All Chesapeakes entering into the ACC Rescue Program are to be evaluated for their temperament and health. This allows the ACC Rescue Volunteer to know the dog’s temperament and for what home the Chesapeake is best suited. Therefore, you should evaluate the dog for health, temperament, and level of training.

Keep in mind during your evaluation "Does this dog have any serious health problems and will it be a risk to the community?".

Most dogs that are being given up to rescue or a shelter because of their lack of house manners, lack of obedience training, and for aggression. Occasionally, a dog is given up because the owner is relocating; the owner has entered into a new relationship were one party does not want the dog; the owner has no time for the dog; or the owner has passed away. They are not necessarily bad dogs. But bad owners or the choice of the wrong breed.

Please keep in mind that not all Chesapeakes are suitable for all populations such as with children, women, men, or the elderly. This screening will help determine the most appropriate home for this Chesapeake, and if it is a candidate for placement. When doing your evaluation work with the ACC Evaluation Checklist form supplied to you in this section and please make the necessary notes.

Unless it is a shelter dog, please bring with you to the evaluation screening The ACC Rescue Network Listing Application Form that the owner has completed for you. This form will give you a good indication of the Chesapeake’s behavior. Do not wear business clothes, as they could be ruined; no dangling items; and minimal jewelry. Bring Handy Wipes and wash your hands well after examining the dog. If you are going to a shelter to evaluate the dog, please remember to change your clothes and shoes when returning home. Shelter dogs can be carrying unwanted viruses.

Health Evaluation Screening

To start your evaluation, begin with the health of the dog. Refer to the ACC Network Listing Form. This should be done at home before you go in person to evaluate the dog.

  1. Check to see if the dogs shots are current
    • Rabies
    • DHLPP
    • Corona
    • Bordatella

    Vaccination tags or records should be made available to you by the owner. In some cases the shelter will have this information from the owner who turned in the dog. Vaccinations should be documented by their licensed veterinarian.

    If this dog was a stray and turned into a shelter, please ask the shelter if they have given this dog a series of shots.

  2. Is the dog on Heart Worm medication.

    Many rescue dogs are not on Heart Worm medication. If this is the case, the dog must be tested for Heart Worm before the dog can be placed. Strays must be tested for Heart Worm. Please be aware that shelters do not test for Heart Worm.

  3. Is the dog receiving any special medication for an illness
  4. When was it’s last fecal exam
  5. Does the dog have any chronic illnesses
  6. Please note if the Chesapeake is exhibiting any signs of:
    • Skin rashes
    • Lameness Front or Rear

    • Extreme hair shedding

    • Runny nose

    • Odd smelling ears or breath

    • Vomiting

    • Eye infections

    • Diarrhea

    • Sutures (stitches)

  7. Please note if the Chesapeake is showing any:
    • Fleas
    • Ticks
    • Ear mites
    • Skin mites, diseases such as mange

This information will determine exactly what status the dog's health is. On the Ownership Rescue Network Listing Application Form, the owner should have indicated the name of their veterinarian. If you have any unanswered questions, please call the vet's office and identify yourself. Most vets' offices will gladly cooperate with you.  Back to Top

Temperament Screening Evaluation

When evaluating any dog, familiarize yourself with the Body Language sheet in this section. You must also know the Chesapeake Breed Standard and the behavior patterns of the breed. Please note that when evaluating a dog for body language you MUST look at the whole dog. Always watch the dog from nose to tail. The wagging of a dog's tail is not always an indication of a welcome.

While looking at the Body Language sheet, please note the position of the dogs' ears and tail. These are very good indications of the dog's mood, which can change rapidly. A dog can change from a Greeting Ritual to Aggression in the blink of an eye. Quote from the artist Frederick Frank in The Art of Seeing, "We often look, but we rarely see". Watch for changes in the dogs breathing pattern, compression of lips, his pupils, position of his ears, tail, and body posture.

If you have read the ACC Rescue Listing Network form, you will note what the owner has indicated the personality of the Chesapeake. Please be aware that on occasions owners do not always tell the whole truth, in the hopes of their dog being placed. Also inexperienced dog owners may not know the difference between fear and aggression. Therefore, this is why the dog should be evaluated. ACC Rescue for both safety and liability will not place aggressive dogs with a biting history. If at any time during the evaluation you feel uncomfortable about the dogs’ behavior, stop the evaluation. DO NOT push a Chesapeake.

