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Behaviour Assessments

for Prospective Adopters and Fosterers & Fostering and Adoption Agencies

If you are considering adopting or fostering a baby or child or you are a professional from a fostering or adoption agency this page is for you!

Studies  have shown the great benefit of having dogs around children. Dogs can be especially helpful to children, in making emotional connections. Children who struggle with relating to others can often make emotional connections with dogs. Some studies have shown that children who had suffered adversity in their lives, such as illness, bereavement, divorce, instability and abuse or were from disadvantaged backgrounds, were more likely to have a stronger relationship with their pets than their siblings or peers. Dogs provide unconditional love, dogs teach children empathy, caring for a dog increases a child’s self-confidence and independence, communicating with a dog improves social and verbal skills.

Children often have a closer relationship with their pet than their siblings.

Prospective Adopters/Fosterers

Are you considering fostering or adopting a baby or child? There are lots of things that you will need to factor in and a fostering and adoption agency will advise you on the important factors to consider. As part of the process they will need to see your home and meet any family within that environment. This will include any pets that you may own. Potentially some dogs may pose a number of dangers to children from zoonotic transference of disease to accidentally knocking over a child, and these need to be recognised and guarded against where possible. Stringent hygiene and appropriate adult supervision will eliminate or significantly reduce most risks. Dog owners should be aware that the burden of evidence rests with them that the dog presents no serious risk.

The social Worker will complete BAAF Health and Assessment Form and Dog Ownership Questionnaire for each of the dog/s within the home.

What will Social Workers be Assessing?

Some of the key points that will be assessed are;

  • Has the dog ever bitten any person or other animal, and in what circumstances?
  • The dogs age.
  • What breed is the dog? If it is a crossbreed or mongrel what breeds is the dog made up of?
  • How long has the dog lived with the family & how old was it when it came to live with them?
  • Where does the dog eat, sleep, toilet?
  • How does the dog behave? Obedient and well behaved or overly defensive, excitable, demanding etc
  • How does the dog relate to each of the family members?

Sometimes Social Workers will request a report from either a qualified Veterinary Surgeon or Canine Behaviourist concerning the safety of a dog which they may believe may be dangerous in the company of children.

This is where we can help. We can come to your home and witness the dog within the home environment and undertake an assessment of the dogs behaviour. We can then provide you with a behavioural report that can be used to support your application. Sometimes this is required when cases go before a panel.

Please note. Private clients (the dog owners) although you are our client our reports have to be an accurate representation of your dogs behaviour. We cannot provide favourable reports if they are not accurate, the child’s welfare is paramount!

If the owner has any concerns about the dogs suitability to live with a child the Social Worker should be made aware immediately. If the child is already within the home environment the dog should be removed immediately.

The report is based upon the dogs behaviour as witnessed at the time of the assessment. It is recommended that a new assessment is undertaken if there is a delay in submitting the report or if a new dog is added to the household, both the existing and the new dog may need assessing. The owners should ensure that their dog has at least an annual health check and is up to date with any preventative health treatments as recommended by their Veterinarian.

If there are any changes in the dogs behaviour professional assistance should be sought immediately.

What’s involved in a Pre Fostering and/or Adoption Consultation & Behavioural Report?

You will be required to complete a fully confidential Behaviour Questionnaire prior to the consultation. This is to save valuable time during the Behaviour Consultation. Although we may need to clarify certain points with you upon meeting you and your dog.

We will need to see the dog and all of owners family who live/provide care for the dog, in the home environment. Often, dogs will behave very differently in different locations and with different people.

We will aim to offer guidance and management strategies and identify any weaknesses in the day to day control and management of the dog and supply practical strategies that can be implemented by owners to keep both the child and the dog/s safe.

All of our suggestions will be ethical with the sole aim of trying to ensure the child/s safety whilst meeting the dogs welfare needs.

Our assessment consultation lasts approximately 2 hours. Following on from this meeting I will provide owners with a Behavioural Assessment emailed to them within 48 hours of our meeting. Two further signed copies will be sent by first class post on the next working day following the emailed copy.

What’s included in a Pre Fostering and/or Adoption Consultation & Behavioural Report?

