Wednesday, April 19, 2006

UDC 2006 - Temperament Testing

Huzzah! They both passed!

Waah! My video camera and my computer are not talking. I have to wait until I get home before I can post the video. /sigh/

But I am terribly proud of Shakespeare. Despite his fear of gunfire -- yes, he's gunshy -- he rocketed right back at the bad guy after his initial startle, doing his "I'm-a-Doberman" routine. I really wasn't sure if he'd be able to hold it together with a full frontal confrontation and gunfire, but he recovered quickly and did it! Yay for him, passing with a Sufficient rating.

(UDC requires dogs to take a temperament test before they can compete in conformation, and they must pass it in order to receive the equivalent of championship points. Dogs who do not have correct temperament for the breed cannot become conformation champions. I think it's a better system -- not perfect, but better.)

Laevatein worried me too, at the last minute; she was SO mellow before the test, I wondered if she'd wake up enough to participate. She's in heat, and the last time I actually took her to the vet because she was so quiet and calm I was sure she was ill. I can tell she's in heat now because she's not jumping on me or anyone else. She was very polite in the crowded group, looking at people but not jumping up on anyone, and that is just so not her. ;-)

But she did wake up for the bad guy, though she wasn't as animated as I would have expected normally. Still, the evaluator said some fabulously nice things about her, and she passed with a Pronounced rating.

I'll try to have that video up as soon as I can. (I have only video of Laev, no still photos.) I'm so proud of my dogs today. :-)


Lynn said...

Congrats to you and your dogs.


Didn't you say in an earlier post that you trained for the temperment test?? Is it truly accurate if you trained for it??

Not trying to start an argument just a friendly debate:-)

Laura said...

Friendly debates are welcome. :-)

If you're referring to this post, I can see the confusion, but no, we didn't train for the test. Even in that post I said we didn't recreate the test. We do *condition* our dogs to things -- it's unreasonable to tell a dog to shut up and stop barking all its life, to leave the mailman alone, and then expect him to feel comfortable barking on his own initiative in a test. I don't see anything awkward in showing a dog when it is appropriate to bark aggressively and when it is not. (For my dogs, that conditioning is done within the context of Schutzhund training.)

Likewise, I did some conditioning with Shakespeare for the gunshot, since I knew this was a fault in his genetics and/or socialization (since I am his fourth home, I won't venture to expound on which or how). To do that, I had someone fire a gun at a distance while we played together, using the energy of the play to carry him through the stress. I believe that if he were originally really unstable regarding the gunshot, the one or two sessions we did would not have given him the courage to handle two gunshots while in full confrontation with a threatening stranger. I think it's more likely that the conditioning allowed his inherent characteristics to be shown -- I don't think you can install a backbone in two brief sessions. :-)

Analogy -- my dogs have no herding ability to speak of. Even if I did two or more sessions of maybe 60 seconds each, associating something fun with moving stock, I could not build in the ability to herd, and especially not during other stress. Likewise, one or two sessions would not prepare a non-guardian breed -- pick an average Golden Retriever, for our example -- to hit the end of the leash in full fighting spirit. So I think it does display the dog's temperament; if it's not in there, it can't be brought out.

Laev's only preparation for the temperament test was to show her that sometimes people do threaten us directly, something she had not seen before and something I did not want her seeing for the first time in a strange place while already stressed from traveling -- great way to teach her that travel is scary! She saw that behavior once, she behaved exactly as we predicted, and it wasn't a shock when it happened during the test.

Never did we recreate the test or try to mimic the exact setup. I know there are some who do that, but I did not with my dogs.

I also should point out that this is not intended to be a full picture of the dog's character, but is just a minimal test to demonstrate that the dog does have the fundamental aspects of a Doberman -- he is safe when no threat is present and ready when one is. We're not trying to rate the dog for breeding (that's another, more involved test!) but just trying to determine whether or not we can call him a Dobe before allowing him in the conformation ring.

Sheesh, this is long. I should have made it its own post. :-)

vicky said...

Lynn said, "Didn't you say in an earlier post that you trained for the temperment test?? Is it truly accurate if you trained for it??"

Hi Lynn: Also not trying to start an argument...but many years ago I got my first 'show' Doberman...sired by Sunhawk...and she was a basket case.

Her mom was great, and I knew some other dogs in back of her mom...also just fine, where did the weird temperment come from...?

Anyway, I took her to a temperament test...knowing ahead of time, that she was a basketcase...actually I had planned one day (before that) to have her euthanized...but didn't.

Knowing that 'the experts' said that you can't train for the temperament test (not 'shouldn't'...but 'it is impossible') I didn't worry about 'breaking' any rules...I taught this dog not to react to things that freaked her out (pretty well everything that wasn't 'normal') and on the form we had to fill out, before the test, in 'comments about the dog' I wrote (I really did) 'This dog is nuts'...then went on to pass with no problem and she also got a U.D. and a Conformation Championship later in her life.

So what does that say about our systems of evaluating dogs?

Good going Laura!