Illustrated Temperament Test 4 – Sound Sensitivity part 2, Surprise/Stability & Summary

Illustrated Temperament Test, page 4

9. Sound sensitivity, continued A battery operated toy that moves erratically and barks, and a toy police car that flashes and talks were also used (illustrated here).

Possible Ratings & General Description
1 – excellent:              Heard, located sound & ran toward it
2 – above average:     Heard, located sound, walked toward it
3 – Average – good:   Heard, located sound and showed curiosity
4 – minimal:               Heard and located sound
5 – insufficient:          Cringed, backed off, tried to hide
6 – unacceptable:      Ignored sound and showed no curiosity

Pup Rating & Any Additional Observations
Blue Male          Excellent
Brown Male       Above average
Gray Male          Above average Noticed building heat fan come on
Green Male        Minimal
Pink Female       Excellent
Purple Female   Average-good
Red Male           Minimal
White Male        Above average
Yellow Female   Average-good

Miss Purple

Mr. Blue

Miss Pink

see also the aggression/courage from the Search & Rescue test


10. Surprise/Stability The last test involves getting the pup to follow you (or a toy) towards a place with a hidden person, from behind which an umbrella is opened suddenly and then lowered to the ground, still open. The pups are evaluated on how they recover from being startled and if they’ll go investigate. Ideal reaction is for the pup to startle but hold its ground, then move right up to check out the umbrella. A super excellent reaction is to go up and bite it and/or walk all over it. The tester encourages the pup to investigate after the umbrella is on the top step, if it doesn’t on its own. She notes how much encouragement is needed.

Possible Ratings & General Description
1 – excellent:              Looked, ran to umbrella, attacked/bit
2 – above average:     Looked, walked to umbrella, smelled
3 – Average – good:   Looked, went to investigate
4 – minimal:               Sat and looked, did not investigate
5 – insufficient:          Showed little or no interest
6 – unacceptable:      Ran away from umbrella

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

Mr. Red

Mr. Brown

Mr. Gray

Mr. Blue

see also the surprise test from the Search & Rescue test



Note that all pups do not have all six possible rating lines, only the ratings they received are listed.

Blue Male
excellent            Social attachment, Following, Social Dominance, Sensitivity, Sound Sensitivity
above average   Restraint/submission, Confidence/elevation, Prey/perseverance, Surprise/stability
average-good    Retrieve ball/toy

Brown Male
excellent            Social attachment, Following, Retrieve ball/toy, Sensitivity, Prey/perseverance
above average   Restraint/submission, Social Dominance, Sound Sensitivity, Surprise/stability
minimal              Confidence/elevation

Gray Male
excellent             Social attachment, Following, Restraint/submission, Social Dominance, Confidence/elevation
above average    Sensitivity, Sound Sensitivity
average-good     Surprise/stability
minimal               Prey/perseverance
insufficient          Retrieve ball/toy

Green Male
excellent             Social Dominance
above average    Social attachment (two marks given for this)
Average-good    Social attachment, Following, Retrieve ball/toy
minimal               Sensitivity, Sound Sensitivity
insufficient          Confidence/elevation, Surprise/stability
unacceptable      Restraint/submission, Prey/perseverance

Pink Female
excellent            Social Dominance, Retrieve ball/toy, Sound Sensitivity
above average   Social attachment, Restraint/submission, Sensitivity, Prey/perseverance, Surprise/stability
average-good    Following
minimal             Confidence/elevation

Purple Female
excellent            Social Dominance
average-good   Social attachment, Following, Restraint/submission, Prey/perseverance, Sound Sensitivity
minimal             Confidence/elevation, Retrieve ball/toy, Sensitivity, Surprise/stability

Red Male
excellent             Social attachment, Retrieve ball/toy, Sensitivity
above average   Following
average-good    Prey/perseverance, Surprise/stability
minimal              Social Dominance, Confidence/elevation, Sound Sensitivity
Insufficient         Restraint/submission,

White Male
excellent            Social attachment, Following, Confidence/elevation, Retrieve ball/toy
above average   Restraint/submission, Social Dominance, Sensitivity, Prey/perseverance, Sound Sensitivity, Surprise/stability

