Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Miami area dog evaluation

I know. Two posts in as many days...what is wrong with me?

The reason for this post is to release the results of an evalaution I did in the Miami area just the other day. The dogs in question are up for transfer to Rescue and other venues and the people involved want me to release the results so that networking on these particular dogs can get rolling. They have been in place at a boarding facility for an extended time and really deserve a chance to get out into permanent homes.

So without further adeiu, let's get into the meat of this issue. I am posting the full text provided to the persons who brought me in. Dawn Hanna, a CPDT in the area, also administered a battery of SAFER tests to the same dogs. Her report will be available soon for those interested. IF you can help out with any of these guys please contact Debi Day on Facebook by PM, or you can email for info to There are also some YouTube videos available, so contact Debi if you want to see them.

 Dear Ms. Day:
On 30 June 2014, at your request I evaluated ten dogs at the Dog House boarding facility in Pompano, Florida. My evaluations were conducted in tandem with SAFER evaluations performed by Dawn Hanna. Following are my observations and recommendations.

Dog 1: Carl. Carl has suffered several minor injuries in recent disputes with other dogs according to the facility owner. Carl had a visible laceration to his lip that bled occasionally. Carl is a very energetic dog. When offered a treat he lunged strongly toward the treat item. He did accept the treat but did contact my hand while taking the treat, fully taking my hand into his mouth. He did not break skin but did make enough contact that a non-experienced person may interpret the contact as a bite or aggressive display.
Carl allowed full handling with no sensitivities. When presented with the loud noise/startle item he had limited reaction, and recovered normal behavior in less than 2 seconds. The second startle did not produce a significant reaction.
During the stranger approach he had neutral reactions to both “friendly” and “scary” strangers. He is neutral to human approach.
When Carl walked past a number of small dogs contained behind a solid fence he showed clear strong interest, responding to their barking and lunging with strong attempts to approach and engage. He was difficult to distract and remove. We continued and walked into the kennel area past barking dogs of various sizes and Carl was strongly attempting to make direct contact with most of the dogs. Carl was straining at the leash, lunging, and responding with barks and snarling. Carl bit at the fencing several times and was difficult to restrain. Carl could not be redirected into positive or neutral behavior.

Recommendation: Carl will require placement in a home with a very physically able caretaker. Carl will have to be heavily managed for dog-dog aggressive display and will require extensive desensitization for his dog-dog reactivity. Carl has a limited prognosis for recovery from that reactivity and may well require life-long management for safety. Carl did not redirect his dog-dog reactivity towards this handler and does not appear to exhibit any human focused aggression at this time.

Dog 2: Buster. Buster greeted me easily and confidently. Buster sits, both voluntarily and on command, and took treats gently. Buster showed no treat possessive behavior. Buster allowed me to fully handle him, but reacted to manipulation of his hips, particularly the left hip. Buster gave a single air snap at my hand when I grasped the loose flesh over that hip, and to a lesser extent showed sensitivity to manipulation of the right hip. Buster sat squarely though, with no indication of favoring either hip while sitting.
Buster showed a very strong startle reaction. He recovered from the first startle in about 5 seconds, and recovered in slightly less time (about 3 seconds) to the second startle. His reaction to the startle was to retreat and show wariness.
During the stranger interaction Buster was willing and eager to greet the friendly stranger. When approached by the scary stranger he took a position out in front of me, between me and the approaching figure. Buster did not bark or growl but showed forward, confident posture focused on the figure. Buster maintained the forward alert posture until the stranger retreated.
Buster was very calm walking through kennels despite the activity of the dogs surrounding. Buster did not return any aggressive display or engage the barking dogs at all.

Recommendation: Buster is an easy going, human accepting dog. Buster does show caution with the approach of a potentially threatening target, but that caution moderated and controlled. Buster was not allowed to engage the threatening target but was not retreating. Buster will possible show this protective behavior in a home environment, but his actions during the evaluation were reasonable and controlled. Buster should have Veterinary attention to the hips, and may require action. If no medical cause is found Buster should be gradually desensitized to hip contact and until that is done caretakers should be cautions around his hips.

