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ABSTRACTS FOR THE IFAAB 2015 MEETING   Schedule           2015 meeting 

Parallel Terminology (Panel)

Victoria L Voith, DVM, MSc, MA, PhD, DACVB, Suzanne Hetts, PhD, CAAB, Peter Borchelt, PhD, CAAB, and Valarie Tynes

People who work with animals typically develop terminology specific to their field.   Individual disciplines may use different words to describe the same behavior.  For example, animal behavior scientists may classify aggression in specific circumstances between animals in social groups as related to dominance; the same incident may be classified as “conflict behavior” or “conflict aggression” by other professionals.  Some groups use the term “sibling rivalry” to describe aggression between dogs in a household regardless of whether the dogs are littermates. What an ethologist calls a “displacement activity”, a dog trainer might call a “calming signal” or an  “offered behavior”.  Regurgitation defined in veterinary medical dictionaries is “the backward flow of undigested food from the esophagus, as distinct from vomiting in which the food comes from the stomach.”  E.O.  Wilson in Sociobiology describes regurgitation as “food sharing” and cites examples of wild dogs bringing back food to litters.  Horsemen/women used to talk about “spirited” horses; now they appear to be “reactive,” a term used by horsepeople and animal scientists.   There is the “sharp dog,” the “bold dog,” the “shy dog,” and the “game dog.” Does anyone know what the equestrian maneuver “Half-halt” means?  Probably most people taking riding lessons don’t – nor may most riding -instructors or, maybe, the term has different meanings among instructors. There is also the phenomenon of using the same word for different phenomena – such as “imprinting,” “punishment,” and “passive aggressiveness.” This panel will provide examples, solicit contributions, and lead a discussion pertaining to such “parallel terminology.”

Using Animal Behavior Theory to Better Understand and Treat Behavioral Problems in Dogs

Camille Ward, MS, PhD, CAAB

What is the value of looking to theory for solutions to applied behavior problems? When working with canine behavioral problems, I regularly draw on my education and background in ethology, animal behavior, and evolutionary theory when making treatment recommendations concerning client dogs.  My talk will investigate and explore relevant concepts from animal behavior theory—e.g., valuable relationships, reconciliation, emotional contagion, social facilitation, etc.—and their potential applications to understanding, preventing, and treating behavioral problems in dogs.  Audience input and discussion are encouraged.

Most of the Good Stuff is Outside of the Quadrant

Peter L. Borchelt, PhD, CAAB and Mary Huntsberry, MA, ACAAB

The +/- , reinforcement/punishment quadrant has become reified and widely accepted as fully describing the field of dog training and behavior consulting. In fact, it fails to include most of the important variables in the fields of animal behavior and animal learning. I will attempt to provide a first approximation (I seek and expect comments and criticism ) of a fuller view of the multitude of variables that form the basis of applied animal behavior, including  sensory systems, behavioral systems, sequences and components, classical conditioning, single stimulus effects (habituation, sensitization) and more. 

Can Four Quadrants Form a Circle? And Other Questions from the Behavioral Front Lines.

Clive D. L. Wynne, PhD

Playwright G. B. Shaw, when told of Pavlov’s discoveries, quipped, “Any policeman could tell you that much about a dog” – an opinion regarding the usefulness of behavioral science for everyday life that is still shared by many today.  Though it is tempting to blame poor education and exploitative TV shows, I will take seriously some of the criticisms that have been laid at the feet of scientific behaviorists. For example, Are the four quadrants of reinforcement logically circular? Is punishment really unethical? How can a secondary reinforcer (such as a click or a whistle) be superior to a primary reinforcer? I will conclude that real-world situations are often difficult to slot into the neat categories of behavioral theory, but it would be throwing out the pup with the bathwater to give up on the attempt to form a rigorous applied science of companion-animal behavior.