Yellow Female
Excellent             Social Dominance, Retrieve ball/toy
above average   Social attachment, Sensitivity
average-good    Following, Prey/perseverance, Sound Sensitivity
minimal              Restraint/submission, Confidence/elevation
Unacceptable     Surprise/stability

For interest, I include the puppies’ father’s, mother’s, maternal grandparent’s and maternal great-grandparent’s temperament test results below. All of the tests on the females were done by Suzan, former police K9 handler, except for Lively’s & Quinta’s SAR tests, done by Janet Wilts.
Suzan also tested Chaos. Cantor was tested in Minnesota by his breeder.

Cantor’s Puppy Aptitude Test (father of this litter)

The puppy aptitude test that was used on Cantor is different from ours. It was originally created by Joachim and Wendy Volhard as a way to test behavioral tendencies and predict what a puppy will be like as an adult. During the test, various exercises are done with the puppy to determine the following:

• Social Attraction: how well the puppy connects to people and whether he’s confident or dependent on others
• Following: his willingness to follow a person
• Restraint: whether the puppy is more dominant or submissive and how well he can be handled in difficult situations such as vet exams
• Social Dominance: how the puppy reacts to being dominated socially, whether he tries to dominate or if he’s independent and walks away
• Elevation: how well he accepts dominance when he’s in a position of no control
• Retrieving: how willing the puppy is to do something for you
• Touch Sensitivity: how sensitive he is to being handled, which can help determine the type of training equipment you’ll need
• Sound Sensitivity: how sensitive he is to loud noises as well as being a rudimentary test for deafness
• Sight Sensitivity: how the puppy responds to moving objects, which can reveal any tendencies to chase cars or the mailman
• Stability: how startled the puppy may be when confronted with a strange object
• Structure: This is a measure of how well-formed and proportioned the puppy is physically. A puppy with a solid build will generally be healthier than one that has issues with bone alignment.

The test done on Cantor has been revised from the original Volhard test, eliminating the structure evaluation and substituting a test of energy level. It also has only five scoring options on some tests. At the end of the test I include the Volhard’s suggestions of how to evaluate the scores.

1. Social Attraction   Cantor’s score:  no number circled.     Comment:  Looked at sheet covering boundaries so watchers were invisible, came tail wagging
Purpose: Degree of attraction to people
Method: Place pup in testing area 4 feet from tester, who coaxes puppy to her/him

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Comes readily, tail up, jumps, bites at hands
2: Comes readily, tail up, paws, licks at hands
3: Comes readily, tail up
4: Comes readily; tail down
5: Comes hesitantly, tail down
6: Does not come at all

2. Following   Cantor’s score:  3      Comment:  Whined, followed tester with tail wagging
Purpose: Degree of willingness to follow human leadership
Method: Stand up and walk away from puppy, encouraging verbally

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Follows readily, tail up, gets underfoot, bites at feet
2: Follows readily, tail up, gets underfoot
3: Follows readily, tail up
4: Follows readily, tail down
5: Follows hesitantly, tail down
6: No follow or went away

3. Restraint   Cantor’s score:  no number circled          Comment:  Struggled, whined whole time, eye contact at end
Purpose: Degree of dominance or submission. Response to social/physical dominance.
Method: Gently roll the pup on his back and hold it for 30 seconds. Continue holding until it no longer struggles.

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Struggles fiercely, flails, bites
2: Struggles fiercely, flails
3: Settles, struggles, settles with eye contact
4: Slight struggle, then settles
5: No struggle, tail tucked
6: No struggle, strains to avoid eye contact

4. Social Dominance   Cantor’s score:  3          Comment:  Licked, wagged tail
Purpose: Degree of acceptance of human social dominance. How “forgiving” the pup is.
Method: Pup sits facing tester at a 45 degree angle. Tester strokes pups and puts his/her face close to pup.