Dog 3: Gia. Gia shows heavy, labored breathing which the facility owner states is due to a past tracheal injury. Gia greeted me easily. Gia did not sit but took the treat gently. Gia is very focused on positive human contact.
Gia responded to the startle but had a quick (<3 seconds) recovery time and showed no lasting apprehension.
Gia showed a completely neutral reaction to the approach of the friendly stranger. On approach by the scary stranger Gia went out in front of me to the end of the lead took a solid posture and barked several times but then followed up the barking with play solicitation behavior (play bow, energetically wagging tail, wriggling body).
Gia had a neutral reaction to walking past the kennel dogs and proceeded through the kennel in a steady walk.

Recommendation: Gia needs Veterinary attention to the respiratory issues. Gia’s labored breathing may be interpreted by unskilled or inexperienced persons as a low level growl, but there were no indications that the audible rumbling of her breathing was any more than a manifestation of the alleged injury. Gia is a confident and playful dog and has limited to no sensitivity to other dogs.

Dog 4: Prince. Prince greeted me easily, but does have a tendency to jump up. He took treats easily and gently but does not show a sit.

Prince allowed me to fully handle him, including his teeth, tail and paws.
Prince did startle but recovered both times very quickly (<2 seconds) with very little reaction to the second startle. He easily greeted the friendly stranger.
Prince did take a forward position towards the scary stranger, keeping between me and the approaching figure. He did not bark or lunge but was cautious and kept a solid stance.
Prince was reactive but selective in dog-dog interactions. He ignored most barking dogs in the kennel, but did react strongly to a few individuals, trying to actively engage and fight with them. He was difficult to disengage from those individual dogs. The dogs he engaged with were of varying sizes and types so there did not seem to be an observable common thread. These may have been dogs he has had prior history with, although the facility owner says not.

Recommendation: Prince is a friendly dog in need of some manners, but accepts human contact well. Prince’s caution to the scary stranger was reasonable and controlled. Prince does have clear dog-dog issues with particular dogs and will require careful and competent management. If a commonality can be identified over time then a specific desensitization program can be instituted, but unless that can be established then Prince will require close and competent management when in contact with other dogs.

Dog 5: Max. Max was brought out to me and greeted me immediately, head up, tail wagging, calm and relaxed. Max took treats immediately and gently and sat when requested. Max took treats willingly and with control. Max allowed full handling including paws, tail ears, and head/mouth.

Max responded with a strong startle when the noise source was initiated, but recovered very rapidly (<5 seconds) to a relaxed and calm posture. After the second startle stimulus he was more watchful, but still returned to a relaxed stance within 5 seconds.

Max’s response to the friendly stranger was very positive and welcoming. Max appeared to be somewhat frightened by the scary stranger and retreated behind my position cowering slightly.

Max was calm around the barking dogs, walking with relaxed posture and generally ignoring most of the others. Those dogs that Max did attend to he greeted with proper relaxed body position and appropriate greeting behavior.

Recommendation: Max appears to be a well-adjusted, human focused dog that readily socially interacts with people. Max reacts well around other dogs, even those exhibiting potentially threatening or aroused behavior. Max is highly likely to succeed in a permanent placement with owners accepting of a large, affectionate and stable dog.

Dog 6: King. King showed calm greeting skills-no jumping or inappropriate contact. King showed minimal response to the audible startle stimuli, and recovered very quickly (<2 seconds) from each occurrence. King allowed me to fully handle him and manipulate his paws, tail, head and mouth. King easily and gently took treats.

King observed the friendly stranger and showed willing, voluntary and positive approach behaviors. King’s reaction to the scary stranger was generally accepting, with only slight interest in the stranger’s erratic behavior.
King walked easily down the kennel of barking dogs, with minimal interest, more focused on my actions and accepting of the loud and disorganized behavior of the other dogs.

Recommendation: King is human focused and shows positive interaction skills. King shows no indication of dog-dog reactivity.

