Introduction to the ACC Canine Behavior Assessment

An animal's heredity, history, and environment all impact their behavioral responses. Being housed in a shelter environment is incredibly stressful, both physically and emotionally. ACC's Behavior Department takes all of these factors into account when we assess each individual animal, and we do our best to reflect all known and observed behavior. However, no behavior evaluation is flawless and this evaluation is not a guarantee of future behavior. ACC's canine behavior determinations include Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 (all of which are available for public adoption) as well as New Hope Only, dogs available to our rescue partners.

Level 1

Dogs with Level 1 determinations are believed to be suitable for the majority of homes. These dogs are not displaying concerning behaviors in the shelter, and the owner surrender profile (where available) is positive. Some dogs with Level 1 determinations may still have potential challenges, but these are challenges that the behavior team believe can be safely handled by the majority of adopters, and that occurs with fairly low frequency and intensity.

Level 2

Dogs with Level 2 determinations are believed to be suitable for adopters with some previous dog experience. They will have displayed behavior in the shelter (or have owner-reported behavior) that requires some training, behavior management or modification. Dogs with a Level 2 determination may have multiple potential challenges and these may be presenting at differing levels of intensity, so careful consideration of the behavior notes will be required for counseling.

Level 3

Dogs with Level 3 determinations will need to go to homes with experienced adopters, and we strongly suggest that the adopter have prior experience with the challenges described and/or an understanding of the challenge and how to manage it safely in a home environment. In many cases, we recommend consultation with a qualified, force-free, reward-based trainer in the future home. Some of the challenges seen at Level 3 are also seen at Level 1 and Level 2, but may be seen at a greater frequency and higher intensity.

Level 4

Dogs with Level 4 determinations will need to go to homes with experienced adopters. The behavior challenges seen at Level 4 are seen at a much greater frequency and higher intensity than the other dogs in our care. We strongly suggest adopters have prior experience with the challenges described; have the ability to provide the dog with a sufficient quality of life and with an environment in which they can succeed; and have an understanding of safe, lifelong management of these behaviors in a home. Thorough counseling with the Behavior Department is highly recommended prior to any interaction or adoption. Consultation with a force-free, reward-based trainer in a future home is also strongly advised.

New Hope Only

Dogs with a New Hope Only determination have shown behaviors that pose a higher level of risk if not carefully managed. We believe these dogs require immediate intervention, a behavior modification plan, evaluation, and thorough counseling from a force-free, reward-based trainer or a veterinary behaviorist before placement into a permanent home.