Praetor rottweiler club


Aptitude Test and Dog Mentality Assessment

by: Mike Eisler

Please note that your dog must NOT be fed 24 hours prior to the test. The reason for this is that the Aptitude Test / Dog Mentality Assessment consists of a series of situations in which the dog's natural drives and instincts are tested. In all circumstances the dog's full attention is required and, moreover, many of the situations are stress creating. A full stomach inhibits normal reactions.

It is also very important that as a participant and a spectator you realise that an Aptitude Test or Dog Mentality Assessment is not evaluated cut and dry like an Obedience Test, where "X" marks are deducted for that particular shortcoming. In each of the items which are tested a Test Leader assisted by two Judges will evaluate all reactions from your dog. These persons have been specially trained and qualified through an examination. It is their JOINT decision which will be reflected in the report handed out at the end of the test.

Bearing in mind that we wish to evaluate the dog's NATURAL and INHERENT potential, it is evident that we want to see him solving the problems by himself WITHOUT any command or assistance whatsoever by his handler. You don't have to prove that your dog can 'heel' and 'sit', you are just going for a walk. A command must be given ONLY when you are instructed to do so by the Test Leader. It is very important that you are relaxed and realise that your one hour trip through the bush will be full of fun. If you are tense you are going to transmit it to your dog.

Let us now have a look in correct sequence, at the different items which will be tested.


Willingness to Contact and to Play

(Applies to both APT & DMA)

A domestic dog, like his wild counterparts, is a social, pack orientated animal. Where the wild pack only consists of congeners, the domestic dog will easily consider humans as a part of his pack. That is the reason why the dog on test will be introduced to a group of humans who, together with him, will walk and (indirectly) take part in the test. It is essential that a dog accept such a passive 'group' without fear or aggression. Once the 'group' has been formed at the beginning of the test, it should not change by persons leaving or other persons joining in.

Based on the evidence that canines forge bonds and learn through playing, it is essential that a well balanced dog respond to an invitation to play; definitely when this invitation comes from his pack leader and even when it comes from a stranger (test leader) who shows his good intentions.

The "Chase Response" or Drive to Pursue and to Catch Prey

(Applies to both APT & DMA)

This is probably the most fundamental drive which is essential for any well balanced canine. The functioning of the pack and the ability to be an active part of it depends on each of its member's drive to pursue and to catch prey. It is based on this natural instinct and the way that we can convert it for 'domesticated' purposes, that we can teach our dog to retrieve, to track, to search, to do manwork and much more.

The trigger that we are going to use for this particular test is completely new to your dog. It is NOT a tennis ball, a retrieve dumbbell, a passing bicycle or running cat. Lorenz has proven that any fleeing prey 'instinctively' triggers the urge to pursue, to pounce upon, to grab, to kill and to carry. A dog with a good 'chase response' will perform this scenario to perfection.

The Attachment towards the Pack Leader

(Applies only to APT)

It is obvious that a pack animal should be strongly attached to his pack leader and it must be prepared to join him in all circumstances. To evaluate this, you will be asked to run away through a series of ugly looking dummies while the test leader restrains your dog. You will have to call your dog's name once before you disappear to a hiding place. The jury will evaluate your dog's intensity, his possible fear and how he concentrates to solve the problem of joining his handler through the ugly looking targets.


Activity

(Applies to DMA only)

In this test situation we want to observe the dog's action or activity when, in his surrounding, nothing occurs.

Distance Play

(Applies to DMA only)

To evaluate the dog's tendency to activate himself when invited to play by an unknown person at a distance from his owner.

Sensitivity to a Surprise and to a Sudden Noise

(Applies to both APT & DMA)

These two items are very similar. The idea is to evaluate your dog's reaction to a 'jack in the box' and to a sudden 'loud bang'. Although a quick dodging reaction is acceptable in both cases, it is essential that the dog overcome this early emotion to go and investigate what it is all about.

Fighting Behaviour towards the Ugly Man

(Applies to APT only)

It is our intention to evaluate the dog's 'reactive aggression' in a situation where he is confronted with alternate 'threat' and 'submission' from the part of a marshal (ugly man). All details of the disguise and the actions undertaken by the ugly man, are based on canine psychology, and are aimed to establish if the dog is prepared to fight or is inclined to flee. The intensity of his reaction, the demonstration of aggressiveness, eventual flight tendency and the way in which your dog will approach the ugly man once he has stopped his action, will define his social fighting spirit.


Dominance

(Applies to APT only)

This is a quality which is required from each pack leader. It is normal for a steady dog to run for higher office. Moreover, it is essential that in a Working Dog breeding program emphasis be laid on this type of dog. If this 'dominance' is not infused on a regular basis one will end up with a multitude of Red Indians without chiefs. For this particular test we will use an imposing and arrogant staring torso, mounted on a sledge, which will move in an uninterrupted manner straight towards its opponent. As a reaction we want to see imposing behaviour and aggressiveness, no flight tendency and a frank investigation towards the dummy once it stands still.

Defensive Behaviour

(Applies to both APT and DMA)

Two marshals disguised as white ghosts will, without any specific threat, approach against the wind towards the dog. Ideally the dog should react with a certain amount of threatening behaviour, abstain from flight tendency and, once released, contact the disguised marshals with careful checking. This is the attitude of a dog which is prepared to defend you.

Sensitivity to the Sound of a Gunshot

(Applies to both APT and DMA)

A poor attitude in this item has generally been accepted as disqualifying in any canine character test. It has been proven that any domestic dog which is genetically 'gun-shy', lacks nervous steadiness. It is extremely important that you play very actively with your dog while this test is carried out and that you continue to play after the first shot has been fired. We want to see that the dog continues playing, or immediately regains his activity.

Conclusion

Based on your dog's performance during the Aptitude Test, the jury will, at the completion of the test, be in a position to evaluate the following specific qualities:

· approachability or willingness to contact and to play

· prey drive or chase response

· social fighting spirit

· activity level

· level of aggression

· defensiveness

· stress factors

· toughness

· eagerness, and

· steadiness to gunshot.

This will be reflected on an evaluation form. In the case of a Dog Mentality Assessment, a copy of the judges’ findings will be handed out to the owner.

One must bear in mind that the Mental Test, as it is called in Sweden, its country of origin, evolved in the sixties through a team of canine ethologists. It is based on principles as explained by Konrad Lorenz. It has been applied to many thousands of dogs. Without doubt it has proven to be a very helpful tool to define hereditary mental tendencies. A person, who understands it as such, will surely, after having seen only one dog being put through the test, abstain from unfounded comment.




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