5 steps in performing a successful Canine Temperament Test

 Most dog owners think of their dog as being wonderful so it is important to have an impartial way to determine the degree of “wonderfulness” the dog has in a variety of new situations. The Canine Temperament Test does this.

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

Currently there are no guidelines for how a facility Canine Temperament Test is performed or if they need to test the dog at all.  It is completely at the discretion of the owner and operators of the facility.  Many facilities are small enough to know the dogs in their care and have a good idea of their behavior.  Other facilities only accept trained dogs as a way to overcome personality problems while having a communication tool incorporated already.  Having dealt with thousands of dogs varying from puppies to seniors and of different personalities and temperaments, I highly encourage all daycare/boarding facilities to have some sort of test before accepting the pet into your facility.

INITIAL “INTERVIEW”

Much of the interview can be done either over the telephone or through questionnaires completed prior to the facility visit.  It includes contact information, background on the dog, as well as behavioral issues and specifics regarding aggression.  Many times the questionnaire includes vaccination and veterinarian information.  It can be as simple or detailed as you want.  The purpose is to obtain a fairly decent understanding of the dog’s personality prior to meeting the dog so you are better prepared to test areas of concern.   A part of the “interview” would be an Owners Agreement which states the legal issues and responsibilities of the dog in your care.

TEST DAYCARE DAY

Review evaluation process and paperwork with dog owner

On the evaluation day, the owner should be present to answer questions as well as review the paperwork from the initial interview and discuss the evaluation process and behavioral and temperament traits required for acceptance.  By talking with the owner, the staff member can determine if the person will be a good client for the facility or a “toxic person*.”  During this time staff should observe how the dog acts with the owner and how the owner responds to the dog.

Remove dog to another room

For the second part of the test, the dog is removed from the owner and taken to another room.  It is important that the dog does not see the owner as this will affect the evaluation.  Things to note include:

  1. How willing is the dog to leave the owner?
  2. Does the dog show any signs of submission or aggression?
  3. How does the dog interact with the staff member ?  Does the dog gravitate towards the handler or are they more timid when a human approaches?
    If the dog reacts aggressively at any time STOP TEST AND DON’T PROCEED

Introduce “tester” dogs

Once the dog has adjusted to being in the room, the staff member begins to introduce calm interactive dogs one at a time while the test dog is on leash.  Observe body posture and interactions with these dogs.  If the dog is not showing signs of aggression, drop the leash and allow the dog to interact on its own with the other dogs.  Evaluate the dog’s play style:

  1. Is the dog anxious? Excited? Aggressive with the other dogs?
  2. Does the dog like big dogs or little dogs?
  3. Is it a flight risk?
  4. Is the dog independent or does it like to be right in the middle of things?
    If the dog reacts aggressively at any time STOP TEST AND DON’T PROCEED

Test for resource guarding

As the dog becomes more comfortable with the other dogs it is time to introduce food and toys.  This is done on leash with a staff member holding the leash of the dog being tested.  With the dog on leash, have another staff member toss treats to the test dog.  Observe the dog’s reaction with the “tester” dogs.  If the dog reacts aggressively at any time STOP TEST AND DON’T PROCEED

Also while the staff member is holding the leash, have another staff member throw a toy to the dog.  Observe the dog’s reaction with the “tester” dogs.  If the dog reacts aggressively at any time STOP TEST AND DON’T PROCEED

Lastly, have the other staff member enter the room and show affection to the dog.  Observe the dog’s reaction with the “tester” dogs.  If the dog reacts aggressively at any time STOP TEST AND DON’T PROCEED

Based on the results of this initial meeting, your facility will determine if the dog is eligible to participate.  You will also be able to determine which play group(s) the dog is eligible for or if the dog needs further training.

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