Aptitude Test

We temperament test all of our puppies at 7 weeks of age when their personalities closely resemble that of their adult self. We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude test which you can read more about here http://www.volhard.com/pages/pat.php . We believe that not every puppy will fit in any given family situation. By the end of 9-10 weeks we feel we know our puppies very well and between our close observation and relationship with them and the aptitude test we feel positive we are capable of making the best possible matches.

Test Purpose Scoring Results
Social attraction –  The tester kneels down and coaxes the puppy to come to him or her by encouragingly and gently clapping hands and calling.  The tester must coax the puppy in the opposite direction from where it entered the test area.  Hint:  Lean backward, sitting on your heels instead of leaning forward toward the puppy.  Keep your hands close to your body encouraging the puppy to come to you instead of trying to reach for the puppy. Degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence. 1. Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands2. Came readily, tail up, pawed, liked at hands.
3. Came readily, tail up.
4. Came readily, tail down.
5. Came hesitantly, tail down.
6. Did not come at all.
Following – the tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow.  Hint:  Make sure the puppy sees you walk away and get the puppy to focus on you by lightly clapping your hands and using verbal encouragement to get the puppy to follow you.  Do not lean over the puppy. Degree of following attraction. Not following indicates independence. 1. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet.2. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.
3. Followed readily, tail up.
4. Followed readily, tail down.
5. Followed hesitantly, tail down.
6. No following, or went away.
Restraint – the tester crouches down and gently rolls the puppy on its back and holds it on its back for 30 seconds.  Hint:  Hold the puppy down without applying too much pressure.  The object is not to keep it on its back but to test its response to being placed in that position. Degree of dominant or submissive tendency. How it accepts stress when socially and/or physically dominated. 1. Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.2. Struggled fiercely, flailed.
3. Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact.
4. Struggled then settled.
5. No struggle.
6. No struggle, straining to avoid eye contact.
Social Dominance – let the puppy stand up or sit and gently stroke it from the head to the back while you crouch beside it.  See if it will lick your face, an indication of a forgiving nature.  Continue stroking until you see a behavior you can score.  Hint:  When you crouch next to the puppy avoid leaning or hovering over the puppy.  Have the puppy at your side with both of you facing in the same direction. Degree of acceptance of social dominance. 1. Jumped, pawed, bit growled.2. Jumped, pawed.
3. Cuddles up to tester and tries to lick face.
4. Squirmed, licked at hands.
5. Rolled over, licked at hands.
6. Went away and stayed away.
Elevation Dominance – the tester cradles the puppy with both hands, supporting the puppy under its chest and gently lifts it two feet off the ground and holds it there for 30 seconds. Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control. 1. Struggled fiercely, tried to bite2. Struggled fiercely   3. Struggled, settled, struggled, settled4. No struggle, relaxed5. No struggle, body stiff6. No struggle, froze
Retrieving – the tester crouches beside the puppy and attracts its attention with a crumpled up piece of paper.  When the puppy shows some interest, the tester throws the paper no more than four feet in front of the puppy encouraging it to retrieve the paper. Degree of willingness to work with a human. High correlation between ability to retrieve and successful guide dogs, obedience dogs, field trial dogs. 1. Chases object, picks up object and runs away.2. Chases object, stands over object, does not return.
3. Chases object and returns with object to tester.
4. Chases object and returns without object to tester.
5. Starts to chase object, loses interest.
6. Does not chase object.
Touch Sensitivity – the tester locates the webbing of one the puppy’s front paws and presses it lightly between his index finger and thumb.  The tester gradually increases pressure while counting to ten and stops when the puppy pulls away or shows signs of discomfort. Degree of sensitivity to touch. 1. 8-10 seconds before response.2. 6-8 seconds before response.
3. 5-6 seconds before response.
4. 3- 5 seconds before response.
5. 2-3 seconds before response.6. 1-2 seconds before response.
Sound Sensitivity – the puppy is placed in the center of the testing area and an assistant stationed at the perimeter makes a sharp noise, such as banging a metal spoon on the bottom of a metal pan. Degree of sensitivity to sound (also a rudimentary test for deafness). 1. Listened, located sound and ran toward it barking 2. Listened, located sound and walked slowly toward it   3. Listened, located sound and showed curiosity  4. Listened and located sound5. Cringed, backed off and hid behind tester6. Ignored sound and showed no curiosity
Sight Sensitivity – the puppy is placed in the center of the testing area.  The tester ties a string around a bath towel and jerks it across the floor, two feet away from the puppy. Degree of intelligent response to strange object. 1. Looks, attacks and bites.2. Looks, barks and tail up.3. Looks curiously, attempts to investigate.4. Looks, barks, tail-duck.5. Runs away, hides.
Stability – an umbrella is opened about five feet from the puppy and gently placed on the ground. 