Dog 7: Indo. Indo had issues during the inside evaluation with Dawn Hanna (see her notes and report to obtain details). When I first encountered Indo he was indoors. There was a small amount of blood on the floor, apparently from a freshly engorged tick that he scratched off and was killed.

The inner surfaces of Indo’s ears were red and visibly inflamed. The conjunctiva (soft tissue) and the sclera (white portions) of both eyes were clearly red and inflamed. Indo should be seen by a Veterinarian at the earliest opportunity to address these health issues.

Indo greeted me easily, took treats readily and with a gentle mouth, and willingly rolled on his back voluntarily showing no reticence or signals of stress. Despite the apparent inflammation of his ears Indo allowed me to fully handle him, including examining his ears and checking his eyes closely. Indo took treats gently.

Indo showed a mild reaction to the audible startle stimulus, and recovered very quickly both times (<2 seconds).

Indo greeted the friendly stranger calmly giving appropriate engagement signals. Indo showed a clear intention to make positive contact with the stranger. When confronted with the scary stranger Indo took a position in front of me, between me and the stranger, but did not bark or growl. Indo simply stood watching the stranger.

Indo did not show any particular interest in the barking dogs as we walked the kennel.

Recommendation: Indo’s behavior must be evaluated as a composite of my observations and Dawn Hanna’s observations. My assessment is that Indo requires Veterinary attention for the ear and eye issues. His behavior regarding human contact was very positive. Indo further showed no dog-dog reactivity.

Dog 8: Goose. Goose greeted me easily and readily, showing appropriate controlled greeting behavior. Goose does have minor paw and lip injuries, so I did not manipulate that particular paw. Otherwise Goose allowed full, willing contact. Goose readily and gently took treats.
Goose showed a mild reaction to the audible startle and recovered quickly (<3 seconds) from each.

Goose showed positive greeting behavior toward the friendly stranger. Goose was neutral to the scary stranger.

While walking the kennel Goose was largely uninterested in the other barking dogs. To those dog in whom Goose showed interest his posture and approach was positive and appropriate.

Recommendation: Goose did not show any concerning behavior. Goose seems to willingly accept human contact, solicits that contact voluntarily, and shows neutral to accepting behavior towards other dogs with no observed reactivity.

Dog 9: Jethro. Jethro greeted me easily and positively. Jethro took treats well and allowed full handling, including ears, tail, paws and mouth.

Jethro showed minimal reaction to the audible startle, recovering quickly (<3 seconds).

Jethro greeted the friendly stranger appropriately, initiating positive contact. While waiting for the scary stranger Jethro pulled slightly against his collar and the weak plastic buckle released, allowing Jethro to be loose. Despite the ability to roam freely Jethro came quickly when I called him. He was easily placed back on the lead and walked quietly past the small dogs barking in the yard area adjacent to the testing area. Jethro was not tested in the kennel runs since the collar had failed and there was not another collar readily available.

Recommendation: Jethro showed very positive human interaction, even coming willingly when presented with the opportunity to range freely. Jethro did not show dog reactivity towards the small barking dogs adjacent to the test area.

Dog 10: Tiffany. Tiffany came out and greeted me fairly easily. She did not show any sensitivity to handling or contact and took the treats well.

Tiffany startled but recovered quickly (<5 seconds).

Tiffany’s collar completely failed and she did break free. Tiffany did not recall readily, but the two strangers (out of character) were able to quickly contain her, including one of the strangers who grabbed Tiffany around the neck and shoulders against a wall. Despite the sudden corralling in a corner by a complete stranger (no contact had been made yet) Tiffany was accepting and easily restrained. The test was terminated at that point.

Recommendation: Tiffany appears to be very human focused and willing to accept even sudden human contact under a potentially stressful situation.
SUMMARY: None of the dogs tested showed any clear aggressive behavior towards humans. The dogs noted above did show reactivity and sensitivity towards other dogs, and will have to be managed safely and given rehabilitative training.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to assist in the evaluation of these dogs.


James W. Crosby CBCC-KA
Behavior Consultant
Jacksonville, Florida

Full medical records for these dogs are available at request. Again, please contact Debi Day for further information. These guys could really use a hand.

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