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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Temperament testing - is it reliable?

I was watching Animal Planet rescue a couple nights ago and they rescued a German Shepard mix that was undernourished and wasn't socialized properly. The Humane Society used a fake hand to interfere with his eating to determine if he would be aggressive or not. It turns out the dog snapped at the hand and growled. The Humane Society ended up putting him to sleep because they said he would not be able to be adopted with the aggression problem. My question is, is this test truly a good indication of how the dog would behave if it had received proper training and socialization? Did they give up too easily on him? I have seen this temperament testing on other shows and some people say it isn't valid. I think because of this particular dog's background it is natural for him to be territorial.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 03:36 PM
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My opinion on the is this... I believe that it is unreliable.

All dogs aren't going to let anyone just poke at them and I've actually seen the show you are talking about with different dogs. I for one think that is cruel and inhumane. My dog doesn't like anyone trying to poke at him while he's eating and I've seen alot of dogs become aggressive towards another dog or person when they are trying to take their food or get near it while they are eating.

There is one lady at an Animal shelter who it seemed to me would keep nudging and poking the dogs while she was testing them and really making them angry. I felt as if she was *sleep happy*. Almost like she enjoyed putting them to down. That in itself made me sick, ecspecially to see a really sweet animal who's only aggressive when she's eating...

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How about put them up for adoption with the restriction of small children in an environment where the dog can learn and grow. I believe they give up too easily. They didn't ask to be mistreated and they deserve to be put in homes that will work with them, they have to learn to trust again...
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 03:58 PM
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Polo was extremely aggressive when we first brought him home with his food and some of his toys. He can still get a "bit snappy" at times but with just a small amount of training he turned around quite quickly!

Now he allows any human to mess with his food, pet him, and put their hands in his mouth to remove something.... he will also share a bowl of food with the other dog and the cat. OCCASIONALLY he'll let out a low growl or a "snap" at another animal but even that has just been "warning noises" for which the other animals seem to respect. I have no problem believing that given even more time and continued to work on this final hurdle it'll go away.

So no, I don't believe a "quick test" is going to tell anyone much of anything outside of finding out that "some things bug the dog".

Chelsea will bark and growl like crazy at puppets.... it says nothing about her attitude toward any number of other things. Polo howls at a train whistle and will snarl if you blow raspberries around his rear end LOL. Does this mean he's train aggressive or that he hates spit filled tongues ? Not at all.. it just means that we blow the whistle to make fun of him and blow raspberries around his butt more often cuz it annoys him

- Deb

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PicOlio
Polo howls at a train whistle and will snarl if you blow raspberries around his rear end LOL. Does this mean he's train aggressive or that he hates spit filled tongues ? Not at all.. it just means that we blow the whistle to make fun of him and blow raspberries around his butt more often cuz it annoys him
Deb, what does Polo do when you blow raspberries around his bum? I wouldn't like that either.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 04:03 PM
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He can be in a DEAD SLEEP and let me tell you, when Polo sleeps he really could be diagnosed DEAD LOL but if you blow a raspberry around his bum.... his head pops up REALLY FAST and he wrinkles his lips in the silliest way as if to say "What is WRONG WITH YOU???? STOP THAT!"

It's the fastest simplest way to get this 100lb dead weight to move his butt! lol

- Deb

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Deb, I would love for you to take a picture of that someday!
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 04:06 PM
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There's a few things that Polo does I need to get pics of.... he's a strange one that's for sure. If you lookup Goofball in the dictionary his pic is there

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 04:07 PM
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In the shelter's defense, many of them are completely overloaded. It's a horrible decision to have to make but they may not have had time to devote to the dog and they have to choose the lesser of two evils.

This is an article that really says a lot about a shelter's choices to me:
http://dogs.about.com/cs/rescue/l/blreality.htm

Stephanie

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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You must share what other strange things he does! I know this thread is going off topic but it is too good not to share.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 05:39 PM
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The "temperament test" you described is unreliable, as it doesn't consider the fact that this dog could have simply had a dominant issue....in this case, I'm sure socialization and proper training would have solved the problem. None of this was taken into account. I believe they gave up on the dog too easily, but at the same time, they probably did this because:
a) they either have no time or clue about the training this dog needed
b) they were afraid that if it was adopted out and this happened, the situation would be even worse and they didn't want to chance it.

However, there are certain temperament tests which I do believe are somewhat accurate...but they don't just involve putting a hand in front of a dog's dish. That was one heck of an idiotic way to test whether a dog is stable or not.

Check out the American Temperament Testing Society. I believe they do quite a good job at testing a dog's temperament:
http://www.atts.org/
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 06:12 PM
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I'm with Jade on this one. I know our local rspca does this, amongst other tests. They are way overloaded and their thoughts on it are 'unfortunately we can't save them all and we will do our best to re-home the ones we know will make loving pets, we don't to see them back cause they bit.' While it's not the best thing ever, I can kind of understand why they do it for. The rspca here has other tests as well and if it just doesn't pass that one they just state 'not to be homed with small children' and 'needs to be booked into training before leaving.' The small child one is to prevent a child from sticking their hand in, not understanding what it means!

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-02-2004, 06:30 PM
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RE: "We can't save them all"

I totally agree..... it's akin to blaming everyone that walks in and then walks back out without adopting every available animal. Sometimes we just can't do it

- Deb

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animal planet, animal shelter, german shepard, humane society


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