ii Litter Police/Narcotics Temperament Test

ii Litter Police Dog/Narcotics Dog Temperament Test

The ii Litter was tested at 52 Days

My friend Janet, a SAR handler, took Mr. Blue.  Since he did exceptionally well on yesterday’s SAR test,
she managed to talk me into letting her take him without doing this test.
I handed him off to her so she could head home to Helena, MT,
as I pulled onto the Interstate to drive to Buffalo with Miss Gold for this test.

 My good friend, Suzan Guilford, does the police/narcotics test.  She is a former K9 handler and police officer, former police chief, and has taught at the Wyoming Police Academy.  She has done my temperament tests for over sixteen years, except for a two year absence while she was working in Florida.  Suzan and I over the years have incorporated most of the SAR exercises into our testing.  When Janet can’t come do the SAR testing, Suzan does it.

The main difference I see between the police/narcotics test and the SAR test is the attitude of the tester.  In the police test, the tester is very quiet, talking little and using very little body movements.  No other people are present and the environment is kept quiet.  In the SAR test, other people are often present in the test area present to watch, though they are asked to be as quiet as possible.  This would fit well with the ultimate purpose of the dogs being tested for both types of training.  In police work the dog must be able to dig down deep inside himself or herself to find the courage and aggression to confront a criminal and/or to search independently and at great distance from the handler.  In SAR the handler is usually closer to the dog and is able to praise and encourage him, especially in extended searches.  There is also generally all kinds of activity and distraction at a search scene so the dog must be able to filter out the extraneous activity and focus on her job.  Both tests are fascinating to watch as is the difference in the pups’ responses in each test.

Results are listed after the description of each part of the Test.  At the bottom, temperament test results for Lively and Lively’s mother & grandmother are listed.

1.  Acceptance/Attachment     The first test involves evaluating the pup’s acceptance of the strange place and its willingness to interact with the stranger.  Ideal reaction is eye contact and interest in the stranger but no sign of nervousness in the interaction (we don’t want a “Protect me!” attitude), followed by visual investigation of the surroundings and then a return of attention to the tester.

Rating             Additional Observations

excellent          Very nice. Noticed me immediately and gave kisses

2.  Pain Sensitivity
     The loose skin over the ribs is gently pinched and the pup’s reaction is noted.  Ideal reaction is to notice the pinch but be unconcerned by it.  We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.

Rating             Additional Observations

excellent          good

3.  Retrieve
     Next, willingness to retrieve is evaluated using different toys:  a stuffed toy, and a tennis ball.  Ideal reaction is to repeatedly being the toy back to the handler rather than moving off to “possess” it.  The type of bite on the toys is evaluated:  a full mouth bite shows more confidence and drive than a front-teeth-only bite.

Rating             Additional Observations

Minimal           would chase often but not bring back

4.  Perseverance
  Then perseverance is evaluated by seeing how enthusiastically they will pursue, grab hold, and tug on a sack.  Ideal reaction is to pursue enthusiastically, grasp with a full mouth bite, tug and do everything possible to posses the sack.  We like to see a pup get its whole body on the sack in an effort to subdue it.

Rating                         Additional Observations

average                        OK

5.    Fear 
A metal can filled with metal items (horseshoes, nails, bolts, etc.) is dropped behind them from a height of about 2 feet while they are looking away from it.  Will the pup hold its ground and then go look at what dropped from nowhere?  Excellent reaction is to acknowledge and turn towards the sound and then confidently go see what made the racket.  The tester encourages the pup to investigate, if it doesn’t on its own.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.  I find most of my pups look towards the racket and keep on playing with the toy they had, rather than stopping their play to go investigate.

Rating                         Additional Observations

average                        looked at can but no overreaction

6.  Courage and Aggression
Courage and aggression is evaluated using an electric train that when turned on moves erratically, whistles loudly, clanks, etc.  Will they stand their ground?  Will they go investigate it?  Excellent reaction is to go to the moving, clanking train and check it out.  Extremely excellent reaction is to actually attack it while it moves.  Good reaction is to investigate it after the tester turns it off.  The tester encourages the pup to investigate after it is turned off, if it wouldn’t while it was “whistling” and moving.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.

Rating                         Additional Observations

average                        OK, moved off slightly and watched

7.    Surprise
   The last test involves getting the pup to chase you (or a toy) towards a place with a hidden person, from behind which an umbrella is opened suddenly and then lowered to the ground, still open.  The pups are evaluated on how they recover from being startled and if they’ll go investigate.  Ideal reaction is for the pup to startle but hold its ground, then move right up to check out the umbrella.  A super excellent reaction is to go up and bite it and/or walk all over it. The tester encourages the pup to investigate after the umbrella is on the top step, if it doesn’t on its own.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.


