Internet Miniature Pinscher Service


This test was developed by The Rottweiler Rescue Society (Ontario) Canada and John Rogerson, Blue Cross, Britain. It was provided to IMPS by Keiley Abbat ( This test was originally written to evaluate rottweilers. Some minor modifications have been made to allow its use in the evaluation of miniature pinschers in shelters. Permission is given to reproduce in non-profit situations with the preceding credits given.


The temperament evaluation of each dog is just one piece of information that will help us to place him in the correct permanent home. It also allows the rescue group to place this dog in a Foster Home which has the experience to deal with the problems this dog may have. This testing procedure will give CLUES as to how the dog MAY behave in a new home. No test will accurately show you how the dog will ABSOLUTELY behave in a new home. The information is a guideline which will show EXTREMES of behavior including but not limited to:

nervous aggression, protective aggression, dominant aggression, separation issues (attention-seeking or anxiety-related).

The test will show you how that dog deals with one specific person (the evaluator) in a specific set of circumstances. There are no guarantees as to future behavior, only clues. Failure to complete any part of the test does not mean that the dog should not warrant further consideration.

If any confusing results to the test are evident, or conflicting evidence results, re-test the dog on another day with another evaluator. Compare the two tests.

The first eight tests are observational, and should be memorized so that the evaluator flows from one to the next with little interruption, stopping to record the findings after 3 or 4 tests have been run.


Many test results are obvious in nature. Please E-mail privately if questions arise regarding subtle responses.


Tests 1-8 are done with the dog alone in the kennel/run (ie: separated from you by a barrier).

1. Sideways Approach: crouch down sideways to the dog and look ahead, not at the dog.

Reaction: Friendly? Disinterested? Aggressive? Shy? Demanding? More interested in other dogs?

2. First Contact: turn and face the dog, crouching, talk in a quiet and friendly manner. Do not stare. Give only casual eye contact;

Reaction: as above, but add Fearful?.

3. Touch I: without looking directly at the dog, place your hand flat on the kennel door.

Reaction: Dog positions itself to be stroked? Tries to get attention? Disinterested? Moves away? Aggressive?

4. Touch II: Move your hand and/or yourself further away along the kennel door.

Reaction: Dog repositions itself for a stroke? Tries to get attention? Disinterested? Moves away?

5. Casual eye contact: remove hand contact. Look at dog and talk to it casually.

Reaction: Friendly: looks back and wags tail? Friendly: looks away submissively? Disinterested? Shy/fearful? Aggressive?

6. Stare: Open eyes wide and stare at dog. Follow it's eyes with yours. Lean forward slightly. Do not speak.

Reaction: Friendly? Fearful? Submissive? Aggressive (offensively comes towards you)? Defensive (aggressively backs away)?

7. Threat: make a small sudden movement towards the kennel with eye contact, coupled with a loud shout. Bang your hands on the kennel door.

Reaction: Friendly? Fearful? Aggressive/Offensive/Defensive display? Submissive?

8. Separation: Make a fuss over the dog. Talk to him. Touch him through the kennel door. When he is worked up, turn your back and ignore him.

Reaction: Disinterested? Accepts separation quickly? Barks/whines/jumps at you for some time after?

BREAK TIME. Leave the room for several minutes and re-compose yourself as a neutral person. If the dog has shown repeated aggression to 2 or more tests, discontinue further testing or proceed with caution. All subsequent tests are hands on, with the dog out of the kennel. Proceed with caution or discontinue further tests if dog shows threat in any subsequent test.

9. Physical handling: Rate Good, Fair or Poor:

Ears, Mouth, Front and Back feet, Torso, Genitals.

List details of behavior with each area if noteworthy.

10. Submissive Position I: With the dog sitting/standing, stand partially over the dog and touch from above. Stand over the head and reach down over the shoulders to the underchest.

Reaction: Friendly? Disinterested? Aggressive: moves away in defense?
Aggressive: comes towards you threateningly or stiffens? Shy/Fearful?

11. Submissive Position II: Try to coax the dog to lie down. Try to get him into a belly-up position in a positive forcing. Coax the dog to enjoy a belly-rub on it's side or belly-up. Try to get him to enjoy a rolling rub.

Reaction: Allows you to roll him over; is happy? Allows you to roll him over; is NOT happy? Will physically NOT allow you to roll him over, but is not aggressive? Aggressive? Shy/moves away?

12. Play and Calm Down: Play with the dog in an excited fashion. Use anything motivationally necessary to engage the dog. When the dog is playing, ask him to settle down. Evaluate the dog in play and calm-down.

Reaction: Dog played acceptably? Dog played too aggressively? Dog calms quickly? Dog calms eventually? Dog does not calm down acceptably?

