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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can any professional/experienced trainers or behaviorists comment on this "test" for puppy personality?

http://www.volhard.com/uploads/choosing-your-puppy-pdf.pdf

Is there any truth to this? Has this been proven non-predictive for future temperament/behavior?

We are on a waiting list for a puppy and I am pretty sure that while we will get to meet the available puppies in the litter, we won't have time to test each and every puppy in the little before choosing.

What say the wise members of this forum?
 

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I believe Bradshaw mentioned in Dog Sense that there was little experimental support for early temperament testing as a predictor of adult temperament. On the other hand, I've heard other people say anecdotally that it is very accurate. Not much help, I guess.

I would recommend telling your breeder what temperament you are looking for, what plans you have for your dog, what your household is like, etc. and allowing him/her to select a puppy (or several) for you consider. Having spent a significant amount of time with their puppies, breeders will have a fairly accurate picture of their personalities.

What kind of puppy are you getting? When will you meet them?
 

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A dog is born with a temperament and then molded. If you look at my dog's temperament test and compare it with her behavior today you wouldn't really see the same dog. The only thing that is even slightly the same is "easily excitable". But some of the notations include toy "aggression" and resistance to being touched, and impossible to handle.

By the time she was 3 and I'd had her for a few months she didn't show any toy or bone aggression at all (infact, she never did), she loved being touched and was fine to handle, although a bit excitable. Today, she's a dog that a small child can whallop on, sit on, pull ears with absolutely no consequence whatsoever. Not that I'd encourage it.

I think that all "tests" are somewhat short sighted because the dogs are still relatively young. My aunt had a dog that failed guide dog training during puppyhood because of "awkward agitation" but when the dog was about 4 my cousin's best friend was a boy who had seizures. The dog would go nuts before a seizure and they finally connected the dots after 6 months. They ended up going back to training school and giving the dog to my cousin's friend as a seizure alert dog. He lived until the age of 12 and saved the boy's life more than once.

At any rate, it's hard to really judge a puppy. Tests should be taken with a grain of salt and as an indicator to see what direction a dog may develop in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@cookieface, we are getting a cockapoo puppy, on a waiting list for Spring/Summer litters. We get to meet and select at 7 weeks, then go back and puck up to take home at 8 weeks. Puppies are raised in a very busy house with other dogs and lots of socialization with children of all ages which I am happy about since we have 2 kids (ages 8 and 10). I did describe out family and activity level, etc. so hopefully she can steer us to a couple choices that would work well. It'll be tough because we will follow their growth from birth and I am sure be drawn to a couple just based on looks but I know it will be more important that it is a good fit for us :)
 

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I would take that with a grain of salt as the first thing I saw was that "Poodles don't shed". As far as I know there is no such thing as a non-shedding dog. There are only dogs that shed lightly. That to me discredits this who thing immediately.
 

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I believe that a lot of temperament is genetically determined, but: puppies change. Some issues are training related, others are just at the core of the dog and you have to try your best to shape what's there. However, what's there may not be apparent or visible at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, or 16 weeks. It may come later.

Reading through that particular test, had Chisum been evaluated upon that criteria at the rescue he would have passed with flying colors. He was so normal there! Eager to interact, willing to be picked up, etc. His problems emerged later that night. And he's still got behavioral challenges, some similar, many different. He grew out of some things and into others. Life, I guess.

I think at the end of the day, as long as you've chosen a good breeder that is willing to support you no matter what, and one that knows their dogs really well, you'll be fine. If the parent dogs are good dogs, that came from good dogs, and the mother was kept free of stress and well cared for during pregnancy and while nursing her litter, I think you're already on solid footing.
 

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I am going to suggest you trust your emotions when you meet the puppies. When we selected our Mastiff (we already knew the grandmother on the mother's side and knew her to be an excellent dog), we went with the most outgoing and independent puppy, and he has proven to be a very outgoing, confident dog with more drive than many of his breed. Many prefer a more sensitive dog which are harder to train but will display less drive which can make it easier for people. With these dogs, you need to put emphasis on building confidence so that their sensitivity doesn't make them apprehensive in new situations.

Good luck and congratulations on the upcoming arrival.
 

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Our puppy would have been 1's and 2's on that scale, but she is calming down really nicely with age, started off very pushy, but quickly learned her place. I think a confident puppy is a really good thing as long as you really reinforce impulse control and obedience.

Go with your gut, and just adjust your training to the puppy. For example with ours, while we were never aversive, we were stern, a firm "no" or "leave it" wouldn't send her cowering for cover, with her personality she just took it as communication not to do something (and learned that if she stopped doing whatever it was she would be rewarded. We speak forcefully to her as that is what she responds well to, and it helps differentiate the tone for "well done" or "good girl". A 5-6 dog would go running for cover and be scared of me forever if I spoke to it the way I speak to my girl.
 

