Puppy Aptitude Test

This is a reflection of the Volhard's most recent version of their puppy temperament test.  You can find out more about the Volhard's and their test here: Volhard's Web Site

The owner or caretaker of the puppies places it in the test area about four feet from the tester and then leaves the test area. The tester kneels down and coaxes the puppy to come to him or her by encouragingly and gently clapping hands and calling. The tester must coax the puppy in the opposite direction from where it entered the test area. Hint: Lean backward, sitting on your heels instead of leaning forward toward the puppy. Keep your hands close to your body encouraging the puppy to come to you instead of trying to reach for the puppy.
Degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence.
Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands.(1)
Came readily, tail up, pawed, licked at hands.(2)
Came readily, tail up.(3)
Came readily, tail down.(4)
Came hesitant, tail down.(5)
Didn't come at all.(6)
The tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow. Hint: Make sure the puppy sees you walk away and get the puppy to focus on you by lightly clapping your hands and using verbal encouragement to get the puppy to follow you. Do not lean over the puppy.
Willingness to follow a person.
Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet.(1)
Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.(2)
Followed readily, tail up.(3)
Followed readily, tail down.(4)
Followed hesitantly, tail down.(5)
No follow or went away.(6)
The tester crouches down and gently rolls the puppy on its back and holds it on its back for 30 seconds. Hint: Hold the puppy down without applying too much pressure. The object is not to keep it on its back but to test its response to being placed in that position.
Degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.
Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.(1)
Struggled fiercely, flailed.(2)
Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact.(3)
Struggled then settled.(4)
No struggle.(5)
No struggle, straining to avoid eye contact.(6)
Let the puppy stand up or sit and gently stroke it from the head to the back while you crouch beside it. See if it will lick your face, an indication of a forgiving nature. Continue stroking until you see a behavior you can score. Hint: When you crouch next to the puppy avoid leaning or hovering over the puppy. Have the puppy at your side with both of you facing in the same direction. Top Dog Tips: During testing maintain a positive, upbeat and friendly attitude toward the puppies. Try to get each puppy to interact with you to bring out the best in him or her. Make the test a pleasant experience
for the puppy.
Degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.
Jumped, pawed, bit, growled.(1)
Jumped, pawed.(2)
Cuddles up to tester and tries to lick face.(3)
Squirmed, licked at hands.(4)
Rolled over, licked at hands.(5)
Went away and stayed away.(6)
The tester cradles the puppy with both hands, supporting the puppy under its chest and gently lifts it two feet off the ground and holds it there for 30 seconds.
Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control.
Struggled fiercely, bit, growled.(1)
Struggled fiercely.(2)
No struggle, relaxed.(3)
Struggled, settled, licked.(4)
No struggle, licked at hands.(5)
No struggle, froze.(6)
The tester crouches beside the puppy and attracts its attention with a crumpled up piece of paper. When the puppy shows some interest, the tester throws the paper no more than four feet in front of the puppy encouraging it to retrieve the paper.
Degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a
key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.
Chases object, picks up object and runs away.(1)
Chases object, stands over object does not return.(2)
Chases object and returns with object to tester.(3)
Chases object and returns without object to tester.(4)
Starts to chase object, loses interest.(5)
Does not chase object.(6)
The tester locates the webbing of one the puppy’s front paws and presses it lightly between his index finger and thumb. The tester gradually increases pressure while counting to ten and stops when the puppy pulls away or shows signs of discomfort.
Degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment
8-10 counts before response.(1)
6-8 counts before response.(2)
5-6 counts before response.(3)
3-5 counts before response.(4)
2-3 counts before response.(5)
1-2 counts before response.(6)
The puppy is placed in the center of the testing area and an assistant stationed at the perimeter makes a sharp noise, such as banging a metal spoon on the bottom of a metal pan.
Degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.
Listens, locates sound, walks towards it barking.(1)
Listens, locates sound, barks.(2)
Listens, locates sound, shows curiosity and walks toward sound.(3)
Listens, locates the sound.(4)
Cringes, backs off, hides.(5)
Ignores sound, shows no curiosity.(6)
The puppy is placed in the center of the testing area. The tester ties a string around a bath towel and jerks it across the floor, two feet away from the puppy.
Degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.
Looks, attacks and bites.(1)
Looked and put feet on object and put
mouth on it .(2)
Looks curiously, attempts to investigate, tail up.(3)
Looks with curiosity, tail down.(4)
Backs away.(5)
Runs away or hides behind tester.(6)
An umbrella is opened about five feet from the puppy and gently placed on the ground.

Degree of startle response to a strange object.
Looked and ran to the umbrella, mouthing or biting it.(1)
Looked and walked to the umbrella, smelling it cautiously.(2)
Looked and went to investigate.(3)
Sat and looked, but did not move toward the umbrella. (4)
Showed little or no interest.(5)
Ran away from the umbrella.(6)

Interpreting the results

  • Mostly 1's: This dog is extremely dominant and has aggressive tendencies. He is quick to bite and is generally considered not good with children and elderly. When combined with a 1 or 2 in touch sensitivity, will be a difficult dog to train. Not a dog for the inexperienced handler; takes a competent trainer to establish leadership.
  • Mostly 2's: This dog is dominant and can be provoked to bite. Responds well to firm, consistent, fair handling in an adult household, and is likely to be a loyal pet once it respects its human leader. Often has bouncy, outgoing temperament; may be too active for elderly, and too dominant for small children.
  • Mostly 3's: This dog accepts humans as leaders easily. Is best prospect for the average owner, adapts well to new situations and is generally good with children and elderly, although may be inclined to be active. Makes a good obedience prospect and usually has commonsense approach to life.
  • Mostly 4's: This dog is submissive and will adapt to most households. May be slightly less outgoing and active than a dog scoring mostly 3's. Gets along well with children generally and trains well.
  • Mostly 5's: This dog is extremely submissive and needs special handling to build confidence and bring him out of his shell. Does not adapt well to change and confusion and needs a very regular, structured environment. Usually safe around children and bites only when severely stressed. Not a good choice for a beginner since it frightens easily, and takes a long time to get used to new experiences.
  • Mostly 6's: This dog is independent. He is not affectionate and may dislike petting and cuddling. It is difficult to establish a relationship with him whether for working or for pet. Not recommended for children who may force attention on him; he is not a beginner's dog.
    1. When combined with 1's, especially in restraint: the independent dog is likely to bite under stress.
    2. When combine with 5's: the independent dog is likely to hide from people, or freeze when approached by a stranger.
  • No clear pattern: (several 1's, 2's, and 5's). This dog may not be feeling well. Perhaps just ate or was recently wormed. Wait two days and retest. If the test still shows wide variations (lots of 1's and 5's) he is probably unpredictable and unlikely to be a good pet or obedience dog.
    1. in social attraction and social dominance:
      The socially attracted dog is more easily taught to come and is more cuddly and friendly. Its interest in people can be a useful tool in training, despite other scores.
    2. in restraint and 1 in touch sensitivity:
      The dominant aggressive dog, insensitive to touch will be a handful to train and extremely difficult for anyone other than an exceptionally competent handler.
    3. instablity:
      This is likely to be a "spooky" dog which is never desirable. It requires a great deal of extra work to get a spooky dog adapted to new situations and they generally can't be depended upon in a crisis.
    4. in touch and sound sensitivity:
      May also be very "spooky" and needs delicate handling to prevent the dog from becoming frightened.

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