The Campbell Test

The Campbell Test is to be performed with puppies in the range of six to eight weeks of age.

Exercise No.1 is called “Social Attraction”. It’s used to assess the probability level of dependency that it will have with the future owner. We move a few meters away from the dog and after kneeling in his direction, clap our hands. The possible reactions are:

Very Dominant (VD): Rushes quickly with tail up, jumping on him and biting the hands.

Dominant (D): Comes to meet by scrabbling the hands without biting them.

Submissive (S): Approaches quickly with tail down.

Very Submissive (VS): Undecidedly approaches with tail down.

Inhibited (I): Stays away.

Exercise No.2 is called “Attitude to Follow a Person”, and it will assess the tendency to follow the owner. We begin walking away from the puppy with a normal pace, making sure the he is watching us. Possible reactions:

Very Dominant (VD): He follows us with tail up, biting the feet.

Dominant (D): He follows us voluntarily.

Submissive (S): He follows us with tail down.

Very Submissive (VS): He follows us undecidedly with tail down.

Inhibited (I): Stays firm or stays away.

Exercise No.3 is called “Reaction to Submission”, and it’s used to assess the probability level of submission to the owner. Kneeling beside the puppy, rub his back delicately and keep this position with one hand on the chest for thirty seconds. Possible reactions:

Very Dominant (VD): Rebels violently, biting the hands.

Dominant (D): Rebels by wriggling.

Submissive (S): Rebels for a short time.

Very submissive (VS): Licks the hands.

Inhibited (I) –

Exercise No.4 is called “Social Dominance”, and it’s used to assess the probability level of the acceptance of hierarchical superiority. Always on the knees, stroke the puppy with light pressure from head to the tail for thirty seconds. Possible reactions:

Very Dominant (VD): Growls, bites, and rasp with paws.

Dominant (D): Jumps and rasp, without biting.

Submissive (S): Licks hands.

Very submissive (VS) : Turns to lick.

Inhibited (I): Tries to escape.

Exercise No.5 is called “Dominance by Elevation”, and it’s used to assess the probability level of dominance acceptance. Raise the puppy about twenty centimeters from the ground, holding it with his hands folded under his belly for thirty seconds. Possible reactions:

Very Dominant (VD): Wriggles violently, growling and biting.

Dominant (D): Wriggles violently.

Submissive (S): Rebels calmly and licks the hands.

Very submissive (VS): Licks the hands.

Inhibited (I) –

For an overall judgement, you have to check the consistency of the responses. A puppy with at least two Very Dominant (VD) or three Dominant (D), will become an adult dog that reacts with aggression at every provocation. With three or more Submissive (S) it will be gifted with a good capacity for adjusting to a family and will be a sweet and balanced dog. If the relations will be two or more Submissive (S) or Very Submissive (VS), it will become an adult dog that will always have to be treated with kindness and understanding. Finally, if he will have two Inhibited (I), he will be extremely submissive and will require a lot of affection, coming to bite only for self-defense. A subject with this type will be a dog suitable for all children. For convenience, use the following table:

1-2 VD or more Dominant and Aggressive
2-3 D or more Dominant and Extroverted
3 S or more Balanced
2/3 VS Submissive
2 I Poorly Socialized Puppy

In every case, whatever character set of the puppy, it will be important to apply education methods that take into account the individual difference. It’s literally impossible to apply a standard method in the educative process of a puppy.

The character of a dog is also determined by the individuals capacity to learn and remember experiences.

If you are lucky enough to have chosen, consciously or unconsciously, a Submissive (S) or Very submissive (VS) subject, there will be no problems. If a puppy is VD or D, it’s very important not to underestimate or justify the first signs of aggression, thus unknowingly preparing the way for an escalation of violence. The dynamic looks impressively similar to how it happens with many cohabiting couples. It starts (usually with the male, but increasingly there are cases of violent females) with insults and switches to a slap that is unfortunately accepted by the partner. Step by step, you get punches, beatings, and incrementally serious injuries, in some cases even resulting in killing. Especially later when deciding to leave or having already left the violent partner. With dogs, the progression is similar. Often, the Very Dominant subject has already started from a few weeks of life by growling at the “owners”, rebelling towards impositions, then comes the first bite, and then successive increases towards more serious attacks if it is not stopped in the correct way. The main problem is the authority level of the owner. Unfortunately, leadership capacity is largely innate. As to say that, if we go back to finding the predominance numeric of a puppy, it’s easy to understand that many dogs first bite humans who are not pack leaders themselves! (sorry for the joke)

The distinction between dominance and leadership is in the application method of authority. A dominant subject controls just because it is the strongest. A leader, on the contrary, commands because the submissive recognize the advantages derived from it. As to say that a leader is also dominant while the dominant is not automatically a leader.

The peak of degeneration arrives when a subject comes to kill a child or an adult of the family where it lives.

We are not talking about a few cases; dog violence regards a significant number of families. Too often, evidence of their situation is denied. This situation is perfectly similar to problems we have with humans: the incredible mistakes in education and the relational behavior of family that is only noticed by relatives, acquaintances, and friends.

Finally, I want to emphasize the statement of personal clinical experience gained in the field of “home” dogs, and how breeders need a scientific basis for behavior. I believe these observations can represent a theme to confront and discuss with specialists better mechanisms for understanding and regulating the behavior of man’s best friend.

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