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Service dog selection tests: Effectiveness for dogs from animal shelters

By E. Weiss, G. Greenberg

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Assistance dogs are trained to help people with various physical and mental handicaps and are selected using a test comprising several behavioral components. Anecdotal reports have shown that only about 50% of the dogs selected successfully complete training and become assistance dogs. Traditionally training centers had used puppies, but recently some trainers have begun to use dogs from animal shelters and pounds. This study randomly chose 6 male and 3 female adult dogs of appropriate breed types, from a shelter environment and conducted an 11-item selection test on each. The dogs were then trained in both basic obedience and a retrieval task. No correlation between an animals' overall performance on the selection test and its ability to complete the retrieval task was found. Fear/submission behaviour traits, however, were predictable from the selection phase. It is suggested that further studies are needed to refine selection tests for adult dogs to be used as assistant dogs.

Date 1997
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 53
Issue 4
Pages 297-308
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(96)01176-8
Language English
Author Address Psychology Department, Wichita State University, Wichita, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Carnivores
  4. Dogs
  5. Guide dogs
  6. Mammals
  7. peer-reviewed
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. Selection
  10. shelters
  11. temperament
  12. tests
  13. training
  14. training of animals
  1. peer-reviewed