How to Temperament Test a Dog
Dogs, like people, are products of their genetic makeup and their environment. Your dog’s temperament describes how he responds to people and other aspects of his environment, including noises and other animals.His responses are largely instinctual, but can also be influenced by his environment.Temperament testing is a way to evaluate your dog’s temperament, which can help you better understand him. An expert usually performs the test for you on an adult dog, but learning how it works may help you understand the results. Temperament testing usually takes about 15 minutes.
Preparing for a Temperament Test
Determine what type of temperament test your dog needs.There are many temperament tests that are available,so you will need to decide what you want your dog to be tested for. You may want to test if your dog will be good around young children, or you may want to see if he’s a good candidate to be a service dog. When you know what type of temperament test your dog will need, you will be able to narrow your search of companies that provide temperament testing.
- Some boarding or dog daycare facilities require temperament testing. The facility may do the testing itself. Contact the facility where you would like to board your dog to learn more about the temperament testing requirements.
- The American Temperament Test Society has a temperament test that includes an evaluation of your dog’s protective tendencies.
- The American Kennel Club has a Canine Good Citizen Test that evaluates trained behavior along with temperament.
Take your dog to the veterinarian.Have your veterinarian perform a thorough physical examination of your dog before temperament testing. Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, could affect how your dog responds during the testing process. If the medical conditions are not known or diagnosed beforehand, the tester may misinterpret your dog’s responses to the different testing exercises.
Obtain your dog’s full history.The more information on your dog that the tester has before conducting the test, the better he/she will be able to evaluate him. For example, write down your dog’s breed, age, sex, and reproductive status (intact, spayed, neutered). You should write down information on how your dog generally reacts to other people and other animals, as well as if your dog has had any prior obedience training.
- If you do not know your dog's breed, you can have your dog DNA tested. Dog DNA tests, which use cheek swabs, can be purchased online or at your local pet store; tests usually begin at about . The tests have variable accuracy, so talk with your veterinarian first about which DNA test he/she recommends.
- It is also important for the tester to know if your dog has, or has previously shown, aggressive behavior. If your dog has been aggressive, you will need to specify his aggression (food aggressive, aggressive towards people, etc).
Write down information about yourself.In addition to having a full history of your dog, the tester will also need to know about you, especially in terms of your experience with dog ownership and dog training. It would also be helpful for the tester to know about your home environment (young children, other pets) and your ability to provide additional training that your dog may need as a result of the testing.
- Make sure to be honest and complete when providing information about yourself and your dog.
Gather together the testing equipment.Before the test, make sure that your dog’s collar and leash are sturdy. The tester will take your dog through a number of exercises, so it will be very important that your dog's collar and leash are in good shape.If either are in need of replacement, purchase them well enough in advance of the test so that your dog is used to them.
- In addition to a collar and leash, you may also need a food bowl, some of your dog’s toys, and a chair.The equipment needed depends on the type of temperament test your dog will undergo.
- It’s also helpful to have a notebook or computer where you can write down your dog’s responses while he’s being tested.You could also use your smartphone or a video recorder to record your dog during testing.
Select an area for temperament testing.The testing should be done in a controlled environment where there are no other distractions. This environment should be unfamiliar to your dog.If you are unsure where to have your dog temperament tested, your veterinarian may be able to recommend a location.
Select a tester and handler.It is very important to have your dog tested and handled by someone that he doesn’t already know. This increases the likelihood that the testing will be as objective as possible. It is also important to select an expert who is highly trained in conducting temperament tests.
- If you are testing your dog’s suitability for a specific purpose (hunting, service dog, etc), then select a tester who is an expert in that particular area.
- During the testing, your handler will not be able to give your dog any correction or guidance, unless directed by the tester.
- If you are unsure where to start with selecting a tester, conduct an internet search of local temperament testing companies to find out more about their testers and testing services.
Method 1 Quiz
The ideal tester for your dog's temperament exam is:
Testing an Adult Dog’s Temperament
Observe your dog’s response to a stranger.The exercises in this section are part of the American Temperament Testing Society, Inc temperament test. For this test, the handler should not be familiar with the dog; an expert tester will evaluate your dog’s responses. The objective of this first exercise is to evaluate how your dog responds to a non-threatening stranger.
