Yesterday Seeker did a BPH, which is Swedish for Behaviour and personality evaluation dog, and it was very interesting to watch. He reacted much like I thought he would – social, fast reactions, barked at strange things but quickly regains himself and becomes confident again, and keeps an eye on my reactions. He was quite taken by the sudden heat (from 10 degrees Celsius/freezing at night to 25 degrees Celsius in one day…), but he’s not very interested in food outside even on “normal” days so he left the food quite quickly. Tod did his BPH the same day and both boys reacted quite the same.
The aim with the BPH is to get a picture of how the dog reacts to and handles different situations. It’s among other things about meeting unknown persons, playing, work to get to food and handling surprises. It’s interesting to do with your own dog, but it gets even more valuable for breeders when whole litters or generations of litters are evaluated and trends in the breeding can be seen.
Interpretation of the different traits
A dog that gets the value 0 (zero) doesn’t show that specific trait at all, while a dog that gets 4 shows a lot of that trait.
0 = not at all, 4 = a lot
- Angry – Easily gets angry and shows it with threatening behaviour
- Energetic – Alert and lively. Reacts quickly to distractions. Can be be perceived as always “on”.
- Happy about unknown persons – Likes the company of unknown persons. Gladly responds to contact invites from unknown persons and often takes own initiatives to contact.
- Playfulness – Gladly responds to play invitations and makes play invites
- Vocal – Easily reacts by barking in different situations. Might also whine when waiting for activities and be vocal when greeting people.
- Curious – Interested in events that occur and likes to positively investigate them.
- Positive attitude – Has a happy attitude in life
- Confident – Has self confidence. Handles frightening situations in a rational manner.
Situation 1: Unknown person
The dog’s behaviour is observed when the the dog and handler walks around the audience, someone claps her hands, an unkown person is nearby, greats, handles and walks away with the dog.
Seeker liked the new lawn and smells a lot, the people where not interesting at all until one of them wanted to pet him – then he liked to get his belly rubbed 😉 Walking off with the test leader was no problem, but he liked to know where I was.
Situation 2: Playing with objects
First one plays with the dogs own toy (get the dog interested in the toy and then throws it away), then with the BPH-toy and finally the test leader plays with the dog.
He reacted as I thought he would. Playing tug is fun, but not if the person just holds the toy – then the lawn was sooo much more interesting. Good thing that the delivery to hand and recall isn’t part of the evaluation, because Seeker was very busy with all the smells and he feels that he can take care of toys on his own 😉 All in all it went quite smoothly to get the toys back, he can play a lot more with them on his own when he wants too…
Situation 3: Interest in food
Yummy treats (in this case sausage) is places in three bowls. One with the lid on, one up-side-down and one open.
Seeker isn’t that interested in food outside so he eat the treats in the open bowl, tried a few times with the up-side-down one and then decided to sniff something else.
Situation 4: Visual surprise
Three metres in front of the dog and handler a dummy doll “flies” up. What is evaluated is the dogs reaction and how it handles the surprise. The dog is of course allowed to be scared, but then you want the dog to be curious and get over the fright and not have any lasting fears.
Seeker barked at the man intensely but he wasn’t about to approach it without me. When he had checked it out once it was alright and he didn’t care more about it.
Situation 5: Rattle
Three meters in front of the dog there’s a metal rattle. In the same way as with the surprise above the dogs are of course allowed to react, but then you want then to get over it (the test leader says “kontakt”/contact when the dog sniffs the rattle box)
Seeker is veeery interested in everything that moves and sounds. At the rattle his first reaction was “interesting, have to check it out” – so nothing scary at all.
Situation 6: Approaching unknown person
A person wearing black hat, sun glasses and a big coat slowly walks closer.
Unfortunately not much of the walking persons can be seen in the video, so it’s a lot of just a dog barking 😉 Seeker was at first more interested in dogs barking in the distance and then he thought it was a bit hot and just as he laid down in the shade he spotted a scary man! He of course barked a lot at it – but he wasn’t about to approach it on his own unless I followed him. As soon as I walked closer he realised that it was a funny person behind the scary outfit and then it was alright again.
Situation 7: Different surfaces
The dog and handler walks over two wobbly surfaces together.
Seeker thinks that weird surfaces are immensely interesting and gladly walked over them (I think that the key is early environment training and of course good, stable breeding dogs, thanks Philippa!)
Situation 8: Gun fire
A shot is fired when the dog and handler are moving and another one when they are standing still.
Since Seeker hasn’t perfected delivery to hand outside yet we haven’t done any training with gun shots so he has no anticipation when hearing the shots. He’s just calm and not scared at all.