Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Puppy for Mommy - Part 3, Good Puppy, Bad Puppy!

Of course Mom wants a gentle and loving puppy that is good with company. Ideally, when company arrives, the dog will come to the door to greet them with licks and good behavior, not by jumping up on them or shyly running away to another room. One way to assure desired behavior is to find a breeder that uses the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. Mom’s breeder does! So what is it and how does it work and how old does the puppy have to be for the test to be administered?

The test scores social attraction, restraint, following, social dominance, elevation dominance, retrieving, touch, sound and sight sensitivity, stability and structure. Behavior scores range from 1, which is very aggressive, to 6, which is extremely submissive. Here are some sample questions.


TEST: Place puppy in test area about four feet from the tester. Tester kneels, leans backwards and coaxes the pup to her/him by clapping hands gently.

PURPOSE: Degree of social attraction to people, confidence, or dependence. Pack Drive.


1. Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands.

2. Came readily, tail up, pawed, licked at hands.

3. Came readily, tail up.

4. Came hesitantly, tail up.

5. Came hesitantly, tail down.

6. Didn’t come at all.

When my husband and I went to look at German Shepherd Dog puppies, the whole litter of 12 ran to us. Three of them ran up to him and attacked his hands, biting them ferociously. He was like, “Wow! I want a bitey one!” One puppy came to me calmly and sat down next to me. She licked my hand tentatively and that’s the one we got. Layla is a really great dog.


TEST: The tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow. Make sure the pup sees you walk away. Coax puppy to follow by talking to it and attracting its attention.

PURPOSE: Willingness to follow a person. Pack Drive.


1. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet.

2. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.

3. Followed readily, tail up.

4. Followed readily, tail down.

5. Followed hesitantly, tail down.

6. Did not follow or went away.


TEST: The tester crouches down and gently rolls the pup on its back and holds it down with light pressure with one hand for 30 seconds.

PURPOSE: Degree of dominance or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations. Fight or Flight Drive.


1. Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.

2. Struggled fiercely, flailed.

3. Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact.

4. Struggled then settled.

5. No struggle, no eye contact.

6. No struggle, straining to avoid eye contact.


TEST: Puppy sits or stands on crouching tester's left side and tester gently strokes it from the head to back. Continue stroking until a recognizable behavior is established.

PURPOSE: Degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person. Pack Drive.


1. Jumped, pawed, bit growled.

2. Jumped, pawed.

3. Cuddled up to tested and tried to lick face.

4. Squirmed, licked at hands.

5. Rolled over, licked at hands.

6. Went away and stayed away.


TEST: The tester cradles the pup under its chest, with both hands, fingers interlaced, palms up and gently lifts it two feet off the ground, and holds it there for 30 seconds.

PURPOSE: Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control. Fight or Flight Drive.


1. Struggled fiercely, tried to bite.

2. Struggled fiercely.

3. Struggled, settled, struggled, settled.

4. No struggle, relaxed.

5. No struggle, body stiff.

6. No struggle, froze.

Any adult dog should be okay with this kind of handling.


TEST: The tester crouches beside the pup and attracts its attention with a crumpled up piece of paper. When the pup shows some interest, the tester tosses the paper no more than four feet in front of the pup, encouraging it to retrieve the paper.

PURPOSE: Degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with social attraction and following, a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training. Prey Drive.


  1. Chased object, picked it up and ran away.
  2. Chased object, stood over it, did not return.
  3. Chased object, picked it up and returned with it to tester.
  4. Chased object and returned without it to tester.
  5. Started to chase object, lost interest.
  6. Did not chase object.

This test gets very interesting because it can be expanded to test for police work and other uses. By the way, both of our shepherd dogs score very well on the police dog tests, especially our Malinois mix. I am going to not cover the rest of the Volhard test, because I think you’ve got the gist of it. But for those of you that are interested; you can go to the link to read it.

So Mom doesn’t want to visit her puppy until the breeder has decided on one with the right temperament for her. When will that be, you might ask? The Volhard test can be given at 6 weeks and up. Six weeks is a long time for me her to wait.

By the way, she has decided to name the puppy Vasco, after Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who re-established a sailing route to India. Isn’t that a great name?


about a boy said...

thats a great name.

i dont think they used this test on my moxie.

Sue said...

Thanks Chris! But you probably used some other criteria to select Moxie?