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                         Abstracts - IFAAB 2012 Meeting                 Schedule    2012 meeting

Crista Coppola & Nancy Williams

Impulsivity, Lack of Impulse Control, Lack of Inhibition – what is everyone talking about?


The new buzz word in training and behavior modification is “Impulse Control”, either lack of or teaching some.  It appears to be either the origin of every behavior problem (lack of) or the solution to every behavior problem (teaching some).  Is it really this simple? 


Current research in dogs includes a search to define “impulsivity” that appears to be inherited in other species, and increases with age, inattention to stimuli, and hyperactivity in a non-novel environment.  It is also unclear if impulsivity is a medical and/or behavior problem, or if it exists at a pathological level. 


Let’s talk about what everyone else is talking about and see if we agree, on the term, definition, cause, effect or even the technique.  Be prepared to share how you treat “impulse control” problems in your practice. Videos and handouts are encouraged


Theresa DePorter

Case report: “Anxiety revealed: Pongo’s story”


The patient, Pongo, is a 5 year old Border collie mix known to be anxious in the car. This dog is owned by a friend of the author and she agreed to participate in an assessment trial of Anxitane (L-theanine) to see if Pongo’s anxiety in the car could be reduced by this natural product. Pongo’s behavior in the car was unbearable: he was relentless and he barked, paced, panted during every moment of a car ride.


Presentation will include videos of Pongo’s behavior in a car before and after treatment with Anxitane. Following treatment for his car ride anxiety, the owner noted other changes in behavior and she was enlightened to the behaviors he displayed which were related to anxiety and not just his personality or bad training. Pongo barked persistently when visitor’s came to the home, sometimes he was afraid to drink from his own water bowl and he frequently reacted to common household noises.  He woke her up every night, for years. He went to the veterinary office for a nail trim every 6 weeks, which required multiple staff members to restrain him and he expressed his anal glands during every visit.  Pongo has been a behavioral “guinea pig” for various anxiolytics including: Anxitane, DAP, Harmonease and Reconcile. This owner developed a greater understanding of her dog’s motivation, behaviors and anxiety by treating a single, specific problem and as a result she became more aware of her dog’s constant state of anxiety. Though generally his behaviors have improved over the last couple of years, he regresses when anxiolytic interventions are discontinued. During these anxiolytic tests, we have learned a greater appreciation for the subtle and not so subtle anxiety Pongo displays. Much of his activities would have been easily dismissed as just being a “bad dog”.


Lauren Hays

Field Trial Retrievers (Part 2) - A New Understanding of Fine-Tuned Performance


In the last 20 years, the intensely competitive world of field trial retrievers has seen a major shift in training methodology.  As the dogs have become better and the tests have become harder, the training has had to evolve as well.  We will take a look at past methods, their results and the type of dog those methods produced, along with the contributing factors making  change necessary to maximize a dog's performance in the field.  Specific problems such as "popping", "no-gos", and "bugging" will be looked at from both the older methodology view and the newer methodology view.  Video footage and a slide show will help demonstrate specific behaviors.  The discussion would focus on application of these methods in other areas, other ways to encourage the shift to newer training methods, and performance dog training in general.


Julie Hecht

Canines in the Classroom


As the field of canine science grows exponentially, canine research is making its way into classroom settings. Three examples of courses are Canine Cognition (Alexandra Horowitz, Barnard College), Canine Science: Nature of Dogs (Leslie Angel, Carroll College) and Behavior of Wolves & Dogs (Barbara Smuts, University of Michigan).


I will provide a survey of undergraduate canine science classes, and we will discuss their broader implications. In addition to presenting which research is making its way out of academic journals and into classrooms, we will discuss whether the scientific findings that are relevant for scholastic audiences are also relevant for the general public and people interacting with domesticated species. Additionally, we will discuss how teachers and practitioners address tensions between differing findings in an evolving field.


Dan Estep and Suzanne Hetts

Amazing Feats of Canine Cognition: What Would Clever Hans Say?


In this presentation we’ll review recent research about the ability of dogs to attend to gestural cues from people, and how handlers’ expectations can influence the performance of dogs in a working setting.  We’ll also show video of a dog we evaluated whose owner claimed could perform a variety of complex tasks and could supposedly demonstrate name recognition of a number of objects.  Researchers should be alert to the fact that dogs may be more susceptible to Clever Hans effects than other species, and extraordinary care needs to be taken in canine cognition and other canine research to avoid these effects.


