Join Date: Jun 2009
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I had temperament testing done on Kodi's litter. (call me obsessive, but with a husband who was only marginally accepting of the whole dog idea, I couldn't afford to make ANY mistakes on our "first dog")
Besides the very good information that Kimberley has given you, there are some other things to be taken into consideration.
Particularly with a "soft" companion breed like the Havanese, most well bred puppies are going to score in the 3's and 4's. A few might be 2's or 5's and I think the 1's and 6's would be rare in the extreme. So the numbers alone might not mean much when you are trying to find the best match for your family.
Besides the person being a stranger, and taking the puppies (one at a time) to a strange location, the person REALLY should be very experienced in temperament testing, and able to give a nuanced interpretation of the puppy's responses. The trainer who went with me to test the puppies was great about explaining what she saw, and what that might mean in terms of how best to work with each of the puppies. It wasn't like one was "better" or "worse" but that the slight variations in temperament (and personality) would predispose each puppy to learning best in a slightly different way.
P.S., my not-sure-about-dogs husband has fallen head over heels in love with Kodi.<g>
One of the puppies (we called him the "explorer pup") had a VERY high play drive, was very bold, and was extremely interested in exploring EVERYTHING in his environment. (though he was also plenty people-oriented) Both Pam and the trainer thought he would make an excellent agility prospect. Another puppy, we called the "ADD puppy" because he was very easily distracted by things around him. But from a training perspective, what he had going for him was that he was EXTREMELY food motivated... much more so than the other puppies. Then there was Kodi. He wasn't quite as bold as the "explorer pup" but he was by far the most people-oriented of the 3, and he certainly wasn't what you would consider timid. Although he was happy to wander and play with his brothers, you could call him away from them easily, and he would immediately come and climb into your lap for a cuddle. The trainer pointed out that a pup with this type of temperament and personality might need a more careful introduction to equipment, but was often very trainable just because they wanted so much to work for/with their "person".
I think, for someone like Amanda or Leeann, who are both experienced dog people and who have already trained agility dogs, they might very well have choses the "explorer pup". Even though I knew I wanted to do agility with the dog I got, I was also VERY aware that I as a first-time dog owner, AND that I needed to get a dog who was not going to be overwhelming to other members of our previously dog-less household.
After discussing it at length with the trainer and with the Kings, we all decided that Kodi was the best fit for me and my family. But, if you'd just looked at a chart from the Volhard testing, there would have been VERY little to differentiate between the three puppies. They were all VERY nice dogs who would be great pets for their families.
I guess I'm just reiterating what Kimberley has alluded to... Temperament testing can be a useful tool, IF it is done right, and interpreted carefully. Even then, it should be just one piece of data that goes into your decision balanced with the knowledge the breeder has of her puppies and everything else that goes into choosing a good dog.
I suspect that temperament test would be MOST useful if you felt uneasy about the puppy's breeding. That might help you weed out those 2+5, and especially 1+6 puppies. But it doesn't tell you ANYTHING about what the breeder is doing to make the most of their puppies' temperaments, and environment can make a HUGE difference. More important, if you are uneasy about the puppy's breeding, are you sure you want to buy from that breeder at all?
As I said in the beginning, looking back, maybe I was overly cautious, especially now that I know the Kings, and have a better feel for both them and some of the other breeders on this forum. But I had read enough about other people's mistakes BEFORE I bought a puppy that I wanted to be very sure I didn't make any of the same ones, if there was any way to avoid it. I don't regret my decision to take the trainer with me... this was not only a large monetary investment, but also an investment of the next, potentially, 15 years of my life.
In the future, I would happily get a puppy from the Kings again, without feeling the need to take the trainer with me. And I know there are a number of other breeders represented on this forum who are just as capable of matching the right puppy with the right owner. But for my first puppy experience, this was the right course of action for me.
Karen, Kodi, Pixel and Panda
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