Temperament Testing Puppies & Adults

 

The temperament tests below can be used by future owners, breeders, etc. to evaluate puppies and/or dogs. Please click on the link if you need additional information on Evaluating Temperament in a Potential Rescue Dog

You should be able to come up with an evaluation of the dog’s temperament from these easy tests. Not all dogs will fit exactly into each category, but you should be able to get a good idea of how adaptable this dog is. A dog may show a lack of interest in a small area or may even be a little shy in another…this does not make it a bad dog, but a dog that bites and growls and snaps is a definite…STAY AWAY.

Do not hesitate to consult a professional if you have any doubts or are unsure of your ability to complete the evaluation.  

A Few Hints on Selecting a Dog
  • On your very first visit to the dog source, it is wise to leave the children at home. The initial visit should be as objective as possible

     

  • Don’t make a same-day decision. Remember, think about it like buying a car, not like  picking up a candy bar in the supermarket check-out aisle.

     

  • Don’t get a dog as a “surprise” for someone else. Imagine how you would feel if someone else surprised you by choosing a new roommate for you. A dog is a very personal choice.

     

  • After  you have surveyed the situation, bring entire family to meet a dog to make sure the dog fits in well with everyone. Some places will even allow you to bring along an existing family pet.

     

  • Know the general breed traits for which the breed (or breeds) was selected for over the years (hunting, fighting, chasing vermin, herding) — these instincts will be very strong in a purebred dog.

     

  • Ask about the dog’s background. Try to determine the dogs’ experiences with humans and other dogs.  

  • Always temperament test the dog to know what you are getting. Use the Puppy Temperament Test for dogs under 5 months and the Adult Temperament Test for dogs over 5 months. (See the charts below!)
A Few Hints on Testing a Dog
  • Always observe a dog for awhile before interacting with it. Compare the behavior of the dog you are looking at to other dogs.

     

  • Before doing a temperament test on a grown dog, you should take some precautions. If the dog makes no attempts to be friendly, is agitated, has a stiff stance, or is hyperactive, do not attempt to evaluate the dog. Where the chart says stop, make sure to stop.

     

  • Temperament test only one dog at a time. Remove that dog away from other dogs to a quiet and neutral environment.

     

  • Make sure the dog has had a chance to do its business before testing and don’t test at right before or after meal time for best results.

     

  • Remember to be realistic about the type of temperament that will fit into your household. Most people, especially first-time dog owners, want a responsive, adaptable dog.
Types Comments
  • Responsive
     
  • Adaptable
     
  • Bonds well to humans
Good dogs
for first-time owners
  • Nervous
     
  • Shy
     
  • Fearful
     
  • Unpredictable behavior
Will require experienced owners willing to work with the dog and help him/her come around. May not be ideal for a home with young children.
  • Aggressive
     
  • Dominant
     
  • Unpredictable
Usually not good dogs around children. Not good adoption prospects or will need help from professional animal behaviorist.
  • Independent
     
  • Stubborn
Not very responsive to training. May be difficult for first time owners.
 

  

The first temperament test below is recommended for dogs under 5 months old. Please scroll down for a test appropriate to dogs over 5 months old.
 

 

Temperament Test for Puppies

 

 

*Make sure to separate the dog to be tested from its littermates and mother.  

*You will need a collar, a leash, keys, a squeaky toy, canned dog food and a bowl for these tests.

     
Responsive
 
Shy
/Nervous
 
Aggressive
 
Independent
Pet the puppy in a stroking motion from head to toe, picking up feet, tail, and ears. 
Is the puppy accepting and willing to be petted and examined?
Is the puppy sensitive about one particular part?
Is it  sensitive about all parts?  Does it try to bite your hand?
Is the puppy completely uninterested in your petting?
Pick the puppy up and cradle him like a baby or (for a larger dog) gently roll him over, belly up and feet in air.  Place your hand gently over his throat.
Does the puppy allow you to place your hand over its throat without a struggle?
Are its eyes wide with fear and its body stiff?
Does the puppy wiggle madly to right itself?  Does it growl and bite at your hand?
Does it wiggle to right itself and then hurry away to do something else?
Test the puppy’s reaction to sound: Use your voice to make a) a high pitched noise b) a deep gruff noise c) a whistle. Throw a squeaky toy near the puppy.  Rattle a set of keys.
Is the puppy curious and wagging its tail?
Does the puppy look scared and run away?
Doe
s the puppy try to bite and attack the objects?  Does he bark loudly at you?
Does the puppy ignore all of the sounds and act disinterested?
Put a collar and leash on the puppy: Wait and observe the puppy’s reaction.  Then try to move a few steps with the puppy. 
Does the puppy not react at all to the leash and collar or react with some curiosity? Does he walk with you?
Does it freeze in its tracks and not want to move?
Does the puppy bite at the leash and want to tug on it?
Does it completely ignore the fact that you are at the other end of the leash and show no interest in walking with you?
Test the puppy’s reaction to the outside: Take the puppy outside. Try to find squirrels, birds, cats, and other people to expose it to.
Does it stick near to you but show a curious interest in these other things?
Does the puppy cower and run the other way?
Does it bark furiously and lunge at everything it sees?
Does it act very uninterested in the things you show it but very interested in everything else it finds on its own?
7. Test the puppy’s responsiveness to food: Give the puppy food in a bowl and fill it with canned dog food.  Before the puppy finishes, remove the bowl and take the food away.
Does the puppy wag its tail and look expectantly at you?
Is it too scared to eat ?
Does it bite your hands, bark, growl or jump up on you to get the food back?
Does the puppy act very uninterested?

