Routine puppy vaccination visits can allow veterinarians to identify dogs with potential future behavior problems for early intervention. Twenty-one veterinarians evaluated puppy behavior during their initial vaccination visits using an 11-point questionnaire.
Puppies were assessed for activity, sociability, and stress signals (eg, lip licking, panting, avoiding contact, low body posture). Behavior scores were then analyzed for concordance: by trait and by individual. The first analysis divided puppies into 2 clusters, based on score similarities. One group consisted of almost all dogs labeled playful (n = 36) and a few neutral dogs (n = 7) with high activity and sociability scores and few stress signals. The second group consisted of all dogs labeled fearful (n = 5) and most dogs labeled neutral (n = 31), with low activity and sociability scores and high stress signals. Veterinarians were able to identify different “types” of puppies, which may correlate with temperament differences. Future studies should compare findings with evaluations outside the clinic and over time.