Picking a puppy

We’ve had Hildegard a little over a week now, and it is exhausting! Sleepy
Integrating her with Stewart and Fergus, teaching her to respect the cats, ignore the chickens, potty outside, sleep in a “crate”, and so on. Maybe someday we’ll be able to sleep through the night, and possibly even sleep in, but for now it’s all about Hilde.

Research and advice about canine development, temperament and training has changed in the past decade or so. No more alpha dog hijinks, more focus on positive reinforcement. Picking a puppy with a personality that will most likely develop to fit into our household style gives us a huge headstart on the whole training thing. And there is an assessment method that really works called the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test.

The gist of the test is this:

1. Social Attraction – degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence.
2. Following – willingness to follow a person.
3. Restraint – degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.
4. Social Dominance – degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.
5. Elevation – degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.
6. Retrieving – degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.
7. Touch Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.
8. Sound Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.
9. Sight Sensitivity – degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.
10. Stability – degree of startle response to a strange object.

Check out their page for more information about the test and some really helpful tips on choosing a puppy. They even have an abbreviated version of the test for adult/shelter/rescue dogs.

Hildegard is a smart little gal, and will need lots of consistency and guidance to grow into her potential. She starts puppy kindergarten soon, and is already getting the hang of meeting new people. It’s a lot of work on the front end, but our reward is a well-adjusted team member, and Hilde’s reward is a full, active, happy life as a good canine citizen. Hildegard

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