Saturday, April 4, 2009

From My Bookshelf

While attending the Rocky Mountain Cluster Dog Show in Denver, Colorado this past February, I discovered Stanley Coren’s book, Why Does My Dog Act That Way?: A Complete Guide to Your Dog’s Personality. I had read his earlier work, How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do when I brought Emma home as a puppy. After three years of having Emma in my life, I find myself continuing to look for ways to improve my relationship with her. So, it wasn’t surprising I purchased Dr. Coren’s next book.

In his book he discusses personality traits, temperament, and how the interaction of the dog’s breed and environment continue to shape a dog’s personality as they grow and develop. I was most interested in his classifications of personality depending upon the AKC breed classifications and the Dog Behavior Inventory (DBI) he provides readers in order to do an analysis of their own dog.

According to Dr. Coren’s AKC breed classifications, Boston Terriers, as part of the non-sporting group have the following personality profile:

· Moderately low intelligence and ability to learn.
· Moderately low sociability.
· Very high level of energy.
· Moderately low reactivity to the environment.
· Moderately high drive for dominance.

After reading these personality traits and thinking of Emma, I felt a question mark form in my mind. I wasn’t sure she fit the profile. So, with every effort to be objective, I completed Coren’s Dog Behavior Inventory. Here are the personality traits that emerged for Emma:

Moderately high intelligence and ability to learn.
· Moderately high sociability.
· Very high level of energy.
· Moderately high reactivity to the environment.
· Very high drive for dominance.

With three out of the five personality traits varying considerably from Dr. Coren’s personality traits of the AKC’s non-sporting group classification, I concluded Emma is perhaps more terrier than non-sporting dog. While Boston Terriers were bred for companionship, terriers were bred to keep farms free from vermin and she is certainly capable of that work task and the physical nature of a life led on a farm.

Even though Dr. Coren’s assigned personality traits to the AKC’s non-sporting group didn’t match Emma perfectly, the completed Dog Behavior Inventory did. Emma is just Emma. She’s a smart, highly energetic, loyal, independent, strong-willed companion that wants to work, play, and be loved. While her drive for dominance wears me out, her ability to go as far as I want to go when I run or snowshoe; to curl up on the couch in my office for as long as I’m at my desk; or to learn new tricks or advanced techniques in agility training, she, in many ways, is my perfect friend and companion.

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