Volhard's Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT)
Joachim and Wendy Volhard (www.volhard.com) Revised January 2003 © Wendy Volhard
Translation: Monika Tušanová ©2004
One of the tools that helps us to measure the potential of our pups is the Puppy Aptitude test below. Each puppy is tested at 49 days of age. Results of this test help us to determine which of our waiting homes each pup is best suited for. This test was developed by Joachim and Wendy Volhard and is © 1996 Wendy Volhard.
Puppy Aptitude Test
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Place puppy in test area about four feet from the tester. Tester kneels, leans backwards and coaxes the pup to her/him by clapping hands gently. 
Purpose: Degree of social attraction to people, confidence, or dependence. (Pack Drive)
1 ame readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands
2 Came readily, tail up, pawed, licked at hands
3 Came readily, tail up
4 Came readily, tail down
5 Came hesitantly, tail down
6 Didn't come at all
The tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow. Make sure the pup sees you walk away. Coax puppy to follow by talking to it and attracting its attention.
Purpose: Willingness to follow a person. (Pack Drive)
1 Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet
2 Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot
3 Followed readily, tail up
4 Followed readily, tail down
5 Followed hesitantly, tail down
6 Did not follow or went away
The tester crouches down and gently rolls the pup on its back and holds it down with light pressure with one hand for 30 seconds.
Purpose: Degree of dominance or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.(Fight or Flight Drive)
1 Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit
2 Struggled fiercely, flailed
3 Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact
4 Struggled then settled
5 No struggle, no eye contact
6 No struggle, straining to avoid eye contact
Puppy sits or stands on crouching tester's left side and tester gently strokes it from the head to back. Continue stroking until a recognizable behavior is established.
Purpose: Degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.(Pack Drive)
1 Jumped, pawed, bit, growled
2 Jumped, pawded
3 Cuddled up to tester and tried to lick face
4 Squirmed, licked at hands
5 Rolled over, licked at hands
6 Went away and stayed away
The tester cradles the pup under its chest, with both hands, fingers interlaced, palms up and gently lifts it two feet off the ground, and holds it there for 30 seconds.
Purpose: Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control. (Fight or Flight Drive)
1 Struggled fiercely, tried to bite
2 Struggled fiercely
3 Struggled, settled, struggled, settled
4 No struggle, relaxed
5 No struggle, body stiff
6 No struggle, froze

Obedience Aptitude Test

The tester crouches beside the pup and attracts its attention with a crumpled up piece of paper. When the pup shows some interest, the tester tosses the paper no more than four feet in front of the pup, encouraging it to retrieve the paper.
Purpose: Degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with social attraction and following, a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training. (Prey Drive)
1 Chased object, picked it up and ran away.
2 Chased object, stood over it, did not return
3 Chased object, picked it up and returned with it to tester
4 Chased object and returned without it to tester
5 Started to chase object, lost interest
6 Did not chase object
The tester locates the webbing of one of the puppy's front paws and presses it lightly between his index finger and thumb. The tester gradually increases pressure while counting to 10 and stops the pressure when the puppy pulls away or shows discomfort.
* Do not use your fingernail when performing this test. Press between the finger and thumb lightly then more firmly until you get a response.
Purpose: Degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.
1  (8-10) counts before response
2  (6-7) counts before response
3  (5-6) counts before response
4  (2-4) counts before response
5  (2-3) counts before response
The puppy is placed in the center of the testing area and an assistant stationed at the perimeter makes a sharp noise, such as banging a metal spoon on the bottom of a metal pan.
Purpose: Degree of sensitivity to sound. (Prey Drive)
1 Listened, located sound, walked toward it barking
2 Listened, located sound, barked
3 Listened, located sound, 
   showed curiosity and walked toward sound
4 Listened, located the sound
5 Cringed, backed off, hid
6 Ignored sound, showed no curiosity
The puppy is placed in the center of the testing area. The tester ties a string around a bath towel and jerks it across the floor two feet away from puppy. 
Purpose: Degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels. (Prey Drive)
1 Looked, attacked and bit
2 Looked, barked and tail up
3 Looked curiously, attempted to investigate
4 Looked, barked, tail-tuck
5 Ran away, hid
An umbrella is opened about five feet from the puppy and gently placed on the ground.
Purpose: Degree of startle response to a strange object. (Fight and Flight Drive)
1 Looked and ran to the umbrella, mouthing or biting it
2 Looked and walked to the umbrella, smelling it cautiously
3 Looked and went to investigate
4 Sat and looked, but did not move toward the umbrella
5 Ran away from the umbrella
6 Showed no interest
The puppy is gently set and held in a natural stance and evaluated for structure in the following categories: 
Straight front, Straight rear, Shoulder lay back, Front angulation, Croup angulation, Rear angulation
(see diagram below)
Purpose: Degree of structural soundness. Good structure is necessary
GOOD - The puppy is correct in structure
FAIR  - The puppy has a slight fault or deviation
POOR - The puppy has an extreme fault or deviation

Interpreting the Scores

Mostly 1's A puppy that consistently scores a 1 in the temperament section of the test is an extremely dominant, aggressive puppy who can easily be provoked to bite. His dominant nature will attempt to resist human leadership, thus requiring only the most experienced of handlers. This puppy is a poor choice for most individuals and will do best in a working situation as a guard or police dog.

