ABSTRACTS FOR THE 2016 MEETING Updated December 3, 2015
WHAT’S UP?—Dog-to-Dog Greetings
Camille Ward, MS, PhD, CAAB
a dog greeting? Popular opinions on what dog-to-dog greetings look like and
what they may mean abound, but there is a scarcity of data on the topic.
Understanding the form and structure of greetings are prerequisites to
hypotheses testing of function. Through observations and data collected on
greetings at a dog park in
The Validity of a Fake Dog for
Assessing Dog Sociability in Dogs from Rescue Hoarders
Reid, PhD, CAAB and
Evaluating intraspecies sociability in shelter dogs is time consuming, risky and requires suitable stimulus dogs. Variation in stimulus dogs is also likely to strongly influence test dogs’ reactions. To avoid these complications, more and more shelters are opting to use a fake dog as a stand-in for a real dog. However, Shabelansky et al. (2015) found that a fake dog was only useful for identifying friendly behavior. When it came to fearful or aggressive behavior, there was little agreement between test dogs’ reactions to the fake and real dogs. In contrast, Reid et al. (unpublished) found a reasonable correlation between responses to fake and real dogs in a large population of dogs seized from a dogfighting case. In this study, we examined the validity of the fake dog for evaluating dogs removed from rescue hoarding situations.
Relationship Between Scarring and Dog Aggression in Gamebred Pit Bull Type Dogs
Katherine Miller, PhD, CAAB, CPDT and Pamela Reid, PhD CAAB
The ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team and Forensics Sciences departments deploy nationally to large scale cases of animal cruelty, such as dogfighting. The behavior team evaluates the behavior of the animals, including dog-dog aggression, while the forensic medical team evaluates the health and condition of the animals, including the presence of wounds and scars. To our knowledge, no analysis has been conducted to determine the relationship between the presence and extent of wounds or scarring and dog aggression among dogs seized from professional or amateur dogfighters. Heavily scarred dogs are often assumed to be highly dog aggressive as the result of a history of being pitted against other dogs. However it has been observed that many dogs seized from dogfighting investigations, including some bearing scars, are not aggressive to other dogs in their behavior evaluation. On the other hand, some dogs with no or very few scars have been found to have dog-aggressive tendencies. Having information concerning the validity of utilizing the extent of scarring as a proxy for dog aggression would assist animal welfare organizations in making more informed decisions with respect to disposition, and potentially reduce the euthanasia of non-dog aggressive pit bull type dogs. The ASPCA conducted an analysis of data on injuries observed and behavior towards other dogs, using information already gathered by the behavior and forensic medical teams during four criminal dogfighting cases. This study examined the strength of the relationship between these variables, and whether location of scarring on the dog’s body, age, and sex of the dog are factors in this relationship.
Why Social Separation in Animals Hurts: Examining the Neurocognitive Overlap Between Physical and Social Pain
Franklin D. McMillan, DVM
Research in humans and nonhuman animals has provided compelling evidence that social pain and physical pain rely on shared neurobiological substrates. Substantial neuropsychological and neuroimaging research in humans has revealed that the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior insula, brain regions known for their role in processing the affective unpleasantness of physical pain, are also activated during the unpleasant experience of social separation. The dACC has also been shown to relate to social pain distress in nonhuman mammals. For example, ablating the dACC in squirrel monkeys eliminates the production of distress vocalizations, and lesions of the ACC in macaques leads to decreases in affiliative behavior. Conversely, electrical stimulation of the dACC leads to the production of distress vocalizations in rhesus monkeys. Furthermore, in animals and humans, physical and social pain are alleviated many of the same interventions. Studies provide evidence that an enhanced sensitivity to physical pain accompanies an enhanced sensitivity to social pain in humans. Perhaps most intriguing, acetaminophen – a drug effective in alleviating physical pain – has recently been found to alleviate social pain in humans.
With evidence that in humans and animals social pain can actually be more distressing than physical pain, these findings have profound consequences for the well-being of all social animals. But of special concern is social pain in the domestic dog. It is now generally assumed that domestication in dogs enhanced the dependency on and attachment to humans, which would imply a strengthening of the social bonding emotions. This would suggest the likelihood that social pain may be more intense in socially deprived dogs than in other species.
