In order to understand a dog’s behavioral needs, behavior should be carefully monitored starting at intake and continuing daily thereafter. An Intake Form [PDF] which includes a dog’s behavioral history, is important in order to understand a dog’s needs in a shelter.

A formal behavior evaluation is recommended to increase knowledge of a dog’s behavioral traits and needs. There are numerous evaluations available or shelters may choose to create their own. Evaluations should be implemented in a standardized manner each and every time, minimizing the effect of the evaluators, the setting, and other distractions. Evaluations should be validated with published reliability and validity data. As we are learning, behavior evaluations in the shelter may not be great at predicting problem behavior in the room, therefore, results should be interpreted with caution. Results of an evaluation can help shelters look at a dog as an individual, identify stress and the need for enrichment, and decide on behavioral interventions if necessary. This is very important in order to find the most suitable home for a shelter dog and to make the best dog-adopter matches.