Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Loc Aire Airedales: Puppy Testing & Ear Gluing - by mum


All of the puppies out of the Loc Aire Kennel (Jan Mell & Bonni Mell/Fisler) are puppy tested at 7 weeks of age. The purpose of the puppy testing is to ensure each puppy is matched with the best appropriate home possible (ie, you don't home a sound sensitive pup to a home with young kids, and then have things not work out and the dog is returned or given up). This means that puppy buyers don't get to choose their puppy. You do get to pick a sex.

When my dad and I were looking to get a puppy from Jan some 12 years ago, she really wasn't too keen on letting us, first time dog owners have one of her puppies. It took a lot of convincing, puppy visits (we had to visit every week from 5-8 weeks, from Victoria BC, to Washington State) for Jan to agree to let us have one of her pups. When she finally made the decision, she mailed us FIVE books to study (told me to translate all of the books to my dad!). One of the books she sent us was - How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With,

(pictured is the newer edition that came with the girl puppy this time. The one I was given was an older edition.)

Jan and Bonni use the Puppy Testing from this book to puppy test all of the Loc Aire pups before deciding who goes with whom.

Below are three sets of puppy tests. One for Sunshade, one for Jaffa/Stella, one for Saphie. If you click on the pictures, and then right click to enlarge, you should be able to read them.

Sunshade's litter, she's #3.

Jaffa & Stella's litter. Jaffa is #2 (marked on the wither + tail), Stella is #7 (marked on R foot + wither).

Saphie's litter. She's #5, the only girl in the litter.

I'm going to outline the puppy test from the book; how each testing is performed, the purpose of the test, and the scoring for each test. After that, you will see four different coloured numbers. The numbers (and possible notes) indicate what Sunshade, Jaffa, Stella & Saphie scored on each test.


*Note: the test must be performed in a room/place where the puppies have never been to, and the tester must be someone they have not seen before.

COME (Social Attraction):

Place puppy in test area. From a few feet away, the tester coaxes the pup to come by clapping hands gently and kneeling down. Tester must coax in a direction away from the point where the puppy entered the testing area.

Purpose of this test is to determine the degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence.

1 - Came readily, tail up, jumped, barked, bit at hands.
2 - Came readily, tail up, pawed, licked at hands.
3 - Came readily, tail up.
4 - Came readily, tail down.
5 - Came hesitantly, or no come, fearful.
6 - Did not come at all. Wandered and sniffed.



Tester stands up and walks away from the pup in a normal manner. Make sure the pup sees tester walk away.

Purpose of the test is to determine degree of following attraction. Not following indicates independence or fear.

1 - Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet.
2 - Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.
3 - Followed readily, tail up.
4 - Followed readily, tail down.
5 - Huddled, wouldn't move.
6 - No follow, or went away.



Tester is on hands and knees. Gently roll pup onto back and hold with one hand for a full 30 seconds.

Purpose of this test is to determine degree of dominant or submissive tendency. How puppy accepts stress when socially/physically dominated.

1 - Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.
2 - Vigorously flailed, some eye contact.
3 - Settled, struggled, settled with good eye contact.
4 - Struggled, then settled with some eye contact.
5 - No struggle. Froze
6 - No struggle, strained to avoid eye contact.


FORGIVENESS (Social Dominance):

Tester is still kneeling. Sit pup across your front, slightly facing you. Give him a few seconds to settle down, then gently stroke him and lean down so face can be licked. Continue stroking until a recognizable behaviour is established.

The purpose of this test is to determine the degree of acceptance of social dominance. Pup may try to dominate by jumping and nipping, or may be independent and walk away.

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



Tester is still kneeling. Pick up pup, cradle pup under his belly, fingers interlaced, palms up, and elevate pup to just off the ground. Hold there for 30 seconds.

Purpose of this test is to determine degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control.

1 - Struggled, fiercely, bit, growled.
2 - Settled, then struggled.
3 - No struggle, relaxed.
4 - Struggled, then settled.
5 - No struggle, froze.
6 - No struggle, no eye contact.



Kneel beside pup and attract his attention with crumpled paper. When pup shows interest and is watching, toss the object 3 feet in front of the pup.

The purpose of this test is to determine the degree of willingness to work with a human. High correlation between ability to retrieve and successful guide dogs, obedience dogs, and field trial dogs.

1 - Chased object, picked up, and ran away.
2 - Chased object, picked up, and did not return.
3 - Chased object, returned with it to tester.
4 - Chased object, and returned to tester without it.
5 - Stayed with tester, worried.
6 - Did not chase object.