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Jumps, paws, bites, growls
2: Jumps, paws, licks
3: Cuddles up to tester, tries to lick face
4: Sits quietly, accepts petting, nudges/licks hands
5: Rolls over, no eye contact
6: Goes away and stays away

5. Elevation Dominance    Cantor’s score:  no number circled          Comment:  Whined whole time, relaxed
Purpose: Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control
Method: Cradle the pup under its belly, fingers interlaced, and elevate just off the ground for 30 seconds

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Struggles fiercely, bites
2: Struggles
3: No struggle, relaxed, tail wags
4: No struggle, relaxed
5: No struggle
6: No struggle, froze, tail/rear legs tense

6. Retrieving (Obedience & Aptitude)    Cantor’s score:  3          Comment:  Went out right away, came back to tester
Purpose: Degree of willingness to work with humans. High correlation between ability to retrieve and successful guide dogs, obedience dogs and field trial dogs.
Method: Attract pup’s attention with crumpled paper ball. When he is watching, toss paper 4′ away. When pup goes after it, back up two feet and encourage him to come back.

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Chases object, picks it up and runs away
2: Chases object, stands over it, does not return
3: Chases object, picks it up and returns to tester
4: Chases object, returns without object to tester
5: Starts to chase, loses interest
6: Does not chase

7. Touch Sensitivity    Cantor’s score:   3          No comment
Purpose: Degree of sensitivity to touch
Method: Take webbing of one front foot and press between finger and thumb lightly, gradually increasing pressure on a scale from 1 – 10. Stop as soon as the puppy shows discomfort.
Possible Ratings General Description
1: 9 – 10 counts before response
2: 7 – 8 counts before response
3: 5 – 6 counts before response
4: 3 – 4 counts before response
5: 1 – 2 counts before response

8. Sound sensitivity   Cantor’s score:  4          Comment:  Turned and barked
Purpose: Degree of sensitivity to sound
Method: Place pup in center of testing area and make a sharp noise a few feet away. A large metal spoon struck sharply on a metal pan twice works well.

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Locates sound & walks toward it
2: Locates sound, barks
3: Locates sound, shows curiosity, walks toward it
4: Locates sound
5: Cringes, backs, hides
6: Ignores sound, shows no curiosity

9. Chase Instinct    Cantor’s score:  3          Comment:  Showed interest. Went away then came back.
Purpose: Degree of response to moving object: chase instinct
Method: Tie a string around a towel and drag it in front of the puppy from left to right.

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Looks, attacks, bites
2: Looks, barks, tail up
3: Looks curiously, attempts to investigate
4: Looks, does not go forward, tail down
5: Runs away, hides
6: Ignores, shows no curiosity

10. Stability    Cantor’s score:  no number circled          Comment:  Backed away.  Walked to object, stopped at 1′, came back to tester.
Purpose: Degree of intelligent response to strange object
Method: Place pup in center of testing area. Closed umbrella is held 4′ away and pointed perpendicular to the direction the pup faces. The umbrella is opened and set down so the pup can investigate.

Possible Ratings General Description
1: Walks forward, tail up, bites
2: Walks forward, tail up, mouths
3: Walks forward, attempts to investigate
4: Goes away, tail down, hides
5: Ignores, shows no curiosity

11. Energy Level    Cantor’s score:  high
Purpose: Degree of physical energy
Method: Observe pup on the other tests and score according to the most frequent activity observed. Check with breeder for confirmation.

Possible Ratings General Description
High: Continually runs, pounces, wiggles, paws
Medium: Mostly trots, occasionally runs, pounces, wiggles
Low: Walks slowly, sits quietly, remains in position usually
Stressed: Stands rigidly, eyes roll, tail down, ears back

Overall comments on Cantor: More submissive, vocal puppy, curious, fairly confident, impulsive

“How to score the test
After you’ve administered each test and recorded the results, add up the number of one’s, two’s, three’s, etc.

