7 Behaviors to Look For in a Pet Store Puppy

Mira Gibson

Do you know how to pick the right puppy? At PuppyBuddy, we know the importance of matching people with the right dog breeds for them. But a puppy’s breed is only the beginning of his personality, traits, and characteristics. 

As young as pet store puppies are, they have still interacted with their litter mates and have been socialized enough to have formed the 7 behaviors that we will discuss in this blog. 

Before you pick out a pet store puppy, we recommend that you pay special attention to these behaviors. This will help you make sure that the puppy you bring home really will have the best personality for you. Or, if you happen to be in Boca Raton, come to PuppyBuddy and our pet counselors will do the hard work for you!

These are the 7 behaviors that we’ll cover:

  1. Confidence
  2. Independence
  3. Dominance
  4. Trainability
  5. Sensitivity to Handling
  6. “Nervousness” 
  7. Obedience 


When you enter the puppy area of a pet store, you should be able to spot the confident puppies easily. Confident puppies will eagerly break away from the litter to greet you and sniff you and see what you’re all about. This kind of puppy will keep his tail up and wagging, and he’ll behave in an energetic, bouncy manner. If you noticed he’s too excited to control himself, don’t take this as a bad sign. All puppies at this age are untrained and it’s far more important that a puppy is excited and interested in you than it is that he knows how to control his excitement.   


Independence versus dependance is a behavioral spectrum for puppies just like it is for adults. The best human – dog relationship is one where the dog is attentive to the human but not anxious when separated. In order to recognize this healthy balance in a puppy, you’ll want to look for a puppy that will follow you around. 

If you encounter a puppy that loses interest in you or won’t follow you around, this is a sign that the puppy may be too independent. Extremely independent puppies tend to be disinterested and willful, making them difficult to train and a little boring to live with. Who wants a dog that doesn’t want to have anything to do with them? On the other end of the extreme are dependent puppies. These puppies tend to be overly anxious and could feel traumatized if and when their owners leave them alone for long hours. 


Similar to how you wouldn’t want a puppy that’s too independent, you also wouldn’t want a puppy that’s too dominant. A dominant puppy will be willful and challenge your authority, whcih could get exhausting. Who wants to have a power struggle with their dog for years on end? Your puppy should be happy about his role being your little sidekick. He should be eager to please you, assist you when you ask, fully obey you to the best of his ability at all times. 

Here is a reliable test to see whether or not a puppy is dominant or submissive. Place the puppy on his back and hold him down with your hand so that he has to stay on his back. If he struggles and fights you, trying to free himself, then he is dominant and could be difficult to train and live with. On the other hand, if he relaxes submissively, that’s a sign that he will be submissive in general and easier to train. 


Puppies that are weaned in a healthy environment will develop a sense of curiosity in the world thanks to the natural security they feel. When puppies feel secure and curious, they’re eager to learn, which makes them easier to train. 

When you’re at the pet store, you can assess a puppy’s trainability by trying to get his attention with a ball or other toy. Does the puppy show interest and give you his attention? Do his ears perk up and does he seem eager to understand you? If so, this is a good sign he’s high on the trainability scale.   


One of the things that does not come naturally to dogs is being “handled.” In the wild, a dog has full autonomy to object if and when something else is trying to touch it or push it around. If a domestic dog objects whenever someone tries to touch him, like a veterinarian or his owner, this could pose major problems if he needs to receive care. For this reason, responsible puppy breeders make sure to handle the growing puppies in ways that are appropriate to the puppies’ development. 

By the time a puppy reaches 8 weeks old and is transferred to a pet store, he should be comfortable with being handled. You can test this by handling the puppy yourself. Does the puppy show discomfort or struggle against you when you try to touch his paws and ears? If so, you could have long-term difficulty with him and you may want to choose a different puppy.


All puppies and dogs are sensitive to very loud noises thanks to their keen sense of hearing. But some puppies are overly frightened by loud noises and cower at unexpected sounds. A healthy puppy will proceed with more curiosity than fear when an unexpected sound or loud noise occurs.

You can test a puppy’s nervousness by clapping to get his attention. A simple clap of the hands shouldn’t startle a puppy and cause him to cower. Instead, a healthy puppy will jump and become excited. If you clap your hands and the puppy responds with fear and nervousness, then this is a sign that he will need a lot of extra TLC if you bring him home so that he can learn the world is a safe, not scary, place. 


Everyone wants an obedient dog, but it can be tricky to determine whether a pet store puppy is obedient or not, because at that age all puppies have difficulty controlling themselves when they’re very excited. And who wouldn’t be excited to meet you! Obedience is the perfect blend of curiosity and self-control. 

You’ll want to pick a puppy that is curious about new things, like the toy in your hand, but also self-controlled enough to hang back and wait for you to lead. If the puppy automatically tries to take a toy from you without your encouragement, i.e. he hasn’t waited to understand what you want him to do, then this could be a sign that he’ll be more difficult to train. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker. But be honest with yourself. If you don’t have the energy, patience, and determination to properly train a puppy who might be a slow learner, then now is the time to pick a more obedient puppy.


The best way to pick the right puppy for you is to meet puppies near you, play with them, and see their personalities! At PuppyBuddy in Boca Raton, FL, we make finding your puppy buddy easy, fun, and memorable. Our puppies are appropriately socialized, vaccinated, dewormed, and healthy. They’re ready to love you and show off their unique quirks, sense of humor, and sensitive hearts. We have purebred puppies for sale, including the most popular breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pugs, and Australian Shepherds. We also have Goldendoodles for sale, Cavapoos for sale, and a wide variety of other designer dogs. We hope to see you soon at our sunny location!