Selectionism and Parsimony: How Radical Behaviorism Provides Optimism and Compassion or More Reasons to Not Use the Word “Dominant”

Erica N. Feuerbacher, PhD, CPDT-KA

Two of the fundamental tenets of radical (Skinnerian) behaviorism are parsimony and selectionism. First, parsimony requires that we include no more variables for a natural phenomenon as are necessary and sufficient to explain it. We often use summary labels (a shorthand description of a suite of behaviors) to describe behavior (e.g., the dog is dominant, fear-aggressive, left-brain extrovert), but can fall into circular reasoning when these are used as explanations of behavior they describe. These explanatory fictions are therefore not parsimonious and do not identify the environment-behavior relations that lead to effective action. As applied animal behaviorists we should seek parsimony because it leads to effective action for behavior change. Second, selectionism takes behavior as a product of environmental selection at the ontogenetic level, just as natural selection explains species from an environmental selection standpoint. Just as natural selection eschewed an essentialistic view of species, selectionism at the behavioral level also eschews an essentialistic view of behavior and instead provides a framework for optimism: behavior is mutable as long as the environmental variables affecting and selecting it are identified and controlled. It also provides a compassionate view of both the animal and the handler: both are products of their environment, including their deficits, and both can be changed. Both from a selectionist view and employing parsimony, employing terms such as “dominant” often take on an explanatory fiction and essentialist quality; as an explanation for behavior this leaves no room for optimism and change, nor adequately explains the behavior of interest.

Postpartum Parents and Family Dogs

Jennifer Shryock, BA, CDBC

Many parents are prepared for a joyous homecoming with their new baby. They plan ahead for the initial dog and baby greeting and the excitement family guests and friendly visitors bring. But what happens to the happy family once the initial emotional flurry disperses and the reality of a lifetime of parenting sets in? Many families can feel overwhelmed during these first few months of parenthood. This is a time frame I call the "Impulsive Re-homing Phase". This presentation will highlight observable signs which may indicate the human-animal bond is at risk or weakening and could lead to relinquishment of the dog. Common family and dog challenges will be highlighted and tips will be shared that can maximize the long term success for all family members.

Peri-Pubescent Canine Aggression – Could This Dog have been Saved?
Suzanne La Croix, MS, PhD

This is the case study of Ozzie, the male German Shepherd Dog.  Ozzie was owned by the ideal family who already had one ideal Golden Retriever. The peri-pubescent Ozzie began to exhibit impulsivity and occasional “guard dog behavior” toward people for whom he had previously shown no adverse reactions.  Over the course of five months, he became increasingly erratic, unpredictable, and aggressive toward unfamiliar people and situations, while continuing to have an acceptable home relationship with his family and his canine companion.  Despite exhibiting intelligence and learning (some behavior modification was successful), his impulsivity during arousal states progressed to unacceptable levels of barking, poking, snatching, and ultimately biting behavior (first directed at the front door & strangers; and ultimately family directed.)  Despite the family’s best efforts, Ozzie escaped the home to bite a passing jogger; the family feared the impact this experience was having on their children.  As a last chance, the family utilized a two-week training and boarding boot-camp with a dog trainer experienced with German Shepherd Dogs.  However, despite Ozzie’s ability to adopt “normal dog manners” with the resident Top Dog (a mature German Shepherd Dog), he was unable to adjust his view of human strangers and his aggressive outbursts remained unpredictable.  He ultimately redirected his aggression onto the female owner during a “Greeting from a Friendly Stranger” exercise and severely bit her leg.  The owners conceded defeat and the young dog was euthanized.  Could this dog have been saved? 



Prescribing Fluoxetine in Small Animal Practice

Gagandeep Kaur, DVM, PhD*, Victoria L. Voith, DVM, MSc, MA, PhD, DACVB, Peggy L. Schmidt, DVM, MS, DACVPM

Use of behavior modifying drugs in small animal medicine is on the rise. Most of these drugs are not approved by the FDA for use in dogs and cats. Fluoxetine is commonly prescribed for animal behavior problems. The purpose of this study was to examine prescribing habits of small animal veterinarians for use of fluoxetine in dogs and cats. Small animal veterinarians, contacted through email or at local veterinary meetings, were asked to fill out an eight question survey about their use of fluoxetine. Of the respondents, 83% prescribed fluoxetine for dogs or cats or both. The majority prescribed fluoxetine once per 24 hours, and generic formulation was the most commonly used form. In dogs, fluoxetine was used for 32 different behavioral diagnoses. In cats, fluoxetine was used for 22 different diagnoses. These results will be presented at the meeting. Conclusion: The findings highlight widespread use of fluoxetine for many behavioral disorders/diagnoses. Different treatment regimens followed by the clinicians suggest the use of fluoxetine may be based on personal experience, rather than research.

