Testing your future PPD

  • The testing of a dog before even considering doing bite-work used to be a common practice amongst most old school trainers. It helped the trainer/owner by providing 2 pieces of info crucial to the job. First it would give you a pretty good Idea of how much instinct your dog had and second it would serve as a guideline to decide wich dogs should be bred and wich dogs should be sterilized.

    Nowadays its a diferent story. Most owners and even trainers will refuse to test their dogs without any previos work done. Some will argue that its unfair for the dog to be put in such a situation and ive even heard that its ''cruel''...

    Recently my girl had been showing an increased amount of suspicion and agresion towards strangers so I decided it was time to ''test'' her.

    Over the years Ive heard of many ways to test a PPD but because of experience and habit I use the ''Koehler's test'' or as some call it, the Gun and run test =), am going to make a short description of such test in case a new member wants to give it a shot:

    Here is what you need:

    1 Dog (Duh) of at least 1 year of age
    1 strong collar (not choking)
    1 1.8 mt leather leash
    1 cap gun or real revolver if possible
    1 capable decoy (unknown to the dog)
    1 heavy suit (dark raincoat, hat and glasses)
    A quiet location with a place for the decoy to hide

    Here is how its done:

    1.-Arrange for you and the ''heavy'' to arrive at the location in diferent cars and at diferent times (a diference of 15 mins will do)

    2.- Equip your dog with the non choking collar and leash, start walking arround for a couple of minutes (by this time your heavy should be on the predetermined hiding place dressed up and armed)

    3.-As soon as the dogs settles in the new location, start walking towards the hiding spot (a simple sharp corner will do in the case you lack an actual booth to hide)

    4.-Once you are close enough give the heavy a very subtle signal (coughing, sneezing or even a prefixed word works)

    5.-The heavy should inmediatly jump out of the hiding place, say 3 or 4 words in a loud agresive tone (not shouting), shoot 3 times in rapid succesion and inmediatly jump back to his hiding spot

    6.-Regardles of the dog's reaction, the handler should give some praise to the dog and guide him back to the car

    Here is how to grade the dog:

    High: The dog inmediately jumped towards the heavy in an agresive manner, showing clearly that he was ready to put up a fight. Sadly this is a very seldom result and if you own such a dog be proud since you have a great dog.

    A special mention here to those dogs who will advance towards the heavy but in an evident playfull manner, just like if the dog was meeting with a new friend. These dogs shold be given consideration since its not that hard to switch the playfullness for ''gameness''

    Medium: The dog who stands his ground whether growling, barking or just with a fierce look on his face, this dog is a good prospect and should be allowed to continue his training

    Pay close atention to this dog, you should never confuse him with the dog who stands next to you just because the heavy didnt caught his atention. Such dog should be ruled out since building suspicion in him would be extremely hard and still wouldnt compare to the instinct of a good candidate

    Low: The dog who backs down to the poing of fastening the leash and clearly shows no intention to fight. This should be ruled out, such a dog just doesnt have the right temperament for the job and no amount of training will change that

    Most owners of this type of dog will go through a denial fase, claiming the test wasnt performed correclty, the decoy was too hard on the dog etc etc... I try not to argue with them and simply refuse to train such dog

    Congratulations, you have nearly reached the end of the post, you clearly are interested in testing the true potential of your dog.

    So there it is, the right way to test your dog. Now go on and may fate be with your dogs, remmember its better to know your dog is a helpless coward than to hope he is the real deal and later find out he isnt :thumbsup2:

  • Nice post Sergio,

    I had a bitch that reacted a little strange once (first test at 18 months old). She whinned and looked everywhere but at the decoy. I was initially pissed but the decoy, who thank God knew how to read the dog, said she was fine and just needed to figure out what to do.

    Once she lunged out, after maybe 30 seconds I immediately praised her and the rest was history. She took a real shine on to bite work after that. Weird-never seen a dog since do anything like that.

    To be honest-if I had any dog that didnt react the way you describe a high grade I wouldnt work with it. Maybe I've been spoiled but I count on that reaction from a well bred rottweiler (and well paid for) these days.

  • Completely agree re testing a dog pre serious training, and Sergio that seems like a decent enough scenario.

    It gives you a glimpse off what potentially lies under the bonnet - a V8 or perhaps just a Varta battery lol.

    Here is a vid of one of my dogs.
    This is one of a few tests which I personally use. (the dog was 14 months old at the time, and is the same dog as appeared in the leg bite vid).

    Not at all sure if I have embedded the vid properly on to this post, if not - could someone please explain how to do it? (apologies in advance for being so technologically backward)

    Like any test - If you train / prepare for this - you are short changing yourself and the dog.


