Canine Temperament Tests: An International Trend

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By Mary R. Burch, PhD

While dog trainers in the United States are usually aware of puppy temperament tests (e.g., Volhard’s PAT) and temperament tests for adult dogs including the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) test and most recently, the AKC Temperament Test (ATT), many trainers are not aware that temperament testing is a widespread international trend.

For trainers who have an interest in canine temperament, a list of tests from multiple countries is below.

Dutch SAB (Socially Acceptable Behavior)

Measures aggression


Sweden – Behavior & Personality Assessmentt in Dogs (BPH) (Sweden)–-for-all-dogs-r216/

Started in 2012 by the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK). The assessment is designed to fit all dogs, regardless of breed. The BPH takes about 30 minutes and consists of 7 parts. The aim is to give a summary of how the dog reacts in and handles various situations.


German Shepherd Dog Club of America Temperament Test

Test is a modified ATTS test and includes neutral/friendly stranger, reactions to auditory (clattering) and visual stimuli (umbrella), reaction to gunshot, unusual footing and an aggressive stranger.


UDC Temperament Test (United Doberman Club)


Mentalbeskrivning Hund (MH) – Swedish Working Dogs (also in Finland)

Click to access MH%20test%20in%20english.pdf

A canine character test originally developed in Sweden by Svenska Brukshundklubben – Swedish Working dog association. The test is mainly intended for working dogs, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Collies, Boxers etc. But dogs of other breeds can take the MH test as well.

In Finland the test is under the Finnish Kennel Club (SKL) and the Finnish Working Dog Association (SPKL).


Working Aptitude Evaluation (WAE for the WAC) – Dobermans

Developed from the ATTS. (Social attraction, sound (clattering), sight (umbrella), footing, protective response-decoy.


Working Test for Retrievers – Italiano (Italy)

The aim of a Working Test is to select the best dogs having good temperament, good marking, good use of nose and showing initiative.


IPO- formerly called Schutzhund


 (Cane Corso breed) – The A(CAL) test


Federacion Canofila Mexicana TT (Mexico)

Click to access ReglamentoTemperamento2016.pdf


C-BARQ (questionnaire)

This is a questionnaire.



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AKC Announces AKC Temperament Test (ATT)


The American Kennel Club  is proud to announce the new AKC Temperament Test (ATT). The ATT is open to all purebred and mixed breed dogs.

The temperament of any dog is an important characteristic. Temperament is a dog’s natural predisposition to react a certain way to a stimulus. The AKC Temperament Test includes test items in the following six categories: social, auditory, visual, tactile (touch), and proprioceptive (motion) and an unexpected stimulus.

The ATT is a noncompetitive, pass-fail test that will screen for fear, shyness, inability to recover, and lack of cooperation. Desired traits are that the dog will be emotionally stable, inquisitive, appropriately social, biddable and recovers from a startling situation in a reasonable amount of time.

ATT tests will be administered by any AKC licensed or member club in conjunction with AKC events such as dog shows, trials, or as stand-alone tests. ATT tests will appear on the AKC Event Search website. The evaluators for the ATT will be specially trained AKC Obedience judges, Rally judges and AKC Approved Canine Good Evaluators. ATT evaluators will appear on the AKC Judges Directory website.

Dogs must be at least 1-year old to take the ATT test and dogs who do not pass the test may retest when ready. Dogs who pass the ATT twice under two different evaluators may earn the ATT title and list the suffix, “ATT” after the dog’s name.

More information can be found at


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AKC FIT DOG: Are you walking with your dog?


Now more than ever, fitness is important for both dogs and people. The most commonly recommended exercise to improve fitness is walking. Walking is considered a safe activity that improves muscular strength, circulation, memory, weight loss, increases energy, helps with sleep, and reduces stress. The American Heart Association recommends walking a minimum of 150 minutes per week. Participation in the AKC FIT DOG program will bring health benefits to both you and your dog.

If you walk with your dog on a regular basis, join the ranks of AKC FIT DOG and get your free FIT DOG logo car magnet.

The AKC FIT DOG magnet proudly declares to the world that you are committed to your dog’s health and fitness through regular exercise.