Mostly One’s: This puppy has aggressive tendencies and is very dominant. He would not be a good match for families with children or elderly owners since he may be quick to bite. He would likely be a difficult dog to train and would require an experienced handler.
Mostly Two’s: This puppy is dominant. He would fit well in an adult household with an owner that can be firm and consistent in handling. Once the owner has gained his respect, he can be a very good companion. However, he may be too dominant for a household with children, or too energetic for an elderly owner.
Mostly Three’s: This puppy fits best with the average owner, accepts human leadership readily and can be good with children and elderly owners. He would likely be a good dog for obedience training, although he may be fairly active.
Mostly Four’s: This puppy is submissive and would fit with most owners, getting along well with children and elderly owners. He would train well, but may be somewhat less outgoing and energetic than a puppy that scores mostly three’s.
Mostly Five’s: This puppy is very submissive. He would not be the best choice for a first-time owner because he scares easily and needs to be taught how to be more outgoing. He would need a very regimented lifestyle to feel comfortable and open up. He’s generally safe for children, but could bite out of fear if overly stressed. Training him would take a lot of patience.
Mostly Six’s: This puppy is very independent and would be difficult to work with. He’s not very people-friendly and would require an experienced handler. He shouldn’t be matched with households with children. If you also recorded several one’s with this puppy, he may be likely to bite if stressed. This is particularly true if he scores a one in restraint.

If you find that after administering the puppy aptitude test a puppy has a few of every number, you should retest him in a few days. He may not feel well. Upon retesting, if the puppy still doesn’t show a pattern in scoring, he’s likely to have erratic behavior and may not make a good pet.”

What the scores mean for you
If you’re a first-time owner, you should look for a puppy that scores mostly three’s and four’s. One with this personality should be easy to train and family-friendly. This is particularly true if he scores a three in both social attraction and social dominance. This doesn’t mean that a puppy with other scores isn’t fit to be a pet, just that he may be better suited for owners that have more training experience. The test doesn’t pick good puppies. It only points out general personality traits a puppy will have as he grows. The puppy aptitude test should only be used as a gauge for a puppy’s temperament. It’s up to each person to make his or her own decision as to the personality they would like their puppy to have and choose based on this knowledge.”


GloryToo’s Police/Narcotics Temperament Test (mother of this litter)

Test                                                                            Rating                                           Comments

Acceptance/Attachment                                          Excellent                                         Very nice, acknowledged & then wanted to get down.
Pain Sensitivity                                                         Excellent                                         Good reaction: wagged tail, licked hand
Retrieve                                                                     Average on ball; minimal on toy    OK. Once she got into it, was good. Not much interest in toys.
Perseverance                                                             Above Average                              Good. Not a full bite but liked the prey aspect.
Fear (can dropped behind)                                     Above Average                               Good. Investigated when encouraged to.
Courage and Aggression (electric train engine)   Average                                          Kept a distance from train but came & looked at it.
Surprise (umbrella)                                                  Minimal                                          Ran away & then returned when verbally encouraged.
Submission                                                                Excellent                                        Good eye contact right away & wanted up.
Confidence                                                                Excellent                                        Nice – no problem
Unstable Footing                                                      Excellent
Hunt for Food I (jerky tied to a string)                  Above Average                              Good. Systematic.
Hunt for Food II (search for hidden food)            Above Average                              Very Good. Used nose – willing to work with handler.

Tester Comments: Nice girl overall – very social & sound – Happy!

GloryToo has no SAR Test ratings as the SAR testers did not come test the GG litter.

Lively’s Temperament Tests (maternal grandmother of this litter)

Search And Rescue Test by Janet Wilts, done at 52 & 53 days of age (10 is top score)

Rating SAR & Schutzhund prospect
Saturday 9 – 10 Confident, good prey
Sunday 10 Good nose, good eye contact, good prey, good tug

Lively’s Police Dog/Narcotics Dog Temperament Test, done at 54 days
Since Janet can seldom come to test my pups, Suzan and I over the years have incorporated most of the SAR exercises into our testing. This was especially nice this time because Janet was unable to do her regular tests due to the weather.

