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Newburgh, NY  - 
March 2- 4, 2001

A Natural Environment for Domestic Dogs and Cats - Kim Barry
 I would like to spend time exploring what a "normal", "beneficial", "healthy" environment may be for the domestic dog and cat. Our treatment protocols often call for changes that we believe are more "natural" for the animal - e.g. providing clear leadership for dogs. I would like to take the perspective of the pet and discuss if they had a vote, what would their daily lives look like in our households? This discussion can include evidence on things like the benefits of obedience training, the idea that active exercise decreases stress in pets, and on information we may be able to take from their ancestors the wolf and wild cat. Are there important ideas to disseminate to the general public about this topic? Are we missing out on tools to use during treatment? If we can educate owners on the optimum environment for a pet, can we be more effective at preventing the development of behavior problems?

Classical and operant conditioning properties of food presentation to dogs - Peter Borchelt
I have another box for "show and tell." This is a peanut/gum/candy dispenser rigged with a motor to present small amounts of dog food (kibble) and can be operated by a hand switch or an automatic timer. I have used this feeder to reduce barking and growling to the approach of strangers in a dog housed long term in a shelter and to reduce barking of a pet dog when left alone. This is not done using simple schedules of reinforcement (e.g., DRL), but instead presenting food to the approach of strangers (shelter dog) or at a high frequency short duration schedule that is gradually lengthened (dog with separation anxiety). We can discuss the classical conditioning features of eliciting stimuli such as food that are routinely thought of only as operant rewards.

Separation Anxiety vs. Dependent Personality Disorder - Joel Dehasse 


An overview of Traditional Chinese Medical Interpretation and Treatment of Behavioral Disorders - Rhea Dodd
As part of a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) examination, a behavior history is used to determine a constitutional personality type of the patient. Each constitution is linked to one of the 5 elements, which are in turn related to a particular internal organ. The constitutions are: 1) Fire--joyful, happy and outgoing, 2) Earth—compassionate, eager to please, overweight, 3) Metal—loner, orderly, 4) Water—fearful, and 5) Wood—angry, bossy. The internal organs to which each is linked are: fire/heart, earth/spleen, metal/lungs, water/kidneys, and wood/liver. Points located on the body surface can be palpated for tenderness, which can be a further aid to accurate diagnostics, even for these behavioral disturbances. For treating physical problems, acupuncture treatments which take into account the basic personality type of the patient will be most effective.
Each personality type is uniquely susceptible to certain behavioral and physical pathologies. For instance: an unhealthy "fire" may change from outgoing to frenetic, an "earth" from people-pleasing to overly dependent, a "metal" from independent to isolated, a "water" from cautious to phobic, and a "wood" from leader to dominantly aggressive. Acupuncture can be used to strengthen and restore equilibrium to these patients.
One or more case reports will be presented, possibly to include pyschogenic alopecia, acral lick granuloma, grief resolution, fear biting, spraying, and excessive vocalization in a cat.

Feline elimination disorders and social interactions - Diane Frank
This presentation will address cases in which owners felt that their household cats got along well. Treatment success of the elimination disorder was only achieved by addressing the social interactions between household cats. These interactions at times quite subtle were visualized during the appointment or on videotape.  I will have videotapes to illustrate some of the cases.

High Anxiety: Is anxiety a description, diagnosis or cause of problem behavior? - Dan Estep
The term anxiety is used in applied animal behavior in at least three different ways: 1) to describe an animal's behavior - "she was anxious before the thunderstorm", 2) as a diagnosis for some problems - as in separation anxiety, and 3) as a causal factor in some problems - as in aggression. How can anxiety be all three? Or is it that we are talking about three (or more) different concepts when we use the word anxiety? The uses that we make of the term have implications for how we treat behavior problems, how we diagnose them and how we conceptualize their causes. I'll discuss the uses of the term and then open discussion for how we might reduce confusion in the future.


Learning How To “Do What We Do”:  Which Road To Travel - Suzanne Hetts and MaryLee Nitschke

The opportunities for education in the field of applied animal behavior as it relates to the training and behavior modification of companion animals are limited. The Animal Behavior Society and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists have described educational and experiential criteria that they believe are necessary for applied animal behaviorists and veterinary behaviorists respectively. The availability of educational programs that allow interested individuals to meet these criteria remains the ‘bottleneck’ that currently limits the number of certified practitioners. No professional body yet exists which has attempted to describe educational requirements or standards of practice for dog trainers. Commercial educational programs are available for dog trainers, most of which are questionably grounded in the basic sciences of ethology and animal learning.

