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19/11/01
'Matchmaking For Dogs' success

Finding your perfect canine companion could be easier in the future thanks to a series of psychometric tests, for both dog and owner, devised for the RSPCA.

Dr Rebecca Ledger, animal behaviourist at Brunel University, has the tests that aim to match a dog's temperament with the prospective owner's expectations, helping to cut down on the number of dogs returned to animal centres because of personality clashes. Dr Ledger's work is being highlighted exclusively on the BBC's Tomorrow's World programme, shown on Wednesday 14th November.

Every year the society rehomes more than 25,000 dogs, but sadly some are returned within weeks because the owners feel that the dog does not 'fit in'. This often leads the animal to suffer more stress as it is passed from home to home.

Dr Ledger carried out her research at eight RSPCA rehoming centres across the country. The scientific study involved with dogs undertaking a series of personality tests which determined their likely behaviour when rehomed. Potential owners who showed an interest in rehoming a dog were also given assessment tests. So far, trials have seen an average reduction of 27 percent in dogs being returned to the RSPCA.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer Chris Laurence said "We are excited about Dr Ledger's work. Dogs and owners often suffer unnecessary stress because of an unsuccessful homing. We hope that these tests will not only cut down on the distress caused to both dogs and their potential owners but will also save the RSPCA time and money."

The RSPCA is now considering implementing the dog matching assessments in all of its centres.