CHAPTER 7: BEHAVIOURAL HEALTH

General

 

  • Rescue must take into consideration the behavioural health and well-being of each animal. 

 

Considerations on Intake 

 

  • All incidents or reports of a history of aggressive behaviour along with the context in which they occurred must be recorded as a part of an animal’s record. 

  • Care must be given to minimize stress during intake. 

 

Behaviour Evaluation 

 

  • Assessment of an animal’s behaviour must begin at the time of intake. 

  • Caregivers must be trained to recognize body language and other behaviours that indicate animal stress, pain, and suffering. 

  • Animals must be monitored daily in order to detect trends or changes in well-being and respond to their behavioural needs. 

  • If animals are displaying signs of unrelieved stress, steps must be taken to reduce the animal’s stress, and evaluate the rescue’s stress reduction protocols. Consultation with a trained professional such as a trainer or veterinarian may be required. 

  • Long-term confinement must be avoided for feral animals and for those that remain markedly stressed/fearful and are not responding to treatment/ behavioural care. 

  • Caregivers performing behaviour evaluations must receive adequate training in performance, interpretation. and safety. A documented behaviour assessment must consider all of the information gathered about the animal, including history, behaviour during their stay, and evaluation. 

 

Animals that pose a known danger to the public, have demonstrated dog-on-dog aggression, or could pose a danger to themselves must not be adopted.

 

Post-Intake Care 

 

  • Short-term housing must meet the minimum behavioural needs of animals, providing separate areas for urination/defecation, feeding, and resting and sufficient space to stand and sit or lie at full body length. 

  • Animals must be provided regular social contact, mental stimulation, and physical activity. 

  • For animals that are housed short-term (e.g., transfer of ownership or housing) and with unknown health status, social interaction must be avoided for biosecurity reasons. 

  • When animals must remain confined for health or behavioural reasons, positive social interaction should still be provided without removing the animal from the enclosure. 

  • A high priority must be placed on ensuring proper socialization of young animals, but it must be balanced with preventative medicine and biosecurity. 

  • Training methods must be based on positive reinforcement in accordance with current professional guidelines. 

  • Any animal that is observed to be experiencing mental suffering, distress, or behavioural deterioration must be assessed and appropriately treated immediately or euthanized. 

  • Practices (behaviour modification) must adhere to the well-described scientific principles of animal behaviour and learning, including positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, systematic desensitization, and counter-conditioning. 

  • Sufficient resources must be available to provide appropriate care if behavioural modification is attempted. 

  • Caregivers involved in behaviour modification techniques must understand that techniques are generally labour-intensive and time-consuming and that they must be applied consistently over a period of time in order to be successful. 

 

UNACCEPTABLE 

 

  • Animals kept in in a crate or small enclosure without appropriate elimination breaks, exercise, and daily enrichment, including social. 

  • The use of physical force as a punishment or in anger for behaviour modification. 

  • Animals kept in an unsecured outdoor environment. 

  • Failure to take action with an animal displaying serious behaviour issues. 

  • Adopting animals that pose a known danger to the public, have demonstrated overt aggression with the intention of inflicting damage or harm to another dog or person. 

Resources


“Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavioural Modification.” American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour.

https://avsab.ftlbcdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Dominance_Position_Statement-download.pdf


“AVSAB position statement on puppy socialization.” American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

https://avsab.ftlbcdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Puppy-Socialization-Position-Statement-FINAL.pdf

 

“AVSAB punishment position statement.” – in the process of being updated. American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour.

https://avsab.org/resources/position-statements/


“Feline behavior guidelines.” American Association of Feline Practitioners.

https://catvets.com/public/PDFs/PracticeGuidelines/FelineBehaviorGLS.pdf


“Animal rescue standards of practice.” Animal Welfare Advisory Network of BC.

https://www.pawsforhope.org/uploads/pdf/AWANBC_Rescue_Standards.pdf


“Special Adoptions.” Center for Shelter Dogs, Cummins School of Veterinary Medicine.

https://centerforshelterdogs.tufts.edu/dog-behavior/special-adoptions/

 
 
 
 
 
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