You can order your free magnet when you and your dog have met one of these fitness goals:

#1. Walked at least 30 minutes 5 times per week for a total of at least 150 minutes per
week for at least 3 months. For dogs and people in good shape.

#2. Walked at least 15 minutes per session at least 10 times per week (e.g., two 15-min
walks per day) for at least 3 months. For dogs or people who would benefit from a
walk that is a shorter duration, e.g., senior dogs.

How to Get Your Magnet

Complete your walks. Keep a record so you will know when you’ve met your goal.

2. Complete the attached order form at:
It’s that simple! We’ll send your magnet.
If you are already taking your dog on regular walks, you may count those. Remember that before starting an exercise program for your dog, it is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.

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Training and Selecting Therapy Dogs for Funeral Homes

Mary R. Burch, PhD

As far back as the 1700’s, dogs have been used in therapeutic settings to provide comfort. In the 1970’s, several national therapy dog organizations emerged in the United States. These organizations registered handler and therapy dog teams who most often volunteered in nursing homes and facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

Over the past few decades, the world of therapy dogs has evolved and dogs now visit a wide variety of settings. One of the most recent developments is the use of therapy dogs in funeral homes, where dogs provide comfort to people who are grieving. An increasing number of funeral directors are recognizing that therapy dogs provide comfort and unconditional love to those who are attending funerals. Jessica Koth, the spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association, confirmed that therapy dogs at funeral homes are on the rise.

Screening and Training a Funeral Home Therapy Dog

A funeral is no place for an active dog, exuberant dog. Overall, therapy dogs at funeral homes should be confidant, but quiet and calm.

Senior Woman In The Retirement Community Enjoy The Visit Of Her Dog

The dog should be trained on basic skills such as those on AKC’s  10-step Canine Good Citizen test ( Some of these skills include tolerating petting by a friendly stranger, sit, down, come and stay.

As with all therapy dogs, there should be an assessment of therapy-specific skills that go beyond CGC. For funeral homes, “beyond CGC” means dogs are trained on behaviors that are unique to funerals, memorial services, or funeral visitations.


Checklist for Therapy Dogs that Work at Funerals

  1. Shows no signs of stress (e.g., panting, pacing, excessive shedding, shivering)
  2. Tolerates extended petting (beyond CGC)
  3. Stays in place for petting (visiting with a friendly stranger)
  4. Sit stay or down stay as needed (time extended beyond CGC)
  5. Small dog- allows holding or sits on someone’s lap or beside them
  6. Consoling posture (e.g., places head on lap/knee)
  7. Follows directions to “go see” or works the room and does this naturally
  8. Works off-leash when appropriate
  9. Works on-leash when appropriate
  10. Works 20-minutes at a visitation, funeral or memorial service

Therapy dogs for funeral homes are most often owned by the funeral home director or another staff member. However, it is possible for a funeral home to team with a local therapy dog volunteer and have that person and dog team present at funerals when the family has requested a therapy dog.

When considering a funeral home therapy dog, remember that not everyone wants a dog, even if it is a therapy dog, at an occasion as solemn as a funeral. If the family wishes to have a dog present, there should be consideration for guests who may be afraid of dogs or have allergies.  To ensure that everyone is comfortable, funeral directors can follow a few simple steps:

  1. Ask the family if they would like to have a therapy dog present.
  2. Determine if the dog should be at the visitation, funeral or memorial service.
  3. Ask if there is anyone in the family with allergies, fears related to dogs.
  4. Take the guests into account. A small sign with a photo of the dog could be posted near the entrance with words such as, “At the family’s request, a therapy dog is present today. Please let (the funeral home) know if you are not comfortable with dogs.”
  5. Depending on the number of guests and format, determine if the dog will be on-leash or off-leash.
  6. If the dog will remain on-leash, decide who the dog will be taken to for visiting, or will it stay in a specified area?
  7. If the dog is not owned by the funeral home and belongs to a visiting volunteer, brief the volunteer in advance regarding where the dog should be taken when it needs a break, the area outside where dog should be taken to relieve itself, etc.

Families who are attending funerals are often grieving and in emotional pain. A therapy dog can provide some comfort during this difficult time. 