This presentation begins with an historical overview of how professional medical training evolved, and its current parallels in the education of animal behaviorists and dog trainers. A professional educational program for dog trainers will be described, including the rationale for its content. Any educational program for any field must be dependent on what its practitioners are being trained to do, a discussion of which will be included in this presentation. Questions regarding the roles of university and privately based education will be presented for discussion, as well as what might be appropriate links between educational criteria and the scope of professional services.


Considerations For The Behavior Consultation - Ellen Lindell

A discussion of the the pros and cons of various approaches, and then ask for comments and discussion. She also plans to discuss ethical and legal issues concerning fax and phone consultations.


If You Let Me Play. . .Teaching Clients How to Play With Their Dogs - Karen B. London 
I will discuss the importance of play in preventing, diagnosing, and treating behavioral problems including aggression. Play is important for so many reasons: socialization, boundaries, fun, mental exercise, physical exercise, attention, teaching manners, teaching specific skills such as retrieve, drop it, and stay. Clients who play appropriately with their dogs are teaching their dogs good behavior and manners while they interact with and exercise their dogs' bodies and minds. Sometimes dogs who are perceived by owners to be rough, mean, or aggressive simply don't have the skills required for a certain game or do not know the rules of the game. We do not really know the purpose of play in animals, but we do know something about the effects of play and the effects of its absence. Play remains the one major area of dog training where instead of guiding and leading our dogs to correct behavior and then reinforcing it, we let our dogs flounder and then correct them when they are inappropriate. 

Aggression: A Continuum of Fear to Dominance - Alice Moon-Fanelli 



INFANTS, CHILDREN AND PETS: Considerations for Evaluating Risk and Pre-Birth Counseling - Wayne Hunthausen
The dog bite problem in the United States has been a serious health problem since at least the 1950’s.  There are an estimated five million dog bites a year, affecting more than 1% of the US population.  Almost one million of these bites are considered serious enough to require medical attention and approximately 20 attacks a year result in a fatality.  Most evidence suggests that uninformed or irresponsible owners are the cause of the problem rather that specific breeds and that control of the dog bite problem involves solid education programs for pet owners as well as for children.  I will present information regarding my approach to counseling pet owners who will be bringing a baby into the home about evaluating risk, identifying problems, and preparing the pet for its new sibling.
       If time permits, I would also like to get input from the group about whether child-aggressive dogs can ever be considered ‘cured’, as well as what the criteria are used for determining this?


Case History On Fear/Dominance Aggression - Lisa Nelson


Canine Aggression Toward Children: Exploring a New Treatment Procedure - Nathan Penny 

Canine aggression directed toward children is a serious public health concern. It is estimated that 20-45% of all children are bitten at least once, and seventy percent of dog bite-related fatalities occur in children younger than ten years of age. There are hints in the popular and scientific literature that dogs may respond to life-size dolls in a similar manner as they do to children. The purpose of the study was to determine if a “simulated child” might serve as a useful stimulus for desensitizing dogs to children. Two populations of dogs were assessed for their reaction toward a lifelike doll. The doll was approximately the size of a two year old child and mounted on a remote controlled car. A tape recorder mounted on the back of the doll played child vocalizations, and the dolls clothing was impregnated with odor by having a child sleep in them. A control object consisted of a light colored rectangle cut out of poster board mounted on a remote control car. One group of dogs had a history of aggression toward children, while the other group had a history of friendly behaviour toward children. Results indicate that differences in reactivity between groups was reliable for both conditions. Dogs in the aggressive group were significantly more reactive to both the doll and the control object, sniffed more, and took longer to approach either stimuli. This suggests that dogs who are aggressive toward children tend to be abnormally reactive in other situations as well. It remains undetermined whether the use of a “simulated child” might serve as a useful stimulus for desensitization.


The Internet as a Tool in Applied Animal Behavior - J. Michelle Posage and Amy Marder

The Internet can have an important role in broadening the reach of the relatively new and developing field of applied animal behavior. Limitations of the traditional approach to pet behavior problems may prevent treatment in some cases. Meeting with clients in their homes or at an office for a lengthy interview can create financial, time, and travel obstacles. Committed owners will try hard to work around these restraints and usually benefit from doing so. However, pet owners that cannot overcome the obstacles are probably no less desperate for help. They often resort to seeking information from the Internet. The impressive amount of pet advice from this source is sometimes helpful and sometimes not, but it rarely provides the individualized approach that most pet owners need to be successful in resolving a serious pet behavior problem. The opportunity exists for qualified behaviorists to employ the Internet as a tool of communication to reach clients that otherwise would not be able obtain specialized assistance. Proper assessment of behavior problems can be obtained from detailed written questionnaires, video recordings of the behavior, electronically mailed follow-up questions, and medical records. Written explanations of behavior problems and recommendations in management can be sent electronically. With the cooperation of referring veterinarians and obedience trainers, medication can be prescribed and obedience commands taught when indicated. Case history to be discussed.

