Rose and Odin puppy tests

We did 4 different tests with the pups, although many overlapped.

1st test:

The three temperament types you’ll find among dogs are are

  • Active:Pups with an active temperament are smart and interactive, which means a lot of work but also a lot of fun. Spirited and intelligent, active pups are well appreciated by those owners who have the time and determination needed to train them.
  • Neutral:Neutral puppies are relaxed and undemanding — sort of the regular guys of the dog world.
  • Passive:Passive and shy puppies appreciate love and support but are fearful of change, so they do best in consistent environments.


  1. Observe.

You can tell a lot about your puppy before you’ve even said hello. Watch your puppy if he’s playing with other puppies. What is his personality? Does he prefer jumping into group activities (A), hanging in the midst of the activity (N), or staying on the sidelines (P)? Is he stealing the bones (A) or submitting when approached (N or P)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  A  usually ahead of the pack, always there first, by my side, talker, but all pups close together when we go somewhere
 m2  N  active but just a little mellower than his brother; all the pups play well together, often find all 5 playing tug of war with one sock
 f1  A  has a good nose and inquisitive, very bouncy like all 3 girls are
 f2  A  bravest of the pack at 4 weeks old, but all more similar by test time
 f3  N  first one up a flight of stairs at 7 wks old, all up the following day, more submissive pup, sometimes a little more on the sidelines but still very active


Bring out some toys. Does he show interest in them? Does he show you what he has (N), instigate tug of war (A), or covet the object immediately? Coveting is an early sign of possessiveness, which may lead to aggression.

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N picked up toy but no tug
 m2  P  not interested in toy
 f1  N  picked up toy but no tug
 f2  A  tugged on toy
 f3  P/N  mouthed toy but didn’t pick up



Cradle your puppy in your arms. Does he relax (P), wiggle a bit and then relax (N), or kick like crazy (A)? Which action matches your expectations?

Don’t choose an A type if you have children.

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  A  struggled but not biting or crazy
 m2  A struggled but not biting or crazy
 f1 N   struggle then relax
 f2  A  struggled but not biting or crazy
 f3  N  struggle then relax


  1. Call back

Using a treat or a squeak toy, call to the puppy as you back away from him. Does he race after you while jumping or nipping your ankles (A), follow happily (N), or hesitate and need coaxing (P)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N
 m2  P  I think he was getting tired
 f1 N  no nipping but the only one to do a little pant nipping later on during the test
 f2  A  no nipping
 f3  N


  1. Tuck and Pat

Kneeling on the floor or sitting in a chair, settle the puppy between your legs. Pet him in long gentle strokes as you praise him softly. Does he wriggle free as he nips (A), wriggle and then relax (N), or simply melt in your embrace (P)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  P
 m2  P
 f1  P/N  little wiggling going on
 f2  N  stayed put but tail going a mile a minute
 f3  P


  1. Bend over.

Stand up, stretch, and relax. Now go to your puppy and lean over to pet him. Your doing this may seem overwhelming to the pup because you’re so large and he’s so small. Does he jump up to your face (A), cower in confusion (P), or just relax and let it happen (N)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  A
 m2  N
 f1  A
 f2  A
 f3  N


  1. Nose Kiss

Cradle your puppy’s face in your hands and kiss him on the nose. Does he bite you back (A), accept the smooch calmly or return the interaction with a soft bite or kiss (N), or pull back in confusion (P)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N
 m2  N
 f1  A/N  soft bite
 f2  A/N  soft bite
 f3  N


  1. Toe squeeze.

In this exercise, you’re testing your puppy’s reaction and sensitivity to discomfort. While petting the puppy, gently squeeze the skin between his toes. Does he attack your hand? If so, he’s definitely an A type with high sensitivity. A neutral puppy may lick or mouth gently, whereas a passive puppy will cringe fearfully.

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N
 m2  N
 f1  A  a little more mouthy
 f2  N
 f3  N


  1. Startle sound.

Take a bunch of keys, and when your prospective puppy least expects it, rattle them above his head. Gauge his reaction: Attacking the keys gets an A; a nonchalant glance, an N; and a fear reaction noted by cowering or withdrawal, a P.

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N
 m2  P
 f1  N/P
 f2  N
 f3  N


  1. Crash test.

Stand and wait until your puppy is no longer interested in you. Suddenly fall to the ground as if you’ve tripped and exclaim “Ouch!” Does the puppy race over and pounce (A), come to sniff or lick your face (N), or cower and run in fear (P)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N
 m2  N
 f1  A  chewed hair!
 f2  N
 f3  P  came to me to call for help for fallen tester!



