Whether you buy from a breeder or an animal shelter, the pup should be quietly friendly. To test people orientation, kneel down, clap your hands and enthusiastically call, “Hey, puppy, come on!” He should return your enthusiasm by coming merrily to lick your hands, regardless of what he was doing when you called. Test the pup individually and among its littermates. The two situations should have similar results.
If most of the time the puppy doesn’t come, do not buy him! There are a lot of dogs in the world and you are going to have yours a long time. So for ease of training, choose a sociable, responsive puppy. If under 14 weeks, test submissiveness by rolling the pup on his back and placing your palm on his chest between his front legs. Don’t look at him or laugh or talk. If he struggles, just continue to restrain until he relaxes. If you have perspiration dripping from your brow, and he’s still resisting furiously, find a more subdued puppy.
- Overly-possessive pups. You should be able to approach and remove anything the puppy is eating, chewing or playing with no matter how delicious or intriguing. Silent and confident, walk over and remove his prize, opening his mouth if necessary.
- The bully who struts stiff-legged, attacking his litter-mates at every opportunity. This dog will need ongoing, careful training.
- Timid or very inactive pups. Your puppy should be alert, curious and happy. Always schedule a veterinarian exam immediately after purchase to confirm that your puppy is as healthy as he seems.