A SAMPLE OF ABSTRACTS SUBMITTED FOR THE 2013 MEETING
The “A” word
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to that
which is not human, and it is often denounced as a misattribution. In this
talk, anthropomorphism will be considered within a psychological and
ethological framework: how and why do we anthropomorphize, and do
anthropomorphic assessments hold water? This talk will explore the
psychological factors behind the human tendency to see human in that which
is not and will briefly discuss recent canine cognition studies of guilt
and fairness. I will also touch on research investigating the relationship
between anthropomorphism and emotional support from companion animals.
This talk aims to bring a more comprehensive understanding of
anthropomorphism to interactions with both human and non-human animals.
Agonistic behavior patterns of dogs in response to a threatening
Many studies of the domestic dog have focused on the ontogeny of
behavior, clinical behavior issues faced by veterinarians, and dog bite
incidents. However, a detailed
description of the agonistic behavior portfolio for domestic dogs is
needed to balance our understanding of canine behaviors deemed as
acceptable responses (by human society) to threats with those canine
behaviors deemed unacceptable (e.g., avoidance of a threat vs. aggressive
interaction). This study investigated whether adult dogs exhibited
agonistic patterns of behavior in response to a threatening stimulus and
whether dogs that had been bred for different purposes exhibited different
patterns. An understanding of
these patterns may improve the identification of escalating behavioral
responses which might resolve as aggression.
Sixty-two dogs were tested in an outdoor arena.
All dogs exhibited agonistic behavioral components; 87% of dogs
ultimately sought an agonistic solution to the threat.
Solutions ranged from avoidance to attack.
Lag sequential analysis indicated that multiple patterns of
behaviors are available to dogs providing them with a large behavioral
response portfolio. Analysis
of patterns according to working groups also demonstrated multiple
patterns of behavior and indicated that behavioral components are utilized
differently among groups, leading to different behavioral resolutions.
Discussion of “food-related” aggression
Opinions abound regarding the
best way to manage puppies and their food bowls. Regardless of management,
it seems some dogs spontaneously begin to growl when people are near their
food. To date, there is no solid information regarding the risk factors of
the behavior, the incidence of the behavior, or the management of the
behavior. The terminology
associated with the behavior is also not consistent.
After a discussion of representative cases, comments regarding a
study design will be proposed. Comments and discussion with the group
would be welcome.
Cats on drugs
When veterinarians are faced with a feline behaving badly, they
reach for the drug closet. It is standard for cats to come to the clinic
taking at least one psychotropic medication, and uncommon for the
diagnosis to be clear. Unfortunately, using mood altering drugs is not
without risk and can ultimately make it more difficult to manage the
patient. Two feline case examples will be presented in which the risk in
medicating outweighed the benefit.
Proximity matters to our dogs when it comes to comfort.
One of the most common trouble spots when it comes to growing
babies and dogs is a child's ability to enter into a dog's space.
This presentation will cover common pit falls and offer solutions
to help support the families we consult with. Knowing about "grumble
zones," "growl zones" and subtle canine posturing can
decrease the risk of an unfortunate encounter between a family dog and
THAT'LL DO BABE
The interactions between
sheepherding dogs, their handlers and the sheep themselves are goldmines
for anyone interested in genetics, interspecific communication and
training methodologies. This presentation will focus on working Border
Collies, bred in the Border counties between
to manage large flocks of sheep. Through slides and abundant videos, the
talk will include videos illustrating the (presumed) key visual signals
between dogs and sheep, the different personalities of dogs and how each
relates to their effectiveness in different contexts, the use of acoustic
signals between handler and dog, and training methodologies that allow two
different predator species to control (or not!) the behavior of a prey
Validity and Reliability of a Behavior Assessment for Dogs
A variety of behavior tests and assessments are used in shelter
settings. These test are either not validated or tested partially. To
systematically determine the validity and reliability of an assessment
tool used in an open admission shelter, 92 randomly selected dog were
tested in a prospective study between January and April 2012.This study
followed a pilot study that included 20 dogs. Eighteen dogs were
euthanized for medical or behavioral reasons at the shelter. Each dog was
tested twice on two successive days by two handlers under strictly
standardized conditions to control as many variables as possible. Both
tests were video recorded and reviewed twice in random order by four
blinded observers using Noldus Observer software system. The dogs were
placed into new homes independently of their behavior. For ethical
reasons, adopters were offered to obtain information regarding the
outcomes of the test. A follow up survey using CBARQ was conducted 6-9
months after the dogs’ placement to determine retention and incidence of
behavioral problems in the new home. Based on the data obtained,
inter-handler reliability, inter-observer reliability, intra-observer
reliability, order effects and predictability (validity) were calculated.