Lift your puppy 4 inches off the floor by cradling his midsection. Hold him there for at least 5 seconds. Does he wriggle and bite furiously (A)? Does he relax and look around (N)? Does he look fearful and constrict his body posture (P)?

Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  N
 m2  N
 f1  N
 f2  N
 f3  N


Don’t be surprised if you get mixed results. Tips for interpreting them:

  • All A’s:This dominant puppy is bright and interactive. Raising him will take concentration, consistency, and time. His favorite expression: “What’s Next?”
  • All N’s:Easygoing and contained, this puppy will be pleasant and self-assured, though perhaps not terribly motivated to follow your agenda when it conflicts with his own. His favorite expression: “Is this absolutely necessary?”
  • All P’s:This puppy has a weak self-esteem and needs your reassurance to feel safe. Without proper lessons and socialization, he’ll be shy. His favorite expression: “It’s been three minutes, do you still love me?”
  • Mix of A and N:This active puppy will want to be in the middle of everything but will show slightly more impulse control than a full-on Active pup when stimulated. His favorite expression: “Let’s do it again!”
  • Mix of N and P:This self-assured puppy will be easygoing and gentle yet with a stronger sense of self than a completely passive pup. Because he’s more composed, he’ll be an ideal puppy for a calm house with or without older children. Favorite expression: “Another backscratching please!”


Pup Rating Additional Observations
m1  3A, 7N, 1P  mostly Ns
m2  1A, 5N, 5P  mix of N and Ps
f1  4A, 7N, 2P  mostly Ns
f2  5A, 5N  mix of A and Ns
f3  9N, 3P  mostly Ns



2nd test – the Police test

The police test

  1. Acceptance/Attachment     The first test involves evaluating the pup’s acceptance of the strange place and its willingness to interact with the stranger.  Ideal reaction is eye contact and interest in the stranger but no sign of nervousness in the interaction (we don’t want a “Protect me!” attitude), followed by visual investigation of the surroundings and then a return of attention to the tester.
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 see 4th test
  1. Pain Sensitivity The loose skin over the ribs is gently pinched and the pup’s reaction is noted.  Ideal reaction is to notice the pinch but be unconcerned by it.  We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  no reaction  all forgiving
 m2  no reaction
 f1  little whimper
 f2  no reaction
 f3   little whimper


  1. Retrieve Next, willingness to retrieve is evaluated using different toys:  a stuffed toy, and a tennis ball.  Ideal reaction is to repeatedly being the toy back to the handler rather than moving off to “possess” it.  The type of bite on the toys is evaluated:  a full mouth bite shows more confidence and drive than a front-teeth-only bite.
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  retrieves  followed ball; picked up toy and ran with it 1st time, retrieved toy the 2nd time (brought it back)
 m2  not retrieving yet  interested but does not follow (it’s still early for pups to retrieve in a test, most do so later)
 f1 retrieves  followed ball; retrieved toy right away!
 f2  retrieves  followed ball; retrieved toy right away!
 f3  sort of retrieves  followed ball; retrieved toy part way


  1. Perseverance Then perseverance is evaluated by seeing how enthusiastically they will pursue, grab hold, and tug on a rope sack.  Ideal reaction is to pursue enthusiastically, grasp with a full mouth bite, tug and do everything possible to posses the object.  If a sack is used, we like to see a pup get its whole body on the sack in an effort to subdue it.
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  looked, cautious investigation
 m2  looked
 f1 tugged and chewed and followed
 f2  followed
 f3  looked
  1. Fear A metal can filled with metal items (horseshoes, nails, bolts, etc.) is dropped behind them from a height of about 2 feet while they are looking away from it.  Will the pup hold its ground and then go look at what dropped from nowhere?  Excellent reaction is to acknowledge and turn towards the sound and then confidently go see what made the racket.  The tester encourages the pup to investigate, if it doesn’t on its own.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  excellent
 m2  startled, looked then went away
 f1  excellent
 f2  excellent
 f3  looked but then quickly ignored, interest elsewhere
  1. Courage and Aggression Courage and aggression is evaluated using an electric train that when turned on moves erratically, whistles loudly, clanks, etc.  Will they stand their ground?  Will they go investigate it?  Excellent reaction is to go to the moving, clanking train and check it out.  Extremely excellent reaction is to actually attack it while it moves.  Good reaction is to investigate it after the tester turns it off.  The tester encourages the pup to investigate after it is turned off, if it wouldn’t while it was “whistling” and moving.  She notes how much encouragement is needed. We didn’t have a train so used broom that we made a little noise with by stomping it on the floor, then layed it down
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  looked at from siting position by one of testers – getting tired I think
 m2  looked at from siting position by one of testers – getting tired I think
 f1  looked and went up to once on the floor
 f2  good  followed and investigated
 f3  cautious investigation
  1. Surprise The last test involves getting the pup to chase 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. 
Pup Rating Additional Observations
 m1  startled, walked around then returned to sniff
 m2 startled, walked away then returned to sniff
 f1  startled, looked, no interest, grabbed a toy
 f2  went right back to investigate
 f3  startled, walked away then forgot about it, interested in other smells