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I believe Bradshaw mentioned in Dog Sense that there was little experimental support for early temperament testing as a predictor of adult temperament. On the other hand, I've heard other people say anecdotally that it is very accurate. Not much help, I guess.

I would recommend telling your breeder what temperament you are looking for, what plans you have for your dog, what your household is like, etc. and allowing him/her to select a puppy (or several) for you consider. Having spent a significant amount of time with their puppies, breeders will have a fairly accurate picture of their personalities.

What kind of puppy are you getting? When will you meet them?
This. I don't think the temperament tests alone tell you a whole lot. The puppy could be tired when you go to do it. Or you might do it slightly differently for different puppies without knowing it. I do think a breeder who has spent a lot of time observing the puppies will have a pretty accurate read on their temperament so I consider that most important.
 

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I did some sort of temperament test, though not an involved one like that.

https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/choose-shelter-dog-adoption/ :


"1. When you have identified the dogs on your list who are very social, take them out of their kennels one at a time, to a quiet room if possible. (Not all shelters can provide this luxury. Do the best you can find a relatively quiet corner somewhere.) Stand with the dog for five minutes, and totally ignore him. The dog should look at you in a warm way, and try to worm his way into your affections leaning on you, nudging, licking, trying to cuddle. Jumping up is okay if it is done as attention-seeking, not in an attempt to bowl you off your feet as he bounces away from you. If an employee is with you and the dog is seeking attention from the employee, that’s okay it just means the dog has already formed a bond with that person. If in five minutes the dog shows little or no interest in you or in other humans who are with you, put him back. He is not a good candidate.


2. If he is very social, pet him slowly and gently down his back. He should stand still and enjoy this, or lean into you, seeking more contact. If he shakes you off after you’ve touched him (‘Yuck, people cooties!) or moves or lunges away from your touch, he’s telling you he doesn’t like being petted, or being around you. This dog is at risk for being aggressive anytime people touch him in a way that offends him. Put him back.

3. If he passes the petting test, ask a shelter staff member if you can feed him a meal a small bowl of kibble, or a handful of biscuits that you brought with you. You want to test him for resource guarding another behavior that puts him at high risk for biting. Put a bowl of food or pile of treats on the floor, enough that it will take him about 45 seconds to finish it. Now (BE CAREFUL!) talk to him, then pet him gently on the back. (Do not try to take the food away!) You want him to wag his tail, wag his tail harder, or even stop and look at you as if to say, ‘Hi! I’m eating right now, I’ll be back with you shortly. He may even stop eating and prefer to be with you. However, if he stiffens, blocks you with his body, glares at you, lowers his head into the dish, growls, or tries to move the food away from you, he is a resource guarder, and not a good adoption choice.

4. If he passes the first food test, up the ante. Ask the shelter staff if you can give him a chew hoof, pig ear, rawhide, or some other very valuable object. Again, you want to see if he is cooperative or competitive with this resource. Slowly move toward him and look for any of the guarding signs described in the previous step. If you see them, stop the test. If not, slowly reach for the object from a distance of at least two feet, then jerk your hand back. Repeat this step three times. You are looking for a dog who is relaxed about your approach. If you see any signs of guarding, don’t adopt. Have the staff person retrieve the valuable object and put the dog away.


5. If the dog is still with you, your next step is to pet him all over. He should actively enjoy being petted, perhaps wag his tail, even lick you. He should not mouth you, even gently. If he does, put him away. Mouthiness, even done gently, is a sign of resistance, and may escalate to a bite if someone, such as a child, ignores the sign and keeps on petting or touching.

6. Now take out a toy (that you brought with you for this purpose, or one that the shelter provides, if they prefer) and see if he will play some sort of game with you: fetch, tug-o-war, or chase. Play the game for three to four minutes enough to get him excited and aroused. Then abruptly stop the play, and put the toy up, preferably on a shelf where he can see it. Take note of how long it takes him to disengage from playing and return to you to settle and socialize, perhaps sit or lie down next to you. Ideally, he will do this within two minutes. If he is still aroused after five minutes, put him away. This is the kind of energy level that the average dog household is not equipped to deal with. (If, on the other hand, you are looking for the next World Frisbee or Agility Champion, he might be a candidate.)"


He did wonderfully on the first five - he's energetic, playful, yet gentle and affectionate and not dominant. He doesn't resource guard, either. Then we got to number 6, and he failed miserably - would not calm down, just kept running around and bouncing off the walls and trying to play. I rejected him immediately, deciding he was way too hyper for me.

