BELGIAN TEMPERAMENT AND TRAINING
Belgian Tervuren - Temperament (from the AKC Breed Standard)
“In his relationship with humans he is observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive. He does not show fear or shyness. He does not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack. He must be approachable, standing his ground and showing confidence to meet overtures without himself making them. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous for their attention and very possessive.”
Belgian Sheepdog - Temperament (from the AKC Breed Standard)
“The Belgian Sheepdog should reflect the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness and devotion to master. To his inherent aptitude as a guardian of flocks should be added protectiveness of the person and property of his master. He should be watchful, attentive, and always in motion when not under command. In his relationship with humans, he should be observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive. He should not show fear or shyness. He should not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous of their attention, and very possessive. Viciousness is a disqualification.”
Belgian Malinois - Temperament (from the AKC Breed Standard)
“Correct temperament is essential to the working character of the Belgian Malinois. The breed is confident, exhibiting neither shyness nor aggressiveness in new situations. The dog may be reserved with strangers but is affectionate with his own people. He is naturally protective of his owner's person and property without being overly aggressive. The Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is quick and responsive to commands from his owner. Faulty temperament is strongly penalized.”
Is this the breed for you?
Is a Tervuren for You? (article from ABTC website): http://www.abtc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=65:is-a-tervuren-for-you&catid=1:future-owner-member-ed-pages&Itemid=93
Belgians are great dogs—HOWEVER, they are not the breed for everyone! They can be reactive at times, and puppyhood and adolescence can be extremely challenging for a first-time Belgian owner. Their protective nature can be taken to extremes if not properly directed. Their energy levels can wear out even the most active owner. As a professional dog trainer, I knew what I was getting into when I got a Belgian, but boy-oh-boy was I unprepared for the reality of living with my first Belgian puppy!! Though I don’t want to discourage you from considering a Belgian, I strongly suggest that you attend dog shows or performance events, speak to Belgian owners and meet their dogs. (To find AKC events in your area, you can use this link to search http://www.akc.org/events/search/ .)
This is a breed that needs lots of socialization – the method may vary depending on the individual temperament of the dog. A more outgoing puppy can be taken directly into stressful situations, whereas a softer puppy may need to observe from a distance one or many times. Belgians notice everything! and are especially keenly alert to their owners’ emotions! Therefore, they need for their owners to be calm and assertive. If you are worried that Fido is going to react unfavorably to the neighbor’s yappy little Chihuahua, Fido is going to sense that there is something to be worried about and react just as you predicted. Had you stayed “calm and assertive,” Fido would likely do the same.
Belgian puppies typically go through a “fear period” during which even the most stable and outgoing puppy will be afraid of things that never bothered him/her before. Again, it is important for you to be “calm and assertive” and do not overreact. This is normal and will usually pass within a few weeks, provided you do not inadvertently reinforce the fearful behavior. Teaching your puppy a few things in advance, (such as sit on cue, a few tricks, and focus/attention exercises), can be useful in redirecting unwanted behavior during the fear period.
Belgians have a very well developed sense of humor, and it is helpful if their owners do, too ;-)) They typically want to be with “their” person/people and want very much to please you. This desire to be with their human(s) is one reason that Belgians don’t do well as kennel dogs or dogs relegated to the backyard. They are incredibly bright students and tend to learn new things very quickly. Like many “gifted children,” they can also become bored very quickly, so keep training sessions short and fun. Avoid repetitive drills. Belgians respond very well to Clicker or other positive training methods.
Because Belgians are so smart, they need lots of mental exercise as well as physical exercise. Keep their minds as busy as their bodies and you will both be much happier ;-))