The Back Story – On September 1st, I wrote a post about how to pick the perfect dog. A pug would be my best match, if I could only have a dog. Here’s that post:
That post all started with Jess Miller from Jen Reviews. She liked a post I did about Riley, the therapy dog. It’s funny how one idea can lead to another. Here’s that link:
Jess asked if I would share her article on Riley’s post. It’s about how to use puppy personality tests to find the perfect pet. I looked at it, and tests fascinate me. I love the information you can discover, and I wanted to write more. Here’s Jess’ link:
I looked through the tests, trying to find my way in, but the words wouldn’t come. I went round and round – I even thought about switching topics.
Then I realized what was missing, the kind of dog. I needed to pick that first, then the puppy. When our family found Leia, we found our breed first, a border terrier. Then we looked for puppies.
I googled, found 4 tests, and my words.
And the test said . . . a pug. Now I can pick a puppy, or pretend to. I’m not allowed to have a real dog, but it’s fun to pretend, to imagine what if? It’s like window shopping . . . the possibilities are endless. And free!
How to Pick a Pup – Lauren Montgomery wrote the article for Your Dog Advisor.com. She started with the Volhard Aptitude Tests. There are ten, one for each puppy trait, but I thought I’d start with her 3 simple tests. Sometimes you need an easy button when you’re doing something important like finding your perfect pup.
Test #1 – Friendliness – Everyone wants a friendly dog! This one’s pretty simple. Take your puppy into a room where they won’t get into too much trouble. Leave for a moment, and have someone new come in.
A friendly puppy will run right over, lick them, or let them scratch their ears. If your puppy pulls away, hides, or whimpers, then you’ll need to look for ways to help your dog become more friendly. No matter the results, all puppies need to learn how to become part of their new families.
Test #2 – Independence – Some people like a clingy dog. I don’t, but I didn’t realize that clingy dogs might have separation anxiety. Here are a couple tests to check where your dog is on the independence scale.
The first is to hold your puppy under the front legs like this. Their hind legs will dangle free. If your puppy tries to escape, they’re probably pretty independent. This pup looks like my dog when my kids picked her up and held her. She was calm, but she didn’t look happy.
Another way to test for independence is to ease your puppy onto its back, then cradle it. This shot looks a lot like that, but I think it’s probably a belly rub. If your dog fights to break free or won’t look at you, it’s probably pretty independent.
My dad wanted me to do this test for a different reason, to check for dominance. He wanted to make sure we had a dog who would submit, who would obey us.
Test #3 – Fear – Nobody wants a scaredy-cat for a dog, but knowing its fear factors will help you find your puppy. Drop something like a spoon, or anything that will make a loud noise.
All puppies will have some kind of reaction, but cowering, crying, running, and hiding are big signals for fear and sensitivity. If you have a sensitive pup, the cure is a little extra TLC. You can also do a little training to help them become part of your family.
The Volhard Aptitude Traits and Tests – There are 10 tests and 10 traits. They include: social attraction, following, restraint, social dominance, elevation, retrieving, touch, sound, sight sensitivity, and stability. They’re done by a professional tester. Never, ever by the puppy’s owner or breeder. When the tester finishes, you’ll get a score on each trait.
I’ve never heard of these tests, but my dog was pure pet. I imagine people in the dog business use them to find and train the dogs you see in shows or agility competitions. They may even help breeders find the right dogs to produce your perfect puppy.
Trait #1 – Social Attraction – This fancy word sounds like good old friendliness. Does your puppy love to meet people or spend time alone? You can teach them social skills.
This test is a lot like the one for friendliness. The biggest difference is the owner brings in the puppy, stays till it’s comfortable, and then leaves. The tester claps, whistles, or calls him. A social puppy pays attention and doesn’t notice their friend leave.
Trait #2 – Following – Like follow-the-leader! Does your puppy follow you around, or does it stray away? Can you guess who’s easier to train? The follower, of course!
The tester tries to get the puppy to follow him around by using sounds or commands. If you have a busy family, you want a puppy-follower.
Trait #3 – Restraint – Will your puppy submit and follow directions? Let you hold them with their feet dangling midair? Guess who’s easier to train? The one with restraint!
This time the tester puts the puppy on its back to see if it can relax. Restraint isn’t a problem with a Chihuahua, but it could be with a Great Dane. That’s why my dad wanted me to try it on Leia. Thanks, dad!
Trait #4 – Social Dominance – I was right! It sounds a lot like restraint, and it will predict how well a puppy follows commands, but the test looks a lot like Social Attraction.
This picture is close to the real one. The puppy and examiner sit at eye level. In a real test you’d kneel, then lean over to pet its back. If the puppy licks you or shows affection – SUCCESS!
Trait #5 – Elevation – This is the puppy’s ability to obey when they’re stressed out. There’s no escape, like a trip to the vet or the groomer. You want a puppy like this, who’s cool, calm, and collected even when suspended from midair.
This is the test, the same one used for independence. The examiner holds the dog for 30 seconds, less if the pup is calm like this one. If your dog needs monthly grooming, give them an elevation or independence test. You’ll be glad you did!
Trait #6 – Retrieving – That’s what dogs do when they play fetch! They bring something back. If a dog’s good at retrieving, they’re probably very trainable. If you have a hunting, service, or working dog, find one with a great retrieval score.
The tester starts with something small. He wiggles it till he has the puppy’s attention. Then he gives it a toss. The puppy’s job – to bring the object back and get a score.
Trait #7 – Stability tests the puppy’s response to something new. This one looks like he can’t get out of that basket soon enough! If you’re in the military, or you move a lot, you want a puppy who has a high stability score.
The examiner will pull out something new, like an open umbrella, something the puppy has never seen before. His score will show how scared or interested he was in the object.
Trait #8 – Touch sensitivity – This trait tests how your puppy handles something touching/pressing on the pads of their feet. I didn’t know that puppies with low touch sensitivity will eventually have foot problems and they’ll stay away from fields and meadows. If you want a canine running partner, have your puppy take this test.
The tester will push on the puppy’s paw until it wiggles free or shows discomfort. That stops the test, and determines the score.
Trait #9 – Sound sensitivity – This is a puppy’s reaction to loud sounds like fireworks or thunder. Our Leia was OK with thunder, but not fireworks. She’d pace and shake until they stopped. Police and military dogs would need the right score on this test.
The tester would start by doing something loud, like dropping a book, or banging pans together. The score’s determined by the puppy’s immediate reaction to the noise.
Trait #9 – S ight Sensitivity – It’s all about how the puppy responds to movement. This one’s interested in the balloon, but will it pounce if the balloon moves? This test will clue you in if your puppy will chase cars, or cats. If you’re a hunter, you want a dog who can hold still.
The tester will jerk something across the room and watch to see how the puppy reacts. Will the pup sit and watch, or give chase?
If you’re interested in learning more about these tests, google Volhard Aptitude. You’ll find videos that can help you design your own quiz. You should also be able to find a Volhard site near you.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!