At Wayeh, we expose our puppies to a wide variety of experiences, following the Rule of 7 and the New Knowledge of Dog Behavior. We socialize our puppies with (safe) outings and visits with new people and animals, and introduce them to novel situations that a dog in a whelping box would not experience. This is building learned behavior for every puppy, reducing the likelihood of future fear and aggression.
At 7 weeks of age, we test our puppies’ temperaments to aid in placing puppies in the best possible home so that the puppy and the owner fit each other. We use Volhard’s Puppy Aptitude Testing, and explore 9 separate traits: Social attraction, following, restraint, social dominance, elevation dominance, retrieving, touch sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and sight sensitivity.
The ideal age to test the puppy is at 49 days of age (7 weeks) when the puppy is neurologically complete and it has the brain of an adult dog. With each passing day after the 49th day the responses will be tainted by prior learning.
There are no winners or losers with T-tests. We want to place the right puppy in the right home – so every puppy can be a super dog!
Volhard’s Puppy Aptitude Testing Chart
|Social Attraction: Place the puppy in test area. From a few feet away the tester coaxes the pup to her/him by clapping hands gently and kneeling down. Tester must coax in a direction away from the point where it entered the testing area.||Degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence. Degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence.||1. Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands 2. 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: Stand up and walk away from the pup in a normal manner. Make sure the pup sees you walk away.||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: Gently roll the pup on his back and hold it with one hand for a full 30 seconds.||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 pup stand up and gently stroke him from the head to back while you crouch beside him. Continue stroking until a recognizable behavior is established.||Degree of acceptance of social dominance pup may try to dominate by jumping and nipping or it is independent and walks away.||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: Bend over and cradle the pup under its belly, fingers interlaced, palms up and elevate just off the ground. Hold it there for 30 seconds.||Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control.||1. Struggled fiercely, bit growled. 2. Struggled fiercely. 3. No struggle, relaxed. 4. Struggled, settled, licked. 5. No struggled, licked at hands. 6. No struggle, froze.|
|Retrieving: Crouch beside pup and attract its attention with ball. When the pup shows interest and is watching, toss the object 1 to 2 meters in front of pup.||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: Take puppy’s webbing of one front foot and press between finger and thumb lightly, then more firmly till you get a response, while you count slowly to 10. Stop as soon as puppy pulls away or shows discomfort.||Degree of sensitivity to touch.||1. 8 – 10 seconds before response. 2. 6 – 7 seconds before response. 3. 5 – 6 seconds before response. 4. 3- 4 seconds before response. 5. 1 – 2 seconds before response.|
|Sound Sensitivity: Place pup in center of area. Tester of assistant makes a sharp noise a few feet from the puppy. A large metal spoon struck sharply on a metal pan twice works well.||Degree of sensitivity to sound (also a rudimentary test for deafness).||1. Listens, locates sound, walks towards it barking. 2. Listens, locates sound, barks. 3. Listens, locates sound, and walks there curiously. 4. Listens, locates sound. 5. Cringes, backs off, hides. 6. Ignores sound, shows no curiosity.|
|Sight Sensitivity: Place pup in center of room. Tie a string around a leash and jerk it across the floor a few 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-tuck. 5. Runs away, hides.|
INTERPRETATION OF SCORES
Mostly 1’s: This dog is extremely dominant and has aggressive tendencies. It is quick to bite and is generally considered not good with children or the elderly. When combined with a 1 or 2 in touch sensitivity, will be a difficult dog to train. Not a dog for the in experienced handler; takes a competent trainer to establish leadership.
Mostly 2’s: This dog is dominant and can be provoked to bite. Responds well to firm, consistent, fair handling in an adult household, and is likely to be a loyal pet once it respects its human leader. Often has bouncy, outgoing temperament: may be too active for elderly, and too dominant for small children.
Mostly 3’s: This dog accepts human leaders easily. Is best prospect for the average owner, adapts well to new situations and generally good with children and elderly, although it may be inclined to be active. Makes a good obedience prospect and usually has a common sense approach to life.
Mostly 4’s: This dog is submissive and will adapt to most households. May be slightly less outgoing and active than a dog scoring mostly 3’s. Gets along well with children in general and trains well.
Mostly 5’s: This dog is extremely submissive and needs special handling to build confidence and bring him out of his shell. Does not adapt well to change and confusion and needs a very regular, structured environment. Usually safe around children and bites only when severely stressed. Not a good choice for a beginner since it frightens easily, and takes a long time to get used to new experiences.
Mostly 6’s: This dog is independent. He is not affectionate and may dislike petting and cuddling. It is difficult to establish a relationship with him for working or as a pet. Not recommended for children who may force attention on him; he is not a beginner’s dog.
No clear patterns (several 1’s, 2’s and 5’s): This dog may not be feeling well. Perhaps just ate or was recently wormed. Wait two days and re-test.