Dog behavioral assessment

Since the decree of November 10, 2008 relating to the behavioral evaluation of dogs, tens of thousands of evaluations have been carried out, in particular on dogs of 1st and 2nd category, but not only.

Zoom on the behavioral evaluations practiced, what they consist of, which dogs are affected, what is going on and what happens after the evaluation.

Behavioral assessment: what is it?

Behavioral assessment is an assessment imposed on so-called dangerous dogs or dogs that have bitten a person.

It is an examination performed by a veterinarian and aims to decide on the actual dangerousness of the dog in question.

Not all veterinarians can perform this assessment. To find out which veterinarian to contact, consult the departmental lists in the prefectures or in the DDPP (Departmental Directions for the Protection of Populations). However, it is normally ultimately the National Council of the Order of Veterinarians who should be responsible for the management of these lists.

Behavioral assessment: for which dogs?

Since 2008, behavioral evaluation is compulsory for all 1st and 2nd category dogs (to be carried out between 8 and 12 months of the dog) as well as for all dogs that have bitten a person (before the end of the 15 days of health surveillance ).

For dogs that have bitten a person, the bite must be declared to the town hall of the commune of residence of the owner of the animal. This declaration can be made by the owner himself, by a professional in the framework of his duties or by the mayor if he considers that the dog in question is dangerous.

In addition, the mayor may require the owner of the animal to undergo training in order to obtain a certificate of fitness. And if the master does not carry out the behavioral evaluation or the training requested by the mayor, his dog can then be placed in a place of deposition or, at worst, be euthanized if the mayor attests to a serious and immediate.

Clearly, the following are affected by behavioral assessment:

  •  1st and 2nd category dogs,
  •  dogs that have bitten a human,
  •  dogs that have not bitten but are considered dangerous.

Behavioral assessment: the process

In all cases, the conduct of the behavioral evaluation remains the same, whether the dog is of 1st or 2nd category, whether he has already bitten a human or not.

The veterinarian therefore carries out an examination to assess the possible dangerousness of the animal, the probability and severity of a possible bite as well as the possible degree of recurrence.

This will not have escaped you, I insist very much on the term “possible” because many dogs go through behavioral evaluation simply by facial offense and I personally find this shameful (but this is only my opinion).

The behavioral evaluation therefore consists of an examination allowing the veterinarian to observe:

  •  the dog outdoors,
  •  the dog during the clinical examination,
  •  the dog within the structure,
  •  the relationship between the owner and his dog,
  •  the dog’s ability to bear stress,
  •  a possible neurological disease or pain that can explain the aggression,
  •  the dog in its daily environment (observation is based only on the owner’s words).

In addition, the veterinarian assesses the potential severity of a bite according to the size of the dog, his physical capacities, his behavior but also according to the situations in which the dog is brought to evolve as well as the capacities of the master to manage and control his animal.

Behavioral Assessment: The Verdict

At the end of the examination, the veterinarian then classifies the dog according to the results, combining gravity and probability of bite, and a “level” is then assigned to it:

Level 1: No danger

Level 2: Low risk of dangerousness

Level 3: Risk of critical dangerousness

Level 4: High risk of dangerousness

Following the result obtained, the veterinarian makes suggestions for preventive measures depending on the level of classification.

For level 4, the veterinarian can advise a suitable placement or euthanasia.

For the other levels, the veterinarian offers preventive measures, depending on the level, such as:

  •  wearing a muzzle,
  •  put the dog aside in certain situations,
  •  secure the territory in which the dog evolves,
  •  put a sign at the entrance of the house,
  •  strengthen obedience,
  •  strengthen socialization.

The results of the evaluation must imperatively be transmitted to the mayor of the municipality and certain information (reason for the evaluation, dog category and level of danger) is transmitted to complete the national identification file for Domestic Carnivores (Icad).

Finally, for dogs of 1st and 2nd category, a renewal of the behavioral evaluation must be made:

  •  within 3 years for level 2 dogs,
  •  within 2 years for level 3 dogs,
  •  in the year for level 4 dogs.

For dogs that have bitten or are considered dangerous (without being in the 1st or 2nd category) there is no obligation to renew behavioral evaluation, unless the veterinarian recommends it.