Aptitude Testing for a Puppy

by Connie Jankowski
    Every puppy is an individual, with unique physical and mental characteristcs.

    Every puppy is an individual, with unique physical and mental characteristcs.

    Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

    No two puppies are exactly alike. They differ in size, color and personality. Even puppies from the same litter exhibit different characteristics. Some are dominant, some are cuddly and some are inquisitive. Puppy aptitude testing can help breeders, trainers and puppy buyers to discover the unique qualities of individual dogs.

    No intelligence test can be 100 percent accurate, whether the subject is a dog, a person or any other animal species. However, looking at problem solving, learning and natural instincts can give you a picture of your dog's capabilities. Experts disagree about the definition of intelligence, so, of course, finds will vary, especially when you consider that breeds vary greatly in form and function. Environmental factors, such as smells that distract, the temperature and time of day can influence testing.

    Puppy aptitude testing is usually performed when the pups are about 6 to 8 weeks old. Breeders often perform these tests to help them determine which pups will match with specific prospective buyers. The tests begin by transporting the puppies to an unfamiliar place and exposing them to unusual stimuli, and noting the various reaction. The puppies will hear random loud sounds, see new things (perhaps a large stuffed animal or a wagon), and touch various surfaces (such as grass, the grates on a sidewalk, a rubber mat). This will show which pups are confident, curious or cautious.

    A standard test to evaluate dominance involves handling each puppy's willingness to submit to humans. One way to make this assessment is to hold the pup under the front legs and let him or her dangle in front of you. Most pups will wiggle and resist at first, and some will whine or even try to nip. Eventually the pup will relax and avoid your eye contact, which is a sign of submission. Observe and record each pup's level of resistance to rank them in respect to dominance. Also note any outright aggression, or a pup that appears overly fearful or shy - these may require specific measures to bring out the best.

    You can evaluate a dog's problem solving abilities by placing the pup behind a sheet or wall, and calling him or her from a place where you cannot be seen. Observe the pup's actions, and time how long it takes him to get to you. Do you want to know how cooperative you pup will be? Place the pup on the ground and walk away. Does the pup follow you without being called? That's a great sign. Puppy tests can include a variety of exercises, and they are not completely accurate, but they can tell you a lot about individual puppy personalities.

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    About the Author

    Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.

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