Mark Hines, the Kong Company

From Idea to Marketplace – What it Takes to Create a Successful Pet Product


At some point in our careers, we’ve likely had an idea for a product – a toy, a training aid, or other device that we are sure thousands of pet owners would buy and would make us millions of dollars if we could just develop the product and get it to market.  But what’s really involved in that process?  In this presentation, I will be discussing the challenges of pet product development and “myth busting” some of the common assumptions. From conception to market there are multiple steps in between that must be taken to ensure a safe and saleable pet product.  


On an informal basis, I’d also like to share videos and my experiences from my recent trip to China which included visits to animal shelters, veterinary hospitals and pet stores.  Incongruities about attitudes toward animals abound – as one person put it, they are saving dog in shelters, but the restaurant on the corner still has “dog” on the menu.


Wayne Hunthausen

The use of an alpha-2 antagonist, clonidine, for treating canine anxiety disorders


Karen B. London and Patricia B. McConnell

Love Has No Age Limit:  Help for those adopting adult dogs


Abstract: Adopting an adult or adolescent dog is different in many ways than acquiring a new puppy, and this difference presents challenges to the dog's new family.  Too often, these challenges result in unsuccessful adoptions: Research in one area of the country found that over a third of adopted dogs were returned to the shelter from which they came. This presentation focuses on how professionals can help clients prepare for and adjust to dogs of varying ages to help facilitate successful adoptions. We will discuss, based on our personal experiences, our work with clients and the observations of shelter/rescue workers, how an adopter's expectations are often out of line with the reality of adopting an older dog. Our intent is to begin the presentation by summarizing our observations and advice based on the book Love Has No Age Limit, a copy of which will be given to all attendees, and to open this timely and important issue up for discussion.


Ellen Mahurin and Jennifer Shryock

Dogs & Storks and the Dog and Baby Connection


I will give you an overview of these two programs designed to keep dogs in their homes when children enter the family and to prevent dog bites to children.  These goals are met by helping parents understand realistic expectations, prepare their dogs for a new baby and foster healthy relationships as dogs and babies grow together.   I have been using D&S and DABC in my consulting business since June 2011 and I have found these programs to be incredibly helpful to my clients and a boost to my business.  D&S and DABC were created by Jennifer Shryock, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, mother of four human children and mother of multiple dogs.


Petra A. Mertens

Cross suckling in litters of hand raised kittens in a shelter setting


The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA provides care for over 1000 orphan kittens annually. Kittens enter the organization’s nursery between one day of age and eight weeks of age. Within this population, we see a number of kittens who engage in suckling behavior on litter mates. The behavior is often transient and situational. In some cases, suckling is severe, causing harm and injury to litter mates. Injuries that kittens sustain can require medical attention, including surgical repair.


This prospective study explores the prevalence of the behavior among the organization’s orphan kitten population. Kittens who are raised by their queens in the organization’s queen nursery serve as a control group.  Data collected includes the age when the behavior occurs, the severity, the body part affected, the duration of the problem, other behavioral issues observed, as well as behavior issues reported by adopters after the cats’ adoption into a home.


Karen Pryor

Clicker Training: History, progress, and implications


Clicker training is a nickname for a behavioral technology using operant conditioning, positive reinforcement and a conditioned stimulus as event marker. It was NOT invented by me. Like most technologies, it was developed by many people over many years.


The underlying science was first categorized by BF Skinner. Skinner graduate students Keller and Marian Breland took the principles out of the laboratory in the '40's and developed applications for commercial and military purposes. The first widespread general application was in the marine mammal community.  Dolphin training with operant conditioning started in 1960’s, and there it stayed, for almost 30 years. The technology did not spread to the general public until the publication of Don’t Shoot the Dog in 1985, a book about reinforcement with people, not with dogs, which nevertheless launched the gradual adoption of force-free training by a new generation of dog trainers.


The rise of the Internet facilitated communication throughout the dog community and into the horse and zoo communities. One result was an abundance of instructional books, videos, and teaching seminars. The technology is easy to learn and easy to transfer. From both dog and dolphin trainers, ordinary zoo keepers all over the planet began learning to shape and reinforce behavior. Zoos now routinely develop cooperative and voluntary behavior (holding still for blood draws and immunizations, for example) in okapis and hyenas, and many other large and small animals previously impossible to treat without physical or chemical restraints.


Human-related applications using a marker signal and shaping (rather than discrete trial and verbal instruction-based learning) began in the 1990's with sports, spread to autism and special needs, and now include skills-building techniques in many human areas, from music to personnel management.


Modern training is giving us new insights into specifics of learning capacity across species, including invertebrates. Protocols have been developed for teaching ‘intelligent’ behavior such as concept formation, innovative behavior, and elements of language (verbs+nouns+adjectives for example) to a wide range of species. For us ‘clicker trainers’ the new questions now are not about reinforcement and behavior analysis but about the neuroscience describing what happens when reinforcement occurs. And as we are learning from the neuroscientists, they are learning from us; a new generation of Harvard graduate students is getting new answers from their cranially implanted rats—via clicker training. 


