What is your Dog's personality?
By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman
|Personality is a blend of factors giving individual personality configurations.|
has its day - and its own unique personality. We have all met pushy dogs and
retiring dogs, highly active dogs and inactive ones, independent dogs and
those that are decidedly dependant, social dogs and aloof dogs, confident
dogs and fearful dogs, easily distractible dogs and practically compulsive
dogs. Personality is a blend of these factors giving myriad individual
personality configurations. For humans, their complicated personalities have
been distilled into four basic dimensions in the Myers-Briggs personality
profile. These are: extrovert/introvert (E/I), intuitive/sensing (N/S),
thinking/feeling (T/F), judgmental/perceptive (J/P). These 4 dimensions have
16 possible combinations (ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ, INTP, etc) and these
combinations can be arranged into 4 basic temperament types. A similar
scheme (not precisely equivalent) might be applicable for evaluation dogs’
There are definitely canine
extroverts and introverts, perhaps more appropriately referred to as
dominants and deferents (Do/De). The dominants are full of confidence, are
playful and in-your-face type dogs. Deferents are quieter and prefer to keep
themselves to themselves: They are seen but not “experienced,” except in a
more passive way.
1. If you stare at your dog will
he stare back? Y/N
Affirmative answers to the majority of these questions indicate a more dominant type of personality. Characterize “Do” >5 ‘Y’s or “De” <5. A midway score (5) will need a tiebreaker decision from you: Is your dog more pushy (Do) or more accepting (De)?
One of the strongest and most clinically relevant drives a dog possesses is “prey drive.” Those dogs that are most highly driven in this respect versus their less reactionary antitheses might be classified along an axis described as P/S. (P = predatory/driven; S = more sensing/thoughtful).
Questions pertaining to
Affirmative answers to >5 questions indicate high prey drive (assigned P). Affirmative answers to <5 questions indicates a dog that functions more from experience than from instinct (assigned S). A midway score (5) will need a tiebreaker decision by you: Would you describe your dog as more of a hunter/reactor (P) or tending to base actions more on experience/learning (S).
All dogs may show fearfulness at times but some are more likely to have their lives affected by fear than others. It is logical to be frightened about something that threatens to be harmful. It is not logical to be excessively fearful of numerous, apparently innocuous cues. This axis can be described as T/F same as for people, except that in this case F stands for fear. A dog can thus be more a more thoughtful type, reacting appropriately in the face of possible threats (T) or be excessively fearful, an over reactor in the face of perceived threat (F).
Questions about fearfulness are:
1. Does your dog react oddly
(hide, roll, squat, urinate, bark, lunge) in the presence of strangers? Y/N
Interpretation: Affirmative answers to >5 of these questions indicate a more fearful type of dog. Affirmative answers to <5 of these questions indicates a dog that functions more as a result of functional assessment of the world around it than out of fear, mistrust and suspicion. Rate dog as either T (acting more appropriately as a result of intuition) or F (acting dyfunctionally out of fear). If your dog scores in the mid range (5), you will need to make a tiebreaker decision as to whether he is more thoughtful (T) or generally more fearful (F).
There is no accurate canine equivalent of judgmental versus perceptive personalities, though it is true that some dogs are more bound by routine, becoming stressed when habits cannot be indulged whereas others are low stress creatures of opportunity. If your dog thrives on routine and can become a little uptight when it is disturbed, rate it “J” for judgmental. If it is more easy going and flexible, capitalizing on opportunities as and when they arise, rate it “P” for perceptive.
Interpreting the Test
1. DoSTJ _ dominant, low prey
drive, calculating, likes routine: confident house pet
Temperaments 1-4 = HOME BUDDIES –
dominant or respectful, shy or confident
The scheme above is innovative and as yet untested – though it does make sense. It also describes certain known characters fairly well. For example, the owner of a mildly owner aggressive, ferociously territorial German shepherd that chases squirrels would probably grade their dog #9 (DoPFJ) or #11 (DoPFP) depending on how flexible the dog was in the face of changing circumstances and need for a stable routine. The owner of a dominant aggressive, cat chasing Rottweiler might grade their dog #15 (DoPTP). The owner of a submissive urinator might wind up ascribing #4 (DeSFJ). Time will tell how well the system works for dogs of all characters but at least this system represents a start toward a more organized way of assigning personality/temperament types to dogs
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