Freya and Axel are entered in a temperament test to be given this coming Saturday by the American Temperament Test Society.
All of our dear departed Rottweilers passed this temperament test. This test evaluates a dog’s reaction as it walks with its handler through a course where they will encounter neutral, friendly and and threatening people, visual and auditory stimuli, and unusual surfaces under foot. The handler may not command the dog, or in fact talk to the dog at all, during the test as it is a test of the dog’s temperament, not its training.
You are not supposed to actually train for this test, but the dog should be socialized to the things it will encounter in the test. People, sounds and sights similar to those in the test scenarios are part of most everyone’s daily life. Hopefully, the gunshots and the weirdly-dressed stranger are not a big part of your daily life!
Many dogs fail the subtests for unusual footing: the dogs must walk over a 15-foot length of clear plastic sheeting, and the 12-foot length of an unfolded wire exercise pen. My dogs don’t have any problem with walking on plastic, as they do so every time they get into my vehicle.
Wire or metal footing is something they hadn’t had to deal with, though. Ever since hearing of a number of isolated but deadly incidents in several large cities, including Chicago, where dogs were electrocuted by stray voltage running through metal plates or grates in the sidewalk, there is no way I would have let my dogs walk on a sidewalk grate.
So they were understandably somewhat suspicious when I dragged out the exercise pen to make sure they were exposed to the wire footing at least a few times before test day. Neither one wanted to walk over it at first. It is amazing how quickly some food or a favorite toy can coax a reluctant dog to follow you across the unfamiliar surface. Once they go across a few times and realize that nothing bad happens, and in fact something good (again, that food or toy) might happen, it’s not a big deal any more.
I feel pretty good about their chances of passing. Let’s hope they do!
(NaBloPoMo | May ‘09: 4 of 31 | 75% Challenge: 100 of 274)