Temperament testing - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Temperament testing

For reference, here's a link to the description:
Purpose & Objectives of the Temperament Test

This is a link to the guidelines for handlers:
Temperament Test Guidelines for Handlers

My dog took it recently and passed, as I had every expectation that she would. Her marks were "strong" and "normal" for everything except for reacting to the "weird stranger" (for which she was marked "mild"). I think it was partly that the helper was not a stranger to her but was someone she knows fairly well. She stood her ground but didn't bark or growl. My husband was watching from out of her line of sight and remarked to me afterward that her expression during that segment of the test was more like, "...seriously?" than anything else.

Overall, when people have been asking me what the temperament test is, I've been giving the thirty second elevator version: It's a set of scenarios designed to give some indication of a dog's confidence and protectiveness.

I think it does a reasonably good job. It isn't perfect, and I would never say it should be an indicator of breedworthiness on its own (I could maybe get on board with calling it necessary but not sufficient), but it yields some information.

I know we have a mix here of people who are in show lines (breeding/competing/pets), people who are in working lines (breeding/competing/pets), and people who don't have any specific line type who have pets and dogs who compete, so I'm curious about your thoughts on the merits of the temperament test. If you were to offer a critique of the test, what would that be?
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 08:44 PM
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It is a minimal temperament test and I would have to see it being administered to offer a critique. When testing, evaluating and selecting potential dogs for LE use I do some parts of this test. I have a much more thorough testing and evaluation regimen. I test the sociableness, hunt drive, prey drive, gun fire, environmental testing which includes a variety of surfaces and dark rooms. Then we progress into the "civil" portion of the test and the dog must be ready and able to defend itself for real. Then to the bite work portion of the testing. The dog is pressured and graded on each test and in several categories for some of the tests.

We do the gun fire testing differently, I do not encourage the dog, nor do I allow the dog to have any toys or any stimulation prior. The gun going off is a surprise to the dog. We use a 38 caliber blank and a real gun. It is loud and we watch the reaction while the dog is out walking or having just peed on a tree. It is the first test that we do and really needs to be the first test to get a proper reaction.

The "Footing test", only requires a dog to walk across an ex pen placed on a sheet of polyethylene. This is really not a good footing test or an environmental test. Climbing open metal stairs to a roof, walking across open metal grating. Working in a dark room with slick floors are a far more comprehensive test.

The "aggressive stranger" portion seems rather vague. I don't think you can get a good read on a dog's protective ability from that test alone. This test would seem to me to be very subjective and a lot would depend on the "helper" to act properly and the judge to really be able to read the dog. This is an area that I have a lot of experience in, and I see people reading dogs incorrectly all the time. The aggressive stranger test on it's own is not a good way to determine a dog's guarding ability.

Overall, it is a start and a good thing to do. If a dog performs marginally, I would say that it would absolutely not be breed worthy. Conversely, if a dog passes that doesn't make it breed worthy based not that test alone. It seems like a fun thing to do with a dog to see how it will react. I would think most GSD's would pass easily.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 09:00 PM
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I don't have anything to add but just a question for slam, at what age would you put a dog thru your kind of testing?
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegooseman90 View Post
I don't have anything to add but just a question for slam, at what age would you put a dog thru your kind of testing?
Well, it used to be that we were mainly testing dogs that were between 18 and 24 months. However, things have changed and the dogs we test now are much younger. The last dog I selected was 9 months old when we tested him. The oldest dog in the group was under a year.

I've selected 3 dogs for our unit over the past couple of years that were 9 -10 months. The last two I selected prior to this one were under a year. You have to test slightly differently or at least grade the young dogs differently. I would not expect the same level of a aggression from a 9 month old dog that I would from an 18 month old dog. In the young dogs, when doing the "civil" testing I look more for confidence than serious aggression.

All of the dogs are on the street, the 9 month old dog just finished my patrol school and certified on 7/5. He is now 14 months and a really nice dog.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slamdunc View Post

We do the gun fire testing differently, I do not encourage the dog, nor do I allow the dog to have any toys or any stimulation prior. The gun going off is a surprise to the dog. We use a 38 caliber blank and a real gun. It is loud and we watch the reaction while the dog is out walking or having just peed on a tree. It is the first test that we do and really needs to be the first test to get a proper reaction.
Can you explain the importance of the bolded please?

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 01:09 AM
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Ok thanks for that. I can imagine that it's a tough test to pass and must put some high quality dogs on the streets.

