Zap Test (Wesen) Part One – The Purpose?

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is the most versatile breed of dog in the World, which is why it is a widely used service dog in very many different ways and a favorite for many canine sports but also is a much-loved companion dog. Its popularity is due to Its unique character, incorporating intelligence, loyalty, confidence, and determination. In any breed of dog, demand can lead to indiscriminate breeding and the erosion of crucial breed characteristics.

The core purpose of the SV (GSD Club in Germany, the World Governing Body) is the protection of the unique features of the GSD.

The objective is to ensure the GSD remains the outstanding companion dog and the working dog that it should always be. A program known as the Breed Harmonization Program was introduced in 2016 by the SV across the World through the WUSV (World Union of GSD Clubs) member clubs. A fundamental element of this program is the introduction of an assessment of the character of German Shepherd Puppies between the age of 9 and 13 months.

The evaluation looks at various aspects of the puppy’s temperament and comments on them so that the puppy’s owner can understand their puppy’s behavior better and have some information that will help when considering basic training requirements and methods. For those who are interested, it can give insight into suitability for activities such as obedience, tracking, agility, and breeding. The assessment is known as the ZAP Character Assessment (ZAP 1 for short)*

*note that ZAP1 is in its early stages, and as such, changes to terminology, procedures, etc. may occur.

Wesensüberprüfung – Wesen Test – What is it?

The Wesensüberprüfung, or Wesen test, or Character Assessment test is to do be done between 9 – 13 months.  If done after 13 months their is a 100 euro penality fee and the test is called a ZAP test.

What is involved in the assessment?

The assessment consists of a number of tasks which have been developed to test the puppy’s natural behaviours and instincts:

  • Is the puppy sociable with people and animals?
  • How does the puppy react to noise?
  • Does the puppy like to play?
  • How does the puppy react to unusual situations?
The tasks are based on those used by service organizations when selecting puppies for working.  They are as follows:
    1. The assessor discusses the puppy with its handler
    2. On-leash:
      1. ID check
      2. Examination of Teeth
      3. Examination of Testicles for males
      4. Measurement of height
    1. On-leash the Dog is handed to the judge to hold, the handler walks away and calls the dog
    2. On-leash the dog is held by a stranger, the handler walks behind a group of people and calls dog
    3. On-leash the handler and dog walk toward a group of people and stop at the group
    4. Off-leash handler and dog walk through the group
    5. While in the group handler and dog casually greet a person in the group
    6. On-leash the dog meets another dog at a distance three paces 
    7. Noise sensitivity on losse leash:
      1. engine running (chain saw/leaf blower/lawn mower etc.) passes dog 
      2. chain dropped on metal plate – dog at a distance
      3. Gun test at 15 paces 
    1. Handler and the dog play off leash.
    2. Handler guides the dog onto a rocking platform and plays with the dog using a toy as the platform is gently rocked by the judge
    3. The dog is guided up a ramp or steps onto 3 long tables which are placed end to end with a turn and a small gap. The dog is encouraged by the owner to walk the length of the tables and back to the start position and off the table.
    4. On-leash, handler plays with the dog without toy,  then with a toy
    5. Leashed dog is handed to the judge. 
      1. With the dog watching the handler, toy in hand, walks away from the dog and places the toy under a box 10 paces away.
      2. Handler returns to the dog, takes the lead from the judge and then lets the dog off the leash so it may retrieve the toy from under the box and bring the toy back to the handler
    1. Reaction to smooth surface dog is taken into a club house and taken off the leash to walk around on the slippery floor, at some point a metal food bowl is dropped on the floor.
    2. The dog is tied to a securely fixed object in a suitable place. The handler walks out of sight.
      1. After about 5 minutes a stranger approaches the dog, pats it, reassuringly talks to it and then walks away.
      2. The handler returns to the dog.
What does my puppy have to do to pass the assessment?

The assessor is looking to see how the puppy reacts to each of the tasks, each puppy will react differently and the assessor will comment on the reaction in terms of how closely it fits with the expectation for a GSD puppy or what it tells us about the puppy’s aptitudes. There are no points awarded and no pass mark – the assessor simply makes comments about each task.

Is this voluntary?

For anyone wishing to obtain an SV Breed Survey (koerung) a ZAP Character Assessment is required for all dogs born after 1st July 2017.

Can any puppy enter a ZAP Character Assessment?

To enter ZAP, it must be a pedigree German Shepherd Puppy, registered in the country of its birth, micro-chipped and aged between 9 and 13 months. If the dog is entered after 13 months there is a 100 euro fine.

To see what the judge’s scoring sheet will look like and more detail with a  rough English translation, visit this page:  Wesen Test


Puppy Training

Puppy Training

Hello! I am so excited to announce that I am working with Alta-Tollhaus to provide puppy training for new puppy parents! Let me get your puppy off to the best possible start. What you will get is a solid, confident puppy who loves to learn! Your puppy will be housebroken and crate trained. You new puppy will learn house manners and also be exposed to as many sights and sounds as possible in and around the home. Our ultimate goal is a solid, confident, happy, friendly puppy that you can take anywhere.

A huge portion of our puppy program is socialization! This should be an ongoing part of your dogs life, that being said, there is an optimal socialization window where it is imperative that your puppy has exposure to many places, people, sounds and experiences. In addition to all of this, your puppy will be started in basic obedience to include sit/stay, down/stay, recall (come command), beginning heeling, nail trimming (clipper and Dremel), grooming, handling and to top if off, your puppy will even learn how to walk on a treadmill!

So, how does this all work? I offer four and eight week packages depending on your ultimate goals. I prefer to get your puppy directly from Alta-Tollhaus and begin right at the eight week mark. You are more than welcome to visit your puppy during training and if you are local I will include a mid-way and a go-home lesson with your training package. You can choose to get your puppy at 12 weeks or at 16 weeks.

I will be with you every step of the way to make sure you feel confident to continue the training at home. With an Alta-Tollhaus puppy, you are already getting the best of genetics – let me help you add in the training component. Pictured is my current puppy client, Layla from the Tao and Alfa litter born in early August, 2019.

A New Activity for Ziva

A New Activity for Ziva

Now that the Blog has worked out some of it’s bugs, I can publish some of these older posts.

Ziva has been such a hard, honest worker over the years in various dog sports. She has always loved using her nose and she is not ready to retire so it seemed natural to try our hand at some of the newer scenting venues. On May 17 we tried our hand at a Barn Hunt trial. We had taken several lessons and it seemed like a perfect match. She gets to hunt for vermin AND stay at a hotel, 2 of her favorite things 🙂

At the different levels, dogs must go through a tunnel, climb on bales of straw and find the rat all in a set amount of time. The time and number of rats varies based on the level. At Novice we had to find 1 rat in 2 minutes. There were 2 trials the first day and 2 trials the 2nd. You need 3 legs at a level in order to title and move up to the next level. Ziva qualified in Novice both days, placing 2nd and 3rd with times of 51 seconds and 1 minute 6 seconds. She had 2 minutes to complete all of the elements. On day 2 in her 1st run, she completed all of the elements in 12 seconds, placing 1st, earning her RATN title and was also High in Class!

The new RATN! Ha Ha, look at the little rat at the bottom of the photo