What is an LER?

 

The LER is a temperament and conformation evaluation recommended for all Shiloh puppies between the ages of 7-9 weeks. The information is a snapshot of one pup on one day, but compared to thousands of other puppies tested in the same way at the same age, it gives us important clues as to the personality and temperament traits the pup is likely to have as an adult. We do two separate evaluations, one for conformation and one for temperament.

We test conformation by standing each pup up to examine structurally how close they come to the breed standard. We watch the movement to assure that they are put together well, and have good reach and easy movement. At this juncture, we often know which pups will be  going to breed/show homes, and which ones are likely companion quality. It’s important to remember that often the pet quality pups are difficult to tell, they may have a kink in their tail, or their ears might be set a little low, or they may have a tooth that hasn’t come in yet, or both testicles might not have dropped yet, or they may have a minor difference in how they stand. Often these pups “outgrow” these tiny differences, and are able to “upgrade” to breed quality at one year old.

This pup is practicing for “Tongue out Tuesday”, an important Shiloh skill! IMG_1267.JPG

We look at structure, alignment, tail length and thickness.IMG_1351.JPG

 

We look for back conformation, topline, withers, neck. It’s a stressful day for puppies, so we try hard to make the day fun for them.

We look for straight, heavy bone, good deep chest, and good shoulder construction. IMG_1362.JPG

 

Do they have all their teeth? Are they all in good alignment?IMG_1301.JPG

Shiloh ears often don’t go up for months, especially for plush pups. What will they look like, what expression will they have? We can only guess. The ear set and length will give us some clues. IMG_1383.JPG

 

The temperament portion of the evaluation is a series of traits that we can observe by watching the pup in action! Is this a puppy that welcomes human interactions? Is the pup submissive or dominant? Is the puppy insecure, or confident? Do we see fearfulness? Is there that “spark” that often identifies a show dog that loves to be center stage?

We test interaction with a stranger, and sociability. 

This puppy is thrilled with a new friend.interaction.JPG

This puppy would much rather investigate the new environment. This independence would be perfect for a dog that isn’t going to be with their human during the work week.

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We test elevation and forgiveness. Is the pup willing to be held in the air, or do they fight the human? Do they forgive the human, or hold a grudge?

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This little guy happily follows the humans after the forgiveness test.

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We test submission by holding the pup on their back, and counting how long it takes them to disagree with being held down. A soft dog will patiently submit, a hard dog will immediately fight back. We test pain tolerance, key when placing a pup in a home where they might be accidentally stepped on by a toddler, for instance. Pups with good pain tolerance feel the pain, but don’t react negatively. A soft pup will lick your hand as you squeeze it’s paw, or become a drama queen. The difference helps us know whether they are stable enough to be around young children, or doing service work.

 

We test play drive and prey drive, important in households with smaller animals or wildlife nearby. Play drive is usually high in puppies, and they enjoy a good game. We have a variety of tests for these traits.

This little guy was polite, but basically uninterested in the “prey”.IMG_1207.JPG

 

This little girl not only chases the “prey”, but catches it and runs away with it! HIGH prey drive is wonderful in a working dog, and may be a problem when a family has cats or other small animals.IMG_1259.JPG

 

We test for gun sure dogs by creating a loud noise behind them, and seeing whether they react with curiosity, fear or boredom. Often Shilohs are so calm, we double check their hearing! Yes, they hear fine, they just aren’t bothered by loud noises.

We have them run a maze to test problem solving skills, testing for their personality type in problem solving as confidence vs. insecurity. Do they call out for Mama to rescue them from the maze? Do they figure out the maze and come out to greet their breeder? Do they decide the maze is for losers and climb out of the middle? This tells us quite a lot about how the puppy will manage stressors, his strategies for frustrations, and tolerance for stressors. Some puppies actively enjoy the game, others need a lot encouragement, others refuse to play.

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As in all the other tests, we are evaluating tail, posture, ear set to make sure the pup isn’t overly stressed, but also to evaluate how they approach their world. Pups don’t “pass” or “fail” these tests, they merely give us information about the best possible match with their forever home. A perfect pup in a home with small children will not be the perfect pup for a working couple who will spend weekends hiking or watching TV, but will be working 9 hour days M-F. These evaluations are a good indicator for finished temperament, but of course environment over the next year will shape them much more than most people realize. We can give confidence to a shy pup with careful handling and they may be a perfect sensitive, emotionally connected therapy dog as an adult, but that same pup would not do as well in a chaotic environment with a busy family.

These tests can be fun to watch, but we ask visitors to be quiet and not interact with the pups during the testing. After they have been tested, we may ask for your help to keep them happy while their siblings are tested!