Comments on this post on Tamara Follett’s program of blatant self-promotion Canine-Threat Assessment Guide over at YesBiscuit annoyed me enough that I felt I had to write this post. Dangerous dogs aren’t born – they’re created by ignorant and / or inattentive owners. We don’t need a system to assess the potential danger a dog poses to society- we need one that puts responsibility squarely where it’s needed – on the shoulders of dog owners.
Dog Owner Threat Assessment Guide (DO-TAG)
Categorization of Dog Owners by Risk Factors
The goal of this draft guide is to provide a free, easy-to-use tool for authorities to employ in assessing a given dog owner’s risk to his dog and the public. The guide could allow local authorities to identify potentially problematic dog owners with regard to their real or potential threat so that limited resources can be focused on those dog owners most likely to have unplanned litters, encourage aggressive behavior in their dogs, let them run at large or otherwise engage in potentially dangerous and/or antisocial behaviors.
As one small step toward this goal I have created this draft assessment guide that lets you determine the level of threat you pose to society as a dog owner. The test not only places risk where it belongs, but it also allows your score to change over time. Answer each question honestly, sum up the points and see what kind of risk you present to society.
|1.||When you call your dog does he:|
|I would never let my dog off leash!||7|
|Only come if you have cheese or other treats in your hand?||5|
|Come unless he’s distracted?||3|
|Come as long as there are no large distractions like animals or people present?||2|
|Turn and come even if he’s at a full run after a critter.||-5|
|2.||When you are gone your dog is:|
|Running loose – he needs his freedom1!*||10|
|Chained up out front to scare off intruders.||12|
|Chained or on a tie-out in an area where people pass by.||8|
|Loose in an area contained by an invisible fence.||8|
|Loose in a fenced yard with people and dogs in adjacent areas.||6|
|In a secure kennel in a quiet area.||1|
|Loose in my house where he doesn’t get in trouble.||0|
|Crated in my house because he needs more training.||0|
|Crated in my house because he’s destructive and can’t be trained.||6|
|3.||When you walk your dog on leash:|
|I don’t have time to walk my dog, he gets plenty of exercise playing in the yard.||10|
|I have to do it at a time when no one is around because of his aggression.||10|
|He constantly drags me down the street no matter what I do.||8|
|I let him run loose to check out the neighborhood.||9|
|He’s good except when other people and dogs walk past.||3|
|He walks politely by my side even around distractions.||0|
|I don’t need the leash, he’ll heel around distractions without it.||-2|
|4.||When you groom your dog:|
|I have to muzzle him to touch parts of his body.||8|
|My dog doesn’t need any grooming.||10|
|I have to take him to a vet or groomer, I’m afraid to groom him.||9|
|He doesn’t like it but he puts up with it.||2|
|He enjoys grooming!||0|
|5.||When your dog misbehaves:|
|I lose my temper. The little b*$+d does it just to annoy me.||10|
|I get frustrated because it happens so often.||6|
|I sometimes ignore him because I’m busy.||8|
|I usually discover what he’s done after the fact.||8|
|I ignore it and hope the behavior will self-extinguish.||8|
|I scold or correct him then move on.||5|
|I correct the behavior then praise him for stopping or changing the behavior||1|
|I look forward to it as a training opportunity.||0|
|My darling little snookums never misbehaves!||15|
|6.||Your dog is:|
|The victim of terrible abuse and will to be treated with kid gloves forever.||10|
|My perfect baby.||10|
|Just a dog.||5|
|A dog with a dog’s needs and desires.||0|
|7.||When children are around:|
|I leave my dog alone with them. He’s perfectly safe.||10|
|I lock my dog up. He hates kids.||7|
|I watch the dog.||4|
|I always keep an eye on the dog and the kids.||0|
|My dog has never been around children.||8|
|8.||I have two or more dogs because:|
|I don’t have time to entertain one. This way they entertain each other when I’m busy.||10|
|I only have one dog because I don’t have time, space or money for more.||0|
|I only have one dog because my dog hates other dogs.||8|
|I have the time, energy, space, money and other resources I need to enjoy them all.||0|
|I know I can take better care of them than anyone else.**||20|
|9.||Your dog was:|
|Spayed or neutered at your request at less than six months of age.||2|
|Spayed or neutered at your request at more than six months of age.||0|
|Spayed or neutered before you got it.||0|
|Intact because he / she has papers.||8|
|Intact because he / she would feel bad without all his / her parts.||7|
|Intact because health and temperament tests show he / she is an excellent example of the breed.||0|
|Intact because the breeder wants a puppy back from him / her.||8|
|Intact because you’re too busy, broke or disorganized to deal with it.||10|
|Spayed or neutered for health reasons (this includes not being a great representative of his/her breed).||0|
|10.||Your dog obeys commands like sit, down and stay:|
|My dog doesn’t need training.||10|
|Only if I have treats in my hand.||8|
|Only if there are no distractions around.||8|
|When there are few distractions.||5|
|As long as there aren’t big distractions around.||3|
|Even around large distractions like other animals and people.||0|
* If you live in a rural area and the dog is a livestock guard dog give yourself one point, not ten.
** If this is really how you feel, get help. You may be a hoarder.
If your scored:
75 or more points – You are a Potentially Lethal Dog Owner. Unless you change your ways there is a significant probability that your dog will injure someone seriously or meet an untimely death himself because of your misbehavior. You have no business owning a dog of any kind.
50 to 75 points – You are a Dangerous Dog Owner. Your neighbors probably hate you – and your dog. People walk on the other side of the street to avoid you. There is a significant possibility that your dog will injure a person or another dog. Please get help!
40 to 50 points – You are a Problem Dog Owner. Everyone knows your dog – for all the wrong reasons. The police know where you live because of neighborhood complaints. The vet only pretends he’s happy when you come in. Some people avoid visiting you because they don’t want to deal with your dog. While he may never bite anyone, your dog runs a significant risk of being euthanized or rehomed for ‘his’ misbehavior.
30 to 40 points – You are an Annoying Dog Owner. Your neighbor likes you but sometimes secretly wishes you’d move away. Your kid’s friends don’t want to play with the dog. And the dog probably spends a lot of its time either being ignored or coddled (or – worse yet, dealing with the confusion of alternating bouts of each). Your vet likes you, but would give you a much less than glowing referral as a foster home.
20 to 30 points – You are a Reasonable Dog Owner. Your dog is rarely annoying and his behavior is getting better instead of worse. People are nearly always glad to see your dog and if they aren’t, he doesn’t bother them. Your vet would give you a good referral if a breeder or rescue group called.
Less than 20 points – You are an Excellent Dog Owner. Even if he started out with issues, you have a great dog. Friends and neighbors ask you for dog training advice.
This guide is a draft. You are free to copy, use, abuse, insult, change, throw out or otherwise adapt it any way you want. If you’ve got suggestions, post them as comments here. I’ll take the ones I think are best (hey – this is my blog) and post an update.