Rating                         Additional Observations

average                        jumped but stood ground and looked


Search And Rescue Tests

Submission Test  The submission test is designed to give an idea of the pup’s tractability, trust in humans, and willingness to submit to a human’s directives. In the submission test the pup is held firmly on its back for a short period of time.  The tester counts the seconds it takes for him to resist, then accept, the restraint.  She should not passively accept the restraint, nor should she panic or show avoidance of eye contact.  Ideal reaction is to resist, then submit and look the tester in the face.  We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.

 Rating                         Additional Observations

above avg                    She gave me eye contact within the first three seconds then started rolling, crawled and pushed her way up and out after 10 seconds.

Confidence Test 
The confidence part of the test involves holding the pup out at arm’s length for several seconds.  Again, the pup should accept the handler putting it in position and remain calm.

Rating                         Additional Observations

above avg

Hunt for Food
This test begins with a piece of jerky tied on a string and dragged to attract the pup’s interest and see how interested it is, how hard it will work to get it, and how hard it will work to keep it as the tester jerks, tugs and generally prevents the pup from easily eating it.  She then entices the pup to follow it to the area where she has hidden food (test 2).

Rating                         Additional Observations

above avg                    She really uses her nose and was able to  pick up the scent prior to me even starting the food search.

Hunt for Food II 
Suzan placed bits of dried meat under a tarp in the middle of the room.  The pups had to use their noses to find where the meat was.  They were judged on how they followed her direction for where to search and how systematic their searching was.

Rating                         Additional Observations

above avg                    Nice.  Definitely uses nose & picks up scent really well


Tester Comments:

Good pup.  Not high retrieve drive but good prey drive.  Definitely SAR prospect.  Will look to handler for instructions/guidance but may not naturally work at a long distance. Not a police candidate.        




Test 1



Above Average









Pain Sensitivity


Retrieve Ball/Toy




Fear (can)


Aggression & Courage (train)


Surprise (umbrella)




Hunt for Food I (jerky on string)


Hunt for Food II (hidden pieces)



For interest, I include the puppies’ parents, grandparent’s and great-grandparent’s temperament test results below.  All three of these tests were done by Suzan, former police K9 handler, except for Lively’s & Quinta’s SAR tests, done by Janet Wilts.

Lively’s Temperament Tests (mother of this litter)

Search And Rescue Test by Janet Wilts, done at 52 & 53 days of age

Rated SAR & Schutzhund prospect   (10 is top score)

Saturday:         9 – 10              Confident, good prey

Sunday:           10                      Good noise, good eye contact, good prey, good tug

The Police Dog/Narcotics Dog Temperament Test, done at 54 days

Since Janet can seldom come to test my pups, Suzan and I over the years have incorporated most of the SAR exercises into our testing.  This was especially nice this time because Janet was unable to do her regular tests due to the weather.

Rating is listed first, then any comments:

Acceptance/Attachment:      Excellent                     Great.  Ran up, licked & nipped at my face

Pain Sensitivity:                         Excellent                     Excellent!!

Retrieve:                                     Above Average           Lots of chase – no bringing

Perseverance:                           Excellent                     Lots of prey, good speed

Courage and Aggression      Above Average           Good!!

Fear                                               Above Average           Good – didn’t investigate

Surprise                                      Above Average           OK – looked and stopped

Search And Rescue Test

Submission & Confidence Tests 
Above Average                       Good – no eye contact right away

Unstable Footing                   Excellent

Hunt for Toy                          Above Average                       Stayed with specific toy for a long time

Hunt for Food                        Excellent                                 Great.  Not intimidated, willing to go the                                                                                                                  distance

Tester Comments:     Full of “Reckless Abandonment.”  Fantastic.  Good full mouth bite.  Drug on blanket (perseverance test). Cel’s note:  What Suzan is referring to is that she had her whole body on the blanket and stayed there while Suzan drug her all around.)


Excellent:                    Sensitivity, Perseverance, Hunt for Food, Attachment

Above Average:          Submission, Aggression/Courage, Retrieve, Fear, Hunt for Toy, Surprise

Quinta’s Temperament Tests (Lively’s mother; maternal grandmother of this litter)

The Q Litter was tested on October 30th & 31st, when they were 46 & 47 days old.  Results are listed after the description of each part of the Test.  An extensive Search & Rescue test was done on the 30th, with some retesting on the 31st after the police/narcotics test, if the SAR tester (Janet) hadn’t been satisfied with the pup’s reactions the day before.  For the SAR test, we took the pups to a rural schoolyard which had a very large grassy field.   Heavy rain the day before made the field too soggy for the entire test, so most of the exercises were done in the playground area which is deep in wood chips.  The chips proved to be way too highly tempting to the pups and Janet had to clear their mouths often to get them to go after the toys rather than the chips.  Results are listed after the description of each part of the Test.  You will note that some exercises are done in both tests and other exercises are unique to one test or the other.  Janet was the primary tester, with Kelly, another SAR person, adding her ratings on some tests.  A table with scores from every phase of the test is listed after the test explanation.  Pups reactions are rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent.