Dr. Mary Burch is the director of the AKC Family Dog division of which the AKC Therapy Dog Program is a part. Dr. Burch is regarded as a national expert on the topic of therapy dogs.

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Dog Days at Sox Game: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Devon, a Doberman owned by Bill Rock (a first time dog trainer) and Carole Moen, is working hard to promote the Canine Good Citizen program.

devon soxHe started his training with CGC, then went on to CGCA (advanced CGC), and after that, he earned titles in Beginner Novice and Novice obedience. If all goes well, Devon has big plans for participating in Rally at the Doberman National in November.

Devon’s training has paid off–he was able to attend Dog Days at a Sox baseball game.

Life is better when dogs have training and good manners, and CGC is a great place to start.

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By Shelly Leary, Guest Author

Most of us know that dogs and people are a natural match. Not all people like dogs, and not all dogs like people, but for the most part they are drawn to one another. Both species attempt to learn the language of the other and connect on a deeper level. The more they learn to communicate with one another, the deeper the bond, and the more fulfilling the relationship becomes.

bernese1Some people have trouble knowing how to work within a structured environment, yet that is what a society is — structured. Whether it is our natural inclination or not, structure is something we must achieve to be part of a productive and healthy community. Working with dogs helps those who are trying to achieve this goal in a fun and positive manner.

Youth from the Riverbend Youth Transitional Facility in Eastern Oregon have the opportunity to work each week with Bernese Mountain Dogs ranging from young puppies to senior dogs. The majority of the dogs are young and learning a large variety of skills for the first time. But their age doesn’t matter. What is important is that social relationships are being made.

The youth must establish a trust relationship with the dog they choose and work on basic obedience. When this is accomplished, they are allowed to test within the CGC format. Not titling the dog, but earning a handler certificate. This is highly significant because the youth have to discipline themselves to learn what is required of a title, plus discipline themselves in patience and consistency.

bernese2The dogs all train with their owner, but this does not transfer over to the youth. The youth must develop their own connection and “language” with each dog. Working with the older and previously trained dogs presents a greater challenge. The youth truly must work hard to gain respect and attention from the dog.

When a youth first receives a dog to work with, we frequently see that the dog will not make eye contact. This is the first obstacle to overcome. The second is time dedicated to building a relationship through play, grooming or general companionship. We see youth who are hesitant, even fearful, about working with large dogs transform into confident young men who are proud and eager to show off their accomplishments. We also see youth who are overly confident thinking they can accomplish these tasks quickly. The dogs teach them to slow down and work through the steps. These are all valuable skills that will transfer to everyday life in their community.

Preparing for the CGC evaluation requires the youth to be confident in themselves and inspire confidence in the dog. They work on basic social skills and dealing with self control, which translates directly to their dogs. By the time they are ready to be evaluated, we see the youth willing to make eye contact with the evaluator, speak confidently about their accomplishments and even educate the public about the dog they have trained. However, the youth are still incredibly fragile. The feeling of potential failure is there. This is also a life skill. We all fail! How we handle it makes all the difference in how we see ourselves and how others see us. CGC allows a reasonable “retry” offer, but if the cut isn’t made, the youth knows that more time and work will be required.

This article is more about the benefit to our youth, but the CGC benefits our dogs as well. A confident, well-mannered dog is a pleasure to be around. Owners will want to include their pet in family activities if they can trust their companion to behave. Because of this, the animals have a greater chance of remaining in their forever home and not being a nuisance to society.

Thank you AKC for making a program that works to make a better society for all of us. Thank you to Gail Hesscock, CGC evaluator, for helping make this experience a positive one that will make a difference in lives for both people and dogs.


Riverbend Volunteers,

Shelly Leary

Marti House

& The Swiss Silhouette Bernese Mountain Dogs:

Ollie, Liesl, Bindi, Freja, Coda, Sera, Terra, & Niquita

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Riding in the Car: An AKC Urban CGC Skill

AKC’s Urban Dog program teaches the skills a dog needs to live safely in a city — no matter how big or small.

One of Urban Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test items involves the dog riding safely in a car. To keep your dog safe in the car, follow these five basic tips.

