Wendy Volhard's Canine Personality Profile

The Volhard Top Dog Training and Nutrition website has resources training your dog and understanding your dog's behavior. To help you understand how to approach your dog's training, Wendy Volhard developed the Canine Personality Profile (CPP 1993). The Profile catalogs ten behaviors in each drive that influence the dog's

responses and which are useful to us in training. The ten behaviors chosen are those that most closely represent the strengths of the dog in each of the drives. The Profile does not pretend Click here to learn more about this great book!to include all behaviors seen in a dog, nor the complexity of their interaction. Although it is an admittedly crude index of your dog’s behavior, you will find it surprisingly accurate. The results of the Profile will give you a better understanding of why your dog is the way he is and the most successful way to train him. You can then make use of his strengths, avoid needless confusion and greatly reduce the time it takes to train him.

When completing the Profile, keep in mind that it was devised for a house dog or pet with an enriched environment, perhaps even a little training, and not a dog tied out in the yard or kept solely in a kennel — such dogs have fewer opportunities to express as many behaviors as a house dog. Answers should indicate those behaviors your dog would exhibit if he had not already been trained to do otherwise. For example, did he jump on people to greet them, or jump on the counter to steal food, before he was trained not to do so? The fight part of the defense drive does not fully express itself until the dog is mature, around two to four years of age, depending on the breed, although you may see tendencies toward those behaviors earlier. Young dogs tend to exhibit more flight behaviors than older dogs.

The questionnaire for the profile suggests three possible answers to each question with a corresponding point value. The possible answers and their corresponding values are: Almost always = 10;  Sometimes = 5; and, Hardly ever = 0. For example, if your dog is a Beagle, the answer to the question "when presented with the opportunity,  Does YOUR dog sniff the ground or air?" is probably "almost always", giving him a score of 10. You may not have had the chance to observe all of these behaviors, in which case you leave the answer blank.

When presented with the opportunity . . . .

  1.  Does YOUR DOG sniff the ground or air a lot? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  2.  Does YOUR DOG get along with other dogs? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  3.  Does YOUR DOG stand its ground or investigate strange objects or sounds? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  4.  Does YOUR DOG run away from new situations? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  5.  Does YOUR DOG get excited by moving objects, such as bikes or squirrels? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  6.  Does YOUR DOG get along with people? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  7.  Does YOUR DOG like to play tug of war games to win? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  8.  Does YOUR DOG hide behind you when unable to cope 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
  9.  Does YOUR DOG stalk cats, other dogs or things in the grass? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 10.  Does YOUR DOG bark when left alone? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 11.  Does YOUR DOG bark or growl in a deep tone? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 12.  Does YOUR DOG act fearful in unfamiliar situations? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 13.  Does YOUR DOG, when excited, bark in a high-pitched voice? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 14.  Does YOUR DOG solicit petting or like to snuggle with you? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 15.  Does YOUR DOG guard territory? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 16.  Does YOUR DOG tremble or whine when unsure? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 17.  Does YOUR DOG pounce on toys? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 18.  Does YOUR DOG like to be groomed? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 19.  Does YOUR DOG guard food or toys? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 20.  Does YOUR DOG crawl or turn upside down when reprimanded? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 21.  Does YOUR DOG shake and "kill" toys? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 22.  Does YOUR DOG seek eye contact with you? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 23.  Does YOUR DOG dislike being petted? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 24. Is YOUR DOG reluctant to come close to you when called? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 25.  Does YOUR DOG steal food or garbage? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 26.  Does YOUR DOG follow you around like a shadow? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 27.  Does YOUR DOG dislike being groomed or bathed? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 28.  Does YOUR DOG have difficulty standing still when groomed? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 29.  Does YOUR DOG like to carry things? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 30.  Does YOUR DOG play a lot with other dogs? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 31.  Does YOUR DOG guard the owner(s) 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 32.  Does YOUR DOG cringe when someone strange bends over him/her? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 33.  Does YOUR DOG wolf down food? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 34.  Does YOUR DOG jump up to greet people? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 35.  Does YOUR DOG like to fight with other dogs? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 36.  Does YOUR DOG urinate during greeting behavior? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 37.  Does YOUR DOG like to dig and bury things? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 38.  Does YOUR DOG show reproductive behaviors, such as courting or mounting other dogs? 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 39.  Does YOUR DOG get picked on by other dogs (Either now or when it was young?) 10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever
 40.  Does YOUR DOG tend to bite when cornered?
10
5
0
Almost always Sometimes
Hardly ever

1993 Wendy Volhard

Scoring the Profile

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28
29 30 31 32
33 34 35 36
37 38 39 40
___ Total Prey drive ___ Total Pack Drive ___ Total Fight Drive ___ Total Flight Drive

What Do You Want Your Dog To Do?
Before you can use the results of the Profile, you need to look at what you want your dog to do or, and this is often more important, stop doing. For example, when you walk him on leash and want him to pay attention to you, he has to be in pack drive. Your dog, on the other hand, wants to sniff, maybe follow a trail or chase the neighbors cat; he is in prey drive.

For most of what you want your dog to do, he needs to be in pack drive, such as

  • come
  • walk on a loose leash
  • sit
  • down
  • stay

For most of what your dog wants to do, he is going to be in prey drive, such as

  • chase the cat
  • follow the trail of a rabbit
  • retrieve a ball or stick
  • sniffing the grass
  • digging

You can readily see that those times when you want him to behave you have to convince your dog to forget about being in prey drive. Most often it is prey drive that gets dogs into trouble. The dog with high pack and low prey drive rarely even needs training. Such a dog doesn’t

  • chase bicycles, cars, children or joggers
  • cats or other animals
  • roam from home
  • steal food
  • chew your possessions
  • doesn’t pull on the leash

In other words, he is a perfect pet. Theoretically, your does not need defense drive (fight) behaviors for what you want him to learn, but the absence of these behaviors has important ramifications. It is pivotal and determines how your dog has to be trained. The beauty of the drives theory is that, if used correctly, it gives you a tool to overcome areas where your dog may be weak.

Bringing Out Drives
The basic rules for bringing out drives are as follows:

  1. Prey drive is elicited by the use of motion -- hand signals (except Stay) -- a high-pitched tone of voice, or an object of attraction (stick, ball or food), chasing or being chased, and leaning backward with your body as the dog comes to you.
  2. Pack drive is elicited by touching, praising and smiling at the dog, grooming, and playing and training with your body erect.
  3. Defense drive behavior is elicited by leaning or hovering over the dog, either from the front or the side, checking (a sharp tug on the leash), a harsh tone of voice, and exaggerated use of the Stay hand signal.

Body Language
So you can see that what you do, and how you handle your dog, makes a great difference to his behavior. If you want a dog to run away from you, then you lean forwards towards him when he comes to you! In his language you are pushing him backwards and putting him in defense drive, when he was in pack drive all along. If you want a well trained dog, you will have to learn how to switch these drives back and forth.


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