keskiviikko 25. toukokuuta 2016

Mental Description - test for dogs

Prikka took part in mental description a week ago. Kiila did it in May 2009, she took also part in the character test in the autumn same year. Luckily, nowadays mental description is accepted to show that the dog is gun shot proof (needed e.g for the Finnish (show) Champions, if they have not passed the herding test or they do not have results from the classes of our utility classes). So, now the owner can decide which one to take. This mental description suited so well for my timetable. Prikka's age, 20 months, was just perfect and since it was organised by our breed club I was more than happy to sign Prikka for the description.

Both of the tests are a bit stressful for most of the dogs. That is of course part of the test to see how dogs behave under the stress and how the recover from their experiences. Every now and then either the owner or the organiser stops the test/description if it seem to be too much for a dog.
Both of these tests have been developed in Sweden to find suitable dogs to work for the army or police. The origins for character test were laid already in the forties and the standardised  version was ready 1997. Four years later the first Mental description was developed for young dogs (12-18 months) to find suitable dogs for utility usage. By the end of the last century the description became an official method in Sweden for the dogs older than 18 months. The main target were the working dogs, but all the breeds can utilise either the character test or mental description.
Both of the tests have very straightforward instructions for what kind of threat is used and how the threat increases for the dogs.
What is wierd I did not find any "history part" in the world wide web, so the years and the development of the character test and mental description are from the "Mentalitets boken" of Blixt, Blixt and Svartberg.

To give some kind of idea how much we Finns test our border collies I gathered the tables below from the database of the Finnish Kennel club.
The number and percentage of the border collies visiting and passing these tests.

Character test
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Passed 63% (37 results) 67% (41 results) 72% (58 results) 99% (84 results) 100% (69 results)
Not Passed 31% (18 results) 26% (16 results) 22% (18 results) 1% (1 results)
Interrupted 7% (4 results) 7% (4 results) 5% (4 results)
Mental description
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Done 100% (19 results) 93% (14 results) 96% (27 results) 100% (12 results) 100% (5 results)
Handler interrupted 7% (1 results) 4% (1 results)
Describer interrupted
Total 19 results 15 results 28 results 12 results
5 results

* * * * *
Finally to the results we received on a sunny Sunday about week ago. The Description

The description is very much Prikka-like which is of course the idea of the test, she is described through the facts, the way she behaves. No surprises,  though I did not except such an immense fear for the overall appearing in front of her. The ghosts arrived little by little so Prikka had time to adopt about the arriving creatures! I am very pleased that she is not at all sound sensitive. In the conclusion speech the descriptor  identified Prikka as obedient and meek. She also told that I could have been more supportive towards Prikka, being so stiff and tense made the test harder for her. Well, I thought I may not take any contact and interfere the results. I was not supposed to do so on each task/test unit but between the stations I should have supported her. Poor Prikka having handler like this.
 The video  (thanks for the person following our description while waiting the turn of dog of her breeding) from which I cut out
- some of our unsuccessful throw aways from the play part,
-  the other chasing pat, since they were identical
- part of the three minutes when she is laying peacefully behind me in the activity session

Bill Leksen has written clearly about the MH-test in English. He was so kind to give me the permission to copy his translations in English. The table above, Where I have Prikka's mental description, is his and the text below, too. See:   ; with the scores
                                                                        : with the description

Mental Description test for dogs ("Mentalbeskrivning Hund," abbreviated "MH")

The main test units
Within each test unit there are 2-3 partial tests.
  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Chasing. 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.
  4. Ability to relax. Handler and dog stand still for three minutes. What does the dog do during the dull interval?
  5. 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.
  6. Reaction to the sudden appearance of a large object. A overall (XL) is rigged with ropes and suddenly appears when the handler and the dog are strolling along a path.
  7. Reaction to sounds. Hidden in the bushes, a chain is pulled over a corrugated iron-plate, creating a loud rattling sound.
  8. 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.
  9. 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].
  10. 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.

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