A temperament test is only as good as the person who is administering the test
By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger
After various business and legal considerations as well as reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of offering daycare to your customers, you’ve decided to commit. You know the trend in today’s doggy day care industry is toward cage-free facilities, where dogs are kept in groups for the majority of the day. You found a temperament test to help increase chances for a safe environment for these dogs. Now, what else should you consider? How about these 5 points:
Formal Acceptance Agreement
Ensure your facility maintains a verifiable process for evaluating and accepting dogs into your daycare or boarding by having an Owners Agreement. This agreement should outline the temperament test process, and identify what behavioral and temperament traits are required for acceptance as well as those that disqualify the dog from participating.
All staff should be trained on your facility’s acceptance policies and be able to communicate them clearly to prospective customers.
Those performing the test need to be adept at reading dog body language. If not, the chances of something going wrong when the dog is in a playgroup increases. Rather than train your entire staff, you may want to consider training and designating specific staff to perform the temperament tests.
Standardization is key
The dictionary definition of temperament is, “The manner of thinking, behaving or reacting characteristic of a specific person” while the definition for personality is, “The pattern of collective character, behavioral, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits of a person.” Both are pretty vague, so using a form which scores the dog’s behavior and personality standardizes the process, especially if several staff members are doing the test.
You will want to maintain records of the evaluation and have this information easily accessible whenever you are looking at the dog’s information or reservation requests. The content should include if the dog was accepted or not (and why) as well as any limitations for the dog.
Scheduling of Tests
Consider scheduling these appointments so your customers and staff know when they will be meeting for an evaluation. This will all staff time to insure the proper dogs are available to be “testers” and they have the time to do a quality job. I know it can be frustrating to customers to hear that they need a temperament test prior to beginning services. Explaining that the test is meant to keep their “fur baby” safe along with outlining the process should reassure most customers.
Most dogs experience some level of stress when they are away from their owners. Things that an owner would never think of their dog doing might just happen because the dog is more stressed out. Your customer wants their dog to be perfect so it is important to share more insight than, “your dog did great.” Going into detail on the results may also help should future problems arise since the owner was already told of the traits and actions of their dog.
If the dog failed to pass the test, explain the reasons. Many times dog training can improve a dog that lacks confidence or has aggressive tendencies because it involves teaching boundaries and self-control. Sharing this information with a potential customer might be the thing that makes that customer want to come back to you in the future.
No matter how involved you want your test day to be, you can be assured that with a proper evaluation the dogs in your care will be safer because you took the time to assess each dog as an individual and considered these points.
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