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Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test


We temperament test our puppies at 7 weeks (49 days) of age. Puppies are given a few activities to engage in with an unknown to them person in an environment they have never been in before. All this newness provides an interesting snapshot in time. I use the results of the temperament test as a minor adjunct to my knowledge and observations of the puppies over our days and weeks together.


Tests were developed as early as the 1930s to help identify dogs that would make good service animals. 

We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) items as well as a few other items that our test administrator likes to do. We have the great blessing of having a very experienced evaluator of therapy dog teams as our temperament evaluator. She is so good! and knows dog behavior and body language so well! She's given me beautiful insights that have helped in making matches. 

What the scores mean:


Mostly 1’s: 

Strong desire to be pack leader and is not shy about bucking for a promotion. Has a predisposition to be aggressive to people and other dogs and will bite. Should only be placed into a very experienced home where the dog will be trained and worked with on a regular basis.

Top Dog Tips: Stay away from the puppy with a lot of 1’s or 2’s.  It has lots of leadership aspirations and may be difficult to manage.  This puppy needs an experienced home.  Not good with children.  

Mostly 2’s: 
Also has leadership aspirations. May be hard to manage and has the capacity to bite. Has lots of self-confidence. Should not be placed into an inexperienced home. Too unruly to be good with children and elderly people, or other animals. Needs strict schedule, loads of exercise and lots of training. Has the potential to be a great show dog with someone who understands dog behavior. 

Mostly 3’s:

Can be a high-energy dog and may need lots of exercise. Good with people and other animals. Can be a bit of a handful to live with. Needs training, does very well at it and learns quickly. Great dog for second time owner.

Mostly 4’s:

The kind of dog that makes the perfect pet. Best choice for the first time owner. Rarely will buck for a promotion in the family. Easy to train, and rather quiet. Good with elderly people, children, although may need protection from the children. Choose this pup, take it to obedience classes, and you’ll be the star, without having to do too much work!

Tidbits: The puppy with mostly 3’s and 4’s can be quite a handful, but should be good with children and does well with training.  Energy needs to be dispersed with plenty of exercise.  

Mostly 5’s:

Fearful, shy and needs special handling. Will run away at the slightest stress in its life. Strange people, strange places, different floor or ground surfaces may upset it. Often afraid of loud noises and terrified of thunder storms. When you greet it upon your return, may submissively urinate.  Needs a very special home where the environment doesn’t change too much and where there are no children. Best for a quiet, elderly couple. If cornered and cannot get away, has a tendency to bite.  

Mostly 6’s: 

So independent that he doesn’t need you or other people. Doesn’t care if he is trained or not - he is his own person. Unlikely to bond to you, since he doesn’t need you.  A great guard dog for gas stations! Do not take this puppy and think you can change him into a lovable bundle - you can’t, so leave well enough alone

Interpreting the scores:

Few puppies will test with all 2’s or all 3’s - there will be a mixture of scores.  

For that first time, wonderfully easy to train, potential star, look for a puppy that scores with mostly 4’s and 3’s.  Don’t worry about the score on Touch Sensitivity - you can compensate for that with the right training equipment. 

Tidbits: It’s hard not to become emotional when picking a puppy - they are all so cute, soft and cuddly.  Remind yourself that this dog is going to be with you for 8 to 16 years.  Don’t hesitate to step back a little to contemplate your decision.  Sleep on it and review it in the light of day.  


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