Downeast Dog News

Training Your Performance Dog

Agility, Obedience, Tracking
By Carolyn Fuhrer | May 01, 2021


The temperament of any dog is an important characteristic. Temperament is a dog’s natural predisposition to react a certain way to a stimulus. The AKC Temperament Test includes test items in the following six categories: social, auditory, visual, tactile (touch), and proprioceptive (motion) and an unexpected stimulus.

The ATT is a noncompetitive, pass-fail test that will screen for fear, shyness, inability to recover, and lack of cooperation. Desired traits are that the dog will be emotionally stable, inquisitive, appropriately social, biddable, and recovers from a startling situation in a reasonable amount of time.

Temperament is an important consideration for all breeders and owners. The purpose of the AKC Temperament Test is to bring focus and meaningful evaluation to the assessment of temperament in our canine companions.

Earning the ATT title

Dogs must be at least 1-year old to take the ATT test, and dogs who do not pass the test may retest when ready. Dogs who pass the ATT twice under two different evaluators may earn the ATT title and list the suffix, “ATT” after the dog’s name.

Taking the AKC Temperament Test will educate the owners of purebred dogs about the temperament of their breed as described in the breed standard. And owners of mixed breed dogs can gain insight about the temperament of their individual dogs.

What is Temperament?

Temperament refers to the genetic behavioral tendencies and basic personality traits that a dog inherits. Dogs are born with basic temperamental qualities that will determine typical behavior. For example, they may be very social or outgoing – or aloof and standoffish.

While you cannot change temperament, understanding your dog’s temperament can help, and through proper training, modify some behaviors that are a result of temperament.

You may choose a breed because you like the description of their temperament and while it is important to be aware of breed tendencies, it is important to remember that each dog is unique and in every litter there will be individual differences.

Puppy temperament testing can certainly give you some good information, but there are many variables to consider: the skill and approach of the evaluator, the time of day, the setting of the test, the age of the pups, and so on. And what if you have a rescue dog and don’t know anything about its puppyhood? This is where the AKC Temperament Test can help give you a baseline of your dog’s temperament and yield valuable information on what needs to be addressed as far as behavioral issues.

Understanding our dogs' behavioral tendencies by evaluating their temperament can help us design learning situations and select activities that our dogs can enjoy based on who they are. And remember -while we cannot change temperament, understanding how temperament influences behavior can help us teach our dogs to more easily adapt to stressful situations, help us understand how we can create more focus, and how we might be able to increase desire for engagement.

On Track Agility Club of Maine will be holding an AKC Temperament Test this summer. Please watch for date and details in the Calendar of Events in the Downeast Dog News or call Kathy at 207-691-2332.


Carolyn Fuhrer has earned over 125 AKC titles with her Golden Retrievers, including 2 Champion Tracker titles. She is also an AKC Tracking Judge and an AKC Temperament Test Evaluator. You can contact her with questions, suggestions and ideas for her column by e-mailing