When talking about the character of a dog, it is good not to fall into anthropomorphism. While it is tempting to consider that every dog, like every human being, has its own character, the reality is more complex than that.
Indeed, the character of a dog can designate two distinct elements of his personality:
its innate character: the qualities of the dog's breed (courage, obedience, etc.) as they have been shaped by the selection work of dog breeders;
its acquired character: the behavior of the animal, because of its education and its life experiences.
Note: the work of dog training is precisely to improve the acquired character of a dog. To consider that the character of the dog is acquired from birth, is therefore to question the role of his education.
Does a dog have its own character?
It is obvious that every dog has his character. If you have ever had several dogs, of the same breed or not, you have noticed some different character traits between them.
Some dogs are more fearful, others more courageous; some may be touchy or even friendly, etc.
Either way, it remains important to understand that the character of a dog is not similar to the character of a man. Unlike humans, dogs do not make moral choices or value judgments.
As a result, his character is much more defined by dog training than the character of a person can be.
Can a dog have a bad temper?
It is important to understand that a dog cannot have a bad temper, at least not in a learned way.
An aggressive or biting dog is not because he has a bad background, but rather because he suffers from social or communication problems.
Dog training based on punishment or violence can thus help to give the dog a "bad" character, but the dog is not bad by nature.
Good to know: it is important to understand that the character of the dog is forged by its relationship with humans. The socialization of the dog is therefore essential if we try to give it "good" character.
Character of a dog: what does it depend on?
Different elements can shape a dog's character, and therefore his behavior.
It is believed that the individual character of a dog depends mainly on the following three elements:
The breed: the canine selection carried out by humans for centuries aims to look for traits of character in the dog. It is therefore obvious that certain breeds of dog have strong character traits (docility, courage, affection, etc.).
Dog education: education plays a big role in the behavior of a dog. While it isn't necessarily going to make a dog more affectionate or radically change its character, it aims to make it obedient or influence some of its behaviors.
Lived experiences: finally, the character of the dog depends on his past and his experiences. A traumatic experience can help make him aggressive or fearful. Early weaning of the puppy can also affect its temperament and behavior.
If your dog's character bothers you, you may want to consider consulting a canine behaviorist. The latter can help you better understand the dog's behavior and its origins.
Often, misunderstandings between a dog and its owner are not the result of a concern of character, but rather a problem of communication.
Good to know: before adopting a dog, it can be interesting to learn about the characteristics of its breed, to have some idea of its future character.
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