Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Puppy Attitudes and Aptitude

Today we evaluated the puppies using the Volhard Puppy Aptitude test.  This was developed by Wendy and Joachim Volhard, and originally published in 1979.  Here is a link to the 2003 version, if you are interested:  

I had printed an older version which did not include the umbrella test, and didn't realize until I looked up the link to add here.  The PAT was developed to determine which pups will make the best pets, and there are some things that they score as being not so desirable that I like to see in a working dog.  The environment is so important in the development of the puppies, and one thing that was evident in the testing today was that all the attention that I have been giving to Diablo had an impact.  He was a very cooperative and willing little man today.

You may also be interested to read the PAWS working dog evaluation, developed by Jona Decker. The Malinut Page » PAWS Working Dog Evaluation

PAWS stands for Possessiveness, attention, willingness.  With any of the tests, these are solely the results on one moment in time in their life and can be affected by when they ate or slept, and how full of themselves they feel at the moment.  For the PAT test, we took the pups to an area they had not been before and they were evaluated by a person they had never met.  The tester, Donna Matey ( Future Home of Donna Matey and Banner Dogs ) was struck by the fact that all were willing to come to her when called and follow her, despite the fact that Tom and I were present.  They did not cling to us, or refuse to go to a stranger.

Category I: Social Attraction.  This measures the degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence.  The testor coaxes the pup to her by clapping hands gently and kneeling down.  With these pups, such coaxing was not necessary; you simply have to call them! The tests were reproduced using D'jango so that I could take photographs, as during the actual test I was busy making notations.

All the pups came with tails up.  Dark, Diablo and Doc all leaped up on the testor and bit at her hands, D'jango jumped up on her and Danica came in but did not jump up.

CATEGORY II: Following.  This measures the degree of following attraction. Not following inddicates independence.  In this test, the testor walks away in a normal manner and sees if the pups follows.

All the pups followed readily, tail up. D'jango was the most fun to watch, as he exhibited a beautiful quartering pattern as Donna turned in different directions!  Dark followed but got underfoot.  In the testing, this is viewed as being more controlling.

Category III:  Restraint.  Measures the degree of dominant or submissive tendency and how the pup accepts stress when socially and/or physically dominated.  In this exercise, the testor crouches down and gently rolls the pup on his back and holds it in place with one hand for 30 seconds.


D'jango and Danica were most accepting of restraint, struggling briefly and then settling.  Doc and Dark were at the other end of the scale, struggling and biting to be let loose.  Diablo struggled, then settled, a testament to the work we have done with him.  Later in the day, when Bill visited, he was accepting of the position with him, as well. (I think aliens abducted him)

CATEGORY IV: Social Dominance.  Measures the degree of acceptance or social dominance.  For this the testor lets the pup stand up after the restraint and gently strokes as she crouches beside the pup until a recognizable behavior is observed.

Dark, Danica and Doc all jumped back up on the testor, pawing and biting at her hands.  The biting is typical puppy stuff, and no one growled.  The PAT test includes growling in the scoring, but none of the pups were interacting meanly with the testor.  Diablo, bless his heart, tried to cuddle up with the testor and did not even try to bite!  D'jango left the testor and stood next to Tom and I.  He wagged his tail back and forth and then returned to the testor.

CATEGORY V:  Elevation.  Looks at whether the pup accepts dominance while in a position of no control.  The testor bends over and cradles the pup under its belly, fingers interlaced, and elevates just off the ground for 30 seconds.

Dark was not fond of the elevation at all, struggled and bit at the testor. Danica did not struggle at all.  In fact, she looked as if she was falling asleep in a hammock! D'jango, Diablo and Doc struggled, then settled.

CATEGORY VI: Retrieving.  Shows the degree of willingness to work with a human.  All the puppies but Dark exhuberantly pursued the crumpled up paper used as a retrieve item, and brought it happily back to the testor.  Danica showed a special creativeness by first stealing the wooden spoon (used for another test) I had placed on a lawn chair and carrying that around!  I wish I had taken a picture of that!  Dark chased the item and carried it back partway before dropping it and running back to the testor. 

CATEGORY VII: Touch Sensitivity.  A dog that is insensitive to touch can be difficult to train and manage. D'jango, Dark and Diablo  reacted between 3-4 seconds and Danica and Doc reacted between 5-6 seconds.

CATEGORY VIII:  Sound Sensitivity;   Shows the degree of sensitivity to sound and is also a rudimentary test for deafness.  The testor makes a sharp noise a few feet from the puppy and the reaction is observed.

All the pups listened to the sound and approached it.  None of them were wary or aggressive and none of them barked.  Dark and Diablo heard the loud noise and RAN toward it, expectantly.

CATEGORY IX: Sight Sensitivity.  Checks the degree of intelligent response to a strange object.  We tied a string on a piece of chamois and jerked it across the ground.  The pups had never seen this object before.  Every single pup, looked at that, chased and bit it!  I like to see this reaction in a working dog.


D'jango   2/3/4/6/4/3/4/3/1

Dark        1/2/1/1/1/4/4/3/1

Diablo      1/3/3/3/4/3/4/3/1

Danica      3/3/4/1/3/3/3/3/1

Doc          1/3/1/1/4/3/3/3/1

Danica was very willing and sweet in testing today. Diablo was wonderful and Dark showed an interesting side of himself.  As the pups start to have separate time now many of those observations will be possible.  Being part of a group allows one or two pups to capture attention, or for the gang to have confidence together.

<yawn> I wanted to get this posted so you can see the results.  Come back again tomorrow, as I will answer some of the questions that came up during recent puppy visits, about training, socialization and the (not) magic 49th Day.

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