There are three primary canine temperament groups: Assertive or aggressive, neutral, and passive.
In addition, your puppy could exhibit a mishmash of all three dog temperament types, depending on the situation.
Objectively observe how your dog plays and reacts to other dogs and people to decide which group or combination best describes your puppy or dog.
Assertive or aggressive
An assertive or aggressive puppy or dog typically has the highest prey drive.
A dog with this disposition boldly enters a park and scopes it to find a challenge.
They demand attention. They create stressful situations.
Assertive dogs don’t hesitate to confront another dog, play tug-of-war, wrestle, or chase others.
They bait and set up dares. One way is by bringing an item or toy to another dog, dropping it, then snatching it away.
Or just snatching a toy or ball from another dog.
Assertive dogs always play to win.
Assertive or aggressive dogs can be rough on toys, other animals, and property.
They zealously look for action. Assertive dogs destroy anything in their path to get what they want.
They annihilate toys, even those guaranteed for tough chewers. They exhibit resource guarding and don’t want to share food or toys.
Assertive dogs are possessive and territorial. They follow their own rules.
Assertive dogs have no boundaries. For them, play fighting often turns into actual fighting.
Aggressive dogs play rough. That doesn’t imply they are necessarily malicious, but they are bullies. Because they don’t “play nice,” they can be annoying and unwanted.
Help change your dog’s aggressive behavior
If you don’t want your dog to have a reputation for being an assertive or aggressive dog, you can work to modify your dog’s behavior.
With focus and training, you can help guide them with reasonable effort, modify their behavior, and guide them into the neutral group.
Establish your authority. Start by setting boundaries and rules.
Immediately and consistently, reward with praise and appropriate behaviors. Immediately and consistently correct inappropriate behaviors.
Use impulse control games to help your dog develop coping mechanisms. You will see a difference quickly.
Neutral dog temperatment
Neutral dogs have a medium prey drive.
These dogs are self-confident and have exceptional coping skills.
Neutrals don’t look for trouble. Again, size or sex doesn’t matter.
They respectfully yet confidently enter a dog park.
Neutrals enjoy interacting and happily play with other dogs.
They are also content to find non-destructive ways to amuse themselves if they don’t have a play companion.
Neutral dogs avoid confrontation if challenged by simply walking away or appearing passive. They cope with stress easily.
They would rather chase a Frisbee or retrieve a ball than wrestle. The dogs unselfishly share their food and possessions.
Their toys show normal wear and tear; your dog doesn’t shred them to bits in minutes.
Neutral dogs appreciate playing with you or another dog but don’t demand attention. They are content to find non-destructive ways to amuse themselves when left alone.
A neutral dog is a well-balanced dog that exhibits playful behavior and has developed a coping strategy.
They enjoy playing with other dogs and use play bows to initiate play.
Passive dogs warily enter a dog park. They have low self-confidence and few coping skills.
They have little, if any, prey drive. Size or sex doesn’t matter. The largest dog in the park can be the most passive.
Passives would rather sit next to you or be alone rather than mingle and interact with others. They can appear fearful and anxious. Sadly, they frequently are unhappy puppies or dogs.
Passive dogs are more likely to experience fear aggression and the behavior problems that come with it.
Passives are easy on toys. They have no impulse to destroy them.
Passives knowingly avoid any confrontation. They are cautious and apprehensive.
Some never know the joy and fun of being a dog.
Again, you can help your passive pooch move up to the neutral position with reasonable effort. Training classes like agility can help boost your dog’s confidence.
You will be amazed how their personality will grow, and they will enjoy being dogs.
The bottom line on understanding canine temperament
Understanding dog temperament types can help your puppy or dog develop coping and problem-solving skills.
Reduce your dog’s assertive or aggressive behavior by setting boundaries and rules. Be fair, firm, and consistent.
Help your passive pet gain self-confidence and greater coping skills by exposing them to as many positive experiences as possible. Build up their self-esteem.
If you have a neutral dog, be grateful and enjoy your time together.
Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.