Why, When and How to Recommend Euthanasia for Behavior Cases (Panel)

Ellen Mahurin, MA, ACAAB, Theresa DePorter, DVM, MRCVS, DECAWBM, DACVB, Sherrie Yuschak RVT, VTS (Behavior), KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, and Jennifer Shryock, BA, CDBC

Clients should be able to expect us to give our expert opinions on the likelihood of a favorable outcome in behavioral cases.  Will treatment be "worth it" in terms of time and financial commitment, welfare of the pet, emotional toll on the family, and safety for everyone involved?  It can be unappealing and heart wrenching to help families make these difficult, extremely personal decisions.  Pet parents should not be expected to face the option of euthanasia alone.  Behaviorists can and should weigh in.  The panel will present cases and personal opinions.  Each member represents a slightly different background, career path, and experience set within applied pet behavior.  This will provide multiple perspectives and encourage lively discussion.

Effects of Shelter Dog Breed Labeling on Potential Adopter Perceptions, Length of Stay & Return Rates

Lisa M. Gunter* and Clive D.L. Wynne, PhD

Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in animal shelters than others however how breed perception and assignment influence potential adopters’ decisions remains unclear. Dog breed identification in shelters is often based upon reporting by relinquishing owner or staff determination according to the dog’s phenotype. However discrepancies have been found between breed identification assessed by welfare agencies and DNA analysis. Specifically, breed assignment of pit bull-type dogs by shelter staff and veterinarians has shown to be inconsistent and an unreliable means of identification with dogs labeled in this way lacking such DNA signatures associated with this breed group. The first study here examines dogs labeled as pit-bull types and dogs that were phenotypically similar but were labeled as another breed or breed mix (“lookalikes”) at a Florida open admission animal shelter. We compared the dogs’ total lengths of stay as well as potential adopters’ perceptions of attractiveness when viewed in videos. Study 2 analyzes data from an open admission animal shelter in Florida that removed breed labeling from shelter kennel cards and online adoption profiles. We compared lengths of stay and outcomes for all breeds, including pit bull-type dogs, and modes of intake, before the change in labeling practice (January 2005-January 2014) with those after the labeling change had been made (February-September 2014). Lastly, we investigated breed assignment of mixed breed dogs at a limited admission animal shelter in Arizona. In this experiment, we compared available length of stay prior to adoption and post-adoption return rates for dogs whose breeds were determined by visual identification to those whose breeds were determined with the MARS Wisdom Panel – which were indicated on the dogs’ kennels. Preliminary data analysis from these three studies will be presented and discussed.



The Diamond in the Rough

Lynne Gilbert-Norton, PhD

Canines with a Cause (CWAC) is a non-profit organization in Utah that helps veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) assimilate back in to life after war by providing them with a shelter dog, and helping them train their dog as a potential service dog. CWAC also places shelter dogs with female inmates in the State Correctional Facility to train as potential service dogs for veterans. To be successful, a service dog must meet temperament and behavior criteria over and above those usually desired in a pet dog. However, the difficulty for programs such as CWAC is successfully identifying potential service dogs from the shelter population. Behavioral assessments such as the ASPCA SAFER™ or B.A.R.C. provide predictive consistent approaches to evaluating behavioral characteristics in shelter dogs. However, such approaches fall short for evaluating shelter dogs as potential service animals because they are either designed to assess single characteristics for adoptability (e.g., the probability of future aggression), or fail to identify behaviors that manifests post-testing and that represent limiting factors for a service animal. The result is that a large percentage of dogs pulled from the shelter as potential service dogs are likely to be inappropriate. As the number of organizations that rescue shelter dogs as potential assistance dogs increases, the development of a standardized behavioral assessment that effectively identifies such animals will become increasingly important in reducing the selection of inappropriate animals.  Therefore guidance on the development and application of such an assessment is solicited from the animal behavior professionals and scientific community at IFAAB.

Comparison of Visual Identification of Dog Breeds Before and During Access to Dog Breed Identification Resources

Victoria L. Voith* DVM, MSc, MA, PhD, DACVB, Vanessa Johnson, Amanda Borgquist, Kristopher Irizarry,  Seana Dowling-Guyer

People engaged in dog activities (either as a current profession, volunteer, or hobbyist) identified the breed or breeds of 4 dogs in two conditions.  A total of 20 dogs were viewed.  In the first condition, the participants viewed video-clips of each dog without access to any identification resources.   In the second condition, they again viewed the dogs while they had access to breed identification resources of a book, chart, and dog breed list.  In both conditions, the participants had as much time as they wanted to make their identifications. The 423 people who met the entrance criteria were segmented by record-keeping responsibilities, with 243 having their opinions of a dog’s breed entered into records and 180 who did not.  For each of the 20 dogs, visual breed identifications that matched DNA breed identifications in the two conditions were compared.  For each dog, inter-observer reliability in the two conditions were compared.  The percentage of respondents who changed their answers was also examined.

