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Shelter Assessments On Dogs
Friday, November 10, 2017, 12125 views
I always like to start with I am not a "Trainer" or "Animal Behaviorist" I am just a guy that has been volunteering at the shelter for about 4 years.
I started at the shelter interacting with pit bulls because I was one of those people that always believed they were not good as family pets due to the media, then one day I got the opportunity to see them in the shelter and spent the first year 5 days a week from open to close intercting with them because I wanted to see for myself what they were like.
I soon found out they were actually amazing and one of the most people social breeds there, they love interacting with people and being with them in general. My opinion is they crave human interaction and socialization more than most breeds and when they don't get it is when they start to going bad, you take a shepard or a lab into a play area and they are good and enjoy being petted and getting treats but you take a pit bull into a play area and the first thing they want to do is climb in your lap and lick your face.
After I had been going to the shelter and people were posting pictures and videos of me with the dogs they started asking my opinion of temperament and behavior, I was working with a friend helping get dogs to rescue and we were required to use Robert Cabrals assessment check list to show the dogs were ok with people and other dogs and after a while we got the chance to go to a clinic he was doing and work with him on how to use the check list.
After we performed the basic tests on the dog we would bring another neutral dog on leash in the play yard and let them walk around each other and sniff and give them each treats while the other watched an so on to see how they interact together.
So to move on I always video the assessment so anyone that is interested can see what I see.
I also do kennel walks which I feel gives me a better sense of how the dog will react to different situation which is what stemed me to write this article.
A while back I posted a video on youtube for a rescue that asked me to check out a dog they had at a boarding facility and some guy commented on the video that he thought that was the stupidest  thing he had ever seen and that shows nothing.
I categorize dogs as Human Aggressive, FearfulDog Aggressive or Reactive
When you do a dog to dog assessment interaction at a shelter you first find the calmest non-reactive "neutral" dog then you introduce the test dog to the neuteral dog after doing a meet at the fence. 
  1. If the test dog is dog aggressive you will not get them near another dog. 
  2. If the test dog is reactive they can do well around calm gentle dogs.
So that being said when you test a dog with a calm neuteral dog that is not dog aggressive things should go well and you will be told "this dog will most likely do good with a calm friendly dog".
So what happens to the the test dog when confronted by a high energy dog that plays hard barks at them or shows aggression?
The kennel walk will show you a lot about a dog and how they will react to different situations, what their body language is telling you when a dog is barking at them playfully, growling aggressively or charging the kennel fence with aggression. 
  1. Does their body show a soft posture
  2. Is their fur standing up
  3. Is their tail wagging
  4. Is their butt wiggling
  5. Do they want to get away from the aggessive dog
  6. Do they react to aggression with aggression
Most shelter dogs that are pulled by rescues go into a foster home with other dogs "big" and "Little" and the rescue has to know as much about that dog as they can to ensure the safety of the human family, the rescue dog and any other dog living in the house.
Some people say that shelter assessments are no good and yes I agree nothing is a 100% but a general idea is better than no idea 
So that's just my opinion about shelter assessments and the stupid useless kennel walks. 
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 Pam - Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 9:57:00 PM
God bless the stupid useless kennel walk.
It has saved countless shelter dogs lives.
Very well explained Steve. Thank you
- Reply -
 Steve Miller - Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 10:00:00 PM
Thank you Pam
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