The poisoned cue: positive and negative discriminative stimuli-the reason why clicking and correction don’t mix - Karen Pryor

Behavior analysts refer to a learned stimulus that triggers an operant behavior as a ‘discriminative stimulus.’ The behaviorists do not, as far as I know, differentiate between a discriminative stimulus that was trained through positive reinforcement and a stimulus that was trained through negative reinforcement.

In practice, however, there is a distinct difference. In clicker training (operant conditioning with a marker signal) the behavior is developed first, as an operant freely offered in expectation of positive reinforcement. The discriminative stimulus is then paired with that operant in order to function as an indicator of a reinforcement opportunity. Each discriminative stimulus signals the opportunity to earn reinforcement for one particular behavior or suite of behaviors.

This positively trained discriminative stimulus always ‘opens the door’ to positive reinforcement. If the behavior does not occur, the only result is that no reinforcement occurs. When the behavior occurs, reinforcement is guaranteed. (We clicker trainers sometimes call this kind of signal a cue, to differentiate it from the traditional term, a command.)

As soon as the animal understands what a given cue means, the cue, or positive discriminative stimulus, becomes in itself a conditioned positive reinforcer, like the click. Thus a cue can be used as a reinforcer for behavior that occurs as the cue is being given. One may for example use the well-established positive cue for one behavior to shape another behavior, or to reinforce previous behavior in a chain. The cue can be used also as marker signal, just as if it were a click, to pinpoint especially good aspects of another behavior. It seems likely, too, that the desirable emotional response that we know to be associated with the click also accompanies the presentation of these positively conditioned stimuli.

Behavior that has been trained by correction may also have associated discriminative stimuli, which indicate when the specific behavior is to occur. However, these discriminators, or commands, may or may not lead to positive reinforcement. If the animal fails to perform the behavior, or performs it incorrectly, the stimulus may lead to punishment. This negative discriminative stimulus, usually called a command, is now a conditioned negative reinforcer, signaling the opportunity for avoiding punishment.

If, therefore, one clicks for correct behavior following a discriminator (a cue, command, or signal) but also gives correction (leash pop, verbal reprimand, etc.) for incorrect behavior following that same stimulus, the stimulus immediately loses its value as a positive reinforcer. It is not a click. It no longer automatically triggers the positive emotions associated with conditioned positive reinforcers. It is, at best, ambiguous in terms of reinforcement. It can no longer be safely used inside a chain to reinforce previous behavior.

Even if primary reinforcers, such as human approval, games, and food treats are supplied in abundance, during or after the training, the discriminative stimuli themselves-the commands-are now threats as well as promises. Behavior tends to break down, interestingly, both preceding and following these stimuli, and the learner’s attitude switches from attentive eagerness to reluctance, often with visible manifestations of stress. You have poisoned your cues.


Self restraint to control problem behaviour - Pam Reid
There are many examples in the literature on the developmentally delayed that these people will spontaneously exhibit responses that are incompatible with aberrant behaviours. In one case of a self-abusive man, he required pockets in all his clothes so he could place his hands in his pockets rather than hit himself. I have observed behaviour that appears to be similar in a few cases of canine aggression. Do some animals adopt responses that help to inhibit aggression? Does incorporating a form of self-restraint into treatment regimes improve the resolution of problem behaviour?

The 800-pound Gorilla: A View of Dominance Aggression in Dogs - Alison Seward
When a dog is presented to a behavior clinic for aggression to owners the first concern is that the client be given information that will make it possible to live safely with the dog. It is the client who will be managing the dog, and advice must be particular to the situation in which owner and pet live. The more fully the interactions between owner and dog are understood, the more specific and the more effective can be the advice.  Owners are often lectured about leadership, and about making demands of the dog before responding to it. This can become a source of noncompliance when an owner's personality or style is not suited to this approach, and it is not necessary, since it does not address the real source of what goes wrong when a dog is chronically aggressive to its owner. The 800-pound gorilla lurking in the back of the room here, which seems to go unnoticed, is that the dog is a possession. Its entire environment, its life in fact, are controlled by its owner--this is what domestication does. The major players in its environment are not conspecifics; moreover the dog lacks the options available to wild canids--its ability to control its social distance is curtailed, and its opportunity to migrate to a new social group is not a practical possibility. Dogs behave as though experience has made clear how few options they have, and those with anxiety about their situations will default to "the best defense is a good offense" as a way to cope.  An appreciation of the effect of the status of dogs as possessions opens the practitioner to lines of questioning that clarify the interactions that are producing aggression to owner, and to very specific management advice. "Nothing in life is free" programs succeed mainly to the extent that they make the owner more predictable to the dog, not because the dog is brought to acknowledge the owner's leadership. They fail to the extent that they do not address the precise causes of anxiety for the dog in the client's household, and we are after all treating a specific animal. I will present three of the more interesting cases diagnosed with dominance aggression at the behavior clinic with detailed histories and follow-up, to show how the application of an abstract idea, like the effect of chattel status of dogs on their behavior, leads to very targeted and effective treatment of cases of aggression to owners. I can discuss any number of cases if three is not sufficient.