Learning to Love Scary Things: A DSCC Clinic for Horses

Robin Foster, PhD, CAAB, CHBC

Many horses are anxious and fearful around novel objects, new places, and unfamiliar animals.  Flooding is a widely used exposure technique in horses, and freezing, rushing, and bolting are typical reactions that can lead to injury of the horse or handler.  To help promote scientifically-based, low stress approaches in equine training, I developed a protocol for introducing horses to novel stimuli based on desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques that I have used in educational clinics with adolescent and novice riders.  Some key elements of the protocol include: reading the horse’s body language to assess its level of arousal; finding effective reinforcers and rewarding calm responses; training and using safety cues; using equipment properly to prevent unwanted responses; and training in distributed practice sessions.  The clinics also address the dangers and unwanted consequences of using flooding, force, and harsh corrections in this context.







Evaluation of  Wellbeing Parameters in New York City Carriage Horses

Sarah Mercer BS, Joseph Bertone DVM, MS, DACVIM, and David Kersey PhD

The purpose of this study was to provide an objective evaluation of the wellbeing of a population of working horses. This study investigated wellbeing parameters in a population of working New York City carriage horses. Samples were collected over the course of a 3 day period (August 3-5, 2014). The parameters measured included fecal cortisol, salivary cortisol, and infrared thermography (IRT) of the medial canthus. The parameters used in this study have all been utilized in previous investigations to quantify stress levels in horses in a variety of settings. Collection Day 1, 2 and 3 involved 11, 7 and 8 horses, respectively. Collection days included 4 collection time points. At time point 1 (TP1), subjects were at rest in their stalls prior to work or the arrival of employees (06:00-08:00am EST). TP2 occurred as harnessed subjects were being hitched to carriages and prepared for work. TP3 occurred immediately after being placed in their stall at conclusion of work day. TP4 occurred 1 hour after horses were returned to their stall. Fecal cortisol samples were collected at TP1 and are used to evaluate chronic glucocorticoid levels. Salivary cortisol and IRT were collected at all 4 time points and reflect a more acute state of wellbeing. Preliminary evaluation of the salivary cortisol show differences among the time points (χ23 = 8.7; P = 0.03) with TP3 (0.96 ± 0.06 ng/ml) being greater (t25 = 2.5; P = 0.02) than TP4 (0.77 ± 0.07 ng/ml); however, all other time point comparisons were not different (P > 0.05). For the IRT, student t-test indicated that measures between the left and right eye did not differ within time assessments (T = 141.5 - 144.5 12,12; U = 63.5 - 66.5; P = 0.644 - 0.773); therefore measures between left and right eye were averaged for comparisons of eye changes among the sampling time points. A One Way Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance revealed no difference (F =0.114; P 0.952) among time points (TP1-4) eye measures. A similar trend was not evident between the cortisol and IRT data sets. The salivary cortisol variation among TP3 and 4 is a reflection of increased metabolic activity driven by exercise rather than stress. Stress as the driving factor behind salivary cortisol increase would have resulted in a similar increase in IRT which was not observed. Evidence collected thus far indicate no significant perturbation in the state of wellbeing of this population of working horses.

