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Tests: Discover More About
Your Dog's Personality and Identify
 Existing Aggressive Temperament


It is not unusual for owners of aggressive dogs to refuse to acknowledge the problem. Reasons vary. For example, some owners mistakenly think the dog will outgrow aggression, but it will only get worse. Others believe this type of behavior is a reflection on them -- that perhaps people will think they have neglected or mistreated the dog, but aggression can happen in the best of families. Some people just don't want to take the time or spend the money that might be required to correct the problem. And others who may be dealing with serious and dangerous types of aggression that can't be modified, do not want to deal with the options that apply to dangerous dogs. The most common excuse for NOT dealing with aggressive behavior is "He isn't aggressive all the time! He'll grow out of it." Uncle Matty says, "But, the older a dog gets the more aggressive he becomes. It only takes one bite to cause pain and suffering for everyone concerned."

Failure to deal with aggressive behavior is irresponsible. It can lead to tragedy, child endangerment charges, a lifetime of pain and suffering for family members or others, lawsuits, the loss of your homeowner's or renter's insurance, the loss of your home, or the loss of your dog. Worse than all of these put together, aggressive dogs can kill.

For more information, read the "Laws - Insurance" section of the Woof Gazette.

If your dog has been showing the signs of aggression, you really need to identify his personality or temperament. It can help prevent a tragedy. In fact, regardless of your dog's behavior, you should know his personality type. It is the only way you can truly communicate. It is the only way problems can really be solved. It is the only way a dog can learn effectively. You don't communicate with a lethargic couch potato the same way you communicate with a high-energy, run-around-the-house pooch!

Always identify the personality of a puppy or older dog before you take him home. If you don't, you could be acquiring a dog that is a risk for you and others. If there are children in your home, you could be endangering them. Some dogs do not have child-compatible temperaments. And, unless you are in the business of rescuing dangerous dogs, you have the special skills and you know the rules, avoid making an aggressive dog a member of your family. This will prevent the heartache of having to deal with the problem later and you just could be preventing tragedy. 

Words of warning: 

  • If you already know your dog is aggressive (growling, lunging, snarling, snapping and/or biting) please seek professional help to determine the type of aggression and how to modify or control it.

  • Children should not attempt any of these tests. 

  • Two adults are required for some tests. 

  • If your dog is six months old or younger, there is little risk to the administration of these tests. 

  • If your dog is at least six months old but not older than one year, use caution. 

  • If your dog is older than one year, use extreme caution and if your dog is showing the signs of aggression, or you fear your dog, the help of a professional is recommended. 

  • Because every dog is unique and it is impossible for these instructions to predict every dog's reaction or anticipate the seriousness of any aggression, approach these tests with caution. If you believe you are not able to control the dog during these tests, please get the help of a qualified professional.


Click on any test name for a printable page of instructions. 

Dominant Stare Test:
Is your dog subordinate, dominant or dominant-aggressive?
Food Test:
Can indicate food-aggression or aggressive attitudes about other possessions like toys.
Hand-shy Test:
Has your dog been abused verbally or physically? Important to know because abusive treatment can cause aggressive behavior.
Physical-Sensitivity Test:
A dog that has unusually low pain tolerance can behave aggressively toward anyone who causes the slightest irritation of his body. A major problem if there are children in the household.
Rollover Test:
This test reveals whether an aggressive dog is dominant-aggressive or fear-aggressive and will help you relate to him in a non-threatening, more effective manner.