The known factors that contribute to canine temperament and behaviour
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The known factors that contribute to canine temperament and behaviour

When it comes to buying or adopting a new puppy or adult dog, it can seem as if the whole process comes down to a simple case of pot luck in terms of what their core temperament turns out to be, and how they are likely to behave well. While this is in some ways true, on the other hand, there are a whole range of known factors that affect the ultimate temperament and behavioural norms of any given dog, and viewed in combination, these factors can help to tell you about the likely norms of your dog.

As always, both nature and nurture play a role in the formative development of the dog, and neither element on its own will prove to be enough to make any dog either perfect or terrible! In this article, we will look at the known factors that contribute to canine temperament and behavioural norms. Read on to learn more!

Breed traits

While each and every dog is of course different, every breed has some core traits in terms of temperament, personality, and other factors, which will contribute to how your dog thinks and behaves. Some breeds are very lively, others have a very strong prey drive, and some are natural watchdogs; there are a huge variety of factors to consider!

It is important to learn as much as you can about the breed history of any dog that you might be considering, including taking into account the different traits of various breeds that make up cross bred and mixed breed dogs.

The dog’s genes

The genes of the dog obviously play a part in how they will turn out, and these hardwired, inbuilt genetic traits go a long way towards determining the personality of your dog, and how they will face life. This is why choosing two parent dogs with excellent temperaments is so important when it comes to breeding, and snappy, wary or otherwise problematic dogs should not be bred.

If you breed two happy, confident dogs, the chances are that you will end up with happy, confident puppies, which have the best chances of a good start in life.

What the puppies learn in the litter

Puppies learn a huge range of things that will stand them in good stead for life while they are still with their dam and littermates, and the pups’ experiences during this time will play a large part in how they will develop and act as they get older. Puppies get their first dose of kind discipline from their dam, and learn about their interactions with others by means of playing and learning from their littermates.

How effectively this happens will depend on the size of the litter and the temperament of the dam, and her interaction with her young.

Early socialisation

The experiences that puppies learn from when they first start socialising with other dogs outside of their own litter will again, have a significant effect on how the pups behave and interact with other dogs later on. The more exposure young dogs get to other dogs and people in a whole range of different situations, the better set up they will be for the rest of their lives when it comes to interacting with others!

Health and wellness

As you might expect, good health plays an important role in temperament and behavioural norms; if you are not feeling yourself, are in pain or sick, you are much more likely to be grumpy and unsociable!

Health, medical conditions and even the side effects of medicines to treat any problems can all have an effect on the temperament and behaviour of your dog.

Environmental factors

What your dog has learnt from their time in the big bad world has a large impact on how they interact with the world and everything in it, and this can even swing the balance from inbuilt and genetic traits. Dogs with questionable genes may make for excellent pets with the right care and management, while the best dog in the world may go bad if they are treated poorly.

Dogs that have been abused, neglected or mistreated are hugely likely to become fearful of people and may respond to approaches with defensive aggression, while dogs that have always received kind, fair handling with appropriate boundaries are apt to be social, well balanced and trusting.

Taken as a standalone, none of the above factors will dictate how your dog or puppy will turn out or behave. However, viewed in combination as a complete picture, all of these factors can help you to assess the temperament and behavioural norms of your dog, and how they are likely to approach and interact with the world. There is certainly no one size fits all formula to produce the perfect dog, but if all of the described factors are in a positive balance, the chances are that the recipe was right!

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