Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario Canada
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temperament testing is really unregulaed unguided and varies in its effectiveness. Here is an article and comments by Jean Donaldson.
Everything Has Its Limits
But some trainers and professional behaviorists do question “the test” itself. Although these professionals are not “anti-evaluations” and in fact often perform them, they are concerned that some popular evaluation protocols have never been scientifically validated as accurate predictors of real-world behavior—or, as Jean Donaldson puts it, “have done pretty miserably at validity testing.”
“The concept has become so reified that many shelter workers are more interested in test results than behavior in the real world, which is what the test is supposed to be predicting,” says Donaldson, director of the Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA.
Experts like Donaldson want shelters to understand that behavior evaluations aren’t a magic pill that will make all your selection and placement headaches go away. Evaluations can’t guarantee a dog will never bite someone, and they can’t identify or predict all undesirable behaviors. They also take time and require trained, experienced personnel. They pose safety risks to staff and can create misunderstandings and resentment; even staff and volunteers who understand the principles behind temperament evaluations may still be upset when a favorite dog is euthanized after repeatedly snapping at the evaluator.
And evaluations can be adversely affected by uncontrollable factors such as stressful shelter environments. Because they are conducted in a kind of make-believe setting, they are limited in their specific predictive abilities. As the HSUS’s Pets for Life Training Centers materials emphasize, assessments don’t allow you to see what a dog’s reaction to actual children or other animals might be in a home environment; a dog who appears indifferent to one cat may attack another cat of different size, age, or temperament. Nor can the assessments accurately predict animals’ responses to completely novel stimuli; every animal encounters new objects daily, a fact that must be strongly considered before declaring any dog “fearful,” “fearless,” or “good for all homes.” Lastly, behavior evaluations cannot safely predict an animal’s relationship with potential owners, and recommending an “experienced owner” for a difficult dog requires some inquiry into the adopter’s past history with dogs.
In short, evaluations can help you get to know the dog—but not the whole dog, and not in all circumstances. You therefore can never place a certified “non-biter” and make the promise that “the dog won’t bite your kids because he passed the behavior evaluation.”
Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
Member of IAABC ,International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants , Member of Pet Professional Guild