When it comes to a modeling career, looks are everything. When it comes to a dog, personality is everything.
Getting a dog is like getting married. You don’t date a dog — get together once or twice a week for a few months until you decide to take it to the next level. You don’t break up with a dog, telling him it’s not him, it’s you. A dog is — hopefully — the only relationship where you invite your special friend back to your place on the first date, and he or she never leaves.
In light of the uniqueness of the relationship, it’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for and how to find it.
But we’re talking about dogs, right? How do you know what a dog’s personality is like before you even bring him home?
Believe it or not, it’s possible.
There are five simple tests virtually anyone can administer to get a pretty good feel for a dog’s personality. These tests measure a dog’s reaction to the following:
• your presence
• your voice
• the movement of your hand near his head and face
• the sound of foreign objects (e.g., car keys tossed to the ground)
• your touch (via the application of varying degrees of pressure to different parts of the body, including and especially sensitive parts of the body such as the paws, tail, back and hips, to determine pain tolerance)
These are simple tests, but they reveal a lot. A dog who reacts to your presence by jumping all over you is a very different dog from the one who saunters up to you in his own good time. A dog who shies away or ducks as your hand approaches his face requires a different approach from a dog who views the presence of your hand as a game. A dog with a low tolerance for pain warrants more careful and sensitive play and handling than a dog with very high pain tolerance.
None of these reactions is wrong or right, but they are telling. Your job is to know the reaction you’re looking for and correctly interpret the reaction you get.
To learn more about the five personality tests and how to properly administer them, read “When Good Dogs Do Bad Things,” and visit the “affection training” section of unclematty.com to learn about the connection between temperament testing and successful training.
And if you need help finding the right dog for you, know that there are professional dog trainers and behaviorists who provide this service — who ask you questions to get you thinking about your lifestyle, your energy, your wants and needs, who go with you to the shelter, who administer these tests, who interpret the results and who make a recommendation.
Ultimately, the decision is yours and the decision is big — so do everything you can to get it right.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at creators.com, and visit him at unclematty.com. Send your questions to email@example.com or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.
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