shelter dog kiss dog trainingLast weekend I attended a seminar in Des Moines, IA on better ways to evaluate shelter dogs! It was put on by the Iowa Animal Rescue League and was given by Dr. Amy Marder. She is, with many other, folks working on a program to make evaluations more scientific and by definition less subjective for those animals which are being brought into the shelter environment. The real beauty of this program will be an actual numeric evaluation score that will not only help with placing dogs in “forever” homes but as time goes by creating a national database of information on dogs, their scores and trends in behavior as they relate to adopt-ability! For me this is a welcome and needed change in the dog training and adoption world, where in the past it has been more humanistic and less scientific. I personally think that bringing science into this realm could very possibly revolutionize shelter evaluations and our end goal of finding more homes for dogs in general!

The process is simple, requiring only two people; an evaluator and a handler! As the handler goes through the testing process the evaluator observes and notes certain behaviors. The beauty of the program is there are only two possible answers for the evaluator… Behavior Happened or Behavior Did Not Happen! This removes all grey area from the evaluation process! We are no longer trying to determine the motivation and are concerning ourselves with only the question, “Did the behavior happen or not”. If we take this idea one step further, how handy would it be for all shelters nationwide to have the same scoring system… A person in Kansas talking to someone in Boston referring to a #16 dog and both knowing and understanding what they are talking about? Would this not make transfers of animals or discussing other options, so much easier? Not to mention the unbelievable benefits of having a national database of information to pull from, in regards to trends and certain dog characteristics?

For my money it was a fantastic seminar and I fully intend on talking to the shelters where I volunteer, urging them to take part in this new opportunity! If you want more information you can visit and click the link for “Match Up II” it is the actual evaluation! Within months the scoring aspect of the evaluation will be launched on the website as well! Making the process even easier! For those concerned about the time involved, I might add, we did several evaluations that day and they only take about 15 minutes! Kudos to Dr. Marder and her team for this idea and their efforts in “saving” more lives… Well Done!

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