Puppy Temperament Testing
So, you are looking for a new puppy? Wondering how to know which one of those fluff balls will be the best puppy for you? Try puppy temperament testing. Before you go to pick out a puppy, you must first decide what you will be doing with your puppy and what your family demands will be. Do you want a puppy that will eventually be the world’s greatest competition agility dog? How about an obedience champion? Do you just want an all around good family companion who will get along great with your kids? Once you decide what your future plans for the puppy will be, you can then go and start temperament testing the litter. Be sure to bring someone with you to record the reactions of each puppy and try to bring a toy or ball and a metal bowl with you as well.
How to Temperament Test a Puppy
Puppy excitement test
The first thing you should look for when you approach a litter for a temperament test is an overall excitement from the puppies to see you. They should be happy, tails up, scrambling over one another to see you. If you see one puppy, off to the side, who has no interest in you or may even be fearful, this is not the puppy for you no matter what your future plans for him may be. This type of response usually indicates an indifference or fear of humans and can mean that this particular puppy will have difficulty bonding to its future owner.
After you approach the litter and see the ones that are excited and actively greeting you, it is time to separate those puppies to test. Take one puppy at a time into another room or area in order to see the individual puppy’s true reaction to the tests you will perform.
Prey drive and retrieval instinct test
The first test you can perform is the prey drive and retrieval instinct. Take a tennis ball or squeaky toy and wiggle it around to get the puppy’s attention. While you restrain the puppy, toss the toy or ball a few feet away and release the puppy to go after it. A good response is a puppy that happily charges after the toy and investigates. If you are looking for a competition dog, you are also looking for the dog to pick the toy up and possibly bring it part way back. If the puppy doesn’t seem interested in the object at all, it isn’t the end of the world. Retrieving is innate but it can be taught if necessary.
The dominance test
The next test would be the dominance test. Take the puppy and turn them over on their back. Hold them gently to the ground with one hand but don’t pin them there. If the puppy squirms a bit then settles down and relaxes, this is the ideal response for any type dog. A dog that fights relentlessly may have a dominance issue and a dog that doesn’t fight at all can be the mark of a dog that could be fearful or not confident in the future.
The following test
The next test would be the following test. Stand up and begin walking around the room. You should let the puppy know you are moving away by clapping your hand or saying something to the puppy to get his attention. You ideally want a puppy that will follow you when you are walking, as this is an indication of a puppy that is social and wants to be with people. A dog that doesn’t try to follow could have an independent streak and be more difficult to train down the line.
The sound test
Sound sensitivity is also a test that should be performed. Occupy the puppy with a game of chase or tug with a toy and when he is engrossed in the game, have someone drop a metal bowl behind the puppy. The normal response would be a quick startle reflex or indifference to the sound. Don’t perform this test on a hard surface where the bowl will clang too loudly. This will unnecessarily scare the puppy. You are really looking for how the dog recovers after the startle. A recovery would be that he willingly goes back to playing the game with you. If the puppy cowers, shakes, refuses to reengage with you, or runs away and won’t return, this puppy will have a hard time adjusting to new environments or sounds. This is especially bad if you want your new puppy to do competitions. There is always lots of noise and distractions at a competition and your puppy must be able to shake off any fearful situation and go back to working for you.
Review which puppy is best for you
Once you have tested each puppy that you are interested in individually, go back over your notes and consider which dog will fit the best into your lifestyle. Remember that if you want to compete with your dog, they need to score a little more towards the confident side; quick recovery after the sound test, actively and happily following or retrieving, and fighting a little when submitted but then surrendering. Don’t rush into a decision on which puppy you will pick. A good breeder will want you to consider your decision carefully to ensure that the puppy gets and remains in a great home. Never discount the puppy picking you too. Often times the puppy will go to you and try their best to get you to pick them. Test this puppy carefully as this may be your new best friend! Lots of luck and congratulations on the newest addition to your “pack”!