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Functional Assessment

Dogs do not engage in aggressive behavior solely because they are dominant, fearful or lack early socialization.. There is logic to their behaviour, and a functional assessment is an attempt to understand that logic.

Functional behavioral assessment is generally considered to be a problem-solving process for addressing canine problem behavior. It relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the purposes of specific behavior and to help a trainer select interventions to directly address the problem behavior. Functional behavioral assessment should be integrated, as appropriate, throughout the process of developing, reviewing, and, if necessary, revisions. 


A functional behavioral assessment looks beyond the behavior itself. The focus when conducting a functional behavioral assessment is on identifying significant, social, affective, cognitive, and/or environmental factors associated with the occurrence (and non-occurrence) of specific behaviors. This broader perspective offers a better understanding of the function or purpose behind canine behavior. Behavioral intervention plans based on an understanding of "why" a dog misbehaves are extremely useful in addressing a wide range of problem behaviors. 

All behaviors have a function.
When we say a behavior has a "function" we basically mean the reason the behavior occurs in terms of what it gets the dog (e.g. gets them attention or as coping behaviors in the face of the unknown) and a functional assessment allows everyone involved with the dog to understand this reason.
As stated by O'Neill et al (1997, p.3), 'one of the goals of a good functional assessment is to bring clarity and understanding to otherwise chaotic and confusing situations'.