A better understanding of the neuropsychology of physical and social pain may lead to improved care for social animals as well as new therapies to alleviate the emotional suffering association with social deprivation.
Small Animal Veterinarians Perspective On Behavioral Diagnoses For Use Of Fluoxetine
Kaur, DVM and Victoria Voith, DVM,
Dogs and cats are frequently presented to veterinarians for behavioral problems and psychopharmacological treatment. Arriving at a differential or definitive diagnosis for behavioral problems, based on the history and signs described by the owners can be a challenge for the general veterinary practitioner. Our preliminary study showed the use of fluoxetine for a wide range of behavioral disorders in dogs and cats, but how practitioners arrive at behavioral diagnoses is not clear. Subsequently data was collected from small animal veterinarians who agreed to participate further in the study. They were asked to describe what behaviors did they consider indicative of their diagnoses. Specific behaviors used by the practitioners to reach the diagnoses were described. The practitioners also provided additional information on diagnostic criteria and terminology to describe behaviors. For dogs, 40 anxiety related problems were described by 32 practitioners. For cats, 25 problems related to feline elimination behaviors were described by19 practitioners. The questions regarding reaching the behavioral diagnoses were answered in a variety of ways. Behavioral signs and terminology varied widely among the participants. This study shows a variety of terminology used by the general practitioners in veterinary behavior medicine. This demonstrates the importance of obtaining exact descriptions of behaviors when communicating behavior problems among interdisciplinary professionals.
Maximizing the Fear Extinction Process
Mindy Waite, PhD
A variety of client cases require the planning of fear extinction procedures by the behaviorist, which must then be implemented by the client. Because the client typically has limited time and energy, it is critical that the procedural setup is optimized as much as possible. This requires a familiarity with the most recent and/or relevant research on fear extinction procedures and processes. This presentation will cover basic and applied research on the processes of fear acquisition and extinction as well as fear extinction procedures to provide a background for effective extinction planning.
Less Stress for Veterinary Patients
Ellen Lindell, VMD, DACVB
There are many consequences of fear and distress in animals. While well studied in shelters and laboratories, the consequences of distress on animals at the veterinary hospital has received little formal discussion. This oversight is changing rapidly, and the Fear Free movement is underway.
This talk will discuss documented support for the need to reduce patient distress when veterinary treatment is required. The first step is to help clients and veterinarians recognize signs of distress in veterinary patients. Also included will be a discussion of the Fear Free movement. Progress to date as well as future plans will be discussed.
Clients need to learn how to advocate for their pets, gently approaching their veterinarians when they feel their pet is unnecessarily uncomfortable. Trainers can work with their local veterinarians, offering services designed to teach patients skills that will facilitate handling. Discussion will include ideas for networking with clinicians to assure that bad does not stay normal in the veterinary setting.
Comparative Trauma in People and Dogs—From Diagnosing to Treating
Patricia McConnell, PhD, CAAB
Psychological Trauma is defined as an event or experience that completely overwhelms an individual's ability to cope. This presentation will initiate an inquiry into three basic questions related to trauma dogs:
* If we accept that both dogs and people can be traumatized, (which I will argue), how would our experiences be similar? How would they be different? [And how would the answers to that question help us understand it in dogs?]
* What can treatments for human victims of trauma teach us about treating trauma in dogs? What about the other direction—from dogs to people?
* What do we know, both from science and anecdotal experience, that can help us evaluate the practice of using dogs help people recover from trauma? [There might not be time for this issue, but I add it here in case we do.]
I would like this presentation to include a lot of discussion about these issues, from understanding the effects of psychological trauma in mammals, to discussions about how to help dogs recover from it.
Hunters Helpers, Dumpster Divers, and Man’s Best Friend: A Novel Account for the Origin of Dogs
Clive Wynne, PhD
believe dogs came from informs what we think dogs are and how we should best
live with them. In the last decade, an account of the origin of dogs that is
at least as old as
Citizen Science -- Fad or Meaningful Endeavor for Researchers and the Public?
