NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the third quarter wrapping up last week, what did we learn from the market? One helpful form of analysis is to look at the best performing dividend stocks to see if any trends emerge.

Our search for the 10 best dividend stocks of the third quarter looked at dividend-paying stocks with market caps greater than $400 million and a current dividend yield of at least 2%. We also excluded stocks that received offers to be acquired.

The third quarter was marked by extreme market volatility compared to recent years, and the S&P 500 ended up dropping by nearly 7%. As the third quarter progressed, stock market volatility increased as macro data continued disappointing, capped off by last week's underwhelming U.S. payroll report.

According to an article in Bloomberg, the odds of the Fed increasing rates in October have plunged to a mere 10%, and markets are now pricing in the Fed to raise rates in March with two increases in each of the next two years. The odds of the Fed increasing rates at the December 2015 meeting sit just under 40%.

With reduced expectations for a looming rate increase, bonds and low-growth, high-yield dividend stocks were bid up. As seen below, global yields tumbled from about 1.2% at the end of June to less than 1% by the start of October.

As rates fell, many dividend stocks did very well. The 10 stocks below recorded the highest total return during the period from June 30, 2015, to September 30, 2015.

Not surprisingly, the list includes a handful of REITs, which are generally negatively correlated with interest rates over short time periods, and a couple of low-growth telecom companies.

With the third quarter in the past and lowered expectations for a rate increase only lasting so long, what will happen to dividend stocks once rates start to rise? Which stocks will sit on the fourth quarter's best performing dividend stocks list?

We can look at history to learn what happened to dividend stocks during past periods marked by rising rates. We conducted a full study on the matter, which you can view here

Essentially, the first few months immediately following a rate increase were marked with volatility and underperformance. Within one year, however, dividend payers who did not cut their dividends during the period had completely recovered and were well on their way to continued gains over the next two years.

For now, let's take a look at last quarter's biggest winners, from lowest total return to highest:

CUBE Chart CUBE data by YCharts

10. CubeSmart (CUBE - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 18%
Dividend Yield: 2.3%

CubeSmart is a Malvern, Pa.-based REIT that operates self-storage facilities. 

AIZ Chart AIZ data by YCharts

9. Assurant (AIZ - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 18%
Dividend Yield: 2.6%

Assurant is a New York-based insurance holding company. 

EXR Chart EXR data by YCharts

8. Extra Space Storage (EXR - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 19%
Dividend Yield: 3.1%

Extra Space Storage is a Salt Lake City-based self-storage company. 

RAI Chart RAI data by YCharts

7. Reynolds American (RAI)

Third quarter return: 20%
Dividend Yield: 3.3%

Reynolds American is a Winstem-Salem, NC-based tobacco company. 

INFY Chart INFY data by YCharts

6. Infosys (INFY - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 20%
Dividend Yield: 3.0%

Infosys is an India-based business process outsourcing and consulting company. 

QTS Chart QTS data by YCharts

5. QTS Realty Trust (QTS - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 21%
Dividend Yield: 2.9%

QTS Realty Trust is an Overland Park, Kan.-based REIT that operates data centers.

IQNT Chart IQNT data by YCharts

4. Inteliquent (IQNT)

Third quarter return: 22%
Dividend Yield: 2.8%

Inteliquent is a San Diego-based wholesaler of wireless technology.

HRB Chart HRB data by YCharts

3. H&R Block (HRB - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 23%
Dividend Yield: 2.2%

H&R Block is a Kansas City-based tax preparation company. 

BGS Chart BGS data by YCharts

2. B&G Foods (BGS - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 29%
Dividend Yield: 3.9%

B&G Foods is a Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ-based food products company, with brands such as Ortega and Green Giant.

BCOM Chart BCOM data by YCharts

1. B Communications (BCOM - Get Report)

Third quarter return: 34%
Dividend Yield: 4.0%

B Communications is an Israel-based holding company with a controlling stake in Israeli telecom, Bezeq.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.