, studying treatment of severe canine fear
In late 2012, the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team (ACBT)
at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Society in
. The Center’s work focuses on study of the rehabilitation of fearful
and undersocialized dogs rescued mainly from hoarding situations and puppy
mills. Rehabilitation efforts are devoted to helping the dogs overcome
their fears and learn to interact comfortably and safely with the world
around them before transfer to shelter partners for placement into
adoptive homes. In accomplishing this goal, we aim to reduce the resources
and risks involved in accepting dogs from abusive or neglectful situations
and increase the dogs’ chances of finding loving homes. Rehabilitation
and evaluation are carefully documented and post-placement follow up is
conducted so that the ACBT can track efficacy of rehabilitation efforts
and share information with other professionals. This presentation will
introduce the Center, its integration with
’s and the field services work of the ACBT, and provide preliminary data
from the first several months of operation.
The TAZmanian Chewer: A case study on Taz the cat who chews
Taz was a 13-month-old spayed female Domestic Shorthair cat when I
first consulted with her. She was rescued during hurricane Irene.
Her foster mother watched the mother cat remove all of the other
kittens, yet never returned for Taz. She
was rescued at 6 weeks of age and fostered until she was adopted 2 months
later. Taz has chewed a
variety of objects including: wires
(phone & HDMI), the corner of a glass table, a chair, a wall, etc.
She will become aggressive, hissing, spitting, and will even
scratch if approached while chewing. She
has plenty of toys to chew on and is not deterred by the taste of bitter
apple, cayenne pepper, or citrus.
She was on Buspar 2x daily, which was not helping, then switched to
Amitriptyline. There are 2
other cats in the household: a
12 year old and a 6 year old. At
present Taz continues to chew. Her
case and condition will be followed for the next 6 months.
Back to the future
The topography of animal sheltering is experiencing a significant shift in
goals and ideologies. Animal shelters are going through a period of
enlightenment, as no-kill shelters are becoming a reality in both private
and public sectors. Many municipal shelters are
succumbing to the pressure of the no-kill movement, and are responding to
this pressure by beginning to limit their shelter's intake, in order to
achieve this goal. "Live outcomes" have become the newest
metric of success in animal sheltering. However, this bottom-line
approach is problematic, in terms of the functionality of animal shelters,
and the health and safety of the communities they serve. The reason
why most shelters exist is to protect the health and safety of the
community, preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases (e.g., rabies) and
help decrease the number of unwanted pets. In an effort to
completely eliminate the euthanasia of every animal that ever enters an
animal shelter, a growing number of municipalities are electing to
relinquish their ability to manage the pet population of an individual
community. The myopic view of improving the field of animal
sheltering by eliminating euthanasia represents a shift of focus.
This shift in focus reduces the municipality's ability to protect the
health and safety of the community, not to mention the potential problems
that are created downstream. These potential problems will
ultimately tie up community resources (e.g., time and money), that may
have been used to improve a community's quality of life for both people
Do Cats That Have Access to Outside Areas Have Fewer Behavior Problems?
There is an emerging belief among some cat owners and pet professionals
that cat behavior problems may be due in part to living in an
“impoverished environment.” It
has been suggested that giving cats access to the out of doors may prevent
or resolve behavior problems. As
far as we know, this hypothesis has never been tested.
