Canine Behavior Specialist - Behavior and Training - North Idaho

Behavior and Training

Behavior Testing

All dogs entering our Adoption Center who are over six months old are generally tested within 72 hours of ownership by the shelter. Strays and dogs placed in our care by Animal Control are not tested until the required hold time has lapsed and the dog has not been reclaimed by the owner.

Dogs under the age of six months are not tested because their behaviors and personalities are not fully developed yet. If a young untested dog remains in the shelter until after it reaches six months of age, it is tested at that time. Any dog remaining unadopted for six months and/or showing significant changes in behavior while under our care is retested to ensure the most current and accurate information.

Behavior Challenges

Out of necessity, dogs are confined to individual kennel runs a large portion of the day. This confinement can be stressful and may lead to both health and behavior issues. Volunteers are able to reduce kennel stress by taking dogs for daily walks, giving them both a social outlet and an opportunity to absorb sites, sounds and smells that are lacking in the Adoption Center.


To further enrich the dog’s life, we offer the following diversions:

  • Participation in activities outside the shelter such as Outreach Events.
  • Pawsitive Works training where dogs receive clicker training by local at-risk youth selected for this program.
  • During warmer weather, dogs are provided with supervised swim and play time in our outside fenced area(s).
  • When we have snow on the grounds, dogs are allowed supervised group “frolic in the snow” time.
  • Puzzle toys that help to stimulate the dog’s mind in a positive manner.
  • Temporary housing in one of our “feature” rooms which provides more room, a more “home” type environment and the opportunity to socialize with both the public and other dogs.
  • Time spent in our socialization room with potential adopters, volunteers and/or staff to help expend pent-up energy.

Should you wish to have your own dog assessed or have questions about behavior issues you may be experiencing with your dog, contact the shelter for further information.

Our Efforts

The Panhandle Animal Shelter employs a Canine Behavior Specialist to determine the unique characteristics of each dog to ensure the proper handling by staff and volunteers. This determination enables the shelter staff to better match potential adopters to a dog that would best suit their lifestyle and family dynamics.

Our Canine Behavior Specialist also works with the public to assist in modifying behaviors to allow a dog to remain in its current home. This aids in reducing the number of dogs being surrendered and needing to be re-homed.

What is a Behavior Specialist?

A Canine Behavior Specialist is a person who utilizes their education, training, experience and developed skills relating to canine behavior to assess the general behavior of dogs through the use of a standardized Canine Behavior Assessment test. The Panhandle Animal Shelter has chosen to use the SAFER test because it is widely used in other shelters across the United States and is the test recommended by the ASPCA, the oldest and most respected animal protection association in America. Using a test that is widely used allows for dogs to be transferred from one shelter or rescue to another with a clear and consistent understanding of how the dog was assessed.