« Last post by Kirsten on Yesterday at 03:51:05 PM »
Okay, voting has now closed so you are free to comment or discuss. I think/hope the results are now visible to all.
These twelve statements are all commonly held beliefs I've seen here and elsewhere on the internet BUT....all are false.
1. The Volhard test is designed to pick a PET, not a service dog candidate. The temperament sought for a good pet is not the same as the temperament sought for a good working dog. It is designed for choosing among a litter of well bred puppies, not for evaluating individual puppies or a litter of puppies without family history. The Volhard test is designed to be administered on the 49th day of life. It loses considerable accuracy when you deviate from any of those criteria (a different age, an individual instead of a litter, and is heavily dependent on a known family history for accuracy).
2. Being laid back and being friendly are not qualities of temperament. They are a combination of emotional state (which is quite variable with circumstances) and the part of personality that is shaped by life experience. Temperament is the core personality, the part that cannot be shaped, the part they are born with. Temperament is a combination of the dog's innate drives, instincts and fight/flight/freeze responses and thresholds under stress. It is not personality per se or what we generally consider personality, but the framework upon which personality grows. Think of it as the dog's primitive brain. Being naturally laid back or friendly to everyone are also not necessarily desirable characteristics in a working dog like a service dog. A well trained dog will appear to be laid back because he knows how to stay and to wait, but for an ideal service dog his natural inclination is going to be to be at least a moderately active dog who is eager to pop up and do anything asked of him any time and any place without hesitation or regret. A lazy dog who lies quietly not because of training but because he'd just as soon be a couch potato is not an ideal service dog candidate just like a lazy person is not a good candidate for a personal assistant.
3. There are two basic ways to test characteristics or knowledge: subjective and objective. An example of an objective test is a multiple choice test. It is designed so that anyone can score it. Either they give the desired response or they don't. There is no room for guessing or interpretation. Temperament tests are not objective, they are subjective. Subjective tests require the administrator to have a certain skill and knowledge of interpretation. An example of a subjective test is an essay. A person grading an essay would have to have some knowledge of the subject or of the material being tested in order to make an educated assessment of how well the essay meets the requirements. Evaluating a temperament test requires experience and skill. It is not something that can be well done with a check list (which is an objective test). Yes, there have been a great many attempts to objectify temperament tests but they are all very flawed because the nature of the material being evaluated is inherently subjective. I thought it interesting to note that no one thought this statement was true and yet some thought it was true you could tell someone how to test temperament remotely.
4. Temperament tests work well on fully baked ADULT dogs. Those who do temperament testing seriously, professionally, as a business, will not certify the temperament of a dog under 18 months of age precisely because it is so hard to evaluate a puppy or adolescent because their outward behavior can fluctuate wildly during development. It is exceedingly difficult to temperament test a puppy, which is why typically those who do it with any real success insist on doing it always at the exact same age (usually 49 days) and only on dogs with a known family history AND life history. Breeders are in the best position to do temperament testing, but not all breeders are equally qualified to do it. Why are they in the best position? Because they know the parents and grandparents and hopefully have watched at least half of the progenitors develop from puppies themselves. They should be recognizing traits from those earlier dogs which are part of how they predict how this individual puppy will grow up. They also spend hours every day observing each pup in a wide variety of circumstances. A good breeder is going to be actively stimulating the puppies both to aid them in development and to assess how they respond to mild stressors like new objects and sensations. Some will take notes and others will magically keep it in their heads, but they should be able to state specific things they have observed that lead them to believe X characteristic is particularly strong or lacking in any specific pup in the litter. Being a breeder doesn't necessarily make a person a good reader or observer of dog, though among good breeders these characteristics do tend to go hand in hand or they would not be successful in getting puppy buyers to title the dogs they sell them.
5. Temperament tests work best in litters of siblings. Why? Because of the age they need to be administered, which is before pup should be removed from the litter and because pup should feel secure in the environment in which he has lived all of his life. A pup tested in this environment is going to test very different from the same pup removed from his home and family and put into a strange situation. You're going to get a better read of his actual temperament if you have full control of the stress levels he experiences. You need to see pup unstressed to compare him to stressed. Just because pup isn't showing obvious signs of stress doesn't mean he isn't experiencing stress, just that the stress he is under is not yet to his threshold. A huge chunk of temperament testing is about locating those thresholds. Side note: looking for those thresholds is risky to do with a young puppy which is another reason why temperament testing of puppies is not as reliable as temperament testing of adults. There's a risk of damaging the pup's psyche by over stressing him before he knows how to handle stress (i.e. Scaring the bejesus out of him).
6. This one is basically the same as 2. These are not qualities of temperament in the first place and in the second case they are not predictive of good service dog performance. I defy anyone to find a dog anywhere on the planet who is sweeter or more loving than my Ruby. She worships me and can't do enough for me. I love her dearly too. But my sweet girl cannot handle stress well enough to perform the stressful job of a service dog without making herself ill. She is at significant risk of becoming a fear biter if pushed into doing service work. She's sweet and biddable, smart, highly trained, and would dearly love to go everywhere with me doing anything I asked of her. She's even a much better alerted than Tardis is. But she does not have the temperament to handle service work. She does not have the ability to cope with the stresses of the job. Her thresholds are too low. She is reactive. A heck of a lot of reactive dogs are incredibly sweet and loving.
7. This is kind of like 2 but instead of looking at whether these are characteristics sought in a service dog this one asks whether these traits are part of temperament (no) and whether they are universally desirable (no). Again, these are generally good pet characteristics, but not indicators of good character over all. Which leads us to....
8. There is no universal ideal temperament. There are many different temperaments that suit an individual to different positions. Consider the active determined precise person who is not going to let go of a problem until it is solved. Such a person would make an awesome attorney or doctor but they might not be an ideal child carer because children are notoriously messy and chaotic. You need someone who can tolerate disorder for that. Is one temperament better than the other? No, but each is better suited to a different career. Same with dog temperaments.
I think I've either addressed the others in the above discussion or they were things that people don't seem to be very confused about so I'm tempted to skip over them unless someone has a question about them.