The more I learn about dogs, the more I become obsessed with them. I love reading new studies and following the work of researchers online. One of my favorite things to learn about is how their brain works, how they think, and how they feel. I’ve never been a huge fan of anatomy, but I’ve always had a special interest in psychology, neuro, & behavioral sciences. I love taking all these amazing things I learn and just observing dogs. The way they interact, communicate, and play, is so fascinating to me.
I’ve been blessed in the sense that I get to work with dogs daily. So, I am consistently meeting new dogs to observe on a regular basis. One of the things I enjoy most about this is getting to know all the different personalities they each have. However, when I ask an owner to describe their dog’s personality, often I hear words like: Stubborn, lazy, defiant, independent, sweet, shy, playful, smart, stupid, silly, funny and so on. Rarely do I hear people ever refer to their dogs as introverted or extroverted. When I do, often they’re wrong.
To me, introverted and extroverted tell me so much more about your dog than anything else. Living with dogs who are complete personality opposites, I can tell you that they have both had moments where I think they are funny, silly, sweet, shy, playful, smart, and even a little stupid, lazy, or stubborn. But this just describes situational behavior. These things change from day to day. What never changes about them, is their core personality traits. Whether they are introverted or extroverted.
Malcom is my introvert. He isn’t going to suddenly wake up one day, decide to become super energetic and start finding social interaction is mentally nourishing. While he does enjoy a social engagement from time to time, it’s very overwhelming and exhausting for him and he will tell me when he’s ready to go home. He shows signs of stress if in a crowded area for too long and can be very timid and standoffish when meeting new people. He’s not necessarily mean to people who seek his attention, but he much prefers to be left alone and acts disinterested. He’s just not fond of new people in general, in public or in our home.
These feelings extend towards other dogs too as he is very selective about friends. He doesn’t enjoy playing with other dogs much and can be awkward and aloof. He’s happiest just sticking by my side or playing a calm game with only one of his family members. Malcom easily gets overstimulated by sights, smells, and sounds. Often becoming intently focused, making it hard to break his concentration to do something else. And he takes a very cautious approach to risks and making decisions. For the most part, he prefers to stick to himself and observe life around him. A favorite activity is to stare out of the window and watch the world go by.
He’s never been very cuddly and really values his alone time, often getting cranky if he hasn’t had enough, or sneaking away on his own to sleep and recharge. While he may sound like a real bore, he is anything but. He knows what he likes and what makes him happy. He knows how to speak up when something makes him uncomfortable and how to ask for things he wants and enjoys. These things, I love about him.
Lupe, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. Lupe is our little Extrovert. Despite being initially skeptical, once she feels confident, she becomes very boisterous and often is easily overexcited. As she gets older and becomes more confident in general, her true personality is shining through, brighter than the sun. She just goes bounding through her day with such an eagerness to get involved in whatever it is you’re doing. She requires copious amounts of entertainment and bores very quickly, easily. At times, she drives us all mad with her incessant need for constant attention, sometimes literally assaulting our faces with her snout to asses our moods and mental states. (Or if we’re ready to play again). She can be a bit neurotic at times, but her ability to find joy and fun in everything she does is inspiring.
My favorite thing about her though, is how she greets the day. Each day is a new adventure she can’t wait to go on. Her enthusiasm for exploration, although exhausting at times, is mostly delightful. She loves new experiences and thrives on meeting new people, new dogs, and going new places. When we’re out in public, she actively seeks to play with and interact with any one who crosses her path. She expresses pure joy when she meets new people and rushes to greet those she thinks are friendly, with her entire body vibrating with excitement. It’s truly beautiful, really. She always looks back to me for reassurance and I swear her face is filled with pure infatuation. Literally every new person she meets, once she gets the trusted nod of approval from me, gets to experience the huge heart full of love and happiness she has to give and it’s infectious.
Despite their differences, these two can also be a lot alike. They both make me laugh with their silly sense of humor. They’re both very attentive and in tune to our moods and emotions. Often knowing exactly what I need and when. Whether it’s a laugh, or soft, warm, friend to hug. They’re both inquisitive and curious. They’re both loud and obnoxious. They can both be dramatic and overreact. And they can both be either lazy and unmotivated or have too much energy and drive me to crazy exhaustion. But what really sets them apart is their core personality, one is more of an introvert, and once is more of an extrovert.
I find it absolutely fascinating to watch and study the differences in them and all the other dogs I get to meet. But I have noticed that most dogs, they all really tend to lean one way or the other, despite their vastly unique differences. So go hang out with your dog’s and pay attention to their core personality traits. What do you think? Do they lean one way or another? Why? I’d love to hear from you all in the comments!