- The first stranger will be neutral — he will approach and shake hands with the handler, then engage the handler in a short conversation while ignoring the dog. This interaction tests how your dog responds to passive socialization (when no one is interacting with your dog), and whether he has a protective instinct when a stranger approaches.
- The second type of stranger will be friendlier, and will actively engage with the dog. This will evaluate your dog’s active socialization.
Evaluate how your dog responds to noise.For this exercise, your dog will be exposed to different noises. The first noise will be hidden — someone other than the handler will rattle a metal bucket of rocks from a hidden position, then set the bucket in the path of the handler and your dog. This will evaluate your dog’s level of curiosity (will your dog investigate the bucket?) and alertness.
- The second noise will be a gunshot. Someone who is standing a distance back from the handler will fire three gunshots. This tests how your dog responds to a sudden, loud noise.Each person in the testing vicinity will be safely out of harm’s way when the gun is fired.
Evaluate your dog’s response to a sudden visual stimulus.Your dog and his handler will approach someone who is sitting in a chair with a closed umbrella. When your dog and the handler are about five feet away, the other person will open the umbrella. The tester will be looking to see how your dog reacts to something in his path that he wasn’t expecting.
Observe how your dog walks on an unfamiliar surface.The handler will have your dog walk on two types of unfamiliar surfaces: a 15 x 6 foot (4.6 x 1.8 meter) plastic strip and a 12 x 3 foot (3.7 x 0.9m) unfolded exercise pen. For this exercise, the tester will evaluate how your dog responds when he’s walking on an unusual surface. (Is he fearful of the new surface? Can he get over that fear? Does he demonstrate curiosity while walking on the surface?)
Test your dog’s self-protective or aggressive behavior.This exercise is conducted in multiple steps to observe how your dog responds to an unusual situation that becomes increasingly threatening. In the first part of this exercise, your dog and his handler will stop at a designated point and an oddly dressed stranger will cross about 40 feet (12m) in front of them. The tester will be watching to see if your dog recognizes this as unusual.
- Next, this stranger will walk closer to your dog and his handler (about 30 ft / 9m), as if to provoke them. At this point, your dog should start to perceive that the situation is starting to escalate.
- The stranger will then walk even closer (about 20 f / 6m), this time more aggressively. At this point, the trainer evaluates your dog’s protective instincts. Different breeds have varying levels of protective instincts, so your dog’s breed will be taken into consideration as his protective response is evaluated.
Use the results to guide your training.No dog is perfect for every situation. Your dog may be great in some situations, and not so great in others. Hopefully, the temperament test has helped you identify these areas. In future training, focus on the areas where your dog needs improvement.
Method 2 Quiz
What is an example of passive socialization?
Testing a Puppy’s Temperament
Perform the rollover test.Testing a puppy’s temperament is something that you could do on your own. Alternatively, select a tester who knows the genetics of your puppy’s litter.To perform the rollover test, roll your puppy onto his back and hold him there about 15 seconds by gently placing your hand on his chest. Observe how much he resists being held this way.
- A dominant puppy will show resistance for the entire time that you are holding him. A more submissive puppy will put up little to no resistance, and may start licking you (another sign of submission).
Gently squeeze your puppy’s paws.With your puppy standing on all fours, hold down both of his front paws by covering them with your hands and using gentle pressure. Hold his paws like this for about one minute, then do the same with his back paws. Use just enough pressure on his paws to keep him in place, not to hurt him. Just like with the rollover test, observe his level of resistance to being held.
- Pain will cause your puppy to resist regardless of whether he’s dominant or submissive, so it is important not to inflict any pain while temperament testing your puppy.
Pet your puppy all over.Gently touch his ears, his legs, his belly, etc. Lightly tug on his ears. Pay close attention to how he responds to you. Whether he seems to enjoy it, tries to get away from you, or even tries to bite you, he will be giving you good clues of his overall temperament.
- Keep in mind that puppy biting is normal puppy behavior, even though it may hurt; it is a puppy’s way of investigating their environment.Puppy biting can be problematic, though, if you do not train your puppy to stop biting as he grows older.
Pick up your puppy.Pick him up by interlacing your fingers on his belly (palms facing up), and lifting him in the air. Hold him there for about 30 seconds. If he starts to squirm and wants to be put down, he has a more dominant and independent behavior. If he seems quite content for you to hold him in this way, he is showing more submissive behavior and may even try to start licking you.