And not to jump in here but I think the bolded part is on significant in the fact that the dog is completely caught off guard and opposed to being worked up and ready for it.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 10:50 AM
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except for reacting to the "weird stranger"

being a weird stranger is not a crime or necessarily a danger .
there are people with physical disabilities that have movement , noises, outside of "normal"

depends on what the weird stranger was doing ?

no need to go from zero to hero mode -- I like that the dog was alert and aware , and had some discretion or
discernment

appropriate judging of a situation is lacking in lots of GSD
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 11:35 AM
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We do the gun fire testing differently, I do not encourage the dog, nor do I allow the dog to have any toys or any stimulation prior. The gun going off is a surprise to the dog. We use a 38 caliber blank and a real gun. It is loud and we watch the reaction while the dog is out walking or having just peed on a tree. It is the first test that we do and really needs to be the first test to get a proper reaction.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MineAreWorkingline View Post
Can you explain the importance of the bolded please?
Too many people do the gunfire test after the dog has been stimulated and in "drive." This can greatly effect the outcome of the test and the dog's reaction. Even something simple like giving a dog a tennis ball or kong will have an effect on the test. I want the dog to be just walking around naturally, sniffing and exploring his environment, nice and relaxed. I want the gun fire to be a surprise and then I see the true reaction. The ideal reaction is to be alert, aware, look in the direction of the sound but not be phased or concerned.

The biggest thing that I have to watch are the overly aggressive dogs that react violently to the gunfire. They may bite the handler, slip the leash or break free to get to the source of the gunfire. Which is usually me. I generally have a couple of other guys with me, including the handler we are testing dogs for. The potential handler holds the leash, in case the dog comes up the leash. The other handler with me fires the gun, in case the dog gets loose. That way I am not the one getting bit. I've been bitten many times testing dogs and now I want to share that experience with the new guys. An overly aggressive reaction, while not ideal is not necessarily a fail. A skittish, startled or nervous reaction is a DQ for me and I stop the testing and move on to the next dog. That is another reason it is first, we can rule out some dogs real quickly and move on.

I go to various vendors to test dogs and some of the guys at the new vendors don't know me and I don't say too much. I ask about the dogs, I ask what they think of the dogs they have and that gives me a good read on the person. I tell them what I am looking for and ask to see their "best" dogs and what they think will work based on what I have told them. After comparing what I see, to what I have been told about the dogs I get a really good read on the experience level and honesty of the vendor. The evaluation is as much about a new vendor as it is about the dogs.

I realize that these guys are there to sell me dogs and some are pretty good at it. I have had guys bring out dogs with a toy, offer me the dog's favorite tennis ball, etc. They offer to handle the dog for me while I test it in bite work and I can see the subtle things they do to make the dog look better or more impressive. They will pump the dog up before bringing it out. I just take my time and let the dog relax. Then I start with my tests, the beginning is me just walking up and petting the dog and watching it's reaction. That is where you might get bit and I like fairly social dogs. Then the dog goes for a walk and we begin with the gunfire.

The next test is a tossed rolled up towel, NOT a bonker but a towel used as a toy to chase, hunt and retrieve. Most of these young dogs have not seen a towel as a toy and it is what we use to reward the dogs in detection work. The slick vendors always try to give me a tennis to use, I just smile and say I'm good with a towel.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 11:55 AM
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you test the dog when the dog's mind is elsewhere - not prepped and ready for the bang.

I had one dog tested by the K9 trainer with his units Chief present , while the dog was in deep concentration doing an off lead article search (buttons and bent match paper) . Dog was about 20 feet away. I had no idea they were going to do the gun test - and it was not a starter pistol or cap gun ! .

Bang - dog looked up - saw everyone was neutral , head back down and continued search .
This was Simon who is sire of many successful dogs in LE.

Another dog -- RCMP test out by the fields of the Airport --- this time another dog --- friendly fire - beside the source of the gun shot.

Surprise element very important.

These dogs had no preliminary introduction or conditioning to "noise" gun fire.

I too want to see their initial bred-in-the-bone reaction . That nerves of steel is what is passed on to the
next generation . That nerves of steel sees you through some really bad situations.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 12:05 PM
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Exactly! If you give a dog a toy or put it in drive, even weak nerved dogs will show little or no reaction.

That is why I do not like the gunfire after the can rattling test in the Temperament test. Plus, I am not a fan of encouraging a dog if the real inherent reaction is what you want to see.
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