Illustrated Temperament Test 1 – Social Attachment, Following, Restraint/Submission

Illustrated Temperament Test, page 1
Ratings and photos are from the NN Litter, which was tested at 55 Days

Mr. Blue went to Colorado to be an avalanche dog at a ski resort. Mr. White went to Santa Fe for Search & Rescue. Miss Yellow went to Montana to do agility and nosework. Mr. Green and Mr. Red went to Colorado as pets, though Mr. Green will hopefully do nosework and tracking. Mr. Red is the third dog of mine for his family. Miss Purple went to California as a pet, the second dog her people have gotten from me. Miss Pink also went to California for a pet. Mr. Gray went to Buffalo, WY (just down the road from here) as a pet and Mr. Brown went to Gillette, WY as a pet.

My good friend, Suzan Guilford, usually does this test, which is an adaptation of the police/narcotics test to better fit our purposes, but the roads were terrible and she couldn’t come. Suzan is a former K9 handler and police officer, former police chief, and has taught at the Wyoming Police Academy. She has done my temperament tests for over seventeen years, except for a two year absence while she was working in Florida. Suzan and I over the years have incorporated most of the SAR exercises into her testing so she can include them in case Janet & Bonnie can’t come do the SAR testing. Sue Hoy, who owns the training building where we did the test, graciously stepped in to do the test this time.

The main difference I see between the police/narcotics test and the SAR test is the attitude of the tester. In the police test, the tester is very quiet, talking little and using very little body movements. No other people are present and the environment is kept quiet. In the SAR test, the tester (often two do the test together) is somewhat more enthusiastic, uses some verbal praise and body movements to get the pup “up” and gives praise. Other people are sometimes present to watch, though they are asked to be as quiet as possible. This would fit well with the ultimate purpose of the dogs being tested for both types of training. In police work the dog must be able to dig down deep inside himself or herself to find the courage and aggression to confront a criminal and/or to search independently and at great distance from the handler. In SAR the handler is usually closer to the dog and is able to praise and encourage him, especially in extended searches. There is also generally all kinds of activity and distraction at a search scene so the dog must be able to filter out the extraneous activity and focus on her job. Both tests are fascinating to watch as is the difference in the pups’ responses in each test.

Results are listed after the description of each part of the Test. At the bottom, test results are listed for GloryToo (mother), Lively (grandmother) and Lively’s mother & grandmother (maternal great-grandmother and great-great grandmother), as well as Chaos (GloryToo’s father). Last year Suzan decided to change her test form. She compared what she was doing with other temperament tests and added what she liked from them. After using it on the MM litter, we thought of improvements we could make. Suzan also added an interpretation statement:

This test was designed for Police dogs and dogs of similar professions. This is a good predictor of a strong, confident dog, but also one that may be more independent and not as willing to work with humans as much as they just want to work. Having scores that are average and minimal in some categories may be just what is needed for the agility, therapy or family dog.

This is the first litter we’ve used the revised test on. This test uses minimal voice, praise and encouragement. The one caveat I will mention is that Sue, this being her first time doing a temperament test, rushed through the tests. For instance, she often used only one ball to test retrieve and only threw a couple of times; same with the tug and perseverance tests. So if a pup didn’t catch the movement or didn’t like the texture of the one ball or toy, it didn’t get a chance to try on a different one. But she was consistent and did the same with all the pups so, though I think some should have gotten higher scores on some of the tests, I think we got a fair rating, although several pups, especially the females, were quite miffed that she didn’t acknowledge their attempts to connect with her and give her eye contact.

NN Litter Test Results

Photos of several of the NN litter illustrate each test.  My camera struggled with the light conditions in the arena so all the photos are not high quality but are at least usable for illustrating how different pups responded to each test.  Always note expression and body, especially tail position.

1. Social Attachment The first test involves evaluating the pup’s acceptance of the strange place and its willingness to interact with the stranger. Ideal reaction is eye contact and interest in the stranger but no sign of nervousness in the interaction (we don’t want a “Protect me!” attitude), followed by visual investigation of the surroundings and then a return of attention to the tester.

Possible Ratings & General Description
1 – excellent:               Licked face; tail up, bit at hands, face
2 – above average:      Licked hands; tail up
3 – average – good:     Came readily, tail up
4 – minimal:                 Acknowledged tail down
5 – insufficient:            Hesitant
6 – unacceptable:        Did not acknowledge

Pup Rating & Any Additional Observations:
Blue Male          Excellent
Brown Male       Excellent
Gray Male          Excellent
Green Male        Above average
Pink Female       Above average
Purple Female    Average-good
Red Male            Excellent
White Male         Excellent
Yellow Female     Above average

Mr. Blue

Mr. Brown

Mr. White

see also the Attachment and Eye Contact tests in the Search & Rescue test


2. Following Observing willingness to follow handler, acceptance

Possible Ratings & General Description
1 – excellent:              Followed tail up, underfoot, bit at feet
2 – above average:     Followed, tail up, underfoot
3 – Average – good:   Followed, tail up
4 – minimal:               Followed, tail down
5 – insufficient:          Followed hesitantly, tail down
6 – unacceptable:      Did not follow, went away

Pup Rating & Any Additional Observations
Blue Male         Excellent
Brown Male      Excellent
Gray Male         Excellent
Green Male       Above average
Pink Female      Average-good
Purple Female   Average-good
Red Male           Above average
White Male        Excellent
Yellow Female   Average-good

Miss Purple

Mr. White

See also the Independence test in the Search & Rescue test


3. Restraint/Submission Test The submission test, done for 30 seconds, is designed to give an idea of the pup’s tractability, trust in humans, and willingness to submit to a human’s directives. In the submission test the pup is held firmly on its back for a short period of time. The tester counts the seconds it takes for him to resist, then accept, the restraint. She should not passively accept the restraint, nor should she panic or show avoidance of eye contact. Ideal reaction is to resist, then submit and look the tester in the face. We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.

Possible Ratings & General Description
1 – excellent:              Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact
2 – above average:     Struggled fiercely, flailed
3 – Average – good:   Struggled fiercely, bit, flailed
4 – minimal:               Struggled, then settled
5 – insufficient:          No struggle
6 – unacceptable:      No struggle, strained to avoid eye contact

Pup Rating & Any Additional Observations
Blue Male         Above average
Brown Male      Above average
Gray Male         Excellent
Green Male       Unacceptable
Pink Female       Above average
Purple Female   Average-good
Red Male           Insufficient
White Male       Above average
Yellow Female   Minimal

Mr. Green

Mr. Red

see also the Submission test in the Search & Rescue test


to Temperament Test, page 2  (Social Dominance, Confidence/Elevation, Retrieve)

to Temperament Test, page 3 (Sensitivity, Prey/Perseverance, Sound Sensitivity (can))

to Temperament Test, page 4 (Sound Sensitivity (weird toy), Umbrella & Summary, including parents’ TT results )