13. Prey Drive: Handler holds dog out of sight on a loose leash. You run across the dog's path about 10-20 feet in front.

Reaction: Disinterested in you? Interested but does not attempt to chase you? Attempts to chase playfully? Attempts to chase aggressively?

14. Dog/Dog Aggression: Prey Drive: As above, but you run across the dog's path with an on-leash neutral dog.

Reaction: as above. Note whether the dog is coming for you or the other dog in any chase attempt.

15. Resource-Guarding I: Food: (advise shelter to make sure dog is hungry before your arrival that day)..Put a small amount of kibble (one cup) in a bowl on the floor and let the dog begin eating while you hold the bowl by the edge. Take the bowl away before the dog is finished.

Reaction: Dog will not approach the bowl with you holding it? Dog will eat and allows you to remove bowl (does not care)? Dog will eat and allows you to remove bowl but is: not happy: pushy? Dog attempts to regain possession of bowl? Dog is aggressive?

16. Reaction to collar: Touch the collar of the dog. Stand the dog using the collar. Attempt to lead the dog by the collar. Watch for any reactions..reward good behavior with your voice.

Reaction: Dog moves along happily? Dog moves with reservation? Dog refused to be lead by the collar? Aggressive? Shy/fearful/defensive?

17. Resource Guarding II (2 rawhides needed): Possessions: give the dog an 8" to 12" rawhide (enough to give your fingers some clearance). Allow him to enjoy it for several minutes uninterrupted. Attempt to call him to you and take the rawhide while showing him the other. If he refuses, throw #2 a couple of feet away. Pick up #1 as he goes for #2. Repeat this trading pattern until he is willing to drop his from his mouth to come get yours, hopefully from your hand eventually, dropping his at your feet. Try to take possession of both on command as he learns the game.

Reaction: Willingly gave up #1 on the 1st attempt? Let you take #1 but was not happy? Willingly gave up after several trades? Let you take it after several trades but was not happy? Possessive aggressive over both?


Responses dictate what type of rehab/adoptive home the dog is POSSIBLY suited to:

1. sideways approach:

*dog coming to you/wagging tail: people friendly in a non-threatening situation.
*glancing and ignoring: disinterested..may need motivation to become bonded
*defensive, dominant, growling: aggressive..potentially not rehomeable: remember that this is a completely non-threatening test...
*worried, but looks like he would like to engage you: shy..will need patience
*shows more interest in other dogs: possibly may need one-on-one owner..will need to work on focus/recall

2. First contact: as above. Ideally, we would like to see this dog recover from test 1 and be even more trusting and interested in the evaluator.

3. Touch I: The desired response is that the dog positions itself to be touched. If he shows marked stress at desiring to be touched (scratching, whining at you) he may exhibit separation anxiety in a new home. If he moves away but does not show aggression, he may not behave in this same manner with a different person or on a different day. The other reactions are self-explanatory.

4. Touch II: if he moves for you to continue the physical petting, we learn that he is finding the experience pleasant enough to continue. If he shows stress (scratching at you or whining) we see that he may exhibit separation anxiety later. If he is disinterested in you after you move, he may be the type of dog that is aloof and may possibly be harder to bond with in a new home.

5 Casual Eye Contact: Self explanatory. A worried dog is one that may need Foster Home confidence for several months before being ready for adoption. An urban Foster Home with lots of confidence-building stimulation may be your best bet.

6 Stare: if the dog returns the stare honestly and happily, this dog is confident and biddable. If the dog looks away consistently and submissively, this dog may be best suited to a novice home. If the dog barks and acts playful he may need a more active home.  If the dog backs away and raises hackles on the croup, he is defensively-oriented. If the dog engages the stare and comes towards you, hackles or not, he may be dominant. If he exhibits gross offensive display, he is probably not rehomeable to anyone but an experienced handler, if at all.

7. Threat: the dog will undoubtedly show varying degrees of being startled. You are looking for quick recovery and forgiving (ie: friendly) behavior. If he backs away mis-trustfully and will not approach you again, he is demonstrating fear and defensiveness. If he shows offensive aggression and mistrust and does not quickly recover to a friendly, honest and open attitude, he will likely react without haste in a new home, possibly due to heightened territorial issues. A dog that lowers it's body close to the ground at your assault is submissive. It may pee itself. A calm mature home may prove best for this dog.

8. Physical Handling: Any overt reaction in an aggressive manner would be a "poor" response. Rumbling or mouthing without aggressive offensive behavior would be a "fair" response. Avoidance but eventual acceptance, or total acceptance would be a "good" response. You want to pick up the dog's feet, lift back the lips, open the mouth, touch the genitals and torso under and over, and play with the ears in this exercise. It will determine whether or not is it safe to continue with the other tests, and determine the dog's acceptance/trust of people in general. Always have another handler ready to pull the dog's head away from you during this test, especially if the dog has shown a predisposition to be fearful, disinterested or mistrusting in the kennel tests.

