Temperament - Characteristic or habitual inclination or mode of emotional response.
Test - the process of assessing.
Yesterday started out with a puppy temperament test. Temperament testing is one of my absolute favorite canine related jobs. Hanging out with a pile of puppies? Not too many other things can top that. But aside from the obvious joy of it; there is a great wealth of information that unfolds during the tests. It is quite fascinating to see each puppy give up the information of what they are made of or who they are.
Just to clarify; temperament testing is not only for purebred dogs. I have tested mixed litters as well from stray parents who were picked up off the street. It is a test given to best place puppies.
The temperament test is given as close to 49 days (7 weeks) as possible. It is given in an area where the puppies have never been with someone who they have never met, me. Each puppy is tested alone; you cannot test a litter together. A litter gives each dog an altered temperament when they are as one. Take them out and make them stand alone and you get a true read on that singular puppy. The tests consists of putting each puppy through specific actions so that we can see how they react. Scores are given in accordance to their initial reaction to each test.
What the test offers is some insight into an individual puppy. This information lets you know where each puppy would best thrive. Which family or home would be best suited to that specific puppy. I am a big advocate of temperament testing. It is surprising to see how different puppies can be in one litter. There are litters made up of closely scoring puppies; but others may hold puppies ranging from one end range to the other.
Seeing each puppy as they are put through the stages of a temperament test is fascinating. I love it and as each puppy is tested, the results from the puppy before and after will be compared. The comparing is not as to which is the best but most appropriately suited to what home. In all of my years of testing I have only had one very troubling litter result; and a handful of not so greats. Those who typically call someone out to temperament test are working very hard to have great temperaments.
As far as the test itself; I use the Volhard Puppy Test. I have made my own modifications to it and work with each test a bit differently. I give an initial reaction score of each puppy but then allow the puppy to be in the moment longer to see their recovery time. Recovery time is huge and gives with it a ton of information. I have also added a few extra tests that I like to see responses to. One is the instinct to guard food. Each puppy is given a piece of food too large to consume. Dried chicken (local) jerky is good for this. Responses are all over the charts with this test; everything from not wanting the food to running off and posturing over it on approach.
Puppy temperament testing is not the end result; it is merely a window into who that puppy is and where they might best be placed. Environment, social stimulus and work can change things drastically. Some puppy scores will offer insight for a dog who may have problems dealing in some way. Others may be a bit of a handful; too confident for their own good. Why not give all of the puppies and new homes the best chance to thrive?
My question to you as a breeder is; if you are not temperament testing, why?