You’re ready to add a puppy to your family, but where should you start? How can you ensure that you’re getting the best puppy for your family? 

If you’re a family who is away from home for hours every day, you’ll need a dog who is less likely to develop separation anxiety. If you’re a homebody and seldom spend time outdoors, you’ll want a dog that doesn’t require much outdoor time/exercise. If your goal is to get a dog who’ll live a long life, you’ll want to make sure you get a dog who is less likely to develop health issues. 

When you start searching for the perfect puppy to fit your family’s individual needs and lifestyle, the best thing you can do is rely on temperament testing. 

What is Temperament Testing?

You’re probably wondering, “What is a dog temperament test,” exactly?

A temperament test assesses a dog’s behaviors in various situations by introducing them to different stimuli. Think of it as a dog personality test. 

The results of temperament testing can give you an accurate picture of what to expect from a dog. They can reveal some essential information, specific to each dog, that can determine if they’re suitable for dog sports or being someone’s family pet.

What Temperament Testing Includes

To determine the best placement for each dog, temperament testing is a must! So let’s look specifically at some of the things that temperament testing will reveal: 

Assertiveness

Description – Assertiveness refers to how much a dog would challenge your space. It lets you know if a dog is more assertive or more submissive. 

Example – Assertive dogs make wonderful “diabetic alert dogs” because they’re going to wake you up/alert you when they sense that your sugar levels are off. On the other hand, a more assertive dog would not work well in a family with children or someone who is a first-time dog owner. 

An assertive dog is more likely to steal your food every chance they get, without even giving it a second thought. A submissive dog would handle the situation more slowly and think about it for a while before approaching your food. 

Confidence

Description – Confidence refers to how self-assured a dog is. 

Example – A more confident dog would make an excellent service dog. 

A less confident dog would be more prone to becoming fearful. Less confident dogs are great for being placed with a family who will empower them, rather than enable them. 

Motivation Level

Description – Motivation level refers to the trainability of a dog and their willingness to work with a human. 

Example – High-motivated dogs get excited when you praise them and will be ready to do the next thing you ask them. Low-motivated dogs are less likely to do what you ask them. 

It’s important to be aware of a dog’s motivation level so you know how to entice them into learning. Figuring out a dog’s motivation factor (toys, food, or people) also helps in encouraging them to learn. 

Nerve Strength

Description – Nerve strength refers to how much stress a dog can handle before reaching their threshold. If a dog is showing signs of stress signals (yawning, panting, avoidance, whining), it’s time for you to pull back a little. 

Example – A dog with higher nerve strength is great for working/being out in public (since being out in public is so unpredictable, you don’t want a dog who is overwhelmed by sights, sounds, etc.) A family who lives in a big city would be a great match for a high-energy dog. 

Touch Tolerance

Description – Touch tolerance refers to how much a dog likes being touched. 

Example – When a dog has a higher touch tolerance, it makes your life easier in terms of taking care of your dog (cutting their nails, cleaning their ears, bathing them). Dogs with a higher touch tolerance also pair well with families who have children, since children will likely want to cuddle and hold the dog often. For this same reason, a dog with high touch tolerance would make an excellent therapy dog. 

Energy Level

Description – Energy level refers to how energetic or lazy a dog is. This is a trait that cannot be changed through training, etc. 

One of the main reasons dogs are rehomed or end up in shelters is because the family can’t deal with the dog’s energy level. So it’s important to understand the breed of dog and what their nature is in terms of their energy level. 

Example – If you spend a lot of time at home, then you’d do well with a dog who is high-energy since you could exercise with them often. Think about it…a dog with a lot of energy would not do well being left in a kennel or playpen (or even roaming the house) alone for long periods. (Unless you are okay with them destroying your furniture/house in the process). 

Sound Sensitivity 

Description – Sound sensitivity refers to how sensitive a dog is to certain sounds. 

Example – It’s important to expose dogs to loud sounds (music, vacuuming, movies, crying babies, bells) at an early age (around 20 days old) to build their tolerance for noise.  

Having a dog who is tolerant of loud noises is ideal for any family/potential dog owner. 

Sight Sensitivity

Description – Sight sensitivity refers to how sensitive a dog is to certain sights. 

Example – Every dog will get startled from time to time (that’s a normal response). If a dog recovers from being startled by a particular sight (like an umbrella opening) within 3 seconds, then they are considered to be tolerant of sights. 

A dog who can recover quickly from being startled by sights would benefit anyone wishing to own a dog. 

Play/Prey Drive

Description – Play/prey drive refers to how intensely a dog responds to exposure to toys/prey. 

Example – If a dog shakes a toy rigorously or growls at it, this is a sign of having a higher play/prey drive. 

A dog with a higher play/prey drive would not pair well with a family that has children. Imagine this…your children start running around your house playing. This triggers your dog’s play/prey drive so it chases after your children and (playfully) bites/nips them. 

On the other hand, a dog with a higher play/prey drive would pair wonderfully with someone who has diabetes. The dog’s tracking instincts would kick in and they could save their owner’s life when need be. 

Human Focus

Description – Human focus refers to how focused a dog is with a human.

Example – The more focused a dog is on humans, the better they would be as a therapy/facility dog since those humans would require more attention from them. 

Tenderhearted

Description – Tenderhearted refers to how influenced a dog is by unpredictable situations/human emotions. 

Think about a child who has autism, etc. If that child has a tantrum/fit, a dog will respond one of two ways – they’ll either think the child is playing and want to play with them back (NOT a tenderhearted dog) or they’ll be in distress and want to help the child (a tenderhearted dog). 

Example – A tenderhearted dog would be the best match for someone with autism or Down Syndrome, or as a therapy dog for someone dealing with grief. 

Dog Friendliness

Description – Dog friendliness refers to how focused a dog is with either the environment, humans, or other dogs. 

Example – A dog that is human-focused would be well suited as a therapy dog since their primary focus is on humans. 

A dog that is either dog-focused or environmentally-focused would not be the best choice for a therapy dog. Since their primary focus is not on humans, they would be more easily distracted by other factors. 

The Importance of Temperament Testing

Now that you understand some of the main temperaments that are tested with dogs, think about why temperament testing is so important. 

The bottom line…some temperaments just don’t work in certain environments. 

For example, the last thing you want is to be placed with a dog who has high aggression tendencies when you have young children at home that could provoke aggression in your dog. 

Or if you have a child with autism, you want to ensure that you get a dog who won’t be distracted by other surrounding factors and can maintain their focus on your child, right?

Temperament Testing at Rejoice Retrievers

At Rejoice Retrievers, we focus on all 12 of the aforementioned traits to ensure that you’re getting placed with the absolute best puppy to meet the individual needs of your family!

By using a service dog curriculum, our dogs are being raised to be the best version of themselves so they can be the best dogs to fit into your family. 

When you get a puppy from Rejoice Retrievers, you’re getting a puppy who has been raised beyond the basic practices. Your puppy will undergo a service dog temperament test that includes introducing them to a variety of stimuli in a controlled environment. 

Your puppy will be exposed to Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS), Sound Desensitization, and Early Scent Introduction, which will leave you with a puppy who is self-assured and empowered.

Conclusion

By now, you should understand why it’s so important to have a puppy’s temperament tested before they can be placed with their perfect family. 

There is no “bad puppy”. It’s simply a matter of placing each puppy with their best owner/family. Every puppy has its unique personality traits, so you can rest assured that you’ll find the right puppy to complete your family!

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