3 (readily)

6 (stays, licks tester)
1 (ran off to play with object)


Take webbing of a front foot between your finger and thumb. Press lightly then increase firmly until you get a response while you slowly count to 10. Stop as soon as puppy pulls away. Repeat with ear.

The purpose of this test is to determine the degree of sensitivity to touch.

Note # of counts before response:

Sunshade's litter did not get a number on this test. Perhaps it wasn't performed?


Continue holding pup in your arms until he either forgives by licking your cheek or struggles to get down.

The purpose of this test is to determine degree of forgiveness.

Circle one of the following responses:

* Pup quickly forgave and licked
* Pup snuggled, no kisses.
* Slow or no forgiving.

I don't think this test was in the older edition of the book as it wasn't on either Sunshade or Jaffa's test form. Girl puppy's form had it.

Saphie: No look for forgive of the tester.


Place pup in center of area. Strike pan with a large spoon a few feet behind the puppy. Repeat.

The purpose of the test is to determine degree of sensitivity to sound. May be a rudimentary test for deafness.

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

3 (located, tail down walking....) I can't really read the writing lol
Stella's box was left blank. Perhaps she did something that wasn't any of the above. Very interesting as the reason Stella was let go at 6 months from the breeding program was because she was more sound sensitive for Jan's liking in a breeding bitch.


Place pup in center of area. Jerk a towel, tied to a string, across the floor a few feet from pup.

The purpose of this test is to determine degree of intelligent response to a strange object.

1 - Looked, attacked, bit.
2 - Looked, grabbed, head shaking.
3 - Looked, became curious.
4 - Looked, tail tucked.
5 - Ran away, hid.
6 - Ignored it, no interest.

1 - My courageous girrrrrl lol!!!


Note how active pup is throughout the testing.

* Jumped up all the time (boing-boing)
* Bouncy
* Relaxed
* Slow, quiet
* Little participation (The observer)
* No interest

This must be a a newer test as it isn't on Sunshade/Jaffa/Stella's papers.

The result for the Saphie was: Good energy. A bit of a snob!

General notes on Sunshade: Curious! (Spot on! True even at 12 years old!)

General notes on Jaffa: (blank) (He was so perfect ;-))

General notes on Stella: Likes people!

General notes on Saphie: Aimee was the tester. She had her tail up most of the time. An independent air to her. Insulted by the Touch Sensitivity Test!! Not going to home with kids under age of 5 as she did not forgive. (But Bonni knew she was going to a home without young kids already.)

From pg.140 of the book, under Forgiveness (Social Dominance), it says,

As soon as the pup is on his feet, the tester sits him at a forty-five degree angle in front, using an arm or hand for a second to keep him in place. then the tester strokes from head to tail, leaning down so that his face is available to be licked. The tester can talk to the pup. The unforgiving puppy will turn his head away. This pup will mature into a dog that will hold a grudge or will refuse to respond if the owner does something he doesn't like. The forgiving pup will wash the face or gently lick or nuzzle the cheek with his nose. The independent pup will walk away. The aggressive pup will growl or nip the tester.

Out of her litter, Saphie was the only one that didn't forgive. Sunshade, Jaffa & Stella all forgave too. You guys WATCH OUT!!! (Sunshade: put her beside me right now, and I'll make sure she grows up SuperFORGIVING! Towards me at least!)

Analysis of Puppy Test:

Mostly "5" responses - Shies away for no reason. Retest to verify. This pup needs a low-stress environment.

Mostly "4" responses - A submissive but not shy puppy. Needs confidence building. Very trainable if not rushed. Easy to live with.

Mostly "3" responses, with some "4s." - Will be a happy dog. Good with children. Good for the inexperienced trainer. A family companion.

(This was Jaffa and his sister Stella, and I have to say, it has been very true.)

Mostly "3" responses, with some "2s." - Will fit in a family with older children. Very active and does best with obedience training.

(Sunshade was all 3, with one 1, so I'm not sure where she fits in. Though knowing we were first time dog owners, Jan probably did give us the pup that she felt would be good with inexperienced owners. Sunshade was a dream, even when left for long hours on her own at such a young age. Very unusual. Saphie tested mainly 3s, with one 2, one 1. So this is probably her category too with no young kids.)

Mostly "2" responses, with some "3s." - Outgoing and eager to please but needs a firm hand or will make a pest of himself.

Mostly "2" responses - Learns quickly and needs firm, consistent training. Does best with a person who has had training experience.

Mostly "1" responses - Very dominant. Not good with children. Untrustworthy around strangers. Needs special training with very experienced, dominant trainer. Can easily become aggressive.