To address the question, we surveyed 1,163 cat owners through the
internet asking about the indoor and outdoor activities of their cats,
time spent alone and the incidence of behavior problems.
percent of the cats lived in inside areas of 1,000 square feet or more,
with only 8% living in less than 500 square feet of indoor space.
In 44% of the homes someone was always home with their cats, while
in only 12% of the homes were the cats left alone more than 8 hours a day.
Sixty-six percent of the cats were exclusively indoor, while 20%
went outside every day. Of
those going outside, 63% were out less than 3 hours, and only 13% were
allowed out overnight. Thirty-eight
percent of those cats going outside were allowed out without supervision
or allowed to roam off the property, the rest were under supervision or
confined to their property.
percent of cat owners reported behaviors in their cats that were a problem
for them. The most commonly reported problems were fears of people, other
pets or things (22%), aggression to people or other animals (13%),
inappropriate elimination (13%), feeding problems (12%) and destructive
clawing or chewing (12%). The
remaining complaints accounted for 27% of all problems, with no one
problem accounting for more than 5% of all problems.
our presentation we’ll present results examining the relationships
between behavior problems and lifestyle characteristics, with a focus on
outside time and behavior problems.
Cognition and Social Behavior in Two Hand-Reared Coyotes with Reference to
Domestic Dogs are the direct descendants of wolves separated by 30,000 -
100,000 years of evolution. Early
research showed that domestic dogs, but not wolves, were able to follow
human social cues to find hidden food.
The researchers claimed that this ability is unique to dogs and a
by-product of domestication. However,
more recent work has shown that hand-reared wolves perform above chance at
following human social cues in certain environments.
and dogs diverged from a common ancestor more than 1,000,000 years ago,
yet they are both canids and may share behavioral and cognitive traits.
If dogs can follow human social cues to locate hidden food, and wolves can
perform above chance at least some of the time, then how capable are
coyotes when compared with dogs on the same tasks? I will present
the results of a pilot study on the ability of two coyote pups to read
human social cues. Additionally, I will share video on coyote social
behavior and discuss what I've learned about their trainability relative
to domestic dogs.
The sweet smell of success?
Social status has been shown to influence multiple aspects of scent
marking behaviors in domestic dogs, as in many other social mammals.
However, the ability of dogs to “read” social status from scent marks
has not been previously tested in any canid, and is poorly understood in
most social mammals. I will report the findings of ongoing research
testing dogs’ ability to differentiate marks of high and low-status
conspecifics, and briefly address possible implications of this research
for dog-owners and other applied fields.
Anogenital investigation in social introductions
Although a familiar part of our dogs’ social introductions, anogenital
investigation is poorly understood. Why do dogs do it? How might it
influence the development of social relationships? Are there observable
aspects of anogenital investigation that could help us better “read”
dog social introductions? Almost no empirical data have been collected on
this behavior that could help elucidate the social function(s) and
mechanisms of anogenital investigation. I will present data collected from
observed social introductions between shelter dogs that begin to address
some of these questions, and discuss some future lines of research that
will build on these preliminary observations.
Sick as a Dog: Do modern veterinary anesthetic techniques foster future
It is readily accepted that nausea creates long-lived and strong
sensations of aversion. In the veterinary profession one of the earliest
encounters with a canine patient is the appointment for the animal's
surgical sterilization. In our attempt to control the animal's pain,
hydromorphone is often used as a premedicant to anesthesia. This almost
uniformly produces a profound sensation of nausea. I propose to conduct an
experiment comparing those animals spayed/neutered that were given a
premedicant that causes nausea (hydromorphone) vs. those given a
premedicant that does not have this effect (butorphanol). The comparison
of their cortisol levels at a veterinary visit one month after the
procedure will be the primary data point of interest, though cortisol
levels at other points in the experiment will also be taken. This
experiment aims to better understand and control for events that may make
a companion dog's veterinary care a stressful and unpleasant experience.