    STERN COMMAND - to down and stay. (he knows from past experience if he breaks it, he is in serious trouble)




    DOG MUZZLED. (for me this is imperative, I do not want any smells or visual triggers re sleeves/suits - hence the need for a muzzle)

    INITIALLY ZERO THREAT OF VIOLENCE. (For an accurate reading I believe it is important that the dog is caught of guard, that is to say - he is relaxed and everything is normal in the build up to the handler being attacked)

    CRUCIALLY - the handler is NOT allowed to call on the dog to help / intervene.


    PURELY to observe the dogs NATURAL reaction in this CIVIL situation.

    Will he adhere to the command to down and stay, and let his handler be pummeled. (result = obedient dog, but a potentially dead / seriously injured handler)

    Or will he think for himself, improvise, break the command - and try and protect, even though he is wearing a muzzle.

    Like I said at the top - an insightful test. :)




    The post was edited 1 time, last by Gee ().

  • Recently I tested my girl, she stood up and started to bark and growl as soon as the decoy started to address me without giving back an inch :thumbsup2:. I would had loved for her to lunge at the heavy but a medium score is not bad either.

    Am sure glad my old man wasn't present at the test since he would have ruled her out on the same basis as Brody :D

    ''Never settle for anything less than a GREAT dog''
    This in an old quote from my mentor... am a little bit more permissive, any dog willing to stand next to his master in the face of danger is worth my time and effort.

    Brody you sure are lucky to have such a good decoy, I've never seen a dog do that too and if i have had, i would have probably ruled her out thinking the decoy wasn't causing enough of a reaction and thus losing a good dog :(

    Gee your test presents the dog a longer and more intense experience, am sure a great dog will pass it with not much trouble but probably most of the medium dogs (Koehler's test) would fail it . Am not saying its a bad test of course, just that its a lot more demanding and it will provide you fewer very good candidates, perhaps it would be more useful for high end costumers (Gov agencies, security companies, militaty, etc etc...)

  • Hi Sergio,
    Once again thanks for watching.

    I think the key with any test or tests, is long before you reach that stage.
    Get the dog out as a baby and expose them to everything. (I am sure you all ready know that) A for instance is - taking a puppy into an elevator many times.
    So if or when you ever do some scenario training involving an elevator 18 months later - the dog is already half way there. (that's a fairly extreme example, but you get the drift)

    I am not saying practice for a specific test, but rather this all starts from babyhood.
    (Hope that makes sense friend) :)

    And finally - you could take a dog at say fifteen months old, who scores lowly.
    Same dog five months later - superstar. :thumbsup2:


  • My opinion is that I do not rule any dog out until you work with it for some time. Test is only good to tell you where the dog is at at that very moment.

  • Due to most of police k-9 prospects that I procure are from donors, I take 3 days to test a police k-9 prospect. If he should fair well on all the tests the very last test is the one you mentioned.

  • In light of the recent responses on this post, giving all the dogs a chance at training before ruling them out isn't an invalid approach, just not as effective.

    First of all, the idea behind the test is not to evaluate where the dog is at that moment training-wise but to test "temperament" or instinct if you wish. This is something that cannot be taught to the dog, its inherent to him. Because of this, is very important that it is performed on dogs without any former training therefore maintaining the validity of the test.

    Now to the second approach, allowing all dogs to enter the bite program and waiting to perform any selective test until after some training has been done will probably allow you to "salvage" a group of dogs that otherwise would had ended up being washed out. And even then I can asure you that those that scored poorly (run away from danger, leaving the handler to his fate) wont reach half the level a good candidate can and probably will.

    More dogs will require a lot more work, money and time. Factors that always play a role in any program. This is where the importance of a selection method comes in place. More often than not, we found ourselves training dogs for clients (individuals or companies) that are very specific with what they want (number of dogs, time for delivery and of course budget). Training every single dog and then checking who will continue and who will not, is just not as effective or rentable.

    PS: I understand it can be difficult to rule a dog out when such dog is yours. One of the hardest things a handler can do is admitting his dog isn't cut out for the job.

  • Testing is useless without criteria, criteria are useless without an end goal.

    PPD means a lot of different things to different people.

  • Sergio I understand what you are saying and that is how it is these days. There are some point I would like to make.,All dogs have some training before the test. 1-2 years old dog with no training is neglected dog. There are many reason to test as Peter C hinted. The dog tested for LE these days is IMO not the best way to test a dog for such task. I know it is not practicable in the way the dogs are being worked and selected these days. Many good dogs do not show in 3 days what they are made out of. Good dog works for the handler rather then for himself and often will mourn lost place, routines and his old handler and will not work as well if at all in 3 days especially with strange handler who often has no knowledge of former handler's ways. Such dog is then passed as unsuitable where actually such dog would be excellent dog if time would be spent. The dog who works for himself will work out f the box , but that does not mean that it is the better dog for such task.
    The testing systems these days are not promoting dogs who are the best for work but the ones who will work in acceptable way the soonest.