Julie Hecht, MSc
seems like you're hearing the term 'citizen science' more and more, it's
because you are. Citizen scientists not only help researchers monitor the sky
-- classifying galaxies and tracking bird migration -- and the land --
identifying wild animals via camera traps -- but citizen science is
increasingly making its way into companion animal studies. This talk orients
animal behavior professionals to the growing field of citizen science and
will help you answer the question, "Should my next project include
& Cooper, C.B. 2014. Tribute to Tinbergen: Public engagement in ethology.
Ethology, 120, 207–214.
Turning Practitioners into Scientists: Research Designs for Applied Animal Behaviorists
Erica Feurbacher, PhD
Typically, group research designs require large sample sizes for adequate statistical control, precluding many applied animal behavior practitioners from not only being able to scientifically assess their own practices but also from contributing to the larger scientific field. Our field could expand greatly in its knowledge base and better identify best practices if practitioners could more easily contribute scientifically to our field. In the field of applied human behavioral science, clinicians working with human populations contribute regularly to the scientific enterprise and assess the experimental control of their own clinical practices. This field has been able to turn practitioners into scientists through employing designs that allow for small n research which maintain, and even increase, the experimental rigor found in group designs. Moreover, such designs allow us to see individual variability and, because our field is based on treating the individual animal rather than the statistical average animal, these designs allow us to parse out critical variables that can influence the effectiveness of our treatment for different individuals. These designs are so useful that the medical field is also making a push for clinicians and clinical trials to use small n designs. In this talk, I will discuss the basic small n designs, including reversal, multiple baseline, and multielement designs, as well as their strengths and limitations, how they can be creatively combined to meet practitioners’ needs, and how practitioners can usefully implement them.
Getting It Right: Canine Research and the Academic Covenant of the Lit Review
During the decades I spent teaching undergraduates, one situation I was never able to confront with equanimity was the student paper that filled me with the conviction that the student had spent less time and attention writing it than I was spending responding to it. Since I became a serious student of the dog bite and canine aggression literature, I often experience the same conviction that I am spending more time examining the references in the lit reviews than the author did. This is not simply the schoolmarm’s pet peeve. The lit review is the foundation supporting the entire structure of any research endeavor. It establishes not just the prior attempts to address the question at hand or related ones, but the underlying assumptions on the subject, the premises from which the authors reason to their conclusions which usually include the social or humane benefit of doing the research in the first place. Yet when a careful reader pulls on these threads, she too often finds that the author has used material from an abstract or even just a title which on closer examination doesn’t faithfully represent actual findings in the body of the paper. In other cases, a writer may present an offhand comment from the text as a concrete finding, or present repetition as replication, or even attribute findings to a paper that actually includes no mention of the topic. This presentation will use the dog bite and canine aggression literature, where the consequences of getting it wrong are transparently dire for dogs, as an example to suggest best practices for responsibly performing this crucial part of the research process, and to foster a healthy level of critical reading in the consumers of the dog behavior literature. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences in both roles.
Judging a Dog by Its Cover: Morphology but Not Training Influences Visitor Behavior towards Kenneled Dogs at Animal Shelters
Sasha Protopopova, PhD, CPDT
Currently, visitor behavior in companion animal shelters is not adequately explored. A sequence of experiments investigated how visitors interacted with kenneled dogs at an animal shelter and whether training dogs to exhibit appropriate behavior in their kennels would evoke more interest from shelter visitors. Two sides of an animal shelter were differentially entered into training phases in a multiple baseline design. During the training phase, dogs were trained to exhibit appropriate in-kennel behavior. Visitors attended to approximately 35% of kenneled dogs and only spent an average of 15 s looking at individual dogs. We found that whereas training was effective in decreasing undesirable behavior in dogs, only morphology influenced visitor behavior. Morphologically preferred dogs (i.e., puppies, long-coated dogs, small dogs, and certain breeds) had a 1.3 times higher frequency of visits to their kennel and had a 9 times higher frequency of being taken out of their kennel for further inspection compared to other dogs. These results suggest that shelter visitors pay much more attention to morphology rather than behavior of kenneled dogs.
