an alpha roll on any dog of any age. It's an old technique told to prove dominion, but eventually found to hamper the human/canine bond in addition to leading to many bite cases.
* Picking up the puppy: lift gently by interlacing your fingers palms up beneath his tummy. Hold him in this elevated position for 30 seconds. Does he struggle actively for release, for a prolonged period, signaling dominance or independence? Or does he quickly acquiesce? How quickly he accepts and relaxes can indicate whether he's relatively submissive or closer to a typical pup. A submissive pup will attempt to lick in deference to your control.
* Touch a paw, then press between the pads gently. The responses you get and how quickly you get them can reflect a pup's tendency towards submission, dominance, independence, or a more normal temperament.
* Noise test: make a sudden noise. See if the pup responds with curious interest, fear, barking, aggression, or ignores it.
* For a detailed puppy evaluation program see the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test link below. This approach assesses social attraction and social dominance, retrieving, following, restraint, elevation (being lifted), touch sensitivity, sound sensitivity and stability, and ranks pups in degrees as socially attracted, adaptive, submissive, dominant and independent.
Notes about puppy handling and evaluation:
* Make sure nothing fearful or negative happens during any puppy evaluation or handling sessions.
* Responsiveness indicates that the puppy is probably pretty adaptive and has great ability to bond. A pup who seems very nervous or fearful may not be a good choice for a home with children or with a lot of activity. However, he may respond very well to gentle and consistent training suited to his personality. A dog who tends to be aloof even when faced with stimuli may be of an independent temperament, and might be stubborn when it comes time for training, but that's not always the case. Again, keep in mind that these are generalizations, and puppy adopter will be in the key position to shape the pup's behavior.
* Many behavior experts do not place great emphasis on testing of young puppies; however, some agree that highly aggressive pups often turn out to be dominant and aggressive adults. If you're checking out dogs in a litter, you may want to engage the help of a canine behaviorist.
* It is important to handle puppies frequently and every day. Always handle them gently and speak in a calm, happy manner. Your goals are to teach them to accept being handled, that no harm will come from handling, that it's OK to be examined (this paves the way for acceptance of everything from grooming to vet visits), and to trust you as a benevolent leader. Puppy kindergarten classes are also highly recommended to help provide essential socialization opportunities.
Some of you have wondered how we match puppies to buyers. One of the tests we use is this:
Follow this link above .
We know that pups have different days, different times of day, hungry, tired, etc. and don't rely soley on one test one day. We spend countless hours playing, observing, and socializing and have a really good idea of how that puppy will be.
We use our application to help us determine what you are looking for and what type of puppy is going to fit best in your home. Each one of the 10 people who are buying have unique situations and we welcome you to share any further information with us to help determine the best puppy for you.
Typically it comes down to 1-2 pups that would fit and we help you make the final decision. We want the best for our puppies and we know you want the best for your home as well.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call or email.
The initial questions/tests should help you ( the OP) best select when you visit.