Puppy vs adult temperament?

busannie

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#1
Looking for anecdotal information on change in temperament in dogs from puppy to adult, ie: if a puppy is super wiggly, stupid happy, what are the odds of them growing up to have a less outgoing temperament? Or vice versa? Also curious about drive levels, what are the odds that a drivey pup will turn into a deadhead, opposite, etc?

Have only had involvement in raising one pup, from nervy/yappy parent dogs (not my selection), and she was sort of middle of the road to nervy as both a pup and adult dog. I have, however seen lots of dogs grow up from puppies, and have sort of formed the opinion that the writing is on the wall even with young dogs when temperament tends toward the extreme.... the puppy that stands on it's head in happiness when meeting people becomes an adult that is still happy to meet people, the pup that shies away/growls becomes the adult that still is sketchy with people, with few exceptions. Middle of the road/average pups seem to be sort of a grey area, IME, and can go either way or stay "average".

Granted, I only see a tiny sample of most of those dogs' behavior, which is why I'm curious about others' experiences.

When I eventually look for another dog (not adverse to a dog from a breeder, but will likely concentrate my search toward rescue/shelter dogs, so dogs of potentially unknown parental temperament) my current preference is toward a young adult, but I feel like I might shortchange myself by specifically avoiding puppies if I see one that appears to have the sort of temperament I want. Additionally, I have some trepidation re: my (unafraid of dogs) cats and bringing a teen/adult dog with potentially high prey drive into the mix. I know even dogs raised with cats can become inappropriate with them and am willing to deal with separation if needed (BTDT), it would be easier to not ;)
 

milos_mommy

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#2
Dogs can always grow into undesirable behaviors, even with excellent socialization and upbringing, but I think in general people with a lot of experience in dog behavior and genetics can frequently make an accurate guess as to an adult dog's personality, or at least the likelihood they will develop certain traits.

As puppies get older it can be easier to tell. At 8-12 weeks, you can likely tell if a pup will be more energetic or mellow, timid or bold, handler focused or independent, but may not get a great reading on prey drive or DA. By 6 months you can usually have some idea.

Talking about DA, I usually see puppies who haven't yet displayed any DA in three categories - puppies I'd be surprised to see DA develop in (without trauma), puppies I wouldn't be surprised either way and who's interactions I'd closely monitor to try to set them up for positive dog-dog relationships, and puppies who I see as time bombs and will almost definitely exhibit some level of DA.

I'd suggest you stack the odds in your favor but choosing breeds or types you know are more prone to the behaviors you want, you can never tell for sure with mixed puppies but don't get a shelter puppy that looks like it's 75% husky or has a sighthound build if you don't want prey drive...learn the warning signs of behaviors you want to avoid (if you don't want DA don't take a puppy that's shaking another puppy by its neck or if it gets more excited/worked up if another puppy yelps, don't take a puppy that fixates on cats even if it's seemingly gentle, etc), and if possible, hire an experienced trainer to help you choose.

My recommendation if you are just looking for a pet is to get a more mature puppy, close to a year, or young adult. It can work out to get a puppy, but definitely safer to choose an adult, and you're quite likely to find a perfect match that's a year or two or more.
 

Maxy24

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#3
Tucker has the same base temperament, but his behavior changed. For example, he has always been afraid of unfamiliar people but as a young puppy that presented as being shy and as an adolescent/adult that presented/presents as aggression.

But there are some things we weren't certain of. He had a lot of trouble settling down as a puppy so we thought he was going to be nuts but it turned out just to be puppy stuff, now he's pretty low energy. He was also very chewy, he annihilated toys, but now plush toys can last a long time. So it can be hard to tell what is true temperament and what is puppy stuff. I will say I'll never touch a shy puppy with a ten foot pole ever again.

As for cats, he has always been a little over interested in them (wanting to play) and has never been cuddly with them. He's always seemed a bit uncomfortable with them, ever since he was little. Being raised with them hasn't made him great with cats.
 

Elrohwen

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#4
I think the better you know the breed, the easier you will be able to predict adult temperament. Knowing what is middle of the road for that breed, what things to watch out for, etc will help you make good predictions. But evaluating a breed you're completely unfamiliar with, or unknown mix puppies, I think will be hard. Some times will be consistent, but some things will change with age.

My older dog is a bit anxious and is also easily over aroused and over stimulated. None of those things were apparent as a baby puppy. My current 9 month old puppy is pretty much exactly what I would have predicted from what the breeder said about her at 8 weeks. I didn't really see all those same things when I met her at 7.5 weeks because it was hot and she was tired, but I trusted the breeder's previous experience with her. So it's hard to say. I think that knowing the breed better now, I may have seen some of those warning signs in my older dog, but I really don't know.
 

busannie

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#5
To be a bit more specific, my preference for breed of my next dog is another APBT (or mix), but I wouldn't entirely count out dogs of other breeds if they were the right fit. I'm looking for an active pet, have missed having a bigger dog to bike with. Ideally, the dog would be a candidate for therapy dog work at some point. Hence my concern re: change in a puppy's temperament- I want a dog that's bombproof and super friendly with people, and worry that a pup who is might mature to be less so. Limited personal experience says that's not terribly likely with a pup who's on the extreme side of friendly, but I've heard anecdotal stories of it happening.

