Puppy Paws Episode 4 – The Perfect Puppy?

Welcome back to the Puppy Paws.
In this episode we will be talking about puppy conformation evaluation and puppy personality
testing. What we are hoping these tests will do is give us a better sense of how we can best work with each individual puppy to bring them to their full potential as a working
sled dog here in Denali. The first phase of the personality test mainly looks at the puppy’s
social attraction, their interaction with people and with other dogs, how the respond
to dominance or restraint and how comfortable they are with humans in a leadership role.
The first test you will see is the sociability portion of the test where the new person will
call the pups over to them. (pup, pup, pup)
What we saw in this test is that Annie and Lucky had a high degree of following or
social dependence on people. Polly on the other hand
(pup, pup, pup) was a little bit more of an independent
puppy. The second little test, is a restraint test. We restrain the puppy for 30 seconds
and that gives us a really good idea of how well they are going to accept the stress of
a big dog physically or socially dominating them. Both Lucky and Annie were really comfortable
with accepting this form of dominance and being in a position where they have little
to no control. Polly is a little bit less comfort with this form of dominance. The next
test was where we test their elevation dominance and hold them up in the air for thirty seconds.
Annie and Polly were both pretty comfortable. They didn’t really fidget when we lifted
them up in the air. And Lucky was even more comfortable than either of his sisters, which
tells that all of our puppies are pretty comfortable being in a position where they have little
to no control. The second part of the test looks at the individual puppy’s intelligence
and spirit and willingness to work with a human in a training role. The first test that
we do measures their sensitivity to sound and loud noises. So what you will hear is
the banging of a spoon on a pot. (banging pot) A nervous puppy would be very sound sensitive. All of
our puppies show really good confidence and comfort with loud noises which makes sense
because they grow up in a very noisy dog yard. (dogs barking) (dogs barking)
There’s a high correlation between the ability to retrieve an object and very successful
working dogs. Annie scored pretty highly in her interest in the paper ball and her willingness
to play with it. Lucky scored the lowest. He played for a little bit and then quickly
lost interest. Polly had the highest score out of the litter because she was the only
one that actually went and retrieved the paper ball and brought it back to the person. Their
response to this strange object tells us more about their confidence and curiosity And what
we saw here, Annie showed a very intelligence response to a strange object she started chasing
and playing with the rope. Polly stared at the rope and then backed away from it which
means she was confused about what to do with this object. Lucky actually ran away and hid
so he might lack a little bit of confidence or independence. A week later they completed
their puppy conformation evaluation. Conformation is essentially the physical structure of a
dog’s body. At exactly eight weeks old Pat Hastings believes that a puppy’s body is the
exact miniature replica of what it’s adult body will be when it finishes growing. We
take the puppies’ pictures. We send those pictures off to Pat Hastings. She is an AKC
show judge, who works with us closely to help evaluate the conformation of each litter of
puppies that we have. Because our sled dogs run thousands of miles, the ability to have
good muscle development is really critical to their performance and their comfort on
the trail. The key things that we are looking at for our sled dog puppies is a good strong
well-proportioned front end, with well angulated shoulder. Because our dogs will wear a harness
that allow them to really lean into the harness and pull the weight of the sled. They need
to have a nice proportional strong hind end with really well developed muscles to give
them that forward drive as they pack a trail through deep snow. When we look at a dog from
behind we should see a nice inverted shape. Finally our dogs need to have a nice
strong back proportional to the rest of their body. Just because a puppy doesn’t score perfect
in their personality test or doesn’t have the exact conformation that we would look
for in a test doesn’t mean that they’re not going to turn out to be the most amazing lead
dog this kennel has ever seen. And that’s the really inspiring thing about sled dogs
on a daily basis their passion for their job leads them to do the seemingly impossible.

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