It also aims to explore an effect of anesthesia often ignored. Pain
control has too long been the only focus of animal welfare during surgical
procedures. Other stresses must be examined and taken into careful
the Wonder Dog”: a senior dog in need of medical care
of medical handling by senior pets is an obstacle to provision of quality
care. Bailey, 17 yr M/N Shih Tzu, presented for behavior consultation due
to aggression to owner and veterinary staff when the owner declined
euthanasia. Oral sores required intensive treatment but treatment attempts
resulted in multiple uninhibited bites to the staff and the owner. The
concern was not only for the owner’s welfare (79 year old woman) but
also for the alleviation of the dogs suffering since the oral sores had
been present for 6 months.
was adopted at 5 years of age. He had been groomed regularly and received
regular veterinary care without displaying aggression previously. At
presentation, the owner was still able to brush Bailey’s teeth without
aggressive display but could not administer the prescribed oral solution.
Medical history included major medical conditions: chronic
allergies, Cushing’s disease, bladder stones and a neck injury which
required surgery after a car accident.
the 6 months prior to presentation, Bailey seemed less engaged in social
interactions, displayed occasional night time waking, confusion and
disorientation. Behavior consultation included detailed history, physical
examination and observation. Bailey was diagnosed with defensive
aggression related to cognitive decline. Other rule outs included
neuromuscular pain and resistance to restraint. He paced aimlessly and
displayed a dull manner. Forced
physical restraint, verbal reprimands and “ambush” medical treatments
were discontinued. Senilife®, ADAPTIL® Collar and ADAPTIL® spray were
initiated. The behavior technician demonstrated classical
counterconditioning techniques for the empty vial of mouth wash,
low-stress medical handling techniques and the client was instructed to
observe and respect Bailey’s conflict signs as precursors to aggression.
A dilute and palatable wash solution was prescribed (amoxidrops,
prednisolone, diphenhydramine and lidocaine). Subsequent consultations at
3 and 6 weeks revealed the oral sores healed completely and Bailey
displayed improved cognitive abilities, animated social interactions and
solicitation rather than avoidance of veterinary procedures.
First Draft of a Construction of a Stimulus-Response Manifold
2x2 response-consequence matrix appears to have become reified by the dog
training community in that most if not all of the discussion of behavior
modification is framed within the terminology of R+, R-, P+ and P-. There
are some problems with the matrix (eg, regarding extinction) but a fuller
analysis of learning would incorporate S-R, S-S and R-R relationships as
well as R-S. Further, the role of elicitation/inhibition,
deprivation/satiation should be considered and even further, the variation
of stimulus and response contingencies/contiguities within different
do dog temperament tests test?
history of psychological assessment includes tension between assessment of
traits by skilled, expert clinical judgment and assessment by standardized
tests. Good tests include multiple items for each presumed/observed trait
derived from expert judgement, but ideally should, at least initially, aim
for variability so traits can be statistically factored. Both presenters
have been frustrated in conducting behavioral assessments in shelters by
the standardization of procedures of the commonly used tests that reduce
variability and do not adequately capture the variation that occurs in the
"real world" we hope to provide for shelter animals. We hope for
a spirited discussion.
Story of the Little Spinning Horse
Case history of a self-mutilating
stallion and treatment outcome. Also short review of literature re this
syndrome. Accompanied by video and PowerPoint visual aids
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”
The saying has its origins in the
military. To the infantryman of World War 1, slow practice was target
practice; it gave you time to get it right, as well as the time to correct
your mistakes. In today’s army the term is associated more with training
of soldiers for close quarter battle, moving fast or rushing it, is
reckless and will likely get you killed. I’d like to think this old but
successful combat military philosophy somehow bleed over into their K-9
training programs. For the sake of our brave military and law enforcement
K-9 training community, I claim, progressive methods of dog training have
just been a little more cautious in coming. I’m excited to share some
immense and very refreshing changes that have come about recently in both
military and law enforcement K-9 training programs, and too, discuss some
of the challenges that confront both groups in the near future.
