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Am I Safe? DVD


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What’s It About?

Learn how to conduct behaviour assessments including what to look for in the dog’s behaviour, how to document areas of concern (information for accessing online forms and rating scales are included), and how to determine if problem areas can be improved using behaviour modification techniques. Rescue groups and shelters will find this information useful and safe to apply.

Am I Safe? also explores the validity of assessment protocols and why they are important for anyone involved in the re-homing of companion animals. This video is highly educational for dog professionals, not just those in a shelter or rescue environment, who want to see the broad range of behaviours exhibited during behaviour assessments.

Sarah is a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant and a Certified Pet Dog Trainer.

Release date  2006 Dogwise Publishing

Running time– 3 hours 44 minutes


Every year thousands of unwanted dogs end up in rescue organisations. Often very little or even nothing is known about these dogs and in order to successfully rehome them, it is of paramount importance to determine whether the dog is safe or has any negative issues.

In this DVD, Sarah Kalnajs, certified dog behaviour consultant and  dog trainer, provides extensive and in-depth instructions about how to conduct behaviour assessments. She explains what we should include, how to carry them out, what behaviours we should look out for and how to ensure handler safety.

A must have for any dog professional working with rescue dogs, this DVD will enable you to form accurate personality profiles, allowing you to determine which dogs are suitable for adoption and which require more training.

Kalnajs begins by looking at why we evaluate dogs. She discusses some of the reasons  why it is useful, which include allowing us to determine the best home for the dog and establishing where they might have problem areas. She continues by explaining what we should look for in an assessment, such as a dog that is sociable towards humans and other dogs, tolerant and not overprotective, one that you would welcome into your own home, does not pose a threat to society and is not suffering from untreatable injury or illness.

Kalnajs then moves on to discussing factors that could influence normal or abnormal behaviour such as genetic predisposition, breeding, physical health and socialisation.

She also examines the assessment team, explaining that this needs to consist of four different people – a primary handler, a secondary handler, a videographer and a note taker. She continues by explaining these four roles in more detail. Kalnajs then looks at which kind of dogs we might test, adding that it is her belief that all dogs that come in should be tested in order that we might be able to gain as much relevant information about them as possible. She also reiterates the importance of re-testing after a period of time.

Kalnajs then demonstrates through video footage what she typically includes in a full behaviour assessment. This includes;

  • Standing affiliation
  • Sitting affiliation
  • Stroke affiliation
  • Sit and down
  • Body handling
  • Paw handling
  • Mouth handling
  • The hug
  • Muzzle you
  • Play/ arousal
  • Resource guarding
  • Visual startle
  • Meeting other animals
  • Dog-dog testing

Before carrying out the assessment, Kalnajs first recommends observing the dog in his kennel. She shows us how to go about doing this, using a video clip to show both positive and negative things to look for.

Kalnajs then goes through each of the above components of the assessment in more detail. She explains how to carry out each test, including looking at aspects such as positioning of the handler to ensure safety. She discusses both the positive and negative things to look out for, and shows a variety of different dogs, therefore allowing us to see and understand all kinds of reactions, from fearful, to aggressive to normal.

Kalnajs explains the purpose of each test and how it is designed to relate to everyday life. She shows us what we can learn from the dog’s reaction to each test, and how this information can help us to determine what further training is required or what kind of home will be suitable. Throughout, Kalnajs points out and explains important concepts as and when then come up, such as active and passive submission, redirection of aggression and the link between arousal and aggression.

Klanajs then takes some time to talk about adoption counselling, explaining what kind of information we need to give to prospective adopters.  She also discusses her thoughts on working with your favourite breed, adding why she doesn’t feel this is always beneficial. Kalnajs next shares some tips and guidelines about having foster dogs in your home.

Finally, we are shown are a real life example of a behaviour assessment from start to finish with a dog that had been tested 6 months previously.

Comprehensive and easy to follow, Pat Miller describes Sarah Kalnajs as, “an engaging speaker who appears very at ease and knowledgeable in the subject matter. A very well done and informative DVD.”


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