Mostly "6" responses - Three "6s" in the first five tests is a very independent puppy. Doesn't require a lot of human attention. Training requires much repetition and patience.

According to Bonni, they like their puppies to be mainly 3's because that would mean the pup would probably do well in any family/situation.

I have to say that out of the four, Saphie tested most dominant, and independent. She also seems to be more confident and brave than the rest at 8 weeks. As we all know, Jaffa and Stella are both very laid-back, happy-go-lucky, easy-going Airedales. Sunshade and the Saphie are both more confident. While Sunshade can be quite dominant towards dogs in certain situations, she isn't actually dominant (never aggressive unless warranted) towards humans. While she may not always listen to people outside of her pack, she has always listened to me, and put up with whatever situation I put her in. I hope Saphie will turn out to be the same, and not like what the book says, "The unforgiving pup will mature into a dog that will hold a grudge or will refuse to respond if the owner does something he doesn't like."

I will make sure to help Helen to work on Saphie lots. She will be starting puppy classes soon, that should help put her on the right track. She really is a wonderful little pup, and SO smart at this young age.

That's about it on puppy testing. I will keep you posted on Saphie's progress.



I want to talk a little bit about ear gluing. A few people have asked about why we glue the ears of our Airedale pups. Well, the honest answer is that it is mainly for cosmetic reasons, or to conform with what the breed standard calls for,

"V-shaped with a side carriage, small but not out of proportion to size of dog. Top line of folded ear slightly above level of skull. Pendulous ears or ears set too high undesirable."

Please note that gluing ears does not involve cutting or cropping of the ears. The puppy doesn't need to be put under anesthesia to go through "cosmetic surgery". Usually the puppy only notices it the first day because it feels different. After the first day, they don't even realize their ears are glued. At least that has been my experience with Sunshade/Jaffa/Stella and Girl Puppy. I understand others may have had a different experience from mine, and I would agree that if it bothers the puppy too much, then it is not worth it.

The window of opportunity for ear gluing is anywhere from 8 weeks to when the pup is done teething. Once the puppy is finished teething, the cartilage in the ears harden and the ear is set for life. More gluing and taping after that won't make any different in the positioning.

Without ear gluing, you can sometimes get the following earsets:

Houndy ears - where the tips of the ears hang far below the eye line, and the flaps are large(houndy) and sit on the head without any carriage,

Ears that fly half way up,

Uneven ears; one high one low,

Stand-up ears!!!

(The picture above is of Faye, picture below is of Taj. They are both my grooming dogs. I must admit, I wasn't a big fan of the stand-up ears in the beginning, but after getting to know the these two lovely dales, those stand-up ears have really grown on me. I think they add such character!!)

I knew absolutely nothing about ear gluing when we went to pick up Sunshade 12 years ago. Before leaving, Jan glued her ears and told us to take them off after a few weeks. That was exactly what I did, I took them off, and never re-evaluated them. Luckily, her ears turned out perfect. Baby Sunshade did wonderful with her ears being glued, no complaints, no problems at all, so when I went to get Jaffa, I was happy to have his ears glued too. His had to be re-glued a couple of times, but they eventually turned out quite well.

This was Sunshade on the day we picked her up. She was groomed by Jan (or Bonni). Her ears actually had pretty good carriage (not sitting on top of the head), but hung a little low. Anyway, this was taken just before her ears got glued.

Jaffa's ears were glued at 8 weeks as well. However, they went all wonky when I took them off at around 11 weeks (picture below). So they had to be re-glued then for a few more weeks.

Perfect earsets!

If you would like to share your life with a Loc Aire Airedale, please contact:

Bonni Fisler (Mell)
(360) 452-1099


Molly the Airedale said...

What a very informative post!
I, Miss Maggie, never had puppy testing and I got to choose mom and dad for my forever family. My breeder didn't mind at all! Neither one of us ever had our ears glued.
Thank you for a wonderful post, Jaffa! You are such a handsome boy!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

brooke said...

So interesting! Thanks for this post!
When Darwin was teething her ears went super wonky! It was so funny!

My Dog Sam - Ruptured Disk said...

Hi E, my mom and dad are going to take you along, if and when they decide to get another puppy. My sister Tuvia's ears were glued but Janice kind of suggested to my dad to let them be "natural" so now she has "prickly" ears (ones that stand up) versus the tips folding forwards on a standard sheltie.

Linda said...

Hey we had those puppy tests too at our breeder. That's how Mama picked us. Three's are the magic number.
Wirey Hugs,
Katie & Sparky