Learning to understand the language of dogs
There is a world that is invisible to us, a world of smells. While we can observe a dog sniffing, then marking, we can’t smell or understand the odors he perceives. Dogs do not, however, use odours alone to communicate: they use facial expressions, postures and movements that we can observe, analyse and interpret. We can see and learn to understand the visual language of dogs. In order to learn about the communication of dogs, it’s no longer necessary to observe them for 5,000 hours, what we need is an ‘ethogram’.
An ethogram provides a useful tool for the evaluation of dogs, in that it makes it possible to produce less subjective evaluations, and to compare evaluations based on observable and recordable behaviours.
Tests such as the Ztp, CAL and DMA (Dog Mentality Assessment) were designed to evaluate and preserve the traits of working dog breeds.
Utility dog evaluation tests
Throughout the world, guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for the disabled, sniffer dogs used to search for illegal substances, and search and rescue dogs are selected using these tests.
Behavioural evaluation tests used in dog shelters
The goal of dog shelters is to promote and preserve animal welfare. However, shelters also have the task of taking in homeless dogs, and putting them up for adoption. This requires an evaluation procedure to determine which dogs are in reality suitable for re-homing, and the characteristics of suitable adoptive families.
Tests to evaluate aggressiveness
These tests were designed to evaluate the potential level of aggressiveness in individuals judged to be at risk, above all in countries with laws restricting the possession of certain breeds.