I don't prefer a dog who is dog aggressive, but it's not a big deal if the dog is ideal otherwise, unless the dog is busting out of crates and eating through doors to get to other dogs. Bus is pretty indifferent to other dogs, including the ones he lives with, so he wouldn't be burnt out if said dog didn't want to be his friend.

Honesty, cat friendliness/indifference is a bigger deal to me than dog friendliness, as it's easier for me to separate dogs rather than cats/dog without dividing up my living space completely. I don't need a dog that will play with/cuddle with cats (won't ever be leaving them together unattended), but they have to be at least vaguely tolerant and not view a cat just walking around as prey. That really is the only reason why puppies even became a blip on the radar, as I suspect it would be easier to teach a puppy to not eat cats than an adolescent/adult dog. It seems most breeders of high prey drive breeds recommend pups vs adult dogs for acclimating to cats, though the APBT tends to be unique in that they have a higher likelihood of becoming intolerant even of animals they've been raised with.

My personal preference is for a dog that's 8mo-2 years old, but I feel like introducing a dog of that age to my menagerie could get a bit hairy! I know it can be done, though, as I see dozens of people every month who have the breed with cats (acquired at various ages), many of whom put way less effort into their dogs than I do ;) . My own experience has been one APBT who was ok with our cat, but not with strange cats; and one who wanted to crunch all cats, but was eventually conditioned to be fairly tolerant of my 3, though never trustworthy without direct supervision. I feel like my best bet is to select a dog from a rescue which has been fostered with cats, but I have mixed feelings on how some local breed-specific rescues promote the breed, so that will narrow things down a bit. I would deal with whatever animal aggression eventually manifests in a dog which I've committed to, but feel like I should stack the odds in my favor as much as possible :)
 

milos_mommy

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#6
Where do you live? Up north, I've worked with literally hundreds of APBT types in rescue, and the vast majority (I'd say over half) have had zero nervousness or aloofness with humans. The ones who are slightly fearful/shy have either been mixes (one I can think of was part basenji) and the few that haVe been more severely shy were horrifically mistreated or abused.

Why are you thinking that a dog around the 1-2 year mark would be harder to introduce? We have tons of dogs in that range come through rescue and a good bunch are cat-safe. I would just look for a dog that's fostered with cats, and make sure you see them interact (a dog that largely ignores them or is easily reverted from a calm interest is going to likely stay that way, a dog that's obsessively following the cat, play bowing, friendly barking, nudging, and otherwise aroused, even friendly, might become aggrsssivE).

I don't ever really recommend a puppy as easier to raise with cats. Yeah, it's easier to teach a puppy with lower prey drive to respect cats than an adult that wants to eat them, and in some cases a high drive puppy will see indoor cats they're raised with as family and not snacks, but I wouldn't bank on it. Not with a terrier. It's way less risky to get a 1-2 year old who's behavior around cats is known.
 

busannie

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#7
I live in MD, roughly 15 minutes southeast of the edge of Baltimore City. I would say that I have seen a larger than desirable number of pit bulls and pit mixes that are sort of sketchy and/or fearful- granted, many of those are encountered in a setting (vet office) which tends to make dogs fearful, but I get the impression from their owners that what I see is the norm for most of those dogs. I also have seen a large number of super wiggly, happy, bombproof pit bulls and pit mixes. Then there are some which are nice dogs, but sort of "generic dog" type, friendly enough but sort of indifferent to people.

I've thought for a long while that it would be easy enough to find a young adult dog that would fit my needs, as long as I'm patient. I had mentioned it to someone I know who works in animal control (I know, different scenario vs rescue where dogs are in foster care, but she's worked around dogs for at least 40 years, and is super knowledgeable), and she looked skeptical when I mentioned I'd need to find a hyper adolescent pit bull that wouldn't eat my cats, lol. She advised me to consider a puppy if it met my other criteria, and said that's what she normally recommends when dealing with prey drive issues and potential prey items... it planted the seed of doubt in my mind ;). I've also seen a couple really nice pups from terrible situations grow up into really nice dogs recently, which got me thinking maybe I wasn't giving puppies a fair shake. That said, I feel pretty confident in still leaning toward a young adult dog as my preference, and you've helped reinforce my thought, so thanks :)
 

Dogdragoness

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#8
Lincoln was the most confident pup in the litter, also the biggest. Sure he went through a couple of fear periods, but he came out of them the same confident, outgoing puppy he was in the beginning.

What is the saying about evaluating dogs? "look at them at 8 weeks and dont look again until they are 2?" or something like that?
 

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