Puppy Aptitude Tests

Even though I had to drive three hours one way to take the puppies to have their puppy aptitude tests conducted, it was well worth the time. It was fascinating to the puppies’ reactions to a new person in a very scary environment. The testing was conducted at the Bon Clyde Learning Center in Sanford, NC. We used the obedience room which is in a huge warehouse-type building. There were thick rubber mats on the floor (a surface the puppies have not experienced before) with mirrors all around the building.

We tested Inferno first (only because she was the first one out of the x-pen when I opened it). She shocked me. Inferno normally is the most outgoing and gregarious of the puppies. She would have little to do with the tester and in fact went and hid a few times. That wasn’t going to change the fact that she was staying with me. After a while she warmed up and stopped hiding.

We used the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test but did not do the Restraint, Social Dominance or Touch Sensitivity sections of the test, which I was glad of. We added in the umbrella test where the tester, within view of the puppy, opens up an umbrella and then immediately places it on the floor. Like all the puppies, Inferno passed the noise sensitivity (a large group of keys placed in a metal can which was banged around by the testor, then the keys were dropped on the floor followed by the can) and umbrella tests.

Torch was tested next and he performed well on all the tests. Miss Pyro revealed a strong independence streak which surprised the crap out of me as I had not seen any signs of independence in her previously. She initially showed interest in everything, but got bored quickly and went off to look for her own amusement. Heatwave crawled to the evaluator when called and submissively urinated a bit.

For some reason, I thought that it would have been Heatwave who would have been independent, but I was wrong. I think I might have expected it of Heatwave because he looks so much like his father who has an independent streak a mile wide. Independence is not a bad thing in a Border Collie, in fact, they need to be independent in order to work as far away from the handler as they do while moving stock, but the dog needs to be able to listen and obey a handler when necessary. It took me a while to get that through to Gel, and we still occasionally have “words” but in general, Gel is an easy dog to work.

In the evaluator’s opinions, Scorch was the pick puppy. I’m glad she’s going to my friend in Canada. When we were through with all the puppies, I brought Inferno out to be retested and the real Inferno emerged and she passed all of the tests that she had previously failed.

Structurally, all the puppies were good. They all have good rear ends, but they could all use a little more angulation in the shoulders. The evaluators told me this was not unusual in Border Collies and that Border Collies were not known for their shoulders. Of course, the tests were done on day 47 and I understand it is during the eighth week that you can really see what the structure of the adult dog will be.

The puppies all traveled beautifully! It was a tight squeeze getting Gel, Midge and the puppies into my car (I drive a Ford Focus wagon), but I did. On the way down I stopped once at a McDonald’s, set up my x-pen to let the puppies out to potty and then continued the trip. I drove all the way home without stopping. The puppies were more lively on the way home, but not once did they cry to get out of the crate.

What really tickled me was how Midge was. I doubt she’s ever been in such a building before, but she was completely unfazed. After we completed the puppy testing, we went into the agility building for a lesson. I ran Gel first and he did well. We ran an excellent-level course and except for two sections of the course where I had a hard time pulling Gel into me in order to redirect him, he did well. The poor dog! I was shocking him whenever I asked for a nose touch! I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t figure out why he was ducking his head and flinching whenever he came near me. We had to turn the A/C off to stop the electrical current, but Gel wasn’t happy about touching me for the rest of the lesson. Can’t say as I blame him.

Then we played around with Midge and she made huge progress in just ten minutes of work. Guess I’ll have an agility dog in her after all. I plan to do all the foundation work that I would normally do with Inferno with Midge. Midge is happy to do whatever I want her to do. She’s a great dog. They are all great dogs!

I’m giving myself a huge pat on the back. I did an excellent job rearing these puppies. I was amazed to hear that some puppies would struggle and bit the tester during the elevation portion of the test. As I said above, not one of the puppies showed any sound sensitivity and they all passed the umbrella test. Scorch, Torch and Heatwave actually got into the umbrella after it was opened and placed on the floor. Scorch retrieved the crumbled paper, as did Inferno during the second test.