9. Submissive Position I: Self-explanatory. If the dog shows aggression, note if it moves towards or away from you (offensive/dominant or defensive/fearful).

10: Submissive Position II: Self-explanatory. A dog who rumbles as it submits is showing a "not happy" response, and may prove to be an aloof dog or a dominant but biddable dog.

11. Play and Calm Down: a subjective test. Often a shelter dog exhibits a slow calm-down because of the excitement in being handled with such attention. Any form of offensive or defensive aggression is the key to refusing a dog using this exercise. A playful hyper dog difficult to calm down may need to be in a Foster Home where the dog's attention is the focus in re-training. This dog probably needs to go to a home where it will learn new skills and get a job such as Therapy, Agility, Obedience etc. Or at the very least, a sportive home where outdoor exercise is abundant. Keep in mind a dog's age during this test...over-excitement is acceptable in young adolescents...not so in an adult. The calm-down time will give you a key as to whether this adult dog is going to need an active/dog-sport home or not. Also, nutrition in the past may give a clue towards hyperactivity...too many food colorings and preservatives may create a hyper dog in the interim. Calm-down "Quickly" would be in one minute or less. "Eventually" would be five minutes or longer. "Not at all" would mean holy cow! This dog will need an active home!! Keep in mind that Miniature Pinschers are an excitable breed, and many min pins are comparable to hyperactive children.

12. Prey Drive: self-explanatory. A dog driven to chase playfully may need work around schoolyards and dog play areas in Foster Care before adoption. A dog that chases aggressively may need further evaluation before placement.

13. Prey-Drive/Dog-Dog aggression: same as above. Note in Foster Care if dog aggression is same sex, or breed/type-specific/color-specific or motivated by another dog's behavior. Is it only on or off-leash? With known dogs or strange dogs? Rehabilitate as necessary, and rehome only after control has been established, and an experienced home has been chosen.

14. Resource-Guarding I: Food: note if the dog is afraid to eat from the bowl while you are holding the edge (learned fear). If the dog has low food drive (valuable for training/rehoming). If the dog is possessive (learned competitiveness or just plain dominant). Maybe the dog came from a novice home where it growled over food once and they backed off. Remark if the dog rumbles, stiffens over the bowl, or shows teeth. If it tries to snap...and is over 3 years of may not be rehomeable unless to a very experienced home. Foster Care will determine it's possibilities. If this test reflects aggression in other tests, you may want to leave this dog behind. If the dog attempts to regain possession of the bowl (driving it's head further in/rumbling/stiffening ie: bluffing) but allows you to take the bowl away and becomes open and honest after that, it can usually be rehabilitated quickly in Foster Care.

15: Reaction to collar: Look for willingness. If possible, ask the shelter staff if the dog was supposedly leash broke before being turned in. Any dog that refuses to move without aggressive/defensive display needs confidence in Foster Care. Overt dominant or defensive aggression towards being lead by the collar may be a sign that the dog has been tied out or has never even seen a collar/leash prior to this evaluation. Any shy dog that is not displaying aggression will need confidence and observation. Use caution while conducting this test. As the second-to-last test, this one will show you a dominant dog clearly, and any not-to-be-trusted dog will surely solidify it's position here. Statistically, the majority of dog-bites in the USA are from people bitten by their own dogs while reaching for the collar. Remember that this dog is no tabula-rasa has "behavioral" baggage that ended it up in the shelter in the first place...usually NOT of it's own doing...but learned response.

16. Resource-Guarding II: Rawhides: Self-explanatory. A dog that offensively defends both rawhides and is not willing to learn the game may be a liability and will need special care in rehoming. While a min pin that bites does not do significant damage, this sort of behavior needs to be trained out. If you evaluate a shelter dog with significant resource possessiveness, please contact one of the IMPS Directors immediately.

While evaluating, please NEVER let your guard down. Although the dog may respond brilliantly to most tests, he may react adversely to triggers such as collar-leading, resource-guarding tests etc. This shelter test only allows us to determine the best possible option for the dog, and helps us to pre-empt behaviors that may lead to an unsuccessful rehome. It gives us clues, not solid evidence, unless the dog displays overtly unacceptable behaviors. It helps us to best accomplish a rehabilitation schedule for the dog with success. It is the magnifying glass into the dog's excess baggage, and allows us to make our decisions and recommendations with confidence.

Ms. Abbat would appreciate copies of evaluation notes on any dog with which this shelter test is used - she may be e-mailed at Copies of shelter tests should also be forwarded to Petie at for IMPS records.

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