Temperament Test 1:  the Search & Rescue test

Tug, Prey Drive, Chase, Retrieve Drive, Bite The first series of tests involve the pup’s desire to play, chase the toy, how well the pup bites and hold the toy when he or she gets it, and whether the pup will bring it back to the tester.

Strange Noise, Unstable Surface  The pups are exposed to both a strange, potentially scary noise and an unstable surface.  In this particular test we used a plastic tarp draped over a camp chair.  Janet also invented some additional tests by asking the pups to negotiate a metal grating on the playground equipment, to climb a series of wood sections that ended with a widow and a 6’ drop to the ground.  Janet tested the pups’ trust by handing them down to a helper and noting their reactions.

Hunt for Food and Hunt for Toys  The pups are tested to determine their desire to find the toy when it’s hidden, and to find food.  The toy was hidden under the tarp and the pup encouraged to look for it.  A piece of bacon on a string was drug and bounced past the pups to test their desire to use their noses when they couldn’t see the bacon.  Janet took off fast with the bacon drag and ran way out into the field behind the school.  Quinta was one of only three pups that noticed this first run; Janet had to repeat it twice more to give all pups a chance to be tested.  It is fascinating to see those little noses go to the ground and guide the galloping pups after Janet when she outruns them.

Submission, Forgiveness, Socialability   The pups are graded on their desire to interact with and play with the tester.  For the submission test, each pup was placed on its back and held down firmly for about 10 seconds.  Desirable reaction includes struggle followed by acceptance.  Undesirable reactions include total passivity or frantic struggle with refusal to “give” to the human, or trying to bite.  The pup is judged afterwards on its willingness to forgive the tester for the submission test.  The pup is also held in the air at arms length to judge its confidence in being unsupported.

Confidence  Janet also invented some additional tests by asking the pups to negotiate a metal grating on the playground equipment, to climb a series of wood sections that ended with a widow and a 6’ drop to the ground.  Janet then further tested the pups’ trust and confidence by handing them down to a helper and noting their reactions.

Test Results


Test                                      Janet’s Rating                    Kelly’s Rating


Tug                                          10+, really grips                      10
Prey                                         10                                            10

Retrieve                                     5                                              6

Unstable Surface                     10                                            10

Forgiveness                               8                                            10

Socialability                              10                                            10
Chase                                      10                                            10

Hunt for Food                         10

Hunt for Toy                           no

Noise                                       10                                            10

Submission                                8                                              8

Bite                                         10                                            10

Trust                                        Good


Temperament Test 2:  The police dog/narcotics dog test

Saturday had been a beautiful day, but Sunday brought a storm with wind and rain mixed with snow.  We had to do the test in a large unheated garage.  The police test is quite different from the Search & Rescue Test.  The main difference I noticed in the SAR test was that the testers played with the pups at the same time, and evaluated them for all of the above as they played with them.  They were also much more physically active and used excited voices and clapping to encourage the pups, while the tester in the police test is very calm and low key, asking the pups to draw the excitement forth from within themselves.  Another difference was that other people stood around just feet from and in full view of each pup as it was tested.  In the police test only the tester is within sight or scent of the pup during the testing and everyone was required to be very quiet. 

Suzan was the main tester, with Janet hiding to open the umbrella on the surprise test.  Janet also gave ratings on some of the test.  Her ratings are listed in italics after Suzan’s.  She used the SAR scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent.

1.  Acceptance/Attachment

Excellent                                 8


2.    Pain Sensitivity



3.  Retrieve

High Average                          5


4.  Unstable Surfaces

Excellent                                 10


5.  Perseverance

Excellent                                 Tug:  10                                   Prey:  10


6.  Courage and Aggression

Above Average                       10


7.    Fear         

Excellent                                 10


8.    Surprise

Excellent                                 10


9.    Submission, Forgiveness, Social              Same as SAR tests.

Above Average                       Forgiveness:  medium             Social:  8


Tester Comments

Very nice, independent pup.  For the most part, full bites & lots of interest.  Puts full body into what she is doing.  Very curious and friendly.


Jubilee’s Temperament Test (Quinta’s mother, Lively’s grandmother; maternal great-grandmother of this litter)

Jubilee was tested at 52 days (9/6/1998)

This was Suzan’s straight police/narcotics test, before Janet’s Search & Rescue influence caused us to incorporate more items into our test.

Attachment:                           Excellent                     Had no problem following another person

Sensitivity:                             Excellent                     High pain tolerance – came back to handler

Retrieve:                                 Above Average.          No retrieve – did not bring back

Perseverance:                      Above Average.          Chased everything.

Fear:                                         Excellent.                    No reaction – turned and looked into can.

Aggression & Courage:    Above Average           Stood over and sniffed

Surprise:                                Excellent                     Stopped.  Barked.  Looked at umbrella