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Testing a Puppy's Personality

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/25/2006 | Pets and Animals
WHAT IS PUPPY TESTING?

Just as with humans, every dog has it's own personality. For dogs this can already be determined at a very young age. The object of a puppy test is to determine what kind of personality the dog has. Knowing this allows you to train your dog more effectively.

Some believe that a puppy test allows you to pick the perfect dog. This is nonsense. It allows you to pick a puppy which is mentally stable and has an easy-to-work-with personality. Plus from experience we can say that dog training is 70% the owners experience and mentality and only 30% that of the dog.

CONDITIONS FOR A PUPPY TEST

It's important that the test is preformed in a neutral room or space where the dog hasn't been before and where there is no external distraction for the dog.

The optimal age for the test to be performed is when the puppy is 5 to 7 weeks old. At this point the personality is already set but they are not yet fully attached to humans yet.

The person performing the test should also be someone who the puppies haven't met before as some parts of the test would give untrustworthy results otherwise.

THE ACTUAL TEST

The test described below is the well known Campbell test. This is however not the only existing test, several others exist.

With this test, the puppies are scored on 5 criteria:

Social attraction

Facility to follow

Response to obligation

Social domination

Acceptance to be lifted

For the social attraction, the testing person sits a few feet from the puppy and observes how the dog reacts: Does it come? If it comes, is the tail carried high or low? Does he scout his surroundings? Does he run the other way?

When testing the facility to follow, the tester will put the puppy next to him an walk a little. Then see if the dog follows or not? Does he follow and jump up at the test person and even try to bit his ankles? Does he follow from a distance? Does he rather wander off on his own?

The response to obligation test entails that the puppy is put on his back and held down on the ground by placing a flat hand on his chest. Does the puppy protest heavily and tries to bite the hands of the testing person? Does he initially protest but calm down later? Does he remain quiet or does he try to lick hands?

With the social domination test, the tester will sit down next to the puppy and just stroke him. Here we'll observe that some puppies will try to crawl upon the test person others will try to bite their hands or lie on their back and lick hands. Some will even run away.

For the final test the puppy is lifted from the ground supported only at his chest (this way the puppy doesn't see the test person). Does he struggle and try to bite hands? Does he initially struggle but calms down after a while? Does he remain calm and perhaps even try to lick the hands?

The combination of results lets you determine what personality the dog has. For novice dog owner it's best to pick a puppy that hasn't got an extreme test result because those are either very dominant or extremely submissive and will require a handler who is experienced.