August 3-4-- ATTS testing in Dixon.

A canine temperament test measures emotional resilience and adaptability. Several organizations provide a version of this kind of test and there are a number of reasons why a dog owner would shell out $20-50 for a temperament test.

1. It provides a useful baseline on the dog's strong and weak points to decide on further training goals. For example, whether a pet dog is stable enough to begin training as a public-access service dog, or whether a jogging-companion will show appropriate protectiveness and confidence when faced with a threatening stranger. The judges for these tests have seen hundreds of dogs perform in the scenarios and can tell you where your dog falls in the range, and what you need to improve on. Behavioral and obedience training can make huge changes in how dogs respond to situations, but there are limits.

2. Temperament tests are sometimes required in order to participate in activities. Therapy dogs, personal protection, and some sport dogs should have these tests.

3. In the event your dog acts inappropriately (i.e., snaps at the mailman), proof of a prior temperament test will be useful in arguing that the event was isolated and/or provoked, and that your dog is not necessarily a danger to the public. 

4. Along with fresh-baked cookies and monetary deposits, temperament test certificates may influence a potential landlord, employer, or relative to allow your dog to live in or visit places where dogs are generally not welcome.

Two well-respected tests are the AKC's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title and the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) test. Below are video examples of the tests. The AKC test requires beginning obedience skills; the ATTS test measures only temperament, not training. The judges are looking for responses ranging from growling, cowering, pulling back, and aggressive or protective posturing, to the other end of the spectrum, ears forward, tail wagging, grinning, and willingness to advance towards strange objects and people.