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Qualified "in shelter" dogs' evaluation and training to promote successful dog-human relationships

By Marilena Sticco, Roberto Trentini, Pia Lucidi

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The phenomenon of dogs’ relinquishment in Italy has become a social evil, although many laws exist to regulate animal protection and lately, the act of abandonment has become criminalised (law n.189/2004, enforced by law n.201/2010). Adop tion fro m shelters seems t o be the only way to have a controlled, microchipped population of dogs, as well as limiting con-finement and euthanasia. After being asked to simplify the previous Ethotest © version [13] by many shelter operators and veterinarians, the authors aimed at analyzing the effectiveness of an improved model to test dogs’ behavioral ap-titude matching the expectations of a hypo-thetical adopter. The new version improves the test feasibility by the elimination of a previous computer-based program, and by the introduc-tion of new items such as hierarchical behavior towards food. In this study dogs housed in the sanitary shelter of L’Aquila (Abruzzo, Italy), of different age and sex, either sterilized or not, and belonging to different breeds or cross-breeds, were tested. All the dogs adopted from the shelter were monitor ed fo r one y ear after the adoption by both phone interviews and home visit. The study aimed at analyzing if the shelter dogs showed a good and consistent behavior after adoption in the new environment. The re-sults demon stra te d th at apart from a predictable relinquishment and an unfortunate case of abuse, none of the dogs adopted showed any unwanted behaviors such as house soiling, jumping up, separation-related and aggressive behaviors; this made their stay in the family a desirable, exciting experience independently of the dog sex, age, and the family composition. The authors stress the necessity of every shel-ter, together with the veterinary cares, for a professional expert at dogs’ behavior who can efficaciously prevent behavioral problems, eventually train the dogs and afford the pairing with humans in a competent, qualified manner.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Volume 1
Issue 3
Pages 135-144
DOI 10.4236/ojas.201 1.13018
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Marilena Sticco; Roberto Trentini; Pia Lucidi (2018), "Qualified "in shelter" dogs' evaluation and training to promote successful dog-human relationships,"

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  1. Adoption
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal shelters
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Dogs
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. pet adoption
  9. Pet ownership
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. training
  1. open access