Thursday of last week Riverdog was taken over by puppies! About once a year, Riverdog trainers and employees have the opportunity to do testing on a young litter of puppies before they reach their final home. Temperament testing for puppies has been used for years, but is usually reserved for working and sport dogs; however in some cases even the breeders of pet quality dogs use the testing as well to help determine the best home environment. For example, a quieter, calmer puppy would be a good fit for a family with children, whereas the more active, rambunctious puppies would probably suit a younger, more active household. The tests themselves are fairly subjective and not exactly scientifically proven, but they do give a general idea of the puppies’ personality.
Breeders choose to use Riverdog’s complimentary testing because the test itself needs to be in a neutral environment and away from people that the puppy may already have a relationship with. Even though the puppies are young, usually only five to six weeks of age, we can still determine a lot about their drive and overall energy level. The first test the trainer performs tests for social attraction to humans. The puppy is placed in the center of the room and the trainer calls and coaxes the young puppy to come closer. A higher score indicates a self-confident pup that will be good with people, but that will also need lots of training and may not be a great choice for the first time dog owner. In the retrieving test, the trainer takes a toy or balled up piece of paper and throws it away from the puppy. The pup that shows no interest in chasing after the toy may not be your best hunting or competition dog, however this calm puppy would be great in a living situation with kids or an elderly couple. Other tests include their startle response to loud noises and how they respond to being held and cradled. All of the puppies from this litter ended up being very friendly and social and we could tell they lots of experience already being handled by many different people!
Of course, these tests cannot tell you exactly what kind of dog you will have when they grow into an adult because so much of who they turn out to be depends on the quality of socialization and training. However, a well-run temperament test will give you a general assessment of your young puppy and can give breeders a chance to place the puppy in its best home. And let me tell you… as a trainer that gets the opportunity to play with ten gorgeous Labrador Retriever puppies as part of her job; I love it and would take it any day of the week!