Monday, April 14, 2014

Temperament Testing

Hey, how do I get
one of these?!
This Saturday Jedi and I are taking a temperament test. The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida is flying an official German Shepherd Dog Club of America evaluator in from Virginia to test our dogs. Passing dogs get a title (TC); failing dogs just make a nice donation to the club. I've only seen this test done once in the 9 years I've been with the club, and that was at another club's show in Orlando. I don't know when the test will be offered again so I went ahead and signed Jedi up. The test assesses a dog's reactions to certain situations. Jedi's tests will include:
  • Unusual footing: Jedi will be asked to walk across a tarp and a piece of chain link fencing on the ground. Will he balk?
  • Unusual noises: Someone will rattle a can behind a blind. Another will fire a starter pistol. Will Jedi check it out? Will he cower?
  • Scary umbrella: A large umbrella will be opened at Jedi and then dropped to the ground. Will he spook? Will he recover and investigate the umbrella?
  • Neutral stranger: Someone Jedi doesn't know will walk up to me and have a conversation, ignoring the dog. This one doesn't worry me.
  • Friendly stranger: Another person Jedi doesn't know will come up to us and touch Jedi. THIS one worries me! (Sometimes he's an ass.)
  • Aggressive stranger: Wearing a floppy hat, sunglasses and trench coat, a bat wielding stranger will come up and make "threatening overtures." Will Jedi attempt to protect me?
So what is the evaluator looking for? Below is a description of the ideal GSD temperament according to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (our parent club and keeper of the breed standard):

        "The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character."

No pressure, right? I have NO idea how well Jedi will do. But don't worry, I'll tell you either way. I'm hoping that I can find someone to take pictures too. Anyway, wish us luck! -- K
P.S. Funny story about the gun shots. When I saw the test given last time (about 5 years ago) all the German shepherds turned around and looked to see where the shots came from. The labs, however, all looked up. They were hunting dogs, so they were waiting for the bird to fall.