It may seem counterintuitive, especially if you have seen the number of Google pages dedicated to stoppings dogs from jumping up, but potential adopters would rather choose the dog that jumps up on them, as this behaviour is seen as being more positive than a dog who keeps its distance. A recent study examined the reasons why adopters chose their pets in an animal shelter, what behaviour is the first exhibited by the pets to the adopter, and what information was important during their selection process. The results were surprising. Of the 1491 people in the survey, the top reasons given for adopting a particular animal were the appearance, social behaviour with the adopter and the personality of the animal. Adopters found greater importance in interacting with the animal rather than viewing it in its kennel. This confirms results from previous work which showed that people are more likely to adopt a dog if it was at the front of the kennel, rather than at the back.
Most adopters stated the information about the animal from a staff member or volunteer was more important than written information on a cage card, and health and behaviour information was particularly important, more so than the history of the dog in its previous home.
The results of this study can be used by shelters to create better adoption matches, prioritise limited resources in terms of staff and volunteer interactions with possible adopters, and increase the possibility of or time between adopters and potential adoptees, increasing the amount of space available for such interactions to occur. Where animals are shy or nervous it could well be worth the effort of the shelter to provide training for the animal to approach anyone at the front of the kennel and to react more positively in its greeting behaviour.
The full research article is available in Animals 2012, 2,114 -159. Why did you choose this pet? Adopters in pet selection preferences in five animal shelters in the United States. Weiss,Miller,Mohann-Gibbons and Vela.