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Shelter Animals: The Dangers Of Temperament Testing Pets

Shelter Animals: The Dangers Of Temperament Testing Pets

What to know about animal temperament and how it affects shelter pets.

When walking into an animal shelter for the first time to adopt a new pet, the amount of pets to choose from can sometimes be overwhelming. Does your family want to adopt a dog, a cat or another kind of animal? Are you looking for a pet who will be high in energy or calm and cuddly? Would a big pet fit well into your family’s lifestyle or are you looking for a smaller breed of animal?

While answering these questions is often a good starting point before you head into an animal shelter, sometimes you will not know which type of pet is perfect for you until you lock eyes with them face-to-face.

Many people who adopt shelter pets will feel a certain connection with the pet that they decide to bring home―a connection that cannot be planned out or researched beforehand. Sometimes, when it comes to pets, you just get a feeling that tells you which adorable animal is just meant to be a part of your family.

However, just like you are sometimes not able to feel your connection with a certain animal until you get to know them, you also are not always able to determine their temperament until you take them home and they become comfortable around you―despite a test that some people have developed called “temperament testing.”

The idea behind temperament testing is a series of actions and tests that helps put animals into broad categories based on their personalities and actions. For instance, shy, nervous, playful, angry, independent, etc. While the general idea behind these types of tests may be good intentioned―pairing a pet’s personality alongside a family with similar traits―a pet’s temperament is so much more complex than a simple test, especially when you are talking about shelter animals.

The way a particular animal may react in a shelter environment may be completely different from how they will behave once they settle into a new home. This could be for a number of different reasons, such as stress because of their shelter situation, skittishness around certain people due to past situations, or even just shyness around people they do not know. However, once a pet is brought into a home where they feel comfortable, safe and loved, many of these behaviors will  begin to fade over time.

This is why temperament testing right off the bat can be very dangerous. You are essentially writing off an animal in a stressful situation who may actually turn out to be perfect for your family.

Also, even if a pet is found to have a small temperament problem that may make them difficult to re-home, these types of behaviors can easily be identified and singled out for behavior modification through foster homes or pet behavior classes. Therefore, temperament testing should never be used as a primary pass/fail test to identify whether or not a shelter pet would be a good fit for your family.

To learn more about how to determine which type of shelter pet may be a good fit for you, be sure to check out our blog on adopting shelter animals. For any other questions about homeless animals and adopting from an animal shelter, contact Texas Alliance for Homeless Pets today.

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