The Mistaken Ubiquity of Lab Mixes: How DNA is Changing What We Thought We Knew About Shelter Dogs
Lisa Gunter, MA, CBCC-KA, CPDT
Dog breed identification in shelters is often based upon the relinquishing owner's claims or determination by staff looking at the animal. Previous research has indicated discrepancies between breed identification assessed by welfare agencies and the results of DNA analysis. In this two-site study, we analyzed the breed heritage of nearly 1000 shelter dogs to better understand who these dogs really are and what effect DNA-derived breed assignment could have on the adoption process. While providing MARS Wisdom Panel information to potential adopters did not have a significant impact on adoption rates, the far more interesting story is that shelter canines have much more varied and complex breed identities than we could have imagined. In this presentation, I’ll discuss what breeds were identified at each shelter, the prevalence of the different breeds identified, the degree to which individual breeds were present – and how these results provide further evidence that breed identification of mixed breed dogs at animal shelters is inherently complex at best, and, at worst, untenable.
Food Aggression Tests in Shelter Dogs: Do We Need Them?
Amy Marder, PhD, CAAB
Two recent studies (Marder A et al, 2014; Mohan-Gibbons et al, 2012) have shown that when a dog demonstrates food aggression on a behavior evaluation in the shelter it often does not display the same behavior in the home after adoption. In addition, food aggression is not a barrier to adoption or the formation of healthy human-canine bonds. Although the studies show that the presence of food aggression is often not considered a problem to adopters, some shelters continue to consider food aggressive dogs unadoptable and euthanize them.
the Dumb Friends League in
The ASPCA has started a study with a number of shelters who are willing to discontinue the food aggression test. Before and after data is currently being collected.
If little difference is found in the before and after data do you feel comfortable recommending the discontinuation of food aggression tests in shelter dogs? What about the other tests in the behavior evaluation?
Rehabilitating Homeless Undersocialized, Fearful Dogs – A 2-Year Update
Kristen Collins, MS, CPDT, ACAAB; Katherine Miller, PhD, CAAB, CPDT; Pia Silvani, CPDT, CCBC; Pamela Reid, PhD CAAB
victims of cruelty are sometimes so behaviorally traumatized by their
experiences that they are not suitable for adoption. Those often find their
way to the ASPCA’s
Rethinking the “A” word. Are Pet Owners Ahead of the Curve on Aggression? Is Conflict a Synonym for Aggression? Does or Does Not “Dominance Aggression” Exist in Dogs?
It’s time to get a conversation started about de-pathologizing aggression, particularly human directed conflict behaviors. The discussion must start by making distinctions according to actual harm, e.g., a growl is not an "attack," and a nip is not a "mauling." Incidence of conflict behaviors tells us little about actual injury incidence. Low bite reporting rates often decried in studies may actually reflect appropriately proportional responses on the part of regular people, as may the lack of concern about food guarding among adopters. This panel will provide case examples, encourage contributions, and lead a discussion regarding realistic and appropriate ways to frame and respond to canine conflict behaviors.
A CAAB, DVM, LVT and CPDT Walk Into a Bar …: Building Partnerships in the Animal Behavior Community
Amanda Florsheim, DVM; Jessica Lockhart, MS, PhD; Cathy Painter-Rigdon, LVT, CBCC-KA; Fanna Easter, CPDT, KPA CTP, ACDBC, ABCDT-L2
Most communities are seeing an increase in the number and types of professionals available to work with pets with behavior problems. With this increasing number of professionals in a community, some isolate themselves to protect their client base. Rather than isolate ourselves, we should partner together for the betterment of our patients and clients. We feel that each professional can bring different strengths to a case for the betterment of the patient, client as well as the professionals working with the dog. Through case studies, we will demonstrate how each of us have contributed to a patient’s benefit compared to any of us working with the clients and patients alone. The presentation will include actionable items and suggestions on how to implement these items.
Your Place or Mine: The Effect of Setting on Behavior Consulting Process and Treatment
Suzanne Hetts, PhD, CAAB, CVJ; John Wright, PhD, CAAB; Dan Estep, PhD, CAAB; Mary Lee Nitschke, PhD, CAAB, CPDT
Behaviorists, behavior consultants and trainers have the option of offering their services in a variety of settings. Offering clients in-home, office, telephone, or even email or Skype consulting options has usually been a matter of personal preference, expediency, availability, and what the client is willing to pay. Opinions also vary about the value of having pet owners acquire video of various aspects of their pets’ behavior.
