Yesterday we went to Falkenberg to do the “mental behavior dog” (MH) test with Seeker (a canine character test). It’s a prerequisite in order to be allowed to compete in “working obedience” such as person tracking, person “searching” etc. I’ve done MH with both my other dogs as well, but not BPH (a similar test that Seeker did a couple of months ago). The BPH isn’t required for competing, I just did that because I wanted to see what it was like. So now Seeker has “known mental status” 🙂
As with the BPH there’s no “right or wrong”, just a descirption of what the dog does. Of course each handler/breeder/observer has his or her own opinion of what they want to see in a dog. The MH is a great tool for breeders to see what tendencies there are among the lines that the breeder has.
Personally I like social dogs that enjoys contact with people, that willingly follows the person holding the lead, that relaxes and stays calm when I’m relaxing, that reacts/notices to surprisies and noise – but that has a lot of curiosity to check the scary stuff and no remaining fear of it. I also like a dog that is interested in objects and playing – I think all of this makes for a dog that is fun to train with (of course there shouldn’t be too much of it, but I’d rather have too much than too little – a dog that doesn’t care about anything is very difficult to train).
I’m very please with Seeker’s MH, and I think that he has matured a bit in the last couple of months (compare his reactions on the MH to the BPH a couple of months ago here)
As soon as the results have been made official on the Kennel Clubs webpage I’ll add comparisons to the breed as well.
Contact with a stranger. Test leader takes the dog on the leash and goes away from the handler/owner, executes physical examination, mouth and teeth inspection. Thus, what is the dog’s reaction to a stranger?
Seeker had no problem with this, he just wasn’t very interested in the other person but wanted to know where I was.
Willingness to play. Test leader plays with a big white cloth, throws it to the handler (owner), invites the dog to play with the cloth, tugs the cloth, etc.
What could be better? Seeker loves to play, no surprise there. Still glad that the deliveries isn’t part of the test 😉
A big white cloth is drawn in a zigzag pattern at a distance of 24 feet (supposedly a rabbit or other prey). The dog is let loose and has to run and attack the object, then is called back to the handler.
The first time he didn’t follow the “rabbit” but instead turned back to the field where he a couple of minutes before saw a toy being thrown. The second time he followed, grabbed it and brought it back.
Ability to relax. Handler and dog stand still for three minutes. What does the dog do during the dull interval?
I’m very please with his behaviour here. We’ve put quite a lot of energy into being relaxed, so when I just stood there here looked around for a while, then sat down and finally laid down. Three minutes is a very long time to watch a dog do nothing, so I shortened it in the video.
Ability to collaborate with a stranger. A “witch” (clad in black) suddenly comes out of the woods at a distance of approximately 120 feet. She kneels, stands up, and kneels again, waving a big cloth, luring the dog to come to her.
Seeker found this to be very interesting. I was quite please that he remained by my side, even though I let go of his collar and took a step forward (even though that’s not a part of the test). When the stranger talked to him after that he couldn’t resist 😉
Reaction to the sudden appearance of a large object. A blue overall (XL) is rigged with ropes and suddenly appears when the handler and the dog are strolling along a path. After the dog has made contact with the dummy, the dog and handler walks past it two times to see if the dog has any remaining fear or interest in the dummy.
He was a bit frightened when the dummy appeared, but very quickly he regained himself and saw that it wasn’t very interesting and wandered off to do other things. When I walked towards it he came back and checked it out. No remaining fear (or interest) at all – as soon as the surprise was over he lost interest in the dummy.
Reaction to sounds. Hidden in the bushes, a chain is pulled over a corrugated iron-plate, creating a loud rattling sound. After the dog has made contact with the object that made the noise, the dog and handler walks past it two times to see if the dog has any remaining fear or interest in it.
“Intersting! Better check this out!” Same reaction as at the BPH – almost before the noise was done he was there to check it out. No lasting fear (or interest) at all.
Reaction to an approaching threat. Ghosts. Two volunteers dressed in white sheets, with white plastic buckets on their heads and large black painted eyes, nose and mouth, move stereotypically forward three feet at the time. Wind should be away from the dog so that it cannot smell the human scent from the two ghosts.
The “ghosts” approach until they are ten feet away and then turn their backs to the dog. The handler is then allowed to call the dog’s name, to go up to the ghost and start talking to it and unmask it. He can then do the same with the other ghost.
“Baah, ghosts in the forest. Couldn’t care less. Tell me when they’re done walking about and I’ll check them out” 😉 Seeker looked at other things the whole time – but he knew exactly where the ghosts where all the time. I don’t know if he matured since the BPH, or if the ghosts just weren’t interesting enough. He barked at lenght at the scary person at the BPH anyway. (I much prefer this version, it’s not as noisy 😉 , but I thought he would bark a lot at the ghosts here as he did at the BPH.
Play and shot
Willingness to play. Has the dog’s willingness to play during units 1 to 7 faded or is he still alert? [Unit two is repeated].
During the test, shots from a 9 mm pistol are fired. The shooter is about 100 feet away from the dog and is hidden in the woods. Ten seconds between each shot. Reaction?
Playing tug the cloth. Dog is on a leash. Handler is passive. Two more shots are fired, but at a shorter distance. Ten seconds between each shot.
Seeker was even more interested in playing now. He reacted positevly when the shots were fired, but continued to play/sit by my side. We haven’t done much training with shots so he as no anticipation of fun things happening after shots yet.
7 years ago I did the MH with Diesel, she reacted quite differently as you can see in the video below