Knowing the Breed Standard and Behaviors, keep in mind that Chesapeakes can be protective, standoffish to strangers, territorial, some are smilers, while others are talkers, and can be dominant. What may seem as an unusual behavior to an inexperienced owner not knowing the breed, may be normal to us. Be aware that many Chesapeakes coming into rescue were purchased thinking that they were a Golden or a Labrador. This is most prevalent in puppies purchased from a Backyard Breeder, a Pet Shop, a gift, or given away..

While using the ACC Rescue Evaluation Checklist, copy in this section, remember that most of these dogs have little or no obedience training. This does not make them a bad dog. We are looking to see if the dog is people-oriented, sociable, comfortable being touched, shows any signs of stress or aggression. Ask yourself if this dog would be a risk to the community, or a devoted companion.

Listed below are some suggestions for an evaluation:

  • What was the dogs reaction when you rang the bell and entered the house? Some evaluators prefer to evaluate a dog on neutral territory such as a parking lot or a park. This may not show the dogs’ true temperament. But in some cases necessary for convenience.
  • Can you approach the owner and shake hands?
  • Will the dog allow you to pet him? When approaching a dog your posture should be natural; the tone of your voice should be friendly and natural; your movements should be smooth not stiff or quick; have secure footing at all times. Extend the palm of your hand to the dog to smell by going under the jaw.. DO NOT bring your hand over the dog’s head and come straight down. If the dog is fine, remember to watch for the body language, you can proceed with the petting. DO NOT at anytime stare into the dogs' eyes for a length of time, and DO NOT put your face by the dogs’ face.
  • What is the dogs reaction to a startle? Drop a large book or 2 pots. Watching the Body Language, does the dog show curiosity and allow you also to pick them up. DO NOT DROP ON THE DOG, allow at least 5 feet between the dog and the object dropped..
  • Overall exam. Remember DO NOT put your face where the dog can bite you. Remember to ask if the dog has an ear infection or hurt pad. See if you can touch the ears, legs then the feet, and the tail. Talk softly to the dog as you do the exam.. If you hear a low growl stop immediately and go no further. DO NOT push a Chesapeake.
  • Look at the Chesapeake in a non threatening manner. Does the dog glance away, then look back, or does the dog stare back and change any of its body language.
  • Walk around the back of the dog and hesitate for a moment, then continue walking. Note is the dog has shown curiosity, or has it changed its body language to an aggressive behavior.
  • Will the dog play fetch? Does it growl when you or the owner attempts to remove the object? DO NOT play fetch with a small object.

Signs of Stress in a dog can include the following:

  • Shaking
  • Panting and salivation
  • Restlessness,distraction,agitation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Whining,excessive vocalization
  • Sweating thru the pads of the feet
  • Inappropriate urination/defecation > Excessive shedding
  • Excessive blinking
  • Pacing
  • Increased activity
  • Licking lips
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hiding behind a person
  • Jumping up on a person
  • Shutting down
  • Yawning
  • Drooling
  • Licking
  • Erections
  • Scratching
  • Sniffing

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Activities that Evaluate Dogs Which You Can Attend

Attend a Canine Good Citizen Test sponsored by a local kennel club or
The American Kennel Club
Public Education Department
5580 Centerview Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606
Attend a Temperament Test sponsored by the:
American Temperament Test Society, Inc.
P O Box 397
Fenton, MO 63026
Attend a Therapy Dog Test sponsored by:
The Delta Society
289 Perimeter Road East
Renton, WA 98055-1329
Phone 206-226-7357
Fax 206-235-1076

While in public places such as dog shows, obedience classes, and parks observe a dogs behavior and study their body posture.  Back to Top

Research and Reading:

Information and literature can be obtained from the
American Kennel Club Library
51 Madison Ave
New York, N Y 10010
Literature and video tapes can be obtained from
The Delta Society
289 Perimeter Road East
Renton, WA 98055-1329
Phone 206-226-7357
Fax 206-235-1076
Local libraries, some humane societies, and universities with veterinary programs have books on animal behavior.  Back to Top

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