Among the best practices for dog daycare management, temperament testing (aka 'behavior evaluation') is a critical aspect of helping to ensure the success and safety of your business' dog daycare services.
Temperament tests enable you to identify which pets are 'qualified' or 'accepted' into your dog daycare facilities and programs, while reducing risk of accepting pets that may present behaviors exposing them, other dogs and your staff to injury.
Robin Bennett of Dog Gurus notes that any evaluation of dogs prior to inclusion in group play should include:
- Formal acceptance policy in place with defined behaviors required from dogs that participate
- Dogs evaluated individually for appropriateness to group play (e.g., means body language provides evidence participation is enjoyed and not just tolerated. (http://www.robinkbennett.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Daycare-Standards-Summary-List-Final.pdf)
Let's review the evaluation process first.
What is temperament? One author (Norma Bennett Woolf (Dog Owner’s Guide) describes temperament as “the general attitude a dog has towards other animals and people.” (http://www.hsi.org/assets/pdfs/temperament_dogs.pdf). Others may define temperament simply as the dog's 'personality'. More inclusively, Wayne Davis of the West Virginia K9 College offers this definition: “The physical and mental characteristics of an individual dog, made evident through its reaction to stimuli in its environment” (ibid).
A temperament test is a process in which your business evaluates a dog's physical and mental characteristics and it's reaction to the characteristics of other dogs - to help ensure their safety and success in group daycare.
A temperament test may include an initial 'interview' with the pet owner and pet, followed by introducing the dog into a play area with the other dogs to evaluate their behavior, body language, personality with other dogs, etc.
The test involves looking for any aggressive behavior towards the other dogs. Additionally, you are looking for general personality characteristics, such as separation anxiety, timidness, toy aggression, leash aggression and other behaviors that may present risk to the pet or other guests.
Check out this video published by Suite Paws in Raleigh of a temperament test involving multiple dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9NyS2rPoNg
Once you have determined the temperament of the pet, you can determine not only whether or not it is accepted into your daycare programs, but you may be able to better predict how the pet may react in various situations with various types of other pet temperaments. For example, just because a pet is not aggressive, perhaps it is shy and will not be a good fit to play with large rowdy dogs.
Formal Acceptance Policy
To help ensure your business maintains a verifiable process for evaluating and accepting (or not) pets into your daycare, develop a formal acceptance policy. This policy should outline the evaluation process, and behavioral and temperament traits required for acceptance, as well as those traits that would disqualify a pet from participating in your daycare (or define certain limitations for staying at your facility). Train your staff on your acceptance policies and ensure they are able to communicate them to your prospective customers.
Communicating the Pet's temperament to your staff: Use of Custom Icons to Tag Pets as Accepted, or Accepted with Limitations
Whether the pet has been accepted for admission into your daycare, or accepted with limitations, you will want to maintain records of the evaluation and have this information easily viewable whenever you are viewing pet information or reservation requests. In Gingr, you can use the 'Employee Comments' section in the Pet Profile, the Report Card function and the Custom Icons.
With respect to Custom Icons, think of these as 'digital sticky notes' that you can tag pets as to whether or not they did the temperament test, and whether or not they have been accepted into daycare. Your staff can then quickly see, whenever they are viewing the pet on the Expected/Check-In dashboard and Reservation Requests the status of that pet with respect to the temperament test. Additionally, you can run an Icons report to show the icons and notes tagged to all the pets in daycare for the day.
Consider training and designating specific staff to perform temperament tests, and to schedule these as appointments, so that your customers and staff know when they will be meeting for the evaluation.
In Gingr, you can also make an "Evaluation" reservation/appointment-type required prior to certain other reservations being available to a pet-customer. This automated feature can further help ensure that temperament tests are performed before accepting the pet into daycare. Ask us how this works! - Andy