Tests to match charity dogs to new homes is cutting down the number of dogs returned to the RSPCA

A series of tests, introduced by the RSPCA a year ago, is helping the charity rehome its dogs more successfully.

Every year the society rehomes more than 26,000 dogs, but 10% of those rehomed were being returned. A trial of the tests, devised by animal behaviourist Dr Rebecca Ledger, in eight RSPCA centres brought that number down by 27%.

Spokeswoman for the RSPCA, Katie Geary, said: “We had been concerned that the whole process of the dog being at the centre, going to a new home and possibly being returned was very stressful for the dog.

“It’s also stressful for the potential owners. We wanted to find a way of reducing the stress so we asked Dr Ledger, to help.”

The tests are carried out on the dog before they are put up for rehoming.

Trained RSPCA staff assess the dog’s reaction to a variety of tests like a”tug of war” or how they react to food when left alone. Potential owners have to fill in a detailed questionnaire.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer, Chris Laurence, said: “We are excited about Dr Ledge’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.”

For more information (tel: 08705 555 999) or visit www.rspca.org.uk