• Shawna Renga

Dog Archetype Series: The Peacemaker

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”– Josh Billings
  • Positive Traits: Gentle, Calm, Observant, Tolerant, Responsive, Connected

  • Challenging Traits: Fearful, Anxious, Reactive, Shy, Needy

  • Best For: Homes looking for a deep emotional connection with a furry friend who truly relies on them for support and security.

We’ve all met that dog that seems “perfect”. The one who gently and calmly, without a leash, follows their owner down the sidewalk, or sits quietly outside a boutique while their guardian does a little shopping. The dog who is well-mannered around the house. The dog who loves everyone, is mellow and responsive, and gets along with all furry creatures large and small. The perfect pooch. I call this Dog Archetype “The Peacemaker”.


Does this pup perfection spring from nature, or nurture? Is it the breed that determines these traits? The socialization? The training? The mix of genetics from the generations of dogs who came before? The answer is… Yes.


I think a dog’s “true self”, who they are as an animal, is an amazingly complex mixture of all of these things. I believe that like people, dogs are born with a predetermined “lens” of personality through which they interpret the world around them. This can be seen in a litter of puppies – all sharing the same genetics but with wildly different behavioral and temperament traits.


Each dog’s personality “archetype” affects how he or she learns and develops, just like with a human child. Early life experiences influence how a puppy interprets and reacts to different stimuli, and often predicts how successful they will be at integrating into the human world around them as an adult dog.


Doggy “Peacemakers” are motivated by a desire to avoid conflict. As puppies, they tend to be lower down in the hierarchy of the litter, choosing to give up food, toys, or mom’s attention to stronger, more confident puppies. Peacemaker puppies are not fearful (at least not at first), rather they are calm and observant. A peacemaker pup may sit quietly and watch their sibling tumble and play fight, and will often avoid crazy roughhousing. As they grow and mature, peacemaker pups are open to new experiences, but may be more cautious and hesitant than their more confident siblings. Puppies of this type need a confident, patient, supportive guardian who will help them learn and develop into their best selves.


If all goes well, peacemaker puppies get support and encouragement after they leave their litter and join their new family. They bond strongly with their owners and learn that the world around them is a safe and comfortable place. They have many friends, dogs and people alike, and are able to relax into the world around them. Peacemaker Puppies become those relaxed “perfect” dogs we see in the world that seem to just follow along with life, causing no conflict and making no trouble.


If things are rough for Peacemaker pups, they quickly learn that the world is a scary scary place! Peacemaker pups that have negative experiences early on can really suffer from a lack of confidence. If paired with a guardian who hoped for a confident, outgoing athlete, Peacemaker pups can cause frustration due to their need for constant support and encouragement.


As adult dogs, these misunderstood Peacemakers can be overly alert, fearful, shy, reactive, and anxious. Many potentially “perfect” dogs are surrendered to shelters each year because their owners misinterpret their fear and insecurity as aggression or meanness. Peacemakers are often overwhelmed by a loud shelter environment, and get overlooked for being too timid or afraid.


But these gentle souls are some of the most rewarding dogs to rescue! Their innate desire for security and leadership allow them to bond strongly with their family. They respond incredibly well to positive training techniques and are often much closer to being a “perfect” pet than their seemingly more confident shelter mates.


Peacemakers that end up in a shelter environment are the lost-souls of the rescue world, bursting with potential and ready to connect deeply with a new guardian. If you have an open heart, a gentle hand, and some empty space on your bed or lap, adopting a Peacemaker may be for you!

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