SAFERŪ is specifically designed to be conducted by an assessment team of an assessor and an observer. The assessor interacts directly with the dog on each assessment item.
The observer's role is vital to safe and valid assessment. When the observer and the assessor work as equal partners, the assessment is more likely to be accurate and predictive of future aggression. The observer handles the following responsibilities for each assessment:
- Observes dog behavior that is not visible to the assessor, such as tail position in the Look item, or eyes and ears in the Sensitivity item. The observer should calmly and quietly communicate these to the assessor.
- Keeps notes about behavior both during and between each assessment item. After discussing the dog's behavior with the assessor, the observer fills out the SAFER worksheet after each assessment item is conducted.
- Takes responsibility for videotaping the assessment:
- Set up
- Turning the camera on and identifying the name, breed, and ID number of each dog being assessed
- Turning camera off
- Logging video for future reference
- For the food bowl and toy behavior items, holds the leash with two hands and with some slack, so the dog feels he has a choice as to where to move, while always being aware of leash length and the safety of the assessor.
- Handles the helper dog in the dog-to-dog behavior item. The observer should ensure the helper dog is of the same gender as the dog being assessed, and is appropriate with other dogs.
- Helps diffuse aggression when necessary. The observer is ready with tools to create a distraction so the assessor can regain a safe position. (These tools can a clipboard, SprayShield, a bucket filled with water, or even a sound canister.)
- Assists in ensuring proper animal handling techniques throughout the assessment.