Test                                                                           Rating                                           Comments
Acceptance/Attachment                                         Excellent                                         Great. Ran up, licked & nipped at my face
Pain Sensitivity                                                        Excellent                                         Excellent!!
Retrieve                                                                    Above Average                               Lots of chase – no bringing
Perseverance                                                            Excellent                                         Lots of prey, good speed
Courage and Aggression                                        Above Average                               Good!!
Fear                                                                           Above Average                               Good – didn’t investigate
Surprise                                                                    Above Average                               OK – looked and stopped


Lively’s Search And Rescue Test

Test                                                                           Rating                                            Comments
Submission & Confidence                                         Above Average                               Good – no eye contact right away
Unstable Footing                                                       Excellent
Hunt for Toy                                                              Above Average                               Stayed with specific toy for a long time
Hunt for Food                                                            Excellent                                         Great. Not intimidated, willing to go the distance

Tester Comments: Full of “Reckless Abandonment.” Fantastic. Good full mouth bite. Drug on blanket (perseverance test). Cel’s note: What Suzan is referring to is that she had her whole body on the blanket and stayed there while Suzan drug her all around.)


Rating                       Tests
Excellent                   Sensitivity, Perseverance, Hunt for Food, Attachment
Above Average         Submission, Aggression/Courage, Retrieve, Fear, Hunt for Toy, Surprise


Quinta’s Temperament Tests (Lively’s mother; maternal great-grandmother of this litter)

The Q Litter was tested on October 30th & 31st, when they were 46 & 47 days old. Results are listed after the description of each part of the Test. An extensive Search & Rescue test was done on the 30th, with some retesting on the 31st after the police/narcotics test, if the SAR tester (Janet) hadn’t been satisfied with the pup’s reactions the day before. For the SAR test, we took the pups to a rural schoolyard which had a very large grassy field. Heavy rain the day before made the field too soggy for the entire test, so most of the exercises were done in the playground area which is deep in wood chips. The chips proved to be way too highly tempting to the pups and Janet had to clear their mouths often to get them to go after the toys rather than the chips. Results are listed after the description of each part of the Test. You will note that some exercises are done in both tests and other exercises are unique to one test or the other. Janet was the primary tester, with Kelly, another SAR person, adding her ratings on some tests. A table with scores from every phase of the test is listed after the test explanation. Pups reactions are rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent.

Temperament Test 1: the Search & Rescue test

Tug, Prey Drive, Chase, Retrieve Drive, Bite The first series of tests involve the pup’s desire to play, chase the toy, how well the pup bites and hold the toy when he or she gets it, and whether the pup will bring it back to the tester.

Strange Noise, Unstable Surface The pups are exposed to both a strange, potentially scary noise and an unstable surface. In this particular test we used a plastic tarp draped over a camp chair. Janet also invented some additional tests by asking the pups to negotiate a metal grating on the playground equipment, to climb a series of wood sections that ended with a widow and a 6’ drop to the ground. Janet tested the pups’ trust by handing them down to a helper and noting their reactions.

Hunt for Food and Hunt for Toys The pups are tested to determine their desire to find the toy when it’s hidden, and to find food. The toy was hidden under the tarp and the pup encouraged to look for it. A piece of bacon on a string was drug and bounced past the pups to test their desire to use their noses when they couldn’t see the bacon. Janet took off fast with the bacon drag and ran way out into the field behind the school. Quinta was one of only three pups that noticed this first run; Janet had to repeat it twice more to give all pups a chance to be tested. It is fascinating to see those little noses go to the ground and guide the galloping pups after Janet when she outruns them.

Submission, Forgiveness, Socialability The pups are graded on their desire to interact with and play with the tester. For the submission test, each pup was placed on its back and held down firmly for about 10 seconds. Desirable reaction includes struggle followed by acceptance. Undesirable reactions include total passivity or frantic struggle with refusal to “give” to the human, or trying to bite. The pup is judged afterwards on its willingness to forgive the tester for the submission test. The pup is also held in the air at arms length to judge its confidence in being unsupported.
Confidence Janet also invented some additional tests by asking the pups to negotiate a metal grating on the playground equipment, to climb a series of wood sections that ended with a widow and a 6’ drop to the ground. Janet then further tested the pups’ trust and confidence by handing them down to a helper and noting their reactions.