Degree of startle response to a strange object. 1. Looked and ran to the umbrella, mouthing or biting it 2. Looked and walked to the umbrella, smelling it cautiously 3. Looked and went to investigate 4. Sat and looked, but did not move toward the umbrella5. Showed little or no interest6. Ran away from the umbrella



Mostly 1’s
Strong desire to be pack leader and is not shy about bucking for a promotion
Has a predisposition to be aggressive to people and other dogs and will bite
Should only be placed into a very experienced home where the dog will be trained and worked on a regular basis

Top Dog Tips: Stay away from the puppy with a lot of 1’s or 2’s.  It has lots of leadership aspirations and may be difficult to manage.  This puppy needs an experienced home.  Not good with children. 

Mostly 2’s
Also has leadership aspirations
May be hard to manage and has the capacity to bite
Has lots of self-confidence
Should not be placed into an inexperienced home
Too unruly to be good with children and elderly people, or other animals
Needs strict schedule, loads of exercise and lots of training
Has the potential to be a great show dog with someone who understands dog behavior

Mostly 3’s     –
Can be a high-energy dog and may need lots of exercise
Good with people and other animals
Can be a bit of a handful to live with
Needs training, does very well at it and learns quickly
Great dog for second time owner.

Mostly 4’s     –
The kind of dog that makes the perfect pet
Best choice for the first time owner.
Rarely will buck for a promotion in the family
Easy to train, and rather quiet.
Good with elderly people, children, although may need protection from the children
Choose this pup, take it to obedience classes, and you’ll be the star, without having to do too much work!

Tidbits: The puppy with mostly 3’s and 4’s can be quite a handful, but should be good with children and does well with training.  Energy needs to be dispersed with plenty of exercise. 

Mostly 5’s     –
Fearful, shy and needs special handling
Will run away at the slightest stress in its life
Strange people, strange places, different floor or ground surfaces may upset it
Often afraid of loud noises and terrified of thunder storms. When you greet it upon your return, may submissively urinate.  Needs a very special home where the environment doesn’t change too much and where there are no children
Best for a quiet, elderly couple
If cornered and cannot get away, has a tendency to bite

Top Dog Tips: Avoid the puppy with several 6’s.  It is so independent it doesn’t need you or anyone.  He is his own person and unlikely to bond to you. 

Mostly 6’s     –
So independent that he doesn’t need you or other people
Doesn’t care if he is trained or not – he is his own person  Unlikely to bond to you, since he doesn’t need you.
A great guard dog for gas stations!
Do not take this puppy and think you can change him into a lovable bundle – you can’t, so leave well enough alone

Few puppies will test with all 2’s or all 3’s – there will be a mixture of scores.
For that first time, wonderfully easy to train, potential star, look for a puppy that scores with mostly 4’s and 3’s.  Don’t worry about the score on Touch Sensitivity – you can compensate for that with the right training equipment.

Tidbits: It’s hard not to become emotional when picking a puppy – they are all so cute, soft and cuddly.  Remind yourself that this dog is going to be with you for 8 to 16 years.  Don’t hesitate to step back a little to contemplate your decision.  Sleep on it and review it in the light of day.

Avoid the puppy with a score of 1 on the Restraint and Elevation tests.  This puppy will be too much for the first time owner.

It’s a lot more fun to have a good dog, one that is easy to train, one you can live with and one you can be proud of, than one that is a constant struggle.



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