report: Role of Cat Appeasing Pheromone in the resolution of conflict
Long term follow-up on familiar housemate
felines (age 4 and 5.5 yrs) recovering from a
aggression event (cat outside home in 2009) revealed the cats were
responding well to an ongoing behavior program (Reconcile, Feliway,
Composure and DS/CC) and affiliative interactions included: limited
near-nose touches, brief periods of sleeping in the same room and cuffed
swats.1 The author speculated Cat Appeasing Pheromone (IRSEA, France)
would further reduce tension and promote affiliative relationships.2
diffusers were used for two one-month periods. The owner kept journals
and noted an increase in cat-cat proximity, more tolerance of agnostic
displays, quicker recovery following encounters and overall reduced
tension, during the periods of CAP. Sleeping proximity was maintained at
within 6” of each other but duration increased to 30 minute periods
during the first CAP period and to 1-2 hours multiple times per week
during the second CAP period. The cats were reported to be more social
with familiar people. Both cats were napping or sleeping with the owners
more often and for a longer duration. Cats are noted to solicit more
attention from people (bunting and purring). Both cats visited the
people in bed during the night more often. The cats appeared friendly
and happy and were described as “kitten-like”.
During the 2 month long non-CAP period, there was an increase in
hissing, swatting, tailtwitching, lashing and chasing similar to pre-CAP
activities. No injuries occurred. One of the cats developed mats on the
hind quarters. The periods sleeping with people were reduced in
frequency and duration. The cats did not solicit or invite human
attention as much as they did during the CAP periods.
Appeasing Pheromone may facilitate feline relationships and may also
with human companions. The effect on human relationships may be
secondary to eased tension between housemate cats.
DEPORTER TL., 2011. Case report: role of reconciliation in the
resolution of conflict between familiar felines. 18th Annual Meeting of
the ESVCE European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology
COZZI A., MONNERET P., LAFONT-LECUELLE C., BOUGRAT L., GAULTIER E.,
PAGEAT P., 2009. The
maternal Cat Appeasing Pheromone: exploratory study for the effects on
aggressive and affiliative interactions in cats. Proceedings of the 7th
International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting,
What is our value?
What is a credentialed pet behaviorist worth in
today’s economy? What is expected of a credentialed pet behavior
professional? Is the field of
applied pet behavior giving away so much information that it is now
expected for free? What are people
and hiring agents willing to pay for the education and experience?
According to the American Pet Product Association, the Pet Industry seems
impervious to the economical downturn. The
estimated U.S. Pet Industry expenditure in 2012 is $52 Billion, and the
actual expenditures have shown consistent significant growth since 1994.
This presentation will attempt to reveal the perceived financial
worth of a credentialed pet behaviorist using the following variables: a)
competing services (e.g. trainers, vet behaviorists, television shows,
internet), b) job opportunities and requirements (private and non-profit),
and c) associated service fees and salaries.
What can the future generation realistically expect in years to
come? What is their best course of
action to retain value and worth?
Do puzzle toys have long-term benefits on canine cognitive functioning?
(20-30 minutes including discussion)
cognitive exercises used to address human Alzheimer’s disease help stave
off Canine Dysfunction Disorder? Veterinary
specialties and procedural advancements, new medications, and physical
rehabilitation facilities focus on and succeed at extending the life span
of pets, but what advancements have been made to extend these pets’
cognitive functioning and improve the psychological or behavioral health
of senior pets. It looks like
the pet toy industry is jumping on board and inadvertently addressing the
psychological counterpart of aging with an explosion of puzzle games and
toys. This presentation
includes a list of dog enrichment puzzle toys, videos showing differences
between and within dogs in preference and proficiency, and a proposal for
a retrospective or longitudinal study to whether the increase in dog
puzzle toys is having long-term as well as short-term benefits.