In the world of dog adoption, temperament tests are king. These all important tests are widely used by animal shelters and rescues to understand more about the dogs in their care. Better yet, they help shelter staff to find the best adoptive home for dogs based on the information they gather from temperament tests. Thought this has been an effective way to gather information in the past, experts are calling them into question now and wondering if there isn’t a better way to assess dogs going forward.
One of the most commonly used and known tests is the food bowl test. Dogs are given a meal in a bowl, and then a tester tries to remove food from the dog and from the bowl to see if the animal has a reaction. This is known as guarding resource behavior and in some cases, can be dangerous for homes that have small children that could accidentally reach into a dog’s food bowl. The downside of such a test is that an animal could be euthanized if they fail, because it could be too dangerous to place that dog with a family.
The other danger of this particular type of test is that it creates a singular view. A dog with food based aggression could be an otherwise wonderful animal that can be trusted around children. There are many other factors to consider when evaluating if a dog has problems that should be addressed before or after it is adopted into a new home. The test is simply an indicator of a potential issue.
Experts agree that temperament tests are a great way to gather information about a dog before placing it in a home, but further testing should be done to ensure staff gets a better handle on a dog before choosing adoption or euthanasia.