Are there more definitive and objective criteria we can use to suggest to a client which option would be best for an individual situation OR why, as individual consultants, we might choose to forego some settings and not others? Sociology and anthropology define “participant observation” – a technique of field research by which a participant observer studies the life of a group by sharing in its activities. Does that describe our role during in-person consultations? Or are we active or passive observers? And how does that differ from being a participant observer?
Does our presence in the home affect the pet’s “natural environment” and is therefore detrimental to observing and understanding the nature of the behavior problem? Is an office appointment more beneficial because it allows us to gather information about the pet in a “novel” environment?
What about hands-on work with the pet during the appointment? Is demonstrating to pet owners a crucial aspect of what we do or is it just as effective, or more so, to refer to dog trainers for the hands-on component? Is this also personal preference or is there a theoretical model or actual “success rate” numbers we can apply comparing the two approaches?
We’ll discuss these questions and others suggested by the audience during this panel presentation.
PTSD Dogs: Obstacles to Success
Karen London, PhD, CAAB, CPDT
In recent years, veterans with psychological service dogs have become a larger part of my caseload. The veterans typically have PTSD and some also have TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury.) The challenges of these cases are unusual compared with other types of cases for many reasons. There are very high and sometimes unrealistic expectations of the dogs by their owners. The dogs often come to the people with very little training. The people typically lack training skills themselves, and their psychological issues can make it challenging for them to care for their dogs and to train them. Many of the dogs do not have the emotional stability that predicts a high likelihood of success as a service dog. Several of my clients with a Native American heritage struggle with the negative views their culture has of dogs. I will discuss some cases to share the obstacles facing the creation and maintenance of successful service dog/veteran teams. I hope to encourage a discussion about meeting the challenges relating to service dogs for veterans.
Risky Business – Helping Shelters and Rescues Navigate Legal Risks involving Dog Bites and Euthanasia Practices
Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KSA, CNWI
The practical answer to the question “Can I be sued?” is always yes – but whether a plaintiff will succeed is a different question. Unfortunately, even when a defendant wins, litigation is an expensive and frustrating process. Dog bite claims have become more and more prevalent, constituting over one third of all homeowner insurance liability claims paid out in 2014. In litigation, defendants are often “judgment proof” or have insurance policy limits, which will push parties to be creative in finding another “deep pocket” to reach into. This has led to a number of lawsuits against localities, shelters and rescues, with claims of failing to act against a known aggressive dog or failing to warn about an adopted dog’s behavior issues. At the same time, some jurisdictions and shelters have come under fire by No Kill proponents and animal advocates for euthanizing too much. These competing dilemmas create risk management landmines for rescues, shelters, and training and behavior staff. What are the actual legal risks involved, what is the proper balance, and how can rescues and shelters protect themselves? An animal law attorney will analyze recent cases and applicable laws to help navigate these risks.
Melissa Shyan, PhD, CAAB
"You've done the best you could, you've given your pet the best life you could, and more chances than most people would have, you've tried everything, but..." We've all had to do it. We all hate to do it. We all know that sometimes owners will listen, and sometimes they won't accept the suggestion. When and how do you determine when to recommend euthanasia? Do you have a criterion? Is it "gut instinct" based on experience? We all know that it can be terribly hard to make the recommendation. How do you decide? What reasoning do you use? What reasoning do you give?
A brief review of relevant literature will be presented. Then a free flowing discussion will be attempted. IFAAB attendees, who are willing, will be asked to talk about how they determine to make that recommendation; i.e., when is "enough, enough.
A Different Approach to Group Classes for Puppies and Problem Dogs
Nancy Williams, MA, ACAAB, RVT and Mary Huntsberry, MA, ACAAB
While there is consensus in our field regarding importance of early training and socialization for puppies, opinions differ on how to teach the class, and the manner in which the puppies can interact with each other. There is little literature on the efficacy of the varying methods used to train puppies in a group setting.
Based on client’ reports that despite past attendance at puppy classes, we were seeing cases of serious aggression toward people or dogs. Based on this, we designed puppy classes to attempt to thwart future problems! A number of the techniques used to solve behavior problems in these private cases are novel, often using a number of response prevention techniques during training while gradually increasing distractions. Using these techniques in our puppy classes has resulted in increased focus on the owner while “socializing” the puppies with other dogs, people, and even horses! Our classes are small, and limited to five puppies and owners.