 

 

 

Temperament Test for Adult Dogs

Before doing a temperament test on a grown dog, you should take some precautions.

 

 

 

 

* Always evaluate in the presence of another adult. *If you have no background information about the dog at all, you must proceed with caution and stop if the dog shows any signs of resistance. 

* If the dog makes no attempts to be friendly, is agitated, has a stiff stance, or is hyper-active, do not attempt to evaluate the dog.

*Do not evaluate an intact (un-neutered) male dog or a female dog in heat.

*Be sure to end the test with the dog as soon as shows signs of being aggressive in any way.

* You will need a collar, a leash, a chair, a few dog toys, a 4-6′ long rope, a 3′ stick or a broom, a piece of paper, canned dog food and a bowl for these tests.

 
Responsive

Shy/Nervous
 
Aggressive
Independent
Put the dog on a leash.  Test the dog’s reaction to the outside:
Take the dog outside. Try to find squirrels, birds, cats, and other people to expose it to.  Call the dog over to look at something. 
Does it walk near you but show a curious interest in these other things? Does it cower and run the other way? Does it bark furiously and lunge at everything it sees?
  END TEST
Does it act very uninterested in  the things you show it but very interested in everything else it finds? 
Come inside, but keep the dog on a leash.  Sit in a chair and neutrally observe the dog.  Does the dog lick or nudge your hand? Does it look at you as if to ask for attention?  Does it wag its tail?  Does the dog cower and avoid and interaction? Does the dog mouth you?  Does it jump up on you roughly?   END TEST Does the dog strain at the end of the leash toward some distant smell or noise?
Talk in a high-pitched, squeaky voice to the dog for 30 seconds. Stop and suddenly go neutral. Does the dog respond to your change in behavior? Does the dog avoid interacting with you? Does the dog jump up, mount, or mouth you?
  END TEST
Does the dog not seem affected by your change in behavior?
Test the dog’s reaction to toys: Use toys to get the dog excited and playing for 30 seconds.  Stop and suddenly drop the toy.  Does the dog play with you, but also respond to your change in behavior? Does the dog avoid interacting with you? Does the dog jump up, mount, or mouth you?    Does the dog take the toy and try to run off with it?
  END TEST
Is the dog unable to change in response to your change in behavior?
Test the dog’s prey drive: With the dog on a leash, have another person run by several times, dragging a toy behind and making a “hissing noise”.  Is the dog more focused on the runner than the toy?  Does the dog wag its tail? Does the dog act afraid of the runner and the noise? Does the dog whine and strain to go after the runner?  Does it bark uncontrollably?
  END TEST
Does the dog ignore the runner and the mouse?
Toss a crumpled piece of paper on the ground.   While the dog is sniffing it, yell “Hey!  Give me that!”  Use a long stick or broom-handle to take the piece of paper away.  Does the dog stop immediately and come back to you as if to “apologize”? Does the dog cower and try to run away? Does it grab the paper and try to run off with it?
  END TEST
Does it not react at all to your yelling?
Pet the dog in a stroking motion from head to toe several times.  Observe the dog’s reaction closely. Is it accepting and willing to be petted and examined?

Does the dog sink down under your hand?

Does it remain very stiff?  Is it sensitive about any parts?   Does it utter a growl?
  END TEST
Is it completely uninterested in your petting?
7. Test the dog’s responsiveness to food: Give the dog food in a bowl and fill it with canned dog food.   Before the dog finishes, use a long stick or broom-handle to pull the bowl away. Does the dog wag its tail and look expectantly at you? Is it too scared to eat ? Does it lift its lips, bite at the stick, bark, growl, or jump up on you to get the food back?  

  END TEST

Does it act very uninterested in food at all?

 

 

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