Animal shelters submit animals to behavior evaluations so as to provide an predictor as to an animal’s fitness for adopted. The evaluation process places the animal into various situations to test the reaction of the animal’s response. At best, the evaluation becomes an “educated” guess as to whether the animal will pose a risk when released for adoption.
Many animals fail the evaluation process and are often transferred into rescues groups who claim they can work out behavior issues; but, I am afraid that many of the rescues just have a lower behavior standard and move forward to adopt out the marginal animals.
The main problem with behavior evaluations is that they rarely put the animal in real life situation tests. Tests performed at the animal shelter puts the animal off balance; the dog is not on his own turf. Dogs on their own turf will act differently than one is an area unknown to the dog.
We are frequently asked, “How is the dog with children?” No animal shelter in its real mind would perform behavior tests with children. Child Protective Services would have a field day with putting children at risk of being bitten.
The most important factor is the evaluator. Dogs sense the confidence of a person. There is an old saying, “It travels down the leash.” A dog being evaluated by a confident person will evaluate differently that a person that is unsure of themselves. Most potential adaptors do not exhibit the confidence of shelter employees.
The good news is that most adoptions go fine. People adopting large powerful dogs should think twice about the results of the shelter’s evaluation. Many shelters will give a large dog the benefit of the doubt because those are the breeds hardest to place. I have frequently witnessed evaluators showing a bias while performing their evaluations; for this reason, an observer is in the room to monitor the evaluation process.
It has been my observation that most adoptions fail because the adopter begins training in bad habits into their new pet. You can first glimpse the problem during a family meet and greet, when the room fills with a bunch of unruly children.