Our talk will describe how classes are set up, handling of puppies is demonstrated, and practice maximizes the potential for progress. We hope that other behaviorists will find our methods useful and be able to work with groups that they had not previously considered. We look forward to group discussion of the overall topic.
Toys, Pets & Passion
It’s no surprise that top animal care professionals around the world are passionate about their careers. They have a keen understanding of the importance of play on an animal’s physical, mental, and emotional development. My talk will explore best practices in using toys as tools for enrichment, rehabilitation, and behavior modification. It is vital when using toys to understand proper toy selection, supervision and safety, as well as the difference between quality and sub-par materials. This talk aims to bridge the gap between animal behavior and toy implementation while answering questions you may have regarding the connection between the two.
A Tale of Two Prison Dog Training Programs: Is Bigger Necessarily Better?
Lynne Gilbert-Norton, PhD, MSc
with a Cause rescues and trains shelter dogs for public adoption and as
potential service dogs for veterans with PTSD in the Utah Department of
Corrections women’s facility. In our yearlong pilot program, we have faced
many challenges including constant changes in handlers, limited training and
accommodation space, and demoralization. But we have also had successes; both
objective and anecdotal, including the training of 21 dogs, a reduction in
infractions and an increase in the sense of purpose and giving back by our 20
inmate handlers. We attribute much of our success with both the dogs and the
inmates to the positive training methods we use. In looking to expand and
improve our prison program by training more dogs and improving benefits for
our inmate handlers, we recently visited an established dog program in
Effect of Breed and Prior Odor Exposure on Dogs’ Detection Performance
Nathaniel Hall, PhD
I will present three studies that explore variables related to canine odor detection performance. In the first study, we trained ten dogs each of three breeds (German Shepherds, Pugs, and Greyhounds) on an odor detection task in which we assessed acquisition of an odor discrimination, detectability of varying concentrations of an odorant, and performance on a control visual task. We found that Pugs outperformed the German Shepherds on odor acquisition and the dilution test, but showed similar performances on the control visual task. Greyhounds showed a general failure to participate. I will present on two additional studies that evaluate the effects of varying types of odor pre-exposure on subsequent detection performance. In the first study, we evaluated the effects of odor exposure on the acquisition rate of an odor discrimination. We found exposure alone had little effect, but pre-exposure in the form of Pavlovian conditioning facilitated acquisition compared to no-exposure. In a follow-up study, we demonstrate that odor Pavlovian conditioning, but not odor exposure alone, leads to greater odorant sensitivity, as measured by threshold detection of the odorant in a liquid-dilution olfactometer. To conclude, I will highlight what implications these results have for scent-training and will indicate what areas need further research.
Teaching New Tricks to Old and Young Dogs – Part 1
People have been training dogs for centuries, yet very few empirical studies have directly compared different techniques for teaching dogs new behaviors. In this presentation we will report a comparison of three different ways to train young dogs to sit and stay. One group was trained with just a primary reinforcer (preferred food); one group was trained with a verbal marker accompanied by the primary reinforcer; and the final group was trained with a click sound – as promulgated by Pryor (1999) among others – followed by the primary reinforcer. Although previous studies have examined these positive reinforcement training methods, ours is the first to compare the three methods within one research design. The surprising results from this project will be presented and discussed.
Teaching New Tricks to Old and Young Dogs – Part 2
We have developed a radial arm maze with which to test the memory of dogs of different ages. Dogs are the only non-primates to spontaneously develop a form of age-related cognitive decline similar to human Alzheimer’s disease, but research into treatments for this tragic condition is stymied by the lack of sensitive measures of dog memory. We have developed protocols that clearly show age-related decline even in apparently normal healthy dogs. We also see that aging dogs adopt different strategies in the maze. Because the maze is challenging for movement-impaired dogs we have also developed simpler tests of dog memory that are also very sensitive to the dog’s age. Now that we have an excellent test of memory, we can test dogs that have been diagnosed with cognitive decline, and investigate putative mitigating interventions.