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Hey all. I've decided on a breeder to get a dog from in a few years, she shows her dogs, diversity tests, heath tests, etc. Overall, I believe she's reputable. My question here is about assessing the parents' temperament.

Part of the reason why I want a poodle is because of their aloof temperament to strangers. I'd really like for my future puppy to have this trait, but I'm unsure how to assess that if I met his parents in person? Like, is the dam just supposed to ignore me? And if she does get all excited to meet me, would that mean her temperament is bad or off standard?

Or should I just specify that that's the temperament I want when it comes to the 7 week temperament test? Help?
 

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For a specific trait like that, I'd ask if the parents have this trait. Some dogs are aloof toward strangers when out and about, but won't act the same way when you come to their house to visit because the energy is different. A stranger-friendly poodle isn't off standard, as that trait isn't part of the breed standard. But aloofness is still a very common trait in the breed.

For the 7 week temperament test, this has more to do with measuring drives, confidence, and eagerness to engage with a handler. People looking for a sport dog will want mostly 2s and 3s to mostly 3s, for a very active pet you probably want mostly 3s, and for a busy family you generally want 3s and 4s. A very mellow easy keeper will be mostly 4s. You don't really want a puppy to be aloof to the tester because puppies are generally friendly to strangers. The aloofness sets in as they age. An aloof puppy would worry me.
 

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Much of aloofness comes from your training plan. I cultivated aloofness in my dog from the beginning. When I took Noelle out in public, I taught her to look at people, but didn't encourage engaging with them. People are to be watched and recognized, but I'm the one you pay attention to. So, I didn't have 100's of strangers petting her. I wanted her to be calm around strangers, and aloof in public. This was a deliberate training plan on my end. For every one person who pet her, we were around four people who did not pet her. People are in the environment, like cars and trees. Not as friends. Noelle has human friends, of course, just not everyone we meet. Her dance card is full, and she likes it that way.

I think if the parents refused to greet me at the breeder, I'd worry the puppies were too antisocial, or there was shyness in the breeding line. It's easier to take an over the top crazy puppy and dial back the energy, than it is to crank up the intensity on a super shy dog. However, I didn't want the fastest, strongest, most intense puppy in the litter, either. That's why I asked my breeder to choose the middle puppy. The puppy who didn't get the party started, and the one who didn't hang in the back and let everyone walk all over it. I like a middling temperament.

The breeder selected a puppy from his large litter, but didn't tell me which one it was. I sat down on the floor and was instantly mobbed by three puppies. One after another they came over and jumped on and off me, wiggled, nibbled and were adorable. Then they took off and played pounce on the brothers and roll the sisters. Puppy number four watched all this, then came over and cuddled in my lap. She refused to leave. I put puppy number four on the floor to meet puppy number five. Puppy number four shoved puppy number five out of the way and reclaimed my lap. Every puppy I said hi to, puppy number four did the same thing. She claimed my lap as hers.

Puppy number four was the one the breeder picked for me. Puppy number four is Noelle.
 

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When we got our BC I saw a mob of black and white puppies.. Wanted a female so the two females and I went to another room I would say here puppy and the one I didn't want, came and sat on my lap and the one I wanted didn't come. So tried again, same thing, one I didn't want sat on my lap. So took her and she was the best farm dog. Stayed in her boundaries, and made sure no neighbor dog came on our acreage. Have to say we got many complements on how beautiful she was. Perfect BC markings. The breeder should see temperaments in the litter, but let the pup choose you if that is an option
 

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When we got our BC I saw a mob of black and white puppies.. Wanted a female so the two females and I went to another room I would say here puppy and the one I didn't want, came and sat on my lap and the one I wanted didn't come. So tried again, same thing, one I didn't want sat on my lap. So took her and she was the best farm dog. Stayed in her boundaries, and made sure no neighbor dog came on our acreage. Have to say we got many complements on how beautiful she was. Perfect BC markings. The breeder should see temperaments in the litter, but let the pup choose you if that is an option
You might as well be describing my experience with Peggy! I was practically pleading with the puppy we originally wanted to come say hi to us. Meanwhile, Peggy was like glue—trotting happily at my heels, curling up in my husband’s lap, giving us both licks, making sweet puppy eye contact...

Sometimes our dogs do just choose us. :)
 

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P.S. I love what Click said, that it’s easier to manage energy than it is to pull a shy dog out of her shell. Peggy was sick and overwhelmed during her first week with us, and it manifested as sudden extreme shyness. It was awful. Now she’s a nice happy medium. She’ll say hi to people, but she mostly dodges petting hands and is good about checking in with us. We diligently trained (and continue to train) this behaviour.
 

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I got Beckie when she was 4 1/2 months old. I met her at a fair, and she was mostly interested in smelling the grass and discovering her surroundings. I don’t even think I was able to pet her and she didn’t wag her tail once. She didn’t come when called or show any interest in me whatsoever. I like aloof dogs, that’s the kind of dog I’m looking for so she came with me that same day. In a matter of weeks, we had a very strong bond and today, even stronger. She will go greet strangers but will always stay a few inches back and not let them pet her.

Merlin was 16 months old and since he had an anxiety disorder, I was not able to pet him either, except when he was forced onto my lap. He bonded really fast to me and I became his only person. He will follow Beckie to greet people but won’t be petted either. Except once in a blue moon he will find a very empathetic person and ask to be on her lap. It has only happened with women. 2 in more than 5 years.

I believe puppies who aren’t as interested in meeting strangers will make aloof adults. It might not be as obvious as with an older puppy or adult, but if you look closely you will see it. And I have no doubt a good breeder will also know and will be able to pair the puppy with the right owner.
 
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