Once you understand you and your dog's personality type, you can use this knowledge to select (or adapt to) a dog that is compatible with you. Dr. Coren provides pros and cons of four personality combinations.A+A:
According to Dr. Coren, the downside is,"Type A dogs are going to drive Type A people crazy." Your pup may not respond pronto when you use a command; he may be busy doing his own dog thing. The good part? "If you can get the dog interested in something that the owner really loves like flyball, then, in fact, the dog will match the energy level of their owner," adds Dr. Coren. And that's heaven.A+B:
"The totally Type B dog, the slowest of the slow, can sometimes be a bit frustrating for the Type A person," says Dr. Coren. Imagine that when you want to do something fast that your basset hound is walking at half-time. "But the pros are that the Type B dog will not interfere with the Type A person's abnormal flow of activities," adds Dr. Coren. That means on a really hectic day, when the phone is ringing off the hook a Type B pooch (unlike my Type A+ Brittany who goes ballistic when the doorbell rings) will not add to the stress level. B+B:
"B owners and B dogs can work out nicely because they can play the game of 'Couch potatoes are us,'" points out Dr. Coren. "The downside of two Type Bs is that the Type B person does like a lot of friendly interaction. So sometimes the Type B dog will be just a little bit too quiet even for the Type B person." Translation: If you're in the mood for doggie kisses your dog may be too laid-back to make the move and walk over to you.B+A:
"Type B dog owners are more tolerant than Type A dogs. The classic example is, you're sitting inside the house with company and your Airedale goes crazy because somebody is walking a dog down your street. The Type B person is much more apt to deal with that," explains Dr. Coren. "The downside is, these dogs are high maintenance. "If you don't exercise your border collie, he'll become neurotic and he's smart enough to make you neurotic too."Handling Type A "Bad Dog" Behavior
According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavioral clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts, and board certified in animal behavior, high energy Type A dogs can be problem dogs if you don't use these five behavioral strategies: Get A Move On. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Type A's need exercise. Your average dog needs 20 to 30 minutes a day, however, a Type A dog requires more.
Diet Right. If the dog is growing he has to receive puppy formula. You can try an all- natural diet to see if that makes a difference if the puppy is acting rambunctious.
Enroll Your Pup In Class. Doggie activities such as obedience kindergarten, flyball and agility classes can help give these dogs a healthful physical and mental release.
Get Your Dog A Job. "Every dog needs a job. A collie will like to herd things. And a retriever will like to bring things back to you. That's what I call getting a job," says Dr. Dodman. "You can't buy a herd of sheep for your border collie but you can get facsimiles. Herding dogs frequently like to chase balls or chase Frisbees. You need to provide a dog with an activity, preferably an interactive one [that means you're included Type B's!]"
Be the Boss. Beware cautions Dr. Dodman, "If you cater to attention-seeking behavior you'll get more attention-seeking behavior. You want to reward calm behavior. Treats are a good way to do that. You can train the dog to be relaxed, but you also have to provide an outlet." There are toys that tempt every personality type. Find them ASAP. Enough about Type A dogs...
Accepting The Laid-Back Type B Dog
"A Type B dog is not a problem for itself. The only problem it's going to be is for an owner who wants a Type A dog," says Dr. Dodman.
I remember Daisy, a wonderful low-key and lovable Siberian Husky-mix. The problem was, her owners, a San Carlos, California middle-aged couple, were a mismatch--Type A and Type B. The Type A woman initiated a divorce from her Type B husband because he and his dog were too laid-back! So easy-going Harry and Daisy moved out and into a rustic bungalow. As time passed, the man and dog bonded. Five years later, Harry met a carefree Type B woman, and today, Harry is happily married to her while Daisy is an integral link to their Type B happiness.
Speaking of Type B dogs... "The dog might have a very short attention span and they've just got to drift," points out Dr. Dodman. "Enjoy what attentions it wants to give to you. We're talking about a dog who's self-sufficient, laid-back and who doesn't really care about too much." That spells low-maintenance.
Meanwhile, I don't think I would be a good match for a Type B dog. Frankly, the kick-back attitude would bore me. "What we've learned as human beings, is that the important thing is to have our personalities compatible. Now sometimes that means the same, but sometimes complimentary," adds Dr. Goulston.
Getting It Dog-Gone Right
While a Type B dog may keep my blood pressure down, my Type-A Brittany, Dylan, at 11, still thinks fast, moves fast and keeps me on the ball, especially in the s-l-o-w mountain town of South Lake Tahoe where I currently reside. And Dr. Dodman agrees that a Type A may be the perfect breed for me. "Your wheels would be spinning, and the dog's wheels would be spinning and you both would be spinning around having the most wonderful time. But they do require a lot of time and attention."
As a busy journalist always on deadline, I agree. Dylan can be intense--like yesterday. When I was interviewing a high profile doctor, Dylan barged into my study, sat down and gave me that intense "Play with me NOW" stare with his big brown eyes. When I ignored him, he ran off and busied himself by barking at the stray dog outside. But between you and me, I respect that he, like me, can be pushy and amuse himself.
Still, I keep plenty of rawhide bones in stock, include Dylan in daily errands, mini-runs and weekend runs are a must-do. The lesson: he stays more calm and keeps me more calm. And that's a healthful thing for a Type A person.
The Bottom-line: Teaming up with your pup is similar to getting married. There are pros and cons to each other's personality traits. If you understand each other--you can work it out. And remember, acceptance of your pup's Type A or Type B personality is the key to a longer and happier life--for both of you.
To learn about Type A and Type B breeds, click on 15 Best Breeds for Type A vs. Type B Personalities.
This article was first published in Puppies USA Annual.