Behavior problems are a common reason owners cite for surrendering dogs to shelters. Moreover, the shelter environment is stressful and may induce problematic behaviors in sheltered dogs. An accurate and reliable understanding of behavioral tendencies and personality is important in determining a dog’s suitability for rehoming, need for behavioral treatment and intervention while in the shelter, and best placement when rehomed. The Center has begun an ambitious research program to validate the MATCH-UP II Behavior Evaluation, investigating its ability to identify common canine personality traits, reliability (consistency of measurement over time, place, and evaluator), and validity (accuracy in predicting behavior in the home). Projects include:
Formal reliability and validity assessments of the Behavior Evaluation are planned for 2011 and 2012.
- Identification of Canine Personality Traits Through the MATCH-UP II Behavior Evaluation- In this analysis, results of 668 evaluations of dogs sheltered by the Animal Rescue League of Boston from 2006 to 2008 were subjected to a principal components analysis, a statistical technique which looks for patterns of relationships amongst a set of variables. Variables which are related are thought to represent an underlying constuct or trait. Our analysis found four components, three of which reflect a common understanding of canine personality: Friendliness, Fearfulness, and Aggressiveness. A fourth component, Interest, appeared to reflect the dog’s anticipation of each test scenario. The findings provide support that the Behavior Evaluation’s test structure and coding do indeed identify elements of canine personality.
- Published abstract: Marder, A., Dowling-Guyer, S. (2010). Shelter dog behavioral assessments: Behavioral coding and personality. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, Volume 5, Issue 1, January-February 2010, Page 27.
- The MATCH-UP II Behavior Evaluation’s Predictive Accuracy of Behavioral Tendencies of Shelter Dogs -138 owners of shelter dogs adopted out by the Animal Rescue League of Boston between 2006 and 2008 participated in a telephone survey to describe their dog’s behavior in common situations encountered by dogs and owners. Results revealed that some behaviors identified by the Behavior Evaluation were highly likely to appear in the home, others were not, and for some situations, the results were more complex.