Watch how your puppy approaches people and other littermates.This will give you a very good indication of his dominant or submissive behavior. If your puppy is showing dominance, he will approach other people and his littermates with an upright posture and perky ears. On the other hand, if he is submissive, he will walk with his head lowered and ears leaning back; he will probably also hunch over a little.
- If the puppy is glued to your side, it may be insecure. If it shies away, it may have a fearful personality. A puppy that ignores you completely is probably independent, and one that explores the room but comes back to you is confident.
Clap your hands.The goal of this exercise is to observe your puppy’s response to sudden noises. Whether he responds with interest, fear, aggression, or indifference will let you know what kind of temperament he has.
- Throwing your keys on the ground can be a good alternate test of this response. Most puppies will jump back initially, but confident ones will quickly come over to investigate the new object.
Test the puppy's reaction to food.Try petting the puppy while it is eating, then taking the puppy's food away as it eats, and pushing the puppy away. If the puppy tries to play tug-of-war with the dish, or tries to crowd your hand out of the bowl, it is more dominant. If the puppy willingly relents, it is more submissive.
- If the puppy reacts aggressively, it may have an issue with food aggression, sometimes called "resource guarding." This is a serious issue, but fortunately it is easier to correct in puppies than in adults.
- If the puppy is large enough to injure you, use a broom handle or other long object to push the food away. Never test an adult dog this way with your bare hand.
Method 3 Quiz
What is a sign of submission in a puppy?
QuestionMy dog is scared of any stranger, especially a man. How can I show her this isn't anything bad? When she sees another dog she wants to say hellowikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo slowly and have the stranger give her some treats and praise. Doing this consistently will loosen her up. All dogs want to greet other dogs. Praise and reward when she does what you want her to do.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I make sure a dog will be good with small kids?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHave lots of noises and moving things around him to see if he would chase a running child. You can also consult a trainer for advice.Thanks!
QuestionThis one puppy I had my eye on, tackles every other puppy that comes near the food bowl while he is eating. Will he grow out of this?Crystal031305Community AnswerMost likely not. He believes that they will steal his food. Try luring him for the food bowl with treats, or by teaching him to come here. But remember all dogs are different and with consistent training he might stop.Thanks!
- Remember that you cannot change a dog’s genetics. That being said, it is still possible to manage and improve how your dog responds to and interacts with his environment.Temperament testing will provide you with a good overall picture of your dog’s behavior, which will help you understand your dog better and improve your communication and relationship with him.
- Have your dog temperament tested more than once. Just like people, dogs change as they age. Having your dog temperament tested periodically can show you where he’s improved and where he still needs some work.In puppies, testing at around 7 weeks and again at 10 to 12 weeks is recommended to assess the development of personality traits.
- Prior to testing, have your dog go to the bathroom. If he needs to go during the test, this could affect the test results.
- Temperament should not be equated with lack of training. A dog that jumps on people and pulls on the leash is not necessarily a dominant, independent dog, just an untrained one.
- If you can't get a temperament test, try to interpret a dog's body language (after moving it to a quiet room away from other dogs). Here are the basics:
- Looseness of the body; a loose, wiggly dog is relaxed and content, while a stiff dog is nervous or timid, even if it is wagging its tail.
- Eye contact: If the dog stares at you intently, it may be afraid or aggressive. If it looks at you and away, or blinks often, it is relaxed but attentive.
- Ears and tail: If the tail is curled under the dog and its ears are back, it is very afraid, while an upright tail and ears can be a warning sign of aggression. Curious dogs will typically tilt their heads and/or wag their tails.
Sources and Citations
Upload a picture for other readers to see.
In other languages:
Español: , Русский: , Français: , Português: , Deutsch: , Bahasa Indonesia:
Video: Canine Temperament Test Fail
How to Freeze Okra
The Best Fashion and Lifestyle Books of 2012
Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
Cour des Loges, Lyon
Maaji Dreamsfield Lingerie 2014 Collection
Reboot your immune system with fasting
Top 10 Celebrities With Sexy Eyebrows
A (Very) Honest Discussion About Dieting
5 Best Online Sites for Discount Pet Supplies
Create an Eye-Catching Logo to Focus Your Brand
Love in the Time of Incontinence
Can Sex Legitimately Help You Sleep Better
The New Sandal Trend Thats About to Be Everywhere
Preventing Heart Problems With a Polypill