One day this week I ran across the link to Wendy Volhard’s “Canine Personality Profile”  Volhard breaks down a dog’s personality into four basic drives–prey, pack, flight, and fight, then asks a series of questions that are scored into each category.

As always with such things, it was both illuminating and not. On the one hand, it states the pretty obvious–Silas is not a pack animal. It was his lowest score, although not by much. And that’s after some things that were definitely boosted by his training. His ability to play with other dogs, for instance, is something that we worked extremely hard to develop.

I was amused to see the sum total of the results, though, because I think they do add up to explain some of our … issues. Practically tied for positions one and two, with a substantial gap before items three and four: prey and flight. Which is Silas to a T. I’ve always imagined his internal dialogue to be something like: “Do I go get that thing, or is it going to get me? Or, do I need to get it before it can get me!?” Which does not combine well with his general disinclination to look to me for advice. This is actually the nexus that a lot of our training tries to work in.

I don’t think the personality “test” is 100% accurate, of course. For example, the answer to “Does your dog dislike being petted?” is much more complicated than I can rank on a 0-10 scale. I settled for “sometimes,” but that hardly seems adequate.

I’ll also just put it out there that I found Volhard’s pat conclusion that a dog with “high pack and low prey drive . . . is a perfect pet” to be a little offensive. I don’t really believe in perfection (hence, blog title), but I’m pretty smitten with my little independent weirdo.

Speaking of which: here is Mr. Independence himself, who gathered up all the fleece blankets and nested down for the morning. I guess taking the afghan right off your human’s legs is “low pack drive,” huh?

All the blankets


5 thoughts on “Personality

  1. I’m glad you spoke back to Volhard’s notion that a dog with a high pack and low prey drive is perfect. That’s like saying everyone should want to marry a person who likes to please other and isn’t very aggressive. But luckily, we’re attracted to a wide range of personalities (in dogs and in people).


  2. Personality tests for dogs shouldn’t get any more wight than the Perfect Mate quizzes in Cosmopolitan…interesting maybe and kind of fun, but no short quiz can give truly accurate predictions about behavior…Silas is Silas and not a statistic and you know best what he needs


  3. Interesting, and not. I agree, @Gizmo — little to no weight should be given to something like this. One, because I really think there are more drives than four… and two, because, WOW, those were seriously watered down questions (ex. “Does your dog guard food or toys?”… well, yes and no. No, if you’re talking about guarding from me, period — that doesn’t mean I can’t create guarding, though — Yes, if you’re talking about food from other dogs. No, if you’re talking about toys from other dogs).


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