Sleep Deprivation Behavior Syndrome: Case Survey and Classification

Joseph Bertone, DVM, MS, DACVIM

Introduction-Horses that frequently partially collapse may be suspected of recumbent sleep deprivation. Materials and Methods-The author’s conclusions come from review of 396 (gelding to mare ratio of 4:1) cases collected from 2000 to 2013.  To assure that the behavior was consistent, video images of the behavior were necessary in most cases to be included in the review. Results-This study elucidates 7 categories of horses that have been identified with this behavior. Unclassified cases (112, gelding (g) to mare (m) ratio 5.1) are those horses where no association could be identified. Classified horses (227, 3.4) included horses that presented with suspected to become or rise from recumbency (23, 1.1), monotony (26, 1.2), Sleep terror (18, 0.8), Lyme disease (4, 3), aggression displacement (47; 15.7), and environmental insecurity (99, 18.8). Discussion-There are multiple biases to the conclusions in this study. Internet case referral issues, video capabilities, evolving diagnostic techniques and management protocols are but a few. There were clear disproportionate sex predilections. Pain, monotony and sleep terror were evenly distributed across sex as would be expected. Lyme disease may have been gelding over-represented due to small case number. There was clear sex predilection for geldings to mares in aggression displacement (15.7) and environmental insecurity (18.8).  Interestingly, no stallions were presented. This leads one to hypothesize that there may be sex hormone and herd structure issues with these 2 presentations. Sleep terror associated behavior was diagnosed when there was evidence of behavior similar to sleep terror behavior in human patients.  This is a relatively new finding in the data set as all cases have been identified since June 2012. This may be at higher incidence, since all night videography has become more common. Dietary and drug trials are underway in these cases.  Conclusion: sleep deprivation behavior occurs for multiple elucidated and as yet to be discovered reasons. Vigilance for this disorder and close evaluation may identify means for management.

How to Combat Bad Information from Credible Sources (Panel)

Jessica Lockhart, MS, PhD, CAAB, Suzanne Hetts, PhD, CAAB, Dan Estep, PhD, CAAB, and Amanda Florsheim, DVM

I find time and time again I end up talking to clients about misinformation they have received from veterinarians, trainers, and/or TV shows (especially). The people delivering the messages have credibility in that they are professionals with large amounts of experience in the animal world; however, the behavioral information they may hand out is not the most accurate information regarding current research in behavior or even training methods. It can be very hard to correct some inaccuracies in these situations without seeming heavy handed. What are some of the techniques that you find work best to provide accurate information while preserving a professional working relationship especially with practitioners in your community?

Consultant-Initiated Follow-Up Improves Client Satisfaction and Animal Outcomes

Mindy Waite, PhD

Regardless of whether an Animal Behavior Consultant works for a business, a non-profit, or themselves, their focus is on both client outcomes and efficient money/time management. To that end, many behaviorists charge by the hour/session and may avoid unbillable follow-up communications, such as emails or phone calls. However, studies suggest that follow-up by the consultant, if done correctly, may increase both client satisfaction and animal behavior/survival outcomes. Data from these practitioner/client follow-up studies, as well as current field trends, will be presented and used to generate business model suggestions. A discussion from professional consultants in the audience regarding their experiences and thoughts will be welcomed following the presentation.

Behaviorists’ “Best Practices” – An Open Discussion

Suzanne La Croix, MS, PhD

Although ours is a relatively new field – it is never too early to begin a cross-disciplinary discussion of what constitutes best practices for professionals involved in applied animal behavior practice.  Some guidance already exists for scholarly or “connected” professionals in the form of position statements from AVSAB and various “industry texts” that we frequently consult.  Is it time to create a unique resource that is more accessible to the “less credentialed” but often more affordable or accessible dog trainer/animal trainer/rescuer/behaviorist?  Perhaps a resource that states best practices for initial behavior history taking (in clinical vs non-clinical settings), for initial animal encounters , and for client documentation and follow-up?  A behaviorist colleague who was well experienced with zoo practices recently began counseling dog clients and suffered an attack by an aggressive dog in which her ear was partially bitten off.  In hindsight, she can describe how her interaction with the dog was an example of “what not to do.”  However, had best practices been a resource as she started her new business, this particular incident could easily have been avoided.  Are we the experienced professionals who should tackle the initiation of best practices for our peers and the more general animal trainer/behaviorist?

Evaluation of the Efficacy of a New Pheromone Product Versus Placebo in the Management of Feline Aggression in Multi-cat Households

