Big Dog Master Class Block 1 - A new look at 50 years of data about behavioral incompatibilities and dog relinquishment to shelters

Recorded On: 03/29/2022

Presenter: Janis Bradley, Director of Communications and Publications, National Canine Research Council

An examination of 12 peer reviewed papers on pet relinquishment, 6 on dogs who were returned after being adopted, and 14 on the behaviors of dogs living in homes revealed no strong evidence supporting the prevailing belief that behavioral incompatibilities are a primary risk factor for owners surrendering their pets to shelters. Only 2 studies (one from the 1990’s and the other published in 2000) in the literature contained actual risk analyses of specific behaviors. Neither found strong evidence of behavioral risk factors. Dogs living in homes do not appear to be behaviorally different from dogs living in shelters. Moreover, the studies on dogs living in homes revealed no consensus regarding behaviors that owners considered problematic or how any of them affected their satisfaction with the relationship. When combined with the low validity levels and poor predictive ability of battery style behavior evaluations commonly administered in shelters, the relinquishment literature makes the use of such instruments highly questionable. What does this mean for adoption policies and placement procedures in shelters?

Learning Objectives:
- Analyze claims of risk factors and reject those that do not meet basic scientific definitions
- Develop adoption policies and procedures free of behavioral bias regarding the shelter population of dogs
- Develop adoption counseling procedures free of generalizations about adopter expectations
- Understand and be able to explain the inefficacy of battery behavior evaluations

Have questions about this topic? Visit Maddie's Pet Forum:

Earn 1.0 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credits from The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and from the National Animal Care & Control Association.

This course has been approved for 1 hour of continuing education credit for each block of presentations until February 14, 2024 in jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval. Pass the quiz with a score of 70% or higher to access your CE certificate and then upload it to This is the broker that the AAVSB uses to track your continuing education credits.

animal behavior, big dogs, large dogs, Maximize In-Shelter Welfare, Maximize physical and behavioral health, Animal & Population Management, Strategic & Operational Planning, Policies & Procedures, webcast

BD Day 1

Components visible upon registration.