  • Unlike business owners, private and sport trainers I only have little time to test a dog, select it, train the team and get them in service for the street. If I had more time to test I agree with you I would take a lot more time, but unfortunately I don't have that luxury as I must answer to Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, etc constantly wanting to know how much longer.

    On a side note I can only recall a small number of dogs I tested over the decades using my tests over a 3 day period that did not work out on the street.

  • I understand that the test works for dogs accepted . IMO it is just shame that the test eliminates some potentially great dogs.
    In Czechoslovakian Border Patrol who bred their own dogs, several tests were done on pups up to 1 year old . Then later on dog became apprentice dog who tug along with older - senior dog which was eventually going to be replaced by this apprentice. The dog was watching real action and was used in less critical situations to get his feet wet. In my opinion there is no reason why this can not be attempted even if the department does not want to get into breeding dogs. The kennel in the cruiser can be divided and 2 dogs can be going along vehicle besides regular training the apprentice get training on a job. Such process produces superior dog teams. Of course the system now is set up in one way and nobody would take initiative to something like I have described.Too bad. I have guided similar apprentice program here in USA and it was a success.

  • If the apprentice requires a second handler who is preoccupied with a "trainee" I doubt any department would fund it especially when a 3 day test works at least most of the time evidently.

  • No second handler necessary. The handler has both dogs with him in his vehicle but chooses the dog based on situation.
    Yes, to select dog after 3 days is working. McDonalds food also works in order to fill stomach. But in my opinion good quality "food" takes time to cook. Today's training and testing has factored in the speed of results as paramount issue. I may be dated but I have learned that speed in testing and training is not a virtue. Different mindset. I have worked with LEs who used apprentice system and it was always with superior results.

  • I have to disagree with your overall assessment. Example my 3 street dogs prior to my retirement were all donations each tested over a 3 day period. #1 K-9 Kanto Vom Wolfsgehege, over 100 captures, over 50 track captures, 38 evidence finds, credited with saving my life. #2 K-9 Rico, 78 captures, 35 track captures, 26 evidence finds same city. #3 K-9 Grizzly 84 captures, 44 track captures, 20 evidence finds.

    As I stated before I am able to weed out any dog who does not meet the minimum criteria in the time period. I don't have the time nor do I care for breeding or additional training or testing of dogs to ensure they will make the cut. I think the results with my previous partners and many others I have procured and trained over the decades did and are doing quite well.

  • How does the apprentice learn the real shit if it is locked in a vehicle. If the situation is clear, what's to learn? If the situation goes to hell you have a handler in control of two dogs, one being an apprentice.

    Sounds like a cluster fuk waiting to happen, so many scenarios I cringe to think about.

  • There are Police Departments in the US that raise and train puppies as replacements for their current Patrol dogs. I recently visited one PD with an excellent program for raising and training puppies. They had a 1/2 dozen Malinios puppies that were about 6 months old. The dogs were tracking, doing bite work and OB. Trained and raised in a KNPV style system. There are also quite a few handlers in the US that raise and train their own dogs from pups. This is nothing new and has been going on for quite some time.

    Working two dogs while on patrol is problematic. If you work for a busy agency then you will be far too busy to work the new dog during your shift. There are also issues with certification and court testimony with a dog in training in the US. It is simply not very practical to do in the US. Perhaps it works in other countries?

    I am not opposed to the idea of phasing a new dog in while the experienced dog is ready to retire. it is a very good idea to get the new dog early and have time to bond and develop a level of trust and respect before the formal training starts.

    In regards to testing, I can pretty objectively test a dog and make a decision in a couple of hours. We rarely wash dogs out and 3 days would be an awesome luxury to have when it comes to picking a good dog.

    Phil, I agree with you and I'm glad that your dogs did the job they did. Thank you for the work that you do / did.

  • IMO for police service starting with a puppy prospect is not cost effective, unless as part of a foster home program. For law enforcement I also don't see the point of training before a year old. It takes just a couple of months of structured training to get the dog to a point where it can start working apprehension. Easier to just buy a green dog that's a good prospect, than raise a pup for a year and then possibly have it wash out. For a privately owned dog most people choose a pup + hope. Most of the time they get an average dog but end up keeping it anyways, because they don't really need (and can't handle) the level of protection they claimed to be looking for.

  • The department I was at with the puppy program has a very affluent donor that purchased the pups and is helping to fund the program. A lot of K-9 units have FB pages and strong community support or at least a few wealthy benefactors. We have some very generous folks that support our program with equipment and supplies for the dogs.

    It is not for every department or handler that is for sure. But, starting with a nice strong pup and raising it the way you want is pretty nice.

    We have started with dogs as young as 10 months old and they have turned out to be fantastic patrol dogs when finished.