Many of us have been happy with that doggie in the window who captured the heart of our five-year-old. But there's a more reliable way to choose the right puppy for your family. Although these tests are not foolproof, they will give you a good idea of what the puppy's personality is like.
Since there are certain traits characteristic of each breed, it's a good idea to talk to veterinarians, dog breeders and dog owners about particular breeds before deciding which type fits your family. Golden retrievers, for example, are considered good family dogs; German shepherds make good watchdogs.
When you've picked a breed, then decide whether you want a dog who is aggressive, subdued or somewhere in between. Families with very young children, or senior citizens who want a dog who is gentle, affectionate and less active, should choose a dog who is subdued. Families with older children will likely be happier with a dog who's in between the two extremes: active, playful and friendly, but a bit independent, too. People who want a watchdog should choose a puppy who appears dominant and independent.
Test each puppy that interests you separately. Take him to a room alone, away from other animals and people. Handle him gently and give no spoken praise during the test.
Crouch down and gently roll the puppy onto his back; hold him down with one hand on his chest for a full 30 seconds. A puppy who struggles fiercely is likely to be dominant. One who doesn't struggle at all and licks your hand is extremely submissive. One who resists at first and then relaxes is in between.
Stand up and walk away from the puppy in a normal manner. Make sure the puppy sees you walk away. If he doesn't follow, he tends to be independent. If he follows readily with tail up and bites at your feet, he's likely very dominant. If he follows with tail down, he's subdued. The in-between pup will follow hesitantly with tail up.
Place the puppy in the centre of the room; step away from him, kneel and clap your hands to attract his attention. Coax him in a direction other than the one from which he entered. A puppy who comes readily with tail up and jumps and paws at your hands will likely have a dominant personality. One who comes readily with tail down and doesn't jump up is probably more submissive. The in-between pup will come readily with tail up.