The main difference between the police/narcotics test and the SAR test is the attitude of the tester.  In the police test, the tester is very quiet, talking little and using very little body movements.  No other people are present and the environment is kept quiet.  In the SAR test, the tester (often two do the test together) is somewhat more enthusiastic, uses some verbal praise and body movements to get the pup “up” and gives praise.  Other people are sometimes present to watch, though they are asked to be as quiet as possible.  This would fit well with the ultimate purpose of the dogs being tested for both types of training.  In police work the dog must be able to dig down deep inside himself or herself to find the courage and aggression to confront a criminal and/or to search independently and at great distance from the handler.  In SAR the handler is usually closer to the dog and is able to praise and encourage him, especially in extended searches.  There is also generally all kinds of activity and distraction at a search scene so the dog must be able to filter out the extraneous activity and focus on her job.  Both tests are fascinating to watch as is the difference in the pups’ responses in each test.


3rd test  – Search And Rescue Test

1.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.

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 done in other tests

2.Submission Test  The submission test is designed to give an idea of the pup’s tractability, trust in humans, and willingness to submit to a human’s directives. In the submission test the pup is held firmly on its back for a short period of time.  The tester counts the seconds it takes for him to resist, then accept, the restraint.  She should not passively accept the restraint, nor should she panic or show avoidance of eye contact.  Ideal reaction is to resist, then submit and look the tester in the face.  We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester. 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.

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 done in other test

3.Confidence Test  The confidence part of the test involves holding the pup out at arm’s length for several seconds.  Again, the pup should accept the handler putting it in position and remain calm. Test 1 and 2 : Submission, Forgiveness, Sociability

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 done in other test


3.Unstable Footing   Since SAR dogs will search in all kinds of terrain and areas of destruction, they must be confident in insecure situations.  Often used are boards and carpet pieces. We brought them to a new place outside, a cement ramp with carpets on it, then we put them on a table.

All the pups did well with the carpets, so differences on the table are noted. Sometimes we have litters where the pups are too uncomfortable to stand, or they even hug the table, but not in this litter.

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 m1  stands, wags tail
 m2  stands, wags tail more cautiously
 f1   stands, wags tail
 f2   stands, wags tail
 f3  stands, no tail wag


4.Hunt for Food I  This test begins with a piece of jerky tied on a string and dragged to attract the pup’s interest and see how interested it is, how hard it will work to get it, and how hard it will work to keep it as the tester jerks, tugs and generally prevents the pup from easily eating it.  She then entices the pup to follow it to the area where she has hidden food (test 2).  

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 not done

5.Hunt for Food II  Suzan hid treats in the middle of the room.  The pups had to use their noses to find where the treats were.  They were judged on how they followed her direction for where to search and how systematic their searching was. From how many feet away in in how much time (although the boys had a big piece of chicken, as it was getting towards the end of the test, and the noses were up in the air right away! – the girls had a little tiny piece to find!!)

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 m1   6 ft, 1 sec
 m2  4 ft, 3 sec
 f1   2 ft, 5 sec
 f2   1 ft, 2 sec
 f3   didn’t find it, too nervous; I’m sure given more time to relax, she would have found it easily


4th test – the Volhard Puppy Test- find it here

all done in other tests except for first 2

1. Social attraction – 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.

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 m1  3
 m2  3
 f1  3
 f2  3
 f3  6  trait of a Shepherd to be aloof at first, in just a little time, she was going up to tester confidently

2. Following – 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.

Pup Rating    Additional Observations
 m1  2  both boys followed closely at all times
 m2  2
 f1  2 all 3 girls managed to follow closely and run around the room at the same time!
 f2  2
 f3  2


Without taking the time to put things together, this is how I think the pups would score:

Pups m1, f1, and f2:

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.

Pups m2 and f3:

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.

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