Why do a behavior assessment?

Behavior assessments (also known as temperament testing) help determine a dog’s adoptability or suitability for family life. When a dog is available for adoption from a shelter or a rescue group many times little is known about the dog’s history other than how it came to be at the shelter. A temperament test cannot tell us everything about a dog, but it can give some important information about the dog’s social drive, how it tolerates being handled, and whether or not it guards or protects things that many dogs consider valuable. How the dog responds to these three things can help to determine if a dog is a good candidate for family life.


Photo by Rachel Lauren Photography

A behavior assessment starts with looking at the dog’s social drive towards humans. If a dog seeks out human contact, enjoys being touched, talked to, and played with, there is a greater buffer against aggression, then with a dog who is indifferent about your presence. The dog with a high social drive will likely be less inclined to bite when provoked (accidentally being stepped on, for example), and significantly more tolerant when something is being done to it that it does not like (such as having its teeth brushed or nails trimmed). A dog who is relaxed and happy with people makes a much better family pet than one who is leary, scared, or apathetic towards people.

A temperament test also evaluates how a dog responds to being handled. People love to hug and kiss their dogs, and a dog that not only tolerates it, but seeks it out, is a family gem.

We also assess whether or not a pup tries to guard or protect its valuables. While it is impossible to predict exactly what a dog might decide is valuable (I had a dog who didn’t guard anything except one type of horse treat!) We use items that are likely to be considered worth protecting, such as wet food or a rawhide chew. If a dog willingly shares its food, chewies, and toys with you, then you have another buffer against biting, as well as a dog who has another attribute important for family harmony.

How much does it cost and how do I know if I need to do one?

Testing costs $100, lasts about an hour, and includes the test and discussion of the results. A written evaluation costs $15 and will be emailed within 24 hours of the evaluation.

Most owners who call for training do not need a temperament test for their dog. If you have specific concerns about your dog, however, please call (740-587-0429) or email (behavior@apositiveconnection.com) and we can discuss whether or not a temperament test would be appropriate.

The behaviorists at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine have a website called The Indoor Pet Initiative that contains a wealth of information for dog and cat owners. The site has articles on socialization, crate training, house breaking, etc. One article, called Warning Signs that Your Pup has a Behavior Problem, is very good at summarizing what is and is not appropriate behavior for a puppy and is a good place to begin if you have any questions or concerns about your dog.

Click here to go to “Warning Signs that Your Pup has a Behavior Problem”