Click here to learn more about this great book!The Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) is a widely used method for selecting the right puppy for the right home. This 2003 copyrighted version  was developed by Joachim and Wendy Volhard. The score sheet below has been prepared for those who have the Volhards' book, Dog Training For Dummies, which has the information required for accurate results and correct score interpretation. The Volhard Top Dog Training and Nutrition website has resources on acquiring a puppy or older dog, training your dog and the Volhard Motivational Method, understanding your dog's behavior, feeding your dog, and complementary approaches to health care. For more information from Wendy on selecting the breed right for your lifestyle and when and how to initiate training, click here.

  Puppy (color, sex) ________________________    Litter __________________________    Date _______________________  


Place puppy in test area about four feet from the tester. Tester kneels, leans backwards and coaxes the pup to her/him by clapping hands gently.
Degree of social attraction to people, confidence, or dependence.

Pack Drive

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

The tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow. Make sure the pup sees you walk away. Coax puppy to follow by talking to it and attracting its attention.

Willingness to follow a person.

Pack Drive

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

The tester crouches down and gently rolls the pup on its back and holds it down with light pressure with one hand for 30 seconds.

Degree of dominance or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.

Fight or Flight Drive

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

Puppy sits or stands on crouching tester's left side and tester gently strokes it from the head to back. Continue stroking until a recognizable behavior is established.

Degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.

Pack Drive

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

The tester cradles the pup under its chest, with both hands, fingers interlaced, palms up and gently lifts it two feet off the ground, and holds it there for 30 seconds.

Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control.

Fight or Flight Drive

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

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

Degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with social attraction and following, a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.

Prey Drive

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

The tester locates the webbing of one of the puppy's front paws and presses it lightly between his index finger and thumb. The tester gradually increases pressure while counting to 10 and stops the pressure when the puppy pulls away or shows discomfort.

Degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.

*Do not use your fingernail when performing this test.
Press between the finger and thumb lightly then more firmly until you get a response.

8-10 counts before response 1
6-7 counts before response 2
5-6 counts before response 3
2-4 counts before response 4
2-3 counts before response 5

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.

Degree of sensitivity to sound.
(Also a rudimentary test
for deafness.)

Prey Drive

Listened, located sound, walked toward it barking 1
Listened, located sound, barked 2
Listened, located sound, showed curiosity walked toward sound 3
Listened, located the sound 4
Cringed, backed off, hid 5
Ignored sound, showed no curiosity 6

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 puppy.

Degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.

Prey Drive

Looked, attacked and bit 1
Looked, barked and tail up 2
Looked curiously, attempted to investigate 3
Looked, barked, tail-tuck 4
Ran away, hid 5

An umbrella is opened about five feet from the puppy and gently placed on the ground.

Degree of startle response to a strange object.

Fight and Flight Drive

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

The puppy is gently set and held in a natural stance and evaluated for structure in the following categories: Straight front; Straight rear; Shoulder lay back; Front Angulation; Croup Angulation; Rear Angulation (see diagram below).

Degree of structural soundness.

Good structure is necessary.


The puppy is correct in structure good
The puppy has a slight fault or deviation fair
The puppy has an extreme fault or deviation poor

      Interpreting the Scores

  • Mostly 1's — A puppy that consistently scores a 1 in the temperament section of the test is an extremely dominant, aggressive puppy who can easily be provoked to bite. This puppy is high in Fight Drive. His dominant nature will attempt to resist human leadership, thus requiring only the most experienced of handlers. This puppy is a poor choice for most individuals and will do best in a working situation as a guard or police dog.
  • Mostly 2's — This pup is dominant and self-assured, also high in Fight Drive. He can be provoked to bite; however he readily accepts human leadership that is firm, consistent and knowledgeable. This is not a dog for a tentative, indecisive individual. In the right hands, he has the potential to become a fine working or show dog and could fit into an adult household, provided the owners know what they are doing.
  • Mostly 3's — This pup is outgoing and friendly and will adjust well in situations in which he receives regular training and exercise. High in Pack Drive, he has a flexible temperament that adapts well to different types of environment, provided he is handled correctly. May be too much dog for a family with small children or an elderly couple who are sedentary.  
  • Mostly 4's — A pup that scores a majority of 4's is an easily controlled, adaptable puppy whose submissive nature and high Pack Drive will make him continually look to his master for leadership. This pup is easy to train, reliable with kids, and, though he lacks self-confidence, makes a wonderful family pet. He is usually less outgoing than a pup scoring in the 3's, but his demeanor is gentle and affectionate.
  • Mostly 5's — This is a pup who is extremely submissive, high in Flight Drive and lacking in self-confidence. He bonds very closely with his owner and requires regular companionship and encouragement to bring him out of himself. If handled incorrectly, this pup will grow up very shy and fearful. For this reason, he will do best in a predictable, structured lifestyle with owners who are patient and not overly demanding, such as an elderly couple.
  • Mostly 6's — A puppy that scores 6 consistently is independent, low in Pack Drive and uninterested in people. He will mature into a dog who is not demonstrably affectionate and who has a low need for human companionship. In general, it is rare to see properly socialized pups test this way; however there are several breeds that have been bred for specific tasks (such as basenjis, hounds, and some northern breeds) which can exhibit this level of independence. To perform as intended, these dogs require a singularity of purpose that is not compromised by strong attachments to their owner.