Temperament Test for Re-Homed Dogs Validated Through Direct Behavioral Observation in Shelter and Home Environment

Scientific Journal Articles

This study was the first attempt to carry out a validation of a temperament test (TT) for shelter dogs that addressed the topics of inter- and intra-raters agreements, test-retest reliability, and validity. The TT consisted of 22 subtests. Each dog was approached and handled by an unfamiliar per- son and made to interact with a same- and an opposite-gender conspecific. Dogs were tested twice in the shelter and once in their new homes 4 months after adoption to evaluate consistency in behavioral assessment. Playfulness, trainability, problem solving abilities, food possessiveness, and reactivity to sudden stimuli were also evaluated. Testers scored dogs’ responses in terms of confidence, fearfulness, and aggressiveness. Results highlighted strengths and limits of this TT that was devised to help shelter staff in matching dogs’ personality and owners’ expectations. Methodological constraints when working with sheltered dogs are unavoidable; however, the test proved to be overall feasible, reliable, and valid although further studies are needed to address the critical issues that emerged.

Valsecchi, P., Barnard, S., Stefanini, C., and Normando, S. (2011). Temperament test for re-homed dogs validated through direct behavioral observation in shelter and home environment. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 6, 161-177. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2011.01.002

Photo: iStock.com/Zbynek Pospisil

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Topic(s): Breeder Resource, Retiring & Rehoming: Behavioral Considerations, Retiring & Rehoming: Environmental Considerations, Retiring & Rehoming: Health Considerations