A 2-hour home visit within 10 miles of central Cardiff

Assessment of your dog

A Behaviour Report emailed to you within 48 hours of your consultation*

Two signed, hard copies of you Behaviour Report sent within 24 hours of your emailed copy*

A telephone consultation with your fostering/adoption agency to clarify any points raised within the report after they have received it

* We will strive to meet these timescales but unfortunately sometimes there may be a delay

Cost

 A Pre Fostering and/or Adoption Consultation at your home lasting two hours with a report, one copy emailed and two hard copies £175.

Prices are within 10 miles  radius of central Cardiff. Travel charges will be applicable to visits further than 10 miles from central Cardiff, charged at 50p a mile.

Assessments for Fostering and Adoption Agencies

Fostering & Adoption Agencies

Do you have clients with dogs? Have you completed the BAAF Health and Assessment Form and Dog Ownership Questionnaire and have some concerns or queries?

“Use A Specialist Assessor If The Situation Demands It”

Although in most cases a well-informed social worker should have the skills to undertake an assessment, there will be situations where they feel out of their depth. An assessing worker might be concerned about risk as a result of the dog’s breed, history, reported behaviour, observed behaviour or a combination of factors. In these cases a specialist assessment is recommended. Wherever possible fostering services should have established links with a dog-behaviour expert who understands fostering and adoption, and can provide a detailed and authoritative report. It may also be necessary to involve specialist assessment for other pets too, particularly where the potential for injury or harm is high.” Paul Adams, Fostering Development Consultant at CoramBAAF

We can help! We have been requested to supply behavioural assessments and reports either directly from adoption/fostering agencies or by those hoping to be considered to adopt/foster. Having a specialist report written by a professional, qualified and experienced Behaviourist can be beneficial and can help to mitigate any risks.

“As a former Local Authority Dog Warden and a Canine Behaviourist and Dog Trainer I have witnessed the devastation that a dog bite/attack can bring first hand and as a Pets As Therapy Assessor I also have seen the immense pleasure and the benefits associated with owning dogs, which is why my own children were brought up with family dogs”

Caroline Cowan BSc, MBIPDT, FP MT

Canine Behaviourist

What’s involved in a Pre Fostering and/or Adoption Consultation & Behavioural Report?

We would ask to read any repots undertaken by staff in relation to the dog/s behaviour.

Owners will be required to complete a fully confidential Behaviour Questionnaire prior to the consultation. This is to save valuable time during the Behaviour Consultation. Although we may need to clarify certain points with you upon meeting them and their dog/s.

We will need to see the dog and all of owners family who live/provide care for the dog, in the home environment. Often, dogs will behave very differently in different venues and with different people.

We will aim to offer guidance and management strategies and identify any weaknesses in the day to day control and management of the dog and supply practical strategies that can be implemented by owners to keep both the child and the dog/s safe.

All of our suggestions will be ethical and best practice with the sole aim of trying to ensure the child/s safety, safety whilst meeting the dogs welfare needs.

Our assessment consultation lasts approximately 2 hours. Following on from this meeting I will provide the client with a Behavioural Assessment emailed to them within 48 hours of the assessment. Two further signed copies will be sent by first class post on the next working day following the emailed copy.

What’s included in a Pre Fostering and/or Adoption Consultation & Behavioural Report?

A 2-hour home visit within 10 miles of central Cardiff

Assessment of the dog

A Behaviour Report emailed to you within 48 hours of the consultation*

Two signed, hard copies of you Behaviour Report sent within 24 hours of your emailed copy*

A telephone consultation with your fostering/adoption agency to clarify any points raised within the report after they have received it

* We will strive to meet these timescales but unfortunately sometimes there may be a delay

Cost

 A Pre Fostering and/or Adoption Consultation at clients home lasting two hours with a report, one copy emailed and two hard copies £175.

Prices are within 10 miles  radius of central Cardiff. Travel charges will be applicable to visits further than 10 miles from central Cardiff, charged at 50p a mile.

We never thought we would be able to take photos like these! Mabli, our little cockerpoo has huge stress issues and bringing a new baby into the family was a major concern for us. Thanks to Caroline’s invaluable advice we prepared Mabli well in advance – familiarising her with the pram, baby sounds etc and using a strategy for Mabli to cope with all the visitors that would be calling to see the baby. Thank you so much, Caroline, for all your help and support in the past and especially now with our special new arrival.

Ruth Davies with Mabli