The puppy aptitude test was created by Joachim and Wendy Volhard as a way to test behavioral tendencies and predict what a puppy will be like as an adult. During the test, various exercises are done with the puppy to determine the following:
- Social Attraction: how well the puppy connects to people and whether he’s confident or dependent on others
- Following: his willingness to follow a person
- Restraint: whether the puppy is more dominant or submissive and how well he can be handled in difficult situations such as vet exams
- Social Dominance: how the puppy reacts to being dominated socially, whether he tries to dominate or if he’s independent and walks away
- Elevation: how well he accepts dominance when he’s in a position of no control
- Retrieving: how willing the puppy is to do something for you
- Touch Sensitivity: how sensitive he is to being handled, which can help determine the type of training equipment you’ll need
- Sound Sensitivity: how sensitive he is to loud noises as well as being a rudimentary test for deafness
- Sight Sensitivity: how the puppy responds to moving objects, which can reveal any tendencies to chase cars or the mailman
- Stability: how startled the puppy may be when confronted with a strange object
- Structure: This is a measure of how well-formed and proportioned the puppy is physically. A puppy with a solid build will generally be healthier than one that has issues with bone alignment.
The test is scored on a scale of one to six for each of the eleven factors. You can find a puppy aptitude test sheet on the Volhard website with the applicable test for each trait.
How to score the test
After you’ve administered each test and recorded the results, add up the number of one’s, two’s, three’s, etc.
This puppy has aggressive tendencies and is very dominant. He would not be a good match for families with children or elderly owners since he may be quick to bite. He would likely be a difficult dog to train and would require an experienced handler.
This puppy is dominant. He would fit well in an adult household with an owner that can be firm and consistent in handling. Once the owner has gained his respect, he can be a very good companion. However, he may be too dominant for a household with children, or too energetic for an elderly owner.
This puppy fits best with the average owner, accepts human leadership readily and can be good with children and elderly owners. He would likely be a good dog for obedience training, although he may be fairly active.
This puppy is submissive and would fit with most owners, getting along well with children and elderly owners. He would train well, but may be somewhat less outgoing and energetic than a puppy that scores mostly three’s.
This puppy is very submissive. He would not be the best choice for a first-time owner because he scares easily and needs to be taught how to be more outgoing. He would need a very regimented lifestyle to feel comfortable and open up. He’s generally safe for children, but could bite out of fear if overly stressed. Training him would take a lot of patience.
This puppy is very independent and would be difficult to work with. He’s not very people-friendly and would require an experienced handler. He shouldn’t be matched with households with children. If you also recorded several one’s with this puppy, he may be likely to bite if stressed. This is particularly true if he scores a one in restraint.
If you find that after administering the puppy aptitude test a puppy has a few of every number, you should retest him in a few days. He may not feel well. Upon retesting, if the puppy still doesn’t show a pattern in scoring, he’s likely to have erratic behavior and may not make a good pet.
What the scores mean for you
If you’re a first-time owner, you should look for a puppy that scores mostly three’s and four’s. One with this personality should be easy to train and family-friendly. This is particularly true if he scores a three in both social attraction and social dominance.
This doesn’t mean that a puppy with other scores isn’t fit to be a pet, just that he may be better suited for owners that have more training experience. The test doesn’t pick good puppies. It only points out general personality traits a puppy will have as he grows. The puppy aptitude test should only be used as a gauge for a puppy’s temperament. It’s up to each person to make his or her own decision as to the personality they would like their puppy to have and choose based on this knowledge.