Pamela Reid and Kristen Collins

Enduring “Love”:  Evaluating the Animal Victims of Hoarding


Dogs rescued from hoarding situations run the gamut from friendly, sociable animals to extremely fearful—even feral—creatures. Resilient, outgoing dogs may be ready for immediate placement in new homes. Some of the frightened ones come around with time in a shelter or foster home. Others suffer from such a poor quality of life that the only humane option is euthanasia. The variability in behavior we observe in hoarding-case dogs is of particular interest given the lack of experiential and genetic diversity we assume exists in these animals. Not only does the behavior evaluation prove a useful tool in determining disposition of these victims of misguided “love,” but it also provides us with a picture of the unique characteristics of inbred, isolated populations. By creating behavioral profiles of dogs from hoarding situations, we can better distinguish these animals from other victims of cruelty and provide guidance for placement and rehabilitation.  



Melissa Shyan-Norwalt

“Mommy and Daddy Love You!”—Baumrind’s Developmental Psychology Parenting Model: Parallels to Pet Management?


Once classic developmental psychology parenting model (Baumrind, ____) suggests that different levels and combinations of discipline and nurturance lead to predictable child-as-adult outcomes.  Although the model is now viewed as somewhat simplistic, it creates a possible parallel to how different owners respond to and manage their pets.  Can this model can help predict pet behavior outcomes?  Can it be used as an analogy-tool  to educate owners to improve their handling techniques? Baumrind’s Model will be presented, including positives and pitfalls. Then IFAAB participants will be asked to discuss it in terms of similarities and differences in pet behavior management, and whether the model might have usefulness for behavior management and problem resolution.


Valarie V. Tynes

The Role of Medical Conditions in Stereotypic Animal Behavior: A Case Report


Repetitive behaviors are some of the more common behavioral problems

seen in captive wild animals and it has long been suggested that their

presence is indicative of poor welfare. The causes of stereotypical

behavior are complex and multi-factorial. To complicate matters, a

variety of medical conditions can contribute to stereotypical behavior.

Failure to treat a medical condition can also lead to poor animal

welfare. This presentation is intended to familiarize attendees with

some of the more recent findings about the role of medical conditions in

stereotypic behaviors using a case report of a captive North American

River Otter exhibiting tail chasing behavior.


Victoria L Voith

Results of comparison of visual and DNA identification or mixed-breed dogs and inter-observer reliability.


Over 900 participants viewed one minute video clips of dogs of unknown parentage  The majority of respondents were in animal control/sheltering and veterinary medical fields. . There was little agreement between visual and DNA identifications. Nor was there much agreement among respondents as to what they thought was the most predominant breed in a dog identified as a mixed breed. 

20-30 minutes.


Michele Wan

The Role of Experience in the Human Perception of Emotion in Dogs


Interpretations of the behavior of dogs in videos - in particular,

perceptions of the dogs' emotions - were compared among 2,163

participants with different levels of dog experience (never owned a

dog, dog owner, dog professional for less than ten years, dog

professional for ten or more years).  People's level of dog experience

was strongly associated with their perceptions of the viewed dogs'

emotions.  Differences by experience were the most evident in

interpretations of negatively-valenced emotional displays (as judged

by an initial expert panel).  Less-experienced individuals tended to

provide more positive emotion ratings of negatively-valenced behavior

than more-experienced individuals.  In addition, they were more likely

to categorize negatively-valenced behavior as happy, rather than

fearful.  Compared to less-experienced individuals, individuals with

greater dog experience were more likely to focus on the dogs' ears and

facial expressions and less likely to focus on legs and tails when

interpreting the dogs' behavior.  In sum, individual differences in

dog experience were associated with variation in the observation and

interpretation of dog behavior.


Camille Ward and Rebecca Trisko

Unleashed Dog Daycare and Training


In previous studies, we examined interactions between two dogs.  In 

this presentation, we expand our focus to investigate third-party 

interactions.  Interactions between more than two dogs routinely 

occur, for example, in households where multiple dogs are kept, at dog 

parks, and in dog daycare centers.  By understanding three-way 

interactions, dog guardians and applied professionals will be better 

equipped to manage multi-dog situations.  We videotaped third-party 

interventions (i.e., disruptions) in dyadic interactions between dogs 

in three different contexts: 1) within litters of puppies, 2) within 

groups of dogs at a daycare facility, and 3) case studies of dogs 

within a multi-dog household.  We identify and describe several 

patterns associated with third-party interventions, compare our 

findings with other social species, and make recommendations for 

managing multi-dog environments.