The entire purpose of Aptitude Testing is to select the right puppy for the right home. It uses a scoring system from 1-6 and consists of ten tests. The tests are done consecutively and in the order listed. Each test is scored separately and interpreted on its own merits. This test helps predict future behavioral traits of adult dogs. The ideal time to test is at 49 days (7 weeks) of age. The test was mostly developed by and is referred to as the Volhard’s Puppy Aptitude Testing. I’ve taken the fundamentals of their testing system and combined it with my experiences. The standard test doesn’t “average” the score, but I review the overall test scores and assign a final score. The test is not perfect but gives some valuable insight to each puppy’s personality so that they are placed in the most appropriate homes. 

What the scores mean:

Mostly 1’s – Strong desire to be the pack leader. Should only be placed into a very experienced home where the dog will be trained and worked with on a regular basis. Not a good fit for a pet home. 

Mostly 2’s – Also has leadership aspirations. Without proper training, they may be hard to manage. Has lots of self-confidence. Should not be placed into an inexperienced home. Might be too unruly to be a good fit for families with young children and elderly people. Needs a consistent schedule with plenty of exercise and training. Has the potential to be a great dog! Could be good for advanced training. Great for an active household.

Mostly 3’s – Typically will do well with people and other animals. Great for an active family willing to provide daily exercise and training. Tend to love playing. Highly recommend training, do very well at it and learns quickly. A great dog for a second-time owner or family wanting to compete in performance events like Agility, Rally, Tracking, Hunting, Obedience, etc.

Mostly 4’s – The kind of dog that makes the perfect pet! Best choice for the first time owner. Great for families with elderly people or young children, but may need protection from high energy children. Choose this pup, take it to obedience classes, and you’ll be the star, without having to do too much work!  

Mostly 5’s – Sometimes shy and needs a lot of love. Might seek comfort during storms or when they hear loud or unusual noises. Strange people or new places may upset it. When you greet it upon your return, may submissively urinate. Needs a home where the environment doesn’t change too much and where there are no young children. May not handle being disciplined well. Best for a quiet household that can spoil the puppy and give it a lot of TLC. Can be an excellent companion for a single person.

Mostly 6’s – So independent that they don’t need you or other people. Unlikely to bond with you. A great dog for someone with a lot of land or that doesn’t plan to spend a lot of time with the dog. Not ideal as a house pet.

The tests are as follows:  

Social Attraction – degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence.  

Following – willingness to follow a person.  

Restraint – degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.

Social Dominance – degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.

Elevation – degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.

Retrieving – degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.

Touch Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.

Sound Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.

Sight Sensitivity – degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children, or squirrels.

Stability – degree of startle response to a strange object.

How the test is conducted:

Social attraction – the owner or caretaker of the puppies places it in the test area about four feet from the tester and then leaves the test area.  The tester kneels down and coaxes the puppy to come to him or her by encouragingly and gently clapping hands and calling.  The tester must coax the puppy in the opposite direction from where it entered the test area.  Hint:  Lean backward, sitting on your heels instead of leaning forward toward the puppy.  Keep your hands close to your body encouraging the puppy to come to you instead of trying to reach for the puppy.  

Following – the tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow.  Hint:  Make sure the puppy sees you walk away and get the puppy to focus on you by lightly clapping your hands and using verbal encouragement to get the puppy to follow you.  Do not lean over the puppy.

Restraint – the tester crouches down and gently rolls the puppy on its back and holds it on its back for 30 seconds.  Hint:  Hold the puppy down without applying too much pressure.  The object is not to keep it on its back but to test its response to being placed in that position.

Social Dominance – let the puppy stand up or sit and gently stroke it from the head to the back while you crouch beside it.  See if it will lick your face, an indication of a forgiving nature.  Continue stroking until you see a behavior you can score.  Hint:  When you crouch next to the puppy avoid leaning or hovering over the puppy.  Have the puppy at your side with both of you facing in the same direction.

Elevation Dominance – the tester cradles the puppy with both hands, supporting the puppy under its chest and gently lifts it two feet off the ground and holds it there for 30 seconds.

Retrieving – the tester crouches beside the puppy and attracts its attention with a crumpled up piece of paper.  When the puppy shows some interest, the tester throws the paper no more than four feet in front of the puppy encouraging it to retrieve the paper.

Touch Sensitivity – the tester locates the webbing of one the puppy’s front paws and presses it lightly between his index finger and thumb.  The tester gradually increases pressure while counting to ten and stops when the puppy pulls away or shows signs of discomfort.

Sound Sensitivity – the puppy is placed in the center of the testing area and an assistant stationed at the perimeter makes a sharp noise, such as banging a metal spoon on the bottom of a metal pan.

Sight Sensitivity – the puppy is placed in the center of the testing area.  The tester ties a string around a bath towel and jerks it across the floor, two feet away from the puppy.

Stability – an umbrella is opened about five feet from the puppy and gently placed on the ground.

How the puppy is scored:

Social Attraction:

  1. Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands 
  2. Came readily, tail up, pawed,  licked at hands 
  3. Came readily, tail up  
  4. Came readily, tail down  
  5. Came hesitantly, tail down
  6. Didn’t come at all  


  1. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet   
  2. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot    
  3. Followed readily, tail up    
  4. Followed readily, tail down      
  5. Followed hesitantly, tail down      
  6. Did not follow or went away


  1. Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit
  2. Struggled fiercely, flailed    
  3. Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact    
  4. Struggled, then settled    
  5. No struggle    
  6. No struggle, strained to avoid eye contact 

Social Dominance:

  1. Jumped, pawed, bit, growled    
  2. Jumped, pawed    
  3. Cuddled up to tester and tried to lick face    
  4. Squirmed, licked at hands    
  5. Rolled over, licked at hands    
  6. Went away and stayed away    

Elevation Dominance:

  1. Struggled fiercely, tried to bite    
  2. Struggled fiercely    
  3. Struggled, settled, struggled, settled    
  4. No struggle, relaxed    
  5. No struggle, body stiff    
  6. No struggle, froze  


  1. Chased object, picked it up and ran away    
  2. Chased object, stood over it and did not return    
  3. Chased object, picked it up and returned with it to tester    
  4. Chased object and returned without it to tester    
  5. Started to chase object, lost interest    
  6. Does not chase object    

Touch Sensitivity:

  1. 8-10 count before response    
  2. 6-8 count before response    
  3. 5-6 count before response    
  4. 3-5 count before response    
  5. 2-3 count before response    
  6. 1-2 count before response

Sound Sensitivity:

  1. Listened, located sound and ran toward it barking    
  2. Listened, located sound and walked slowly toward it    
  3. Listened, located sound and showed curiosity   
  4. Listened and located sound    
  5. Cringed, backed off and hid behind tester
  6. Ignored sound and showed no curiosity   

Sight Sensitivity:

  1. Looked, attacked and bit object    
  2. Looked and put feet on object and put mouth on it    
  3. Looked with curiosity and attempted to investigate, tail up    
  4. Looked with curiosity, tail down    
  5. Ran away or hid behind tester    
  6. Hid behind tester    


  1. Looked and ran to the umbrella, mouthing or biting it    
  2. Looked and walked to the umbrella, smelling it cautiously    
  3. Looked and went to investigate    
  4. Sat and looked, but did not move toward the umbrella    
  5. Showed little or no interest    
  6. Ran away from the umbrella