Dog profiles key to rehoming success

Honest and clear description profiles are important for rehoming dogs.


With pet ownership – and rehoming – rising during the coronavirus pandemic, new research has found the content of description profiles could improve the long-term success of dog adoptions.

Many organisations use profiles to share information about the dogs in their care, and the research looked at how potential dog owners use these to assist their decision making when looking to adopt a pet.

Overseen by Dr Laura Dixon, Research Fellow at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), and Dr Morag Heirs, of Well Connected Canine Ltd and the University of Edinburgh, Masters student Lucy Monie also looked at dog reactivity – where dogs overreact to certain situations - as a specific behaviour issue, with these animals often being more difficult to rehome.

The research found the content of a description profile could increase the number of people rehoming and the long-term success of these adoptions - particularly for dogs with perceived challenging behaviours.

The study, which involved an open questionnaire and interviews with people with varying previous dog ownership and adoption experience, found potential owners put considerable effort into interpreting the terminology in the description to make a judgement on the ‘adoptability’ of the dog.

They also used their existing knowledge and experience to extrapolate beyond the information provided to imagine what living with the dog would be like.

People preferred descriptions which were honest and clear about the behaviours of the dog – for example, using the word ‘reactive’ rather than ‘doesn’t get on with other dogs’.

Those with previous dog experience said profiles using vague and unclear terminology didn’t adequately represent the future potential of the dog with the right care and management.

If the information wasn’t clear, it was also more likely to impact on the potential adopter’s confidence in their ability to cope with the dog.

However, posts which provided suggestions of how to manage the dog – such as the need for a garden or secure space – were considered helpful.

Morag said: "For many rehoming centres, each available dog is promoted via a picture or two plus a brief profile. Understanding how potential adopters might understand these summaries can assist in increasing the transparency of the descriptions, and help adopters form more realistic expectations of their new family member and their ability to cope.”

Lucy said: “This is a starting point in this area of research that may assist rescue organisations in writing their description profiles to increase the number of people rehoming and ensure a greater number of adoptions are successful - particularly those dogs with perceived challenging behaviours which are more difficult to rehome.

“Reducing the number of dogs staying longer than necessary in rescue organisations would also provide wider welfare benefits, enabling more dogs to enter and be rehomed.”

Posted by SRUC on 03/08/2022

Tags: Charity
Categories: Research | Animal Welfare