I’m Going To Adopt. What Are Desirable Traits In Rescue Dogs?


First things first, if you’re looking to adopt, that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Every year, a lot of dogs end up being put down because a shelter lacks funds, space, or resources to keep taking care of these dogs. If you’re wondering what traits you should look for in a dog, here are a few tests to try out, according to paw-rescue.


Clap your hands: does the puppy look at you? Does he approach readily, in a friendly manner? These are good signs of sociability.

* Make eye contact: does the puppy engage in eye contact? This is a good indicator of a confidence pup. In contrast, be concerned about a pup who will not look at you. This could reflect a temperament problem or a vision disability.

* Call to the puppy: a puppy who ignores attempts to get his attention may have a hearing or temperament problem. Disinterest in interacting with people can indicate a disease as well.

* Praise the dog: it’s good if the puppy responds to verbal praise with some welcoming behavior, such as wagging his tail.

* Follow me: after playing with the pup for awhile, walk or jog away. If he tries to follow, that’s a positive sign. Not following indicates the pup has an independent personality.

* Pet the pup: does he respond in a friendly or accepting manner? Or does he try to dominate you by nipping, growling or jumping at you? Does he reflect independence by trying to escape?

* Play with a toy: roll a safe dog toy, such as a ball, or a crumpled paper ball near the pup. But don’t toss the toy at the pup. See if the dog will follow it. Encourage the pup to fetch the toy and to bring it back to you. A dominant-natured pup will fetch the ball, take it away, and resist letting you take it. An independent pup may show no interest in the toy; however, this could also indicate an ill puppy. A submissive pup may be a little fearful of the toy. A highly social pup will bring the toy back to you on his own. Normal behavior would involve the pup getting the toy, chewing on it, but allowing you to take it away. Willingness to retrieve can be an indicator of a dog’s interest in training exercises.

* Rollover test: gently take the puppy and roll him onto his back. Gently hold him in place with one hand on his chest for 15 seconds. A dominant or independent pup will tend to resist the whole time. He might yip or try to nip you. A submissive pup does not struggle at all, and may try to lick you in deference. Most puppies will resist for a few seconds and then contentedly accept your handling.

Most Desirable Traits According to Research

Funnily enough, researchers say that these two things make dogs desirable to adopters: 1) if the dog lay down next to the potential adopter and 2) if the dog accepts a potential adopter’s invitation to play. So at the end of the day, things like breed, behavior, and appearance may not actually do much to increase a dog’s desirability. 

Those two mentioned are actually good indicators of a dog’s temperament. If a dog lays down next to a potential owner and decides to play with him/her, it’s actually a good sign of compatibility. 

Knowing that those two traits increase a dog’s desirability, researchers created a program that will help a dog become more desirable. 

So if a dog lays down beside you and it bonds or plays with you, then that dog is probably a good match. 

Of course, if researchers are creating a program that influences a rescue dog’s behavior, what does it mean for potential owners? Are those behaviors meaningless now? Not necessarily. It’s still a good sign that a dog has a good temperament and is willing to listen and be trained.