Follow-up to Using Time-Outs (in Combination with Other Tactics) to Reduce Aggression in Cats - Melissa R. Shyan
At last year’s IFABB, a behavior modification program was presented which attempted to encourage positive interactions and discourage negative interactions using time-outs in conjunction with other techniques to curb intraspecies and interspecies aggression in cats. For the sake of the recommended treatment plan, I define aggression for the clients very loosely, as Staring, Stalking, Chasing, Attacking, Reciprocal Fighting. This years presentation presents an update on the effectiveness of the time-out program. It includes three case studies, two highly successful, and one moderately successful, and includes pitfalls, problems, and solutions which can arise in using time-outs with cats.


Clicker training as a tool for solving equine behavior problems - Jennifer W. Weeks

Equine behavior problems are often difficult to deal with, as an appropriate reinforcer is not as easy to find as for canine or feline patients. The standard dictate of reinforcers being both immediate and extremely motivating limit their use in treating equine behavior problems. Standard reinforcers are not very effective as praise is often not very motivating and food rewards cannot be administered immediately when the horse is under saddle. The use of clicker training alleviates the dilemma as it provides the animal with an immediate source of motivating reinforcement. Clicker training is relatively simple in horses and can be applied to a wide spectrum of problems. Reviewed will be basic techniques for clicker training a horse as well as several case studies. Case one deals with non-medical head shaking. Case two deals with failure to perform a competition specific task. Case three involves a horse that does not load into the horse trailer. Both video and pictures will be available.

Early canine behaviors and early-age gonadectomy: A progress report - John Wright

Significant Contributors: Amy Marder, ASPCA; Stephanie Frommer, MSPCA, R T Amoss, Mercer University

(Supported by Grants from The Pet Care Trust, and Mercer University)

Project Goal:

The goal of the project was to a.) establish baseline behaviors of puppies kept as companion animals in a household environment, and b.) determine if time-of-sterilization is related to the behavior and health of puppies in the first year following adoption from a shelter.


Subjects:Puppies sterilized for this program came from MSPCA shelters. The shelter staff evaluated the age and health of litters of puppies, and those selected for the study were assigned to either an Early-age or Late age group. Half of each litter was sterilized immediately, prior to adoption, by the MSPCA staff veterinarians. The other half were adopted at approximately the same age, but sterilized at the traditional 6-7 months of age. Puppies estimated to be 6-12 weeks of age at the time of sterilization (Early-age only) and younger than 13 weeks of age at time of adoption were eligible for the study. At the time of adoption, new adopters sign a consent form agreeing to participate in a study about what puppies do in the first year of life.

Assessment Tool: Canine behaviors are assessed with the use of a 66-item questionnaire consisting of different behavioral categories and scaled items similar to those of Miller and Lago (1990), and Borchelt and Voith (1982). Dr. Marder and I included several additional items related to a puppy's physical health and behavior which we used to assess puppies= behavioral well-being (i.e., behavioral stability, relative absence of problem behavior).

Procedure: The 66-item questionnaire was administered to owners of adopted puppies by shelter staff three times following adoption: 30 days post-adoption; when puppies reach 6-months of age (prior to the Late-Age puppies sterilization); and at 1-year following adoption. For each sampling period, owners were asked to recall specific behaviors exhibited in the last 30 days. Each assessment took => 30 minutes.

Results: Preliminary results will be presented for the approximately 200 puppies whose behavior was sampled at 1-year following adoption.

Behavior Problems When There are Kids in the Home - Stephen Zawistowski
Children in the home present risk factors, and compliance concerns that do not exist in adult households. I will present a case history from a family with two children (boys, ages 3 and 5) and a biting West Highland terrier to consider these issues. Information on child developmental psychology will be presented as a way to evaluate risk, and include children in the treatment procedures.