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Personality in dogs and suitability assessment

Updated: Jan 24

personality assessment dogs

Dogs, like us, are born with genes that provide the foundation for how they interact with the world around them. How they react to loud noises, how they respond when they feel threatened, how playful they are, how social they are, how cooperative they are, and more. Just like in humans, a dog's genes and the environment it grows up in play a role in shaping its personality.

Personality in dogs

It is very difficult to change a dog's personality, especially after they have become adults. In young dogs, the environment in which the dog grows up influences the development of its personality. By providing the puppy with positive experiences in daily life, we can "guide" emotions in a more positive direction, but the genes the dog is born with cannot be changed. Genes also form the basis for many breed-specific traits, where, for example, a dog may be genetically predisposed to guard the house while another dog leaves the job to the alarm system. Some dogs are well-suited for agility, some for tracking, some for hunting, some for herding, and some for various forms of service work.

The big 5 personality

It is common to conduct personality testing for job applicants as part of the hiring process to find those best suited for specific tasks. Many may be surprised by their own results on these personality tests. A personality test is an objective assessment where emotions and how a person appears do not influence the evaluation. It can be challenging to objectively define the personalities of people we surround ourselves with. Our impression will be influenced by how well we know them, whether we like them, appearance, and more. This is also applicable when assessing the personality of dogs; it is challenging for us as dog owners to be completely objective.

PADA dog logo

Therefore, we have developed PADA, which helps us map out the personality of a dog. Mapping a dog's personality allows us to determine if the dog is suitable for working in collaboration with humans or if it would be better suited for other tasks. Dogs that are meant to work with people should be confident and social. After the dog has completed PADA, we can also assess which user group they are suitable to work with and in which settings they can thrive. Additionally, you will receive tips on how to develop and improve your relationship with your dog.

These three dogs have all undergone the PADA suitability assessment:

personality assessment of basenji

Bella - Basenji female:

Bella exhibits many of the typical traits of a Basenji. She is very independent, not very social with strangers, very curious, has a strong motivation for hunting, playful, quickly shakes off uncomfortable stress, and loves training tricks and various exercises. However, she is impatient and can easily become bored if exercises and training are very repetitive.

Bella is approved to work as a therapy dog, but she had to undergo the suitability assessment twice. She did not succeed in the initial assessment, displaying evident aversion to specific handling. Owner Silje England had to train her extensively to make her comfortable with handling. Bella takes time to get to know strangers and is best suited to work one-on-one. She loves activities with a bit of speed but thrives best in calm situations. She likes to be close to people she is familiar with. The owner also needs to be more considerate and make more adjustments to ensure Bella's well-being during activities. She requires more adaptation than many other more social dogs.

personality assessment of golden retriever

Elja - Golden Retriever 

is somewhat cautious. She possesses a strong social motivation but feels uncertain in social interactions. Elja can be easily misunderstood; despite her keen desire to greet everyone and everything, she finds human interactions a bit intimidating. It's crucial to read Elja carefully when she greets unfamiliar people. Many dogs that pin their ears back, wag their tails low, and lift the corners of their mouths during greetings are uncertain in such situations. Elja also finds the rest of the assessment somewhat challenging, and she is a dog that is not suitable for working in collaboration with humans.

Elja is not unemployed even though she cannot work in this field. She is an obedient and friendly dog who loves training. Elja knows many useful exercises and entertaining tricks useful for animal assisted services and often accompanies her handler, Line Sandstedt (instructor), as a demonstration dog. Additionally, she is a hunting dog, a competition dog, and a highly cherished family member.

personality assessment german sheperd

Apollo - German Shepherd

He possesses many of the breed-specific characteristics of German Shepherds. Both Apollo's parents and siblings have won several national and international championships in working dog activities, where courage and trainability are highly demanded. Here, we see that Apollo is genetically predisposed to function well as both a service dog and a family pet. He is social and brave, enjoys playing, loves all types of high-energy activities, and never tires of training. Apollo successfully completed the test without major challenges; he is comfortable with handling and readily accepts challenges. In addition to being a suitable dog for working in this field, Apollo is the perfect family dog, cherished by everyone, both young and old.

Now, a bit of training remains before he is ready to undergo the practical test as a therapy and school dog, alongside his handler, Christine Olsen.

Suitability assessments of dogs should be conducted by qualified professionals. Assessing a dogs personality requires the right education and knowledge. Ethologists have masters degrees in animal behavior and are such qualified persons. Other certified persons need to have the right education and be certified by ethologists or animal behaviorists with the right education.

Read more about our suitability assessment PADA

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