Aptitude Test

This is an aptitude test used by the Dog School of the Swedish Government whose task it is to breed and select suitable dogs for the Swedish National Defence. It evolved in the 1960’s through a team of canine ethologists. It is based on principles as explained by Konrad Lorenz. It has been applied to many thousands of dogs. Without doubt it has proven to be a very helpful tool to define hereditary mental tendencies. A person, who understands it as such, will surely, after having seen only one dog being put through the test, abstain from unfounded comment.

The Aptitude test is basically a mentality test. The dog has to be at least 22 months old to take the test and may be tested a second time after six months, if it doesn't pass the first time. A young dog (minimum age 12 months on the day of the test) may do a Dog Mentality Assessment (DMA). Training is non-important, and dogs could be either trained or non-trained, as it simply tests reactions to a variety of stimuli.

Although it is a non-mandatory test, the successful animal will receive a title, which will appear on their KUSA (Kennel Union of Southern Africa) Reg. Certificates. It is a useful medium for discovering the mental make-up of one’s breed or pets and can be of great use in any breeding programme.

The test takes about 45-50 minutes per dog, depending on the dog’s reactions. The test is judged by two authorised judges. They are assisted by an authorised test-supervisor who's responsible for the accomplishment of the test, as well as for guiding the handler of the dog throughout the test. Also necessary for the accomplishment are the authorised figures that are acting in the different test situations.

The purpose of the test is to pass judgment over each one of the ten qualities that has been considered to be of greatest importance for a working dog.
Each one of these qualities has also been given a coefficient, weighting factor, to point out the importance of the particular quality in relation to others: Accessibility (15), Fighting spirit for chase (8), Temperament (10), Social fighting spirit (6), Sharpness (5), Defence disposition (5), Nerve constitution (35), Hardness (8) and Energy (8). Shot stability has not been given any coefficient since it's obvious that a working dog must be able to carry out its duties even when shots are fired.

A course consisting of 12 different standard test situations is built in a specific sequence. These situations can be divided into four groups; Situations 1-5 Test of non-stress functions, without aggressive elements; 6-8 Surprise and conflict situations; 9-11 Situations with aggressive elements; 12 Situation when firing shots.

Willingness to Contact and to Play
(Applies to both APT & DMA)

A domestic dog, like his wild counterparts, is a social, pack orientated animal. Where the wild pack only consists of congeners, the domestic dog will easily consider humans as a part of his pack. That is the reason why the dog on test will be introduced to a group of humans who, together with him, will walk and (indirectly) take part in the test. It is essential that a dog accept such a passive 'group' without fear or aggression. Once the 'group' has been formed at the beginning of the test, it should not change by persons leaving or other persons joining in. Based on the evidence that canines forge bonds and learn through playing, it is essential that a well-balanced dog respond to an invitation to play; definitely when this invitation comes from his pack leader and even when it comes from a stranger (test leader) who shows his good intentions.

The "Chase Response" or Drive to Pursue and to Catch Prey
(Applies to both APT & DMA)

This is probably the most fundamental drive which is essential for any well balanced canine. The functioning of the pack and the ability to be an active part of it depends on each of its member's drive to pursue and to catch prey. It is based on this natural instinct and the way that we can convert it for 'domesticated' purposes that we can teach our dog to retrieve, to track, to search, to do manwork and much more. The trigger that we are going to use for this particular test is completely new to your dog. It is NOT a tennis ball, a retrieve dumbbell, a passing bicycle or running cat. Lorenz has proven that any fleeing prey 'instinctively' triggers the urge to pursue, to pounce upon, to grab, to kill and to carry. A dog with a good 'chase response' will perform this scenario to perfection.

The Attachment towards the Pack Leader
(Applies only to APT)

It is obvious that a pack animal should be strongly attached to his pack leader and it must be prepared to join him in all circumstances. To evaluate this, you will be asked to run away through a series of ugly looking dummies while the test leader restrains your dog. You will have to call your dog's name once before you disappear to a hiding place. The jury will evaluate your dog's intensity, his possible fear and how he concentrates to solve the problem of joining his handler through the ugly looking targets.

Activity
(Applies to DMA only)

In this test situation we want to observe the dog's action or activity when, in his surrounding, nothing occurs.

Distance Play
(Applies to DMA only)

To evaluate the dog's tendency to activate himself when invited to play by an unknown person at a distance from his owner.

Sensitivity to a Surprise and to a Sudden Noise
(Applies to both APT & DMA)

These two items are very similar. The idea is to evaluate your dog's reaction to a 'jack in the box' and to a sudden 'loud bang'. Although a quick dodging reaction is acceptable in both cases, it is essential that the dog overcome this early emotion to go and investigate what it is all about.

Fighting Behaviour towards the Ugly Man
(Applies to APT only)

It is our intention to evaluate the dog's 'reactive aggression' in a situation where he is confronted with alternate 'threat' and 'submission' from the part of a marshal (ugly man). All details of the disguise and the actions undertaken by the ugly man, are based on canine psychology, and are aimed to establish if the dog is prepared to fight or is inclined to flee. The intensity of his reaction, the demonstration of aggressiveness, eventual flight tendency and the way in which your dog will approach the ugly man once he has stopped his action, will define his social fighting spirit.

Dominance
(Applies to APT only)

This is a quality which is required from each pack leader. It is normal for a steady dog to run for higher office. Moreover, it is essential that in a Working Dog breeding program emphasis be laid on this type of dog. If this 'dominance' is not infused on a regular basis one will end up with a multitude of Red Indians without chiefs. For this particular test we will use an imposing and arrogant staring torso, mounted on a sledge, which will move in an uninterrupted manner straight towards its opponent. As a reaction we want to see imposing behaviour and aggressiveness, no flight tendency and a frank investigation towards the dummy once it stands still.

Defensive Behaviour
(Applies to both APT and DMA)

Two marshals disguised as white ghosts will, without any specific threat, approach against the wind towards the dog. Ideally the dog should react with a certain amount of threatening behaviour, abstain from flight tendency and, once released, contact the disguised marshals with careful checking. This is the attitude of a dog which is prepared to defend you.

Sensitivity to the Sound of a Gunshot
(Applies to both APT and DMA)

A poor attitude in this item has generally been accepted as disqualifying in any canine character test. It has been proven that any domestic dog which is genetically 'gun-shy', lacks nervous steadiness. It is extremely important that you play very actively with your dog while this test is carried out and that you continue to play after the first shot has been fired. We want to see that the dog continues playing, or immediately regains his activity.

Conclusion

Based on the dog's performance during the Aptitude Test, the jury will, at the completion of the test, be in a position to evaluate the following specific qualities:

APTITUDE TEST (APT)

  • Willingness to contact
  • Willingness to play
  • Drive to hunt small prey
  • Drive to hunt big prey
  • Attachment to pack leader
  • Attachment to pack leader (with disturbance)
  • Visual surprise
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Social fighting spirit
  • Dominance
  • Defence
  • Steadiness to Gunshot

DOG MENTALITY ASSESSMENT (DMA)

  • Willingness to contact
  • Willingness to play
  • Drive to Hunt/Chase response
  • Activity
  • Play at a distance
  • Visual surprise
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Defence
  • Steadiness to Gunshot

This will be reflected on an evaluation form that will be handed out to the owner.