Mostly 2's This pup is dominant and self-assured. He can be provoked to bite; however he readily accepts human leadership that is firm, consistent and knowledgeable. This is not a dog for a tentative, indecisive individual. In the right hands, he has the potential to become a fine working or show dog and could fit into an adult household, provided the owners know what they are doing.

Mostly 3's This pup is outgoing and friendly and will adjust well in situations in which he receives regular training and exercise. He has a flexible temperament that adapts well to different types of environment, provided he is handled correctly. May be too much dog for a family with small children or an elderly couple who are sedentary.

Mostly 4's A pup that scores a majority of 4's is an easily controlled, adaptable puppy whose submissive nature will make him continually look to his master for leadership. This pup is easy to train, reliable with kids, and, though he lacks self-confidence, makes a high-quality familly pet. He is usually less outgoing than a pup scoring in the 3's, but his demeanor is gentle and affectionate.

Mostly 5's This is a pup who is extremely submissive and lacking in self-confidence. He bonds very closely with his owner and requires regular companionship and encouragement to bring him out of himself. If handled incorrectly, this pup will grow up very shy and fearful. For this reason, he will do best in a predictable, structured lifestyle with owners who are patient and not overly demanding, such as an elderly couple.

Mostly 6's A puppy that scores 6 consistntly is independent and uninterested in people. He will mature into a dog who is not demonstrably affectionate and who has a low need for human companionship. In general, it is rare to see properly socialized pups test this way; however there are several breeds that have been bred for specific tasks (such as basenjis, hounds, and some northern breeds) which can exhibit this level of independence. To perform as intended, these dogs require a singularity of purpose that is not compromised by strong attachments to their owner.

The remainder of the puppy test is an evaluation of obedience aptitude and working ability and provides a general picture of a pup's intelligence, spirit, and willingness to work with a human being. For most owners, a good companion dog will score in the 3 to 4 range in this section of the test. Puppies scoring a combination of 1's and 2's require experienced handlers who will be able to draw the best aspects of their potential from them.
The results is called the Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) since it indicates which pup has the most aptitude for the desired task or purpose. The test is administered in a standard fashion to minimise human error. Condition under which testing takes place are as follows: 

Ideally, puppies are tested in the 7th week, preferably the 49th day. At 6 weeks or earlier the puppy's neurological connections are not fully developed. (If the test is conducted between 8 - 10 weeks, the puppy is in the fear imprint stage and special care must be taken not to frighten it). 

Puppies are tested individually, away from dam and litter mates, in an area new to them and relatively free from distractions. It could be a porch, garage, living room, yard or whatever. Puppies should be tested before a meal they are awake and lively and not on a day when they been wormed or given their puppy shots. 

The sequence of the tests is the same for all pups and is designed to alternate a slightly stressful test with a neutral or pleasant one. 

There is less chance for human error, or the puppies being influenced by a familiar person, if the tests are administered by someone other than the owner of the litter. A friend of the owner, or the prospective buyer can easily learn to give the test. 

I found it helpful to arrange the tests in a concise chart form following the order in which they are given. In addition, since I found it difficult to use Campbell's scoring code, 1I simply gave each response a number. While testing numerous puppies, the Volhards found that a number of puppies showed responses not on Campbell's test. These observations are included in the test with an apostrophe in order to differentiate them from Campbell's original tests. The Pfaffenberger tests were also given a number so that all scores can be compared and a chart was devised for checking a puppy s total performance at a glance. 

Also included in the Obedience Aptitude Tests is a section on structure. Over 60 breeds conform to what "conventional body type", that is 45 degree angulation front and rear. The greater the deviation from this norm, the less efficiently the dog will be able to perform obedience exercises. Other impediments to efficiency are HD, cowhocks, east-west feet, crossing in front or rear when gaiting. 

A simple guide to follow for puppies at this age (7 - 8 weeks) is "what you see is what you get" notwithstanding the all too familiar assurance, "Don't worry, he'll grow out of it". Be particularly wary of the statement, "he's not much of a conformation dog but he'll do fine in obedience". 

This could mean the dog is perhaps mismarked or has light eyes but is structurally sound. However, often it means the dog has a serious structural fault. This dog will be unable to take the strenuousness of training and competing in the obedience ring. If you feel that evaluating structure accurately is above your head, seek competent help. 

Last but not least, the prospective puppy testor must have a chance to observe the parents of the litter, preferably both parents but at least the dam. If the sire and/or dam have characteristics which are not desirable there exists a good chance some, if not all, of the puppies will have inherited these undesirable traits. 

The safest and easiest thing to do when faced with parent dogs of undesirable temperament is simply to look for another litter of pups whose sire and dam more closely conform to your ideals. If you must have a pup from this litter pay particular attention to the test scores of the litter and do not select a pup which shows any tendency towards undesirable traits.

Spracovala: M. Tušanová © 2004
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