I became very curious about Pet Aptitude Testing when Karen mentioned it on HF a few weeks ago. I had never heard of it before. Being the inquisitive, wonky person I am, I researched it on the Web (Aren't the Internet and computers amazing? I never want to go back to the 'good 'ol days' before the Internet). Here is what I found: Volhard Dog Training and Nutrition: Behavior and Training: Behavior
BOW WOW, what a lot of interesting and useful information! I will let you read it through on your own if you are interested, but here is what I concluded with regards to Ricky.
Testing is usually recommended at 8 weeks old. Ricky was never given the PAT as far as I know. We brought Ricky home at 9 months, so I don't know if that skews the test results. Ricky's personality has not changed in any significant way from when we acquired him until today. On the 10 tests given, I would guess that Ricky would score five 3's, three 4's, and two 2's based on our interaction with him over the last 2+ years. That makes him the PERFECT dog for our living situation and circumstances. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart.
However, I would never purchase another dog without knowing first what their PAT score is. In my opinion, the PAT score is THE most important consideration in selecting a dog - not gender, not color, not cost, not proximity to your home.
I have some questions and I hope Karen, who is an experienced PAT tester, will jump in.
- does a dog's basic personality ever change over a lifetime, given that a dog will slow down and mellow as they get older
- is a PAT test equally indicative at an age older than 8 weeks
- do all reputable breeders perform a PAT before sending them to their forever home
I think it would be fun if HF member posted how they think their dog would currently perform on the PAT, there is no failing score.
And for the record, if there were a PAT for humans, Popi would score eight 1's and two 2's. Bad Popi, down boy, sit, stay. Good boy, here's a taco.
Well, first, I don't use the PAT. I much prefer the temperament testing in "The Focused Puppy". A lot of the tests are the same (though not all) but the "grading system" I find to be considerably more nuanced. The problem with the PAT is that probably 90% of Havanese puppies are going to score just where Ricky did. It's a companion breed, and that's where they SHOULD score.
Second, it's really a totally useless test for older dogs, because they have been so influenced by life experiences by then. Hopefully you have USED the information gained during puppy testing to sure up any weaknesses your puppy has (such as a puppy who is noise reactive and has a hard time recovering) while taking advantage of the puppy's strong scores. (like the one who is super food or toy motivated)
No, all reputable breeders do NOT do temperament testing of any sort. As a buyer, I would prefer to either watch (or do) the temperament testing myself, or at least see video of it. Scores can be influenced quite a bit by the tester (often without them realizing it) and they are also open to interpretation.
For instance, the person who did the testing on my friend's litter. (I was scoring, because the puppies knew me, therefore I couldn't be the evaluator) The first test is to let the puppy acclimate to the environment. You want to see that the puppy fairly quickly starts moving around and exploring. The second test is for the evaluator to call the puppy to them, in a high voice, saying, "puppy, puppy" and encouraging them to come. The first two puppies stopped dead, half way to her, and just stood still. At first, she couldn't figure out what was going on. I noticed that as she kneeled down on my tile floor to call them (she's an older woman), her knee made a real "thud" on the floor. We did that test over with her sitting on a small stool instead, and the puppies happily when flying over to greet her. Those details are really important, and not everyone notices them.
Likewise, on the retrieve test, the puppy is supposed to run out after the paper ball, and ideally pick it up and return to the evaluator. One puppy stopped on his way out toward the ball, then wandered off and forgot about the ball. Wa he not interested in playing? No. Our parrotlet had started squawking, and that noise, which he'd never heard before, became more interesting than the paper ball. We had to discuss what we'd seen and make a judgement call based on what we saw, and what we thought had happened. Interestingly, another puppy had the same thing happen, and SHE was able to "hold the thought", and go back to getting the ball after investigating the bird noise. That's a REALLY useful attribute in a performance dog!
Many reputable breeders feel that they get to know their puppy's temperaments so well that they "just know" what puppies should go to what kind of home. There is a lot to be said for that... I DO think that the breeder's knowledge of the litter is THE most important factor. Temperament testing is a snapshot in time. HOWEVER, there are many breeders who breed infrequently enough (something that is actually considered a plus in the "Sticky" article on the forum which I'm not sure I agree with) that I don't think they can have the experience with enough puppies to make that kind of judgement call reliably. At least for what _I_ want from a dog. My preference is to see temperament testing AND get the input from the breeder AND see and interact with the puppies myself. In my case, if any of the three doesn't feel right, I'd probably pass on the puppy.
Finally, please keep in mind that unless a Havanese puppy has a pretty serious temperament flaw, it will probably STILL work out as a fine house pet. Again, that's what they are bred for. The average pet owner doesn't care if a 7 week old puppy has a full retrieve, or is really food motivated. As Dave has said in other posts, I WOULD steer clear of a Havanese puppy that seemed particularly fearful. That is NOT "normal" for our breed, and can be a life-long problem to work with.