How important is it to know the differences in temperament, disposition, attitude and personality of a prospective puppy? It is tremendously important!
It could mean the difference between bonding or not. It could mean the difference between friendly or aggressive. It could mean the difference between hyper or calm.
Most significantly, it could mean the difference between keeping the animal and surrendering it.
Temperament is a blueprint of characteristics. It is a combination of genetic physical, mental and emotional traits inherited from the parents, plus, experiences (positive and negative) and maturity that influence the animal's behavior control.
Temperament types include: happy/depressed, relaxed/anxious, independent/dependent, calm/hyper, confident/anxious, friendly/shy and tolerant/reactive
The temperament of a puppy or dog has much to do with their disposition. Animals from aggressive or fearful parents tend to follow that behavior. Happy, friendly parents usually produce happy, friendly pups.
Good parents typically pass on good temperament. Their offspring inherit their coping skills and behavior control.
Disposition is a puppy's mood and attitude toward life in general. Fore example: An animal with a fearful disposition is easily stressed and cannot deal with change appropriately. They have the potential of becoming aggressive and possibly dangerous.
One with a carefree, friendly, confident sense of well-being is flexible and accepts changes appropriately, without getting stressed.
This is the type of pet that can comfortably handle the normal changes of life in a positive way. They have an affinity to humans and other animals, so they welcome new experiences.
A puppy or dog's attitude is usually a temporary response to a specific reason or stimuli. It can be positive or negative. For example, a puppy having fun playing outside and refuses to come into the house may display a negative attitude. Show it something more interesting than what it was doing, they flip into a positive attitude and willingly come into the house.
Another case: When training your pet, they adamantly refuse to follow a command. Show them a motivator; such as a treat or toy, presto magic, they will do anything you tell them to do.
Personality is the final product of how the animal adjusts to their social, physical and mental environment. It is how they respond to stimuli, based on their experiences. Again, it can be positive or negative.
Dogs with poor socialization and lacking coping skills have two reactive responses to negative situations: fight or flight.
Disregarded dogs; usually those that are endlessly kenneled or tethered, tend to develop anti-social, fearful, frustrated, aggressive behaviors to humans and other animals. These are dogs that display panic or aggression, with slow or no recovery. They are reactive. They often have a high prey drive and when released, may chase and kill the object of their provocation. Surprisingly, they will do this, even though they are hyper sensitive to cues of physical punishment. For that instance, no matter what the consequences may be, they have no anger control.
Some owners often confuse this type of behavior with believing the dog was protecting them. Wrong! The personality flaws causing this unacceptable behavior are frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, and/or stress. The animal was only interested in self-protection.
Puppies removed from their mother and litter mates often have negative personality traits. They have problems bonding with their humans. They occasionally exhibit high avoidance, problems socializing with other dogs, display panic, shyness, fear, and self-protectiveness, often becoming fear biters.
Well-socialized puppies and dogs, exposed to positive experiences tend to be friendly to humans and other animals. They are confident, happy, trusting, relaxed, and cooperative.
They exhibit behavior control that inhibits negative reactions.
How a dog responds to various stimuli starts when they are young. It has been proven, puppies exposed to as many experiences in a positive way during their first 20 weeks, are more confident, happier, well-adjusted, trusting and more cooperative.
They have fewer problems forming relations and stronger bonds. They are usually are more playful and more focused.
Bottom line: Knowing the differences between temperament, disposition, attitude and personality can be helpful when choosing your next pet. Keep in mind; good parents usually pass on good coping skills and behavior control. To have a fair indication of your puppy's future behaviors, whenever possible, ask to meet the parents.