Quinta’s SAR Test Results

Test                      Janet’s Rating       Kelly’s Rating
Tug                       10+, really grips     10
Prey                      10                           10
Retrieve                  5                             6
Unstable Surface  10                           10
Forgiveness          10                           10
Socialability          10                           10
Chase                    10                          10
Hunt for Food       10
Hunt for Toy          no
Noise                     10                          10
Submission              8                            8
Bite                        10                          10
Trust                       good

Temperament Test 2: The police dog/narcotics dog test

Saturday had been a beautiful day, but Sunday brought a storm with wind and rain mixed with snow. We had to do the test in a large unheated garage. The police test is quite different from the Search & Rescue Test. The main difference I noticed in the SAR test was that the testers played with the pups at the same time, and evaluated them for all of the above as they played with them. They were also much more physically active and used excited voices and clapping to encourage the pups, while the tester in the police test is very calm and low key, asking the pups to draw the excitement forth from within themselves. Another difference was that other people stood around just feet from and in full view of each pup as it was tested. In the police test only the tester is within sight or scent of the pup during the testing and everyone was required to be very quiet.
Suzan was the main tester, with Janet hiding to open the umbrella on the surprise test. Janet also gave ratings on some of the test.

Test                                    Suzan                         Janet (10 = excellent)
Acceptance/Attachment     Excellent                     8
Pain Sensitivity                    Excellent
Retrieve                               High Average             5
Unstable Surfaces                Excellent                   10
Perseverance                       Excellent                    Tug 10; prey 10
Courage and Aggression    Above Average          10
Fear                                     Excellent                    10
Surprise                               Excellent                    10
Submission                         Above Average
Forgiveness                        Above Average          Medium
Social                                  Above Average           8

Tester Comments:  Very nice, independent pup. For the most part, full bites & lots of interest. Puts full body into what she is doing. Very curious and friendly.

Jubilee’s Temperament Test (Quinta’s mother, Lively’s great-grandmother; maternal great-great-grandmother of this litter)
Jubilee was tested at 52 days (9/6/1998)

This was Suzan’s straight police/narcotics test, before Janet’s Search & Rescue influence caused us to incorporate more items into our test.

Test                                    Rating                      Comments
Attachment                         Excellent                   Had no problem following another person
Sensitivity                            Excellent                   High pain tolerance – came back to handler
Retrieve                               Above Average         No retrieve – did not bring back
Perseverance                       Above Average         Chased everything
Fear                                     Excellent                    No reaction – turned and looked into can
Aggression & Courage       Above Average          Stood over and sniffed
Surprise                               Excellent                    Stopped. Barked. Looked at umbrella


Chaos’ Temperament Tests (maternal grandfather of this litter)
Chaos’ breeder did not do a formal temperament test, so we did one when he arrived. He was 8 weeks old.

Test                                     Rating                       Comments
Acceptance/Attachment      Above Average         Nice! No problem with adjustment.
Pain Sensitivity                     Excellent
Retrieve                                Average                     Somewhat interested in other things as well. Easily encouraged.
Perseverance                        Average                     Lots of prey, good speed
Fear                                      Excellent                     Looked at can, then went about business.
Courage and Aggression     Excellent                     Did everything but pick it up.
Surprise                                Above Average          Not fair test but no problem. Looked at umbrella and investigated person.
Submission                          Above Average           5 seconds. Was squirming. Made eye contact once.
Hunt for Toy                        Above Average            Pretty good. Couldn’t decide which toy he liked better.
Hunt for Food                      Above Average            Very good. Fairly systematic.

Tester Comments: Nice pup – very solid and courageous. Has a good bite, full mouthed with toys and pull toy. Nice reaction to train and umbrella. Gets along with other dogs well (met her dogs afterwards). Good nose – found food easily and liked looking for it, followed direction of handler. Nicely encouraged. Great little boy!


back to Temperament Test, page 1 (Social Attachment, Following & Restraint/Submission)
back to Temperament Test, page 2 (Social Dominance, Confidence/Elevation, & Retrieve)
back to Temperament Test, page 3 (Sensitivity, Prey/Perseverance & Sound Sensitivity part 1)