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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 523781, 9 pages
Research Article

An Evaluation of a Behaviour Assessment to Determine the Suitability of Shelter Dogs for Rehoming

1Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4343, Australia
2School of Animal Studies, Gatton Campus, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4343, Australia
3School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, Gatton Campus, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4343, Australia

Received 1 June 2009; Revised 22 October 2009; Accepted 20 December 2009

Academic Editor: Alessandro Mannelli

Copyright © 2010 A. H. Poulsen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We evaluated a scheme for assessing shelter dog behaviour, which used 28 tests and rated responses from 0 (positive response) to 5 (fear, tonic immobility, or escape attempts). The assessment was evaluated for 236 dogs, and was repeated by a different assessor for 39 dogs approximately 80 days after rehoming to determine relevance of individual test components. A new owner survey evaluated satisfaction with the dog. A total of 130 of 236 dogs passed (score 70), 24 scored 71–80 (referred for behavioural modification), and 82 (score > 80) failed. Scores were mainly unaffected by dog type and environmental variables, but decreased if dog faeces from a previous test was present in the arena during a test. Shelter tests only correlated with repeat tests if there was no direct contact with assessors. Adopters were satisfied with their dogs, despite reporting some behaviour problems. The shelter assessment was therefore robust against most outside influences but did not predict responses to people well.