  1. Secure the dog

dogs_in_back_of_car_headerA crate is the safest place for a dog to be when riding in a car. You can also use a canine seatbelt. Owners of well-trained dogs will often allow them to ride unrestrained in a back seat. Whatever you do, don’t have a loose dog riding in the front seat of your car.
2. Take a break

On long car rides, both you and your dog will benefit from a break to stretch your legs, have some water, and visit the “bathroom.” Keeping your dog from being physically uncomfortable will increase the chances that she is calmer during the car ride.

3. Keep an eye on the weather

If the temperature is 80 degrees outside, the inside temperature of the car with the windows rolled up can exceed 100 degrees in 15 minutes. Cold weather can also be dangerous. In extreme temperatures, have a plan for not leaving your dog in the car, or leave your dog at home. Read more hot weather safety tips here.

4. No head out the window

It may look like a load of fun when dogs are cruising down the highway with their heads out of the car window, but this can result in ear and eye injuries. Don’t let your dog ride with his head out of the window.

5. Identification for your dog

In case you are injured in an accident and can’t handle your dog (or the dog gets loose), make sure you have a form of identification on the dog and on the dog crate in the car. While traveling, your dog should wear a collar tag with identification. Microchips are important for dogs whether or not they are traveling. AKC Reunite provides a 24-hours a day, 365-days-a-year recovery service, learn more at
Following these tips will ensure that your Urban CGC dog will be comfortable and safe when riding in the car.


And to ensure you have the proper auto insurance coverage while taking those rides, get a free auto insurance quote from our CGC sponsor, Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance. Call 855.531.9301 or visit

Sponsored by Ameriprise

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It’s Never Too Late for Training…Dogs or People

In February, 2014, a beautiful red Doberman Pinscher named Devon came to live with Carole Moen and her husband, Bill Rock.

Things haven’t been the same since. Devon was 4-years old when he went to live with Carole and Bill. Bill had never shown a dog before, but he and Devon didn’t let that stand in their way.

Here are some photos of their journey.  Devon’s first title was Canine Good Citizen. Carole showed Devon in Beginner Novice and got the first of 3 legs with a 2nd place. Bill then entered Beginner Novice and got a first place for the second of three required legs.

Devon a new beginningThey didn’t stop there…after Beginner Novice, Devon earned the CGCA (AKC Community Canine) title and in November 2015, he got his CD (Companion Dog, the novice title) in obedience.

Devon (with help from Bill and Carole) shows that for many dogs, Canine Good Citizen is just the beginning.

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It’s Time for Spring Cleaning

Springtime is here! Even though you may live in a place where you still have some melting snow, it’s time to clean up your property. My top two tips for outdoor Spring cleaning follow.

Maintain your property
Start this Spring season by keeping your lawn waste free. Remove grass clippings, tree branches, and any trash. “Ranger,” a German Shepherd puppy, cut his foot as he walked through a large pile of grass clippings in his owner’s yard. No one realized until it was too late that there was a piece of rusty metal under the grass.
Woman With Dog Having Coffee Break Whilst Working Outdoors In Garden

Cleaning up trash and repairing walkways can prevent accidents. While you’re cleaning up the yard, check all outdoor lighting to make sure it’s working, including outdoor lights and stair lights.

Use Dog Friendly Gardening Practices
Springtime isn’t all about cleaning. It’s time for planting new plants, fertilizing, and watering. Make sure that all of your gardening products including fertilizers and pesticides are stored in a secure location and that you have selected pet friendly, non-lethal products for the safety of children and pets.
Several years ago, we had a very close call at our home. Not realizing that the product would be a problem, my husband put snail and slug bait at the base of some plants. My beloved Border Collie, Laddie, ate the bait and was rushed to the emergency veterinarian just in time to save his life. Laddie was not a dog who went around eating things on the property, but it turns out that snail and slug bait actually attracts animals.

By keeping a watchful eye and closely inspecting your property, you will ensure that dogs and visitors stay safe.

And to ensure you have the proper home insurance coverage, get a free home insurance quote from our CGC sponsor, Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance. Call 855.531.9301 or visit

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Quincy Kennel Club (IL) Gives CGC Test to Vets & Service Dogs

The Quincy Kennel Club in Quincy, IL conducted a CGC test with veterans and their service dogs. Here’s the story:


Photo: Michael Kipley



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