The Federation of Working Dogs

Working Dog Evaluation (WDE)

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We believe the Working Dog Evaluation (WDE) this is one of the most comprehensive canine Mentality Assessment & Aptitude Test in America.

The minimum age required in order to take and pass the WDE is 1 year of age.

Dogs that pass will be awarded an Excellent, Good or Fair.

The is an evaluation not a test, so even if the dog does not pass certain parts he/she are able to continue so you will know your dogs strengths and where you need to improve.

The FWD Working Dog Evaluation focuses on different aspects of Temperament and Disposition. Such as controllability, aggressiveness, friendliness towards people and dogs, nerves, confidence as well as pray and defence drives.  

Please do not feed your canine 24 hours prior to the test.  A full stomach inhibits normal reactions and makes it very difficult to evaluate natural drives and instincts.  Under stress the animal will secrete adrenaline increasing blood flow to the muscles, heart rate increases, as well as blood being shunted from the digestive tract and associated organs.

The FWD Working Dog Evaluation consist of 14 parts and 1 optional part that must be pass to receive an Excellent.

Part 1: Hierarchy

The owner gives a command for the dog to sit or stand. Then the owner gives a complete and extended examination of his mouth, teeth and lips. The owner will command the dog to down. Once the dog is down the owner will examine his ears and his inner thigh, as if checking for a tattoo.
At all times the dog must demonstrate submission to his/her owner. The dog must not offer any resistance or attempt to leave. Two commands by the owner to gain control will be acceptable.

Intention: To demonstrate controllability, bond between dog and owner as well as Rank Drive..

Part 2:  Neutral Stranger

A stranger walks up to the handler and shakes hands and exchange pleasantries (e.g. you have a very nice dog).  The stranger never interact with the dog.

Intention:  To evaluate the dogs passive social ability.  

Part 3: Response to Another Canine

Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet. They walk by each other with a distance about 3 feet between each other with the dogs on the inside. The handlers and their dogs then walk a distance about 15 feet and turn back around and meet each other with about 3 feet between each other and exchange pleasantries, and continue on.

Intention: To demonstrate if the dog can behave politely around another dog. (Dogs that have a great deal of dog aggression usually don't make good working dogs)

Part 4: Heeling Through a Group

The dog and handler walk around on leash between a group of people who will be speaking amongst themselves. The group should consist of at least 2 people, but no more then 4 people. All members of the crowd should be standing still; however, the evaluator should be moving around. There may be one dog in the crowd, but the dog should be on leash and well behaved. This should simulate a setting a dog and handler may see out in public.

Intention: To demonstrates if the dog can move around well-mannered and in control in a public place.

Part 5: Down Stay

The handler will down the dog and the dog must stay in place. Prior to the test, the dog's leash is removed and replace with a 20-ft. line or a 15-ft. line attached to the dog's leash. The handler may use up to two commands to get the dog to down and stay.  The handler may not use any force to put the dog in the down.  When instructed by the Evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks to the end of the line. Waits for one minute and returns to the dog either in front or side of the dog. At which time the Evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog must remain in place (it can change position, but not get up) until the Evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog.

Intention: To demonstrate how much training the dog has and to see how the dog responds to the handler.

Part 6: Sit Stay & Recall

With the dog still on the long line from Part 5, the handler will tell the dog to sit and stay and then walk about 15 to 20 feet the turn and face the dog. The dog must be in the sit stay for one minute. The Evaluator will tell the handle to recall his/her dog. The handler may use body language and encouragement when calling the dog. No treats or toys. The handler can use up to 3 commands. When the dog comes and the handler attaches the dog's own leash it is complete.

Intention: To demonstrate the Trainability and Attachment towards the Pack Leader.

Part 7: Hidden Noise

The handler and dog approaches a hidden assistant who rattles a metal bucket filled with rocks / a can filled with pennies / or a jug of rocks then sets it in the path of the handler and dog. The handler may encourage the dog to investigate the bucket only when asked to do so. The handler's focus must be on the bucket, not on the dog.

Intention: To evaluate the dog's reaction to auditory stimuli and investigative behavior.

Part 8:  Gun Shots

The handler stops with dog on leash at a designated marker.  It is extremely important that the handler play very actively with the canine while this test is carried out and that you continue to play after the first shot has been fired.  We want to see that the dog continues playing, or immediately regains his activity.  A starter pistol will be fired 2 times (shot-pause-shot) from a hidden place.  

Intention:  To evaluate the dog's recovery response to a sudden noise.  Genetically "gun-shy" canines lack nervous steadiness.

Part 9:  Visual Stimulus

The handler and dog approaches an assistant holding a closed umbrella parallel to the ground at a 90-degree angle to the approaching handler and dog.  When the dog is five feet from the assistant the umbrella is opened.  The handler may encourage the dog to investigate the umbrella only when asked to do so.  The handler's focus must be on the umbrella, not on the dog.

Intention:  To evaluate the dog's response to an unexpected visual stimulus.

Part 10:  Wire Footing

Only the dog walks the entire length of at least 2 ft. by 6 ft. and no larger then a 10 ft. by 3 ft. unfold exercise pen or wire crate.

Intention:  To evaluate the dog's response to uncommon footing.

Part 11:  Plastic Footing

Both the handler and dog walk the entire length of a 10-15 foot by 3-6 foot plastic strip.

Intention:  To evaluate the dog's response to uncommon footing.

Part 12:  Threat

A stranger advances within 20 feet towards the stationary handler in a threatening manner.  The stranger will stop for 3-5 seconds then stranger will advance within 10 feet of the dog in an aggressive manner and stop.

Intention:  To evaluate the dog's Defensive Drive and Survival Drive

Part 13:  Chase Response

The handler and dog will be at a stationary location on leash.  An assistant will try to entice the dog to chase a prey item e.g. a flirt pole, tug, ball, frisbee, passing bicycle, running cat, etc.  This is not a pass or fail evaluation.

Intention:  To evaluate the canines Chase Response or Drive to Pursue and to Catch Prey.

Part 14:  Play with canine

Often confused with pack drive, play is the desire to have PHYSICAL contact with a member of the pack structure. 

Intention:  To see if the canine has strong or high play drive.  This is a very favorable attribute within the Working/Service Dog.  

Part 15:  Friendly stranger (Optional)

The handler and dog on leash approaches a very friendly stranger and the stranger pets the dog.  

Intention:  To evaluate the dog's active social skills.

This part is optional, but passing it is the only way to receive an Excellent.  Because we believe the ideal dog is just not an alert, obedient, courageous protector, but a friendly, good natured reliable family member and companion.


Based on the canine's performance during this Aptitude Test, the Judges will, at the completion of the test, be in a position to evaluate the following specific qualities and basic character traits;

  • Confidence
  • Hardness
  • Sharpness
  • Softness
  • Approachability
  • Prey Drive or Chase Response
  • Activity Drive
  • Temperament
  • Steadiness to Gunshots
  • Pack Drive
  • Rank Drive
  • Subordinate Drive
  • Play Drive
  • Survival Drive
  • Trainability 
  • Dog Fight Tendency

To pass the WDE Test and receive a certificate, dogs must pass items 1 - 12 and 14 of the test with the exception of item 13.  Item 13 is not a pass of fail test.  

revised 11/3/10

The Federation of Working Dogs * P.0. BOX 421  * Tar Heel, NC 28392 * USA *