Theresa DePorter, DVM, MRCVS, DECAWBM, DACVB*,  A. Lopez, and E. Ollivier

Introduction: Aggression and social tension amongst housemate cats is common and puts cats at risk for injury or relinquishment (Salman, 2000). Materials and Methods: In this pilot study, a new pheromone product by Ceva Santé Animale was evaluated for efficacy to reduce aggression between housemate cats by randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in 45 multi-cat households [Pheromone (n=20), placebo (n=25)] that reported aggression for at least 2 weeks (range 17-3,931 days, average=822 days). Each household included 2-5 cats. Volunteers attended a group meeting on Day -7 (D-7) and the veterinary behaviorist described behaviors to be monitored for 7 weeks using the Oakland Feline Social Interaction Scale (OFSIS) which assessed the frequency and intensity of 12 aggressive interactions (e.g. bite, swat, stare, block, hiss or scream). Participants were provided directions for safely handling aggressive events. Punishment techniques were discouraged. Plug-in diffusers with new pheromone product or placebo were utilized from D0 to D28. Participants completed daily diary of aggressive events and weekly OFSIS.   Results: The OFSIS scores (possible 0 to 360) were similar at baseline (mean±SE pheromone, 105.1±11.1 vs placebo, 109.6±8.5 at D-7 and 83.4±10.4 vs 83.5±8.3 at D0). The pheromone group showed a lower mean OFSIS score than placebo at D7 (47.8±6.3vs 61.8±7.7), D14 (30.8±4.9 vs 48.0±8.3), D21 (21.8±3.9 vs 40.7±7.4), D28 (33.2±9.7 vs 47.0±9.7) which continued post treatment D35 (32.5±8.0 vs 55.0±10.5) and D42 (31.2±8.1 vs 59.0±9.0). [Repeated measures ANOVA F(1, 43) = 4.34, p=0.0431]. Discussion: This study suggests this new pheromone is a promising treatment for the management of aggression between housemate cats.

Toys, Pets and Passion

Mark Hines

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 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.

Training Owners how to use the New Freedom Harness Correctly

Colleen S. Koch, DVM

The new freedom harness is an excellent tool that can be used to help owners of reactive dogs control their pet without increasing arousal as some devices are known to do. Unfortunately many people do not know how to use the harness correctly resulting in a dog that continues to pull and is difficult to redirect as well as a frustrated owner who mistakenly believes that they have wasted their money on a useless product. This presentation will demonstrate how to help clients increase their success when using the new freedom harness, thus allowing for greater control of unmanageable dogs.

An Overview of Pet Surveillance Equipment

Robin Foster, PhD, CAAB, CHBC

Remote monitoring can be very useful for making accurate diagnoses of pet behavior problems, following the progress of a behavior modification plan, and making unobtrusive observations of animal behavior in general.  Choosing a system that serves one’s needs and pocketbook can be time consuming and confusing because the market is exploding with new products that vary in features and cost.  In this discussion I will compare different systems on the basis of direct and indirect costs, system requirements, ease of use, image quality, reliability, and other features using examples from companion animals.  This product comparison is from a 2014 workshop for owners of dogs with separation anxiety.

Heart Rate and Behavior of Dogs during Radio Systems Invisible Fence PerfectStartPlus (PSP) Training

Nancy Williams, MA, ACAAB, and Suzanne Hetts, PhD, CAAB

Electronic fence trainers and pet owners have trained thousands of dogs to be contained within certain boundaries by electronic containment systems. However, to our knowledge, there have been no studies to collect either behavioral or physiological data to evaluate the degree of stress dogs may experience during training.  This is unfortunate, because the potentially aversive effects of the training procedures for electronic containment have been of concern in our field. Therefore, we designed a pilot protocol to gather data on physiological and behavioral responses of dogs during an indoor training program for the Invisible Fence brand electronic containment system. A Polar Watch was used to record the dog's heart rates and each dog was videotaped during data collection.  To date, data have only been collected on three dogs.  However, our work demonstrates this is a useful protocol that can be made more rigorous and used with a larger sample of dogs in the future to better evaluate the effect of Invisible Fence’s unique Perfect Start Plus indoor training protocol on measures of stress in dogs. We will present our findings, discuss our plans for future studies,  and allow for group discussion of the overall topic.


Training Rhea americana Chicks for Voluntary Weighing

Colleen S. Koch, DVM

According to producers, early identification of rhea chicks that are not gaining weight at an expected rate facilitates potentially lifesaving intervention. The current technique for weighing chicks includes crowding the chicks, grabbing them, manipulating them in order to visualize the identification number on their leg band, followed by placing them in a bucket, which is then placed on a scale. After weighing, they are grabbed from the bucket and placed back in their pen.  As the birds age, they become increasingly fearful of people, making future husbandry procedures even more difficult.  This presentation will demonstrate that with the use of positive reinforcement training, rhea chicks could be taught to voluntarily step up on a scale to be weighed. A handheld microchip scanner could be used to identify the chicks without having to touch them resulting in chicks that remained much calmer around humans as they matured.