Identifying your dog’s character type
Can a dog be an introvert or extrovert? An interesting question and one I firmly believe the answer to is Yes!
Like with humans, dogs have their own personalities and characters. All are born with natural tendencies; although these alone do not make them introverted or extroverted from birth.
Dog’s brains responses are shaped by things they are exposed to in puppyhood, and it is a combination of their natural tendencies and their early life experiences that will determine how they interact socially.
Being introverted or extroverted are terms used to identify a dog’s relationship with its social interaction, rather than a description of their entire personality. It’s only one element to their characters but an important one. Identifying whether a dog tends to lean more towards the introverted or the extroverted side of the scales is extremely helpful.
Also commonly expressed as outgoing or reserved, this classification gives us a guidance towards what stimulates them positively, and it is with this knowledge that we can bring the best out of our dogs.
Can you see Introvert or Extrovert traits?
Introverted types are the dogs more likely to sit on the periphery of life and observe. In group situations they are cautious; watching the antics from the sidelines before committing to joining in – if at all.
Many introverts have a preference for calm and quiet, and will perhaps take themselves off to somewhere less busy, rather than interact with other dogs. They will often continue to play with a ball or frisbee, intently focused and ignore any new dogs entering the same space.
The introvert will not push themselves forward in any social situations.
They will are more likely to back off if approached by an unfamiliar dog or owner, no matter how well meant the attention was given.
Being introduced to new situations and experiences can be stressful as they are unsure how to act or what to do next. They prefer routine and are comforted with the familiar.
New walks and environments are great for the introverted dog’s senses but should be conducted sensitively, allowing them time to take in all the new sights and sounds as you go.
All dogs, even introverts, need playtime and fun. With plenty of encouragement and baby steps, new people and dogs soon become familiar, and these new experiences continue to enrich the lives of our introverts but at a much steadier pace of their counterpart – the extrovert.
Extroverted types are those dogs that go bounding through life, sticking their snouts in everyone’s faces and most people love them for it. Their enthusiasm for exploration is infectious and sometimes rather tiring.
They demand attention and require plenty of entertainment as they can bore easily.
Games and toys that allow them to work on a puzzle are great for the extrovert and will keep them mentally challenged in the home.
It’s essential, for all dogs, to maintain a routine around walks, meals time and bedtimes but the extroverted dog will enjoy a varying amount of new experiences.
They thrive from being introduced to different people, dogs and environments and will eagerly get involved in whatever is going on.
The extrovert will actively seek out any dogs that can provide play and fun in group situations, but it is important to remember that with all this eagerness can come over excitement.
In some cases, this will result in boisterous behaviour, and they will need a timeout session to calm down. Although, these sessions should not be presented as a form of punishment but just an opportunity to rest in their bed or safe place.
What is your dog’s social style?
While extroverts find social interaction emotionally nourishing, introverts find it overwhelming. However, there is a broad spectrum of introversion and extroversion and many nuances in between.
My greyhound Tipps will often retreat to his bed when all the family dogs are in one place. He is a classic introvert then; taking a back seat to the other dogs. He remains quiet and non-vocal as they rest bark or whimper requesting attention, moving from person to person in the hopes of eliciting some affection.
However, take the dogs out of the equation, and he becomes the diva in the room. Demanding attention with a jab of his long limbs or a “harruff” noise, that doesn’t quite make it to a bark. Standing suffocatingly close and leaning into a person until they are forced to acknowledge him and reward his efforts with love and affection. Having considered why he behaves this way, I put it down to a combination of his upbringing, his breed and “just the way he is”.
What I see in my Greyhound
The greyhound is known for being the 45mph couch potato. Spending the day lying on something comfortable, rathern than bouncing about. Many people unfamiliar with this breed think they are aloof and unsociable. Descriptions often associated to an introvert.
They are in fact very loving and affectionate but also extremely needy. Also probably words used when describing an introverted character. However, pop him in a garden party full of people and he is the star attraction. Happy to be in the middle of the crowd. He will be found lying on his back, legs in the air, lapping up the attention like a superstar. When other dogs are there though he retreats into himself.
Greyhounds bred for the track are raised in a unique way. They are often kept with their litter-mates and in some cases their mothers, for the first six months. This is unlike the traditional eight weeks for most pups. Mum plays a much larger role in their lives. It is Mum that potty trains. It is Mum that controls her litter during play. The pups look to her for guidance as they begin to venture out of the whelping pens and into the runs.
The extended time spent with their litter-mates teaches them a sense of family and socialises them exponentially, albeit in a contained world.
How the early years shape a dog’s social responses
During their career years, racing greyhounds are in contact with many handlers. Those that rear them and care for them at their home kennels. Those that train. Those that groom. And all those working and visiting the tracks. Being around lots of people poses no concern to them.
They are also constantly with other greyhounds but rarely have a chance to socialise with other breeds. It is because of this that their communication skills are quite limited. They are awkward in social gatherings involving other dogs.
With this knowledge, I understand my gorgeous grey a little more. Tipps is a character. He does his zoomies when he wants, but will also refuse to move when he wants. We have a bond and a communication built up over years together. I love the inner extroverted show-dog that peeks through his introvert exterior.