Then I did the same test on his sister, and she passed perfectly. She and I also bonded immediately - she was super sweet and affectionate.

But then, the hyperactive jerk puppy was cuter and goofier. So I asked to see him again, and this time he was super calm and patient. Maybe he sensed what sort of behavior he'd have to exhibit to be in my good favor? Maybe he realized that earlier the reason he was taken out of the visiting room was because he was acting crazy? I don't know. But he was a little calm angel the second time I met him. And he looked at me with this little curious, wondrous, round eyed look, like he knew he'd be going home with me or something. I caved and got him.

And man, did I pay for it. He is a hyperactive monster, and he will definitely require advanced formal training. I still love him, and he's getting calmer and better every day (he's 11 months now). I feel guilty about not adopting his sister, but for all I know she's hyperactive too, so who knows.

PS, as far as that test goes, I would not try the part about rolling them on their back, even if it's gentle. Seems a bit extreme and you don't want to undermine their confidence at that point before you know them better.
 

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I think - and I could very easily be wrong - that those tests are more about aggressive behaviors or other behaviors that may make dogs unsuitable for some or any homes.

Temperament testing of well-bred puppies is a little different and often the focus is on drivey (for performance homes) vs laid back (for typical pet homes) or confident vs fearful, for example. Some items overlap, of course, but there is a bit of difference in evaluating adult shelter/rescue dogs and responsibly bred puppies.

Perhaps @Elrohwen can weigh in as she has experience in this area.
 

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I did some sort of temperament test, though not an involved one like that.

https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/choose-shelter-dog-adoption/ :

.....
He did wonderfully on the first five - he's energetic, playful, yet gentle and affectionate and not dominant. He doesn't resource guard, either. Then we got to number 6, and he failed miserably - would not calm down, just kept running around and bouncing off the walls and trying to play. I rejected him immediately, deciding he was way too hyper for me.

Then I did the same test on his sister, and she passed perfectly. She and I also bonded immediately - she was super sweet and affectionate.

But then, the hyperactive jerk puppy was cuter and goofier. So I asked to see him again, and this time he was super calm and patient. Maybe he sensed what sort of behavior he'd have to exhibit to be in my good favor? Maybe he realized that earlier the reason he was taken out of the visiting room was because he was acting crazy? I don't know. But he was a little calm angel the second time I met him. And he looked at me with this little curious, wondrous, round eyed look, like he knew he'd be going home with me or something. I caved and got him.

And man, did I pay for it. He is a hyperactive monster, and he will definitely require advanced formal training. I still love him, and he's getting calmer and better every day (he's 11 months now). I feel guilty about not adopting his sister, but for all I know she's hyperactive too, so who knows.

PS, as far as that test goes, I would not try the part about rolling them on their back, even if it's gentle. Seems a bit extreme and you don't want to undermine their confidence at that point before you know them better.

I like some parts of this list, because honestly a dog that resource-guards has no place in a home with children, but the rest I could give or take. When I adopted my dog (granted, as a single person) she'd been in the shelter for a year and a half :eek: She was TWO. That meant most of her life she had been in, at best, a 4x6 cage getting walked maybe once a day. She was incredibly excited that any human made contact with her (understandably) and she had no idea how to play. She's 9 now and her idea of playing is still a bit strange. She somewhat understands fetch, but will still mostly play by herself its funny to watch her toss and catch her own toy, rolling over to praise herself.

So this list is so rigid. No wonder my dog was not adopted in 1.5 years...if everyone did this test, she'd of failed every time. Poor thing. Well in the end I got her, and she's made for a wonderful dog.
 

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I think - and I could very easily be wrong - that those tests are more about aggressive behaviors or other behaviors that may make dogs unsuitable for some or any homes.

Temperament testing of well-bred puppies is a little different and often the focus is on drivey (for performance homes) vs laid back (for typical pet homes) or confident vs fearful, for example. Some items overlap, of course, but there is a bit of difference in evaluating adult shelter/rescue dogs and responsibly bred puppies.

Perhaps @Elrohwen can weigh in as she has experience in this area.

So more of like the C-BARQ?
About the C-BARQ - C-BARQ: Canine Behavioral Assessment & Research Questionnaire
https://www.hsppr.org/sites/default/files/assets/CBARQ.pdf
 

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C-BARQ is a more appropriate temperament evaluation for an owned dog (as opposed to a shelter dog). Still, from my memory of the questions, there are a few that wouldn't necessarily apply to puppies simply because of their lack of experience with the world and general puppiness.

I think the idea of the Volhard is sound, I'm just not sure it's been validated as a predictive assessment.
 
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