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Volhard's Puppy Aptitude Test

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What is it and how does it work? 

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In the 1930s tests were developed to uncover dogs bred to become guide dogs. Later on, in the 1950s studies were completed on puppies to determine how quickly they were able to learn. They were the same tests used to test or identify children's learning stages. It was uncovered in the testing the most suitable time to test a puppy was at the age of 49 days. It was believed that the puppy was neurologically complete and it had the brain of an adult dog. For every day after the 49th day, the responses and results were tainted by prior learning. Thus we test at 49 days of age today to get the best and most accurate results of aptitude for a puppy. 

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In the early 1960's more tests were developed to determine if a puppy could be tested for dominance and submission. The tested proved it was possible to predict future behavioral traits of adult dogs by testing puppies at 49 days of age. Again, testing earlier or later affected the results and led to less accurate results. 

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As a result, these tests were put together and created what we know today and use to assess a puppies' aptitude as the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test of PAT. The PAT uses a scoring system from 1-6 and consists of ten different tests. The tests are completed consecutively in the order listed below. Each test is scored separately and in interpreted on its own merits. The scores are not averaged, and there are no winners or losses. The entire purpose is to select the right puppy for the right home. 

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The tests completed are as follows: 

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1. Social Attraction

2. Following

3. Restraint

4. Social Dominance

5. Elevation

6. Retrieving

7. Touch Sensitivity

8. Sound Sensitivity

9. Sight Sensitivity

10. Stability

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During the testing process, the assessor may make note of the puppies' heart rate which is an indication of how well it deals with stress. They will also look at their energy levels. Dogs with high energy levels need a great deal of exercise and will get into mischief if this energy is not channeled in the right direction. 

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The testing will also look at the overall structure of the puppy. If the puppy has strong and straight front and back legs with all four feet pointing in the same direction it will grow up that way provided it is given a proper diet and environment in which to grow. If you notice anything out of the ordinary at this age, it will stay with the puppy for the rest of its life. 

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For your reference here is a copy of the assessment used in the testing process. 

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Image by BP Miller
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