Sue Sternberg Seminar  April 26, 2008


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I attended a seminar presented by Sue Sternberg at the Dog Training Club of Chester County, PA. Sue is a canine behaviorist, trainer, author, shelter owner, and has been evaluating canine temperament for 28 years. Through videos, she taught attendees to recognize the subtle signs of aggression. She showed that long before a dog growls, snarls or bites, one can identify canine body language that shows a predisposition toward aggression.

The most useful thing I learned was how to identify sociability in dogs so that we can be reasonably sure that dogs will be safe in most situations. All I can say is "WOW!"

Sue Sternberg presentation

Sue walked attendees through her Assess-A-Pet© temperament test. She introduced the mechanics and procedures of the test; adopter expectations, and better approaches to matchmaking.

She mentioned that she has been disparaged for her position on euthanizing aggressive dogs. Despite her detractors, Sue truly loves dogs and has devoted her life to improving shelter worker education, public safety, and the success of adoptions.


Sue had what seems to be a bullet-proof method for matching dogs to owners. Both adopters and dogs are ranked, and then matched.

Level 1 adopters are the "average Joe" not-so-adept dog enthusiast, or family with kids; level 2 has trained previous dogs and worked through challenges; level 3 represents skilled and confident handlers, shelter/rescue workers, or canine behaviorists.



Sue Sternberg books and DVDs
Dogs are ranked using her 18-step Adopt-a-Pet© assessment. Those that respond in a sociable, non-aggressive manner are ranked as level 1 and have the best chance of success with novice owners. Dogs requiring training or with moderate behavior challenges do best with dog savvy level 2 adopters; and level 3 are dogs with serous behavior problems that require ongoing mediation or management.

Lissa and Sheila at DTCCC of PA

After ranking both dogs and adopters, the best matches are made through level matching. Unfortunately 80% of adopters are at level 1, but most city/urban dogs are level 2 or higher. Sue said she thinks it's because of the higher incidence of human crime, neglect, and abuse in these areas. She finds higher numbers of level 1 dogs in rural areas.

I was delighted to share the seminar with PA/DE MAGDRL Co-Coordinator Sheila Marshall (right.) Lucky Sheila, she lives nearby and is a member of this dog training club. We both thought this seminar was one of the best we've ever attended.

Sheila attended the second day of the seminar which covered managing multi-dog households and arousal/aggression in agility dogs. I hope day 2 was as good as the first day was!