Evaluating a dog’s individual temperament through a series of tests, temperament testing measures individual traits like stability, confidence, shyness, friendliness, aggressiveness, protectiveness, play drive, and self-defense instincts.
- Ensure that your dog breed is the right fit for you and your family!
A Temperament test simulates a casual walk in the park, a natural pet environment where everyday life situations are encountered. The dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli during this walk, and responses are recorded. How sociable is the dog, and how will it react to strangers or other animals? Is it calm, timid, eager to play with each individual encountered, or aggressively barking at every passerby?
- Dogs must have completed the series of puppy shots and/or current on vaccinations in order to attend doggie daycare.
Neutral, friendly, and threatening situations are all encountered. The dog’s ability to discern between non-threatening situations and those calling for protective reactions is measured.
Any of these signs will indicate a failure:
- Unprovoked aggression
- Extreme anxiety or panic without recovery
- Strong avoidance
The dog is on a loose six-foot lead, and the hander isn’t allowed to talk to or react to the dog in any way. The temperament testing consists of 5 main categories.
Behavior toward strangers: Measure the dog’s reaction toward strangers in a non-threatening situation.
Reaction to Auditory Stimuli: Measure the dog’s investigative behavior and reaction to auditory stimuli. Big trucks, buses, garbage truck, mail carrier, bicycles, skateboarders, etc.
Reaction to Visual Stimulus: Measure the dog’s reaction to a sudden visual stimulus.
Tactile Stimuli: Measure the dog’s reaction to an unusual or uneven footing.
Self Protective/Aggressive Behavior: These tests measure a dog’s ability to recognize and react to an unusual situation, protective instincts, and ability to recognize threats.
How Breeds Are Judged
All dogs are social pack animals by nature, reactions governed by a sort of instinctual set of ‘rules’ ingrained genetically. Those reactions and temperaments are partly affected by heredity and breeding, but environmental influences have the largest impact by far. Because no one dog is raised the exact same way as another, many dogs of the same breed are tested to achieve an overall estimation.
Dog Communication & Language
Sure, dogs can learn to recognize human words and singular commands. The number of commands they can learn can sometimes reach into the hundreds with patience and perseverance. Despite this amazing ability, no dog is capable of comprehending the meanings behind complex human sentences; human speech is a secondary form of communication to them.
Using a precise set of visual cues, on the other hand, a dog can speak entire volumes in a fraction of a second! Your dog is telling you what’s on his mind every second of every day- you just need to learn to watch him.
- Learning dog ques and communication is very helpful in a daycare or dog park environment.
- All these visual cues (tail wagging, for example) will always be accompanied by other visual cues. Dogs use their entire bodies to send signals and communicate (ears, eye contact, tail, body posture) with every thought, not just one part.
Is this dominant aggressive or submissive, defensive aggression? Hint: Look at the ear position.
A dog’s tail is like an antenna, a beacon for other dogs to pick up on, and usually the very first thing people notice, probably the best indicator of a dog’s mood. Is the tail wagging rapidly, almost causing the dog’s entire body to vibrate (happy excitement)? Is it point straight backward (interest, focus) or curved upward?
Rigid, highly held tail: Aroused, ready to react
Tail tucked or held tight to the body: Submissive, frightened or injured
Neutral or low position: Content, relaxed (can also indicate fatigue)
Wagging rapidly: Excitement
Highly held w/ slow wag: Could indicate imminent action
*What is this dog thinking? Hint: Notice the ear position.
Not only do they help augment a dog’s hearing, able to rotate in order to face a sound and enhance hearing, a dog’s ears are heavily used in dog communication. Have you ever seen your dog’s ears lie flat against his head? How about standing up rigidly, pointing straight upward?
- Ears will usually ‘point’ toward whatever the dog is focused on.
- Various breeds, such as hounds, will have more difficulty manipulating ears that tend to droop.
Neutral Position: Relaxed, content
Pricked, forward: Attentive, playful
Low, flat against head: Submissive
Is your dog standing tall and rigid, staring intently? Or is he crouched, slouching his back in a curve, trying to make himself look smaller? A certain type of body posture will accompany these other signals when displaying one mood or another.
Slouched, low body posture: Submissiveness
Tall, rigid posture: Alert, Dominant
Judging by his tail, body posture and ear position, how is this dog feeling?
- Direct eye contact can be considered a challenge to a dog’s dominance. This is why your pets will often look away rather than staring you straight in your face.
Remember, dogs are constantly relaying their feelings and thoughts all of the time! To understand dog communication, you just have to be willing to pay attention.