FOR THE IFAAB 2003 MEETING
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Peter L. Borchelt
The Relationship Of Heart Rate Variability And Emotional Reactivity In
studies have examined emotional reactivity and physiological responses
to mildly stressful events in behaving dogs.
study examined behavior and heart rate variability in ten dogs during
mildly stressful events in order to investigate the relationship between
emotional reactivity and cardiovascular responses in dogs.
Behavioral and cardiovascular responses of 10 (5 males; 5
females) pet dogs, representing six different breeds, were examined at
baseline, during three stressor tasks, and at recovery.
Sessions were recorded on videotape for behavioral analysis while
electrocardiogram (ECG) data were recorded using a standard 5 lead -
Spacelabs Holter monitor. The three stressors included: mild restraint,
a suspended helium balloon anchored to an oscillating fan, and a
life-size three-dimensional model of a Cocker Spaniel.
Results indicated increased heart rates to behavioral challenge
as compared to baseline primarily driven by vagal withdrawal.
Interestingly, heart rate was lowest during the oscillating fan
condition and highest when exposed to the dog model.
Further studies examining anxious and aggressive dogs are being
conducted. Our goal is to evaluate that data in comparison to this study
to gain some insight into the relation between heart rate variability,
predicting behavior and behavior modification. In
the future, an increased understanding of the relation between
physiological arousal and cognitive states can lead to improvements in
the management and treatment of behavior problems in pet dogs.
Shelter Behavior Programs Panel
In the past fifteen
years behavior evaluations at animal shelters have become more common.
In theory they may serve a variety of functions, but most often,
they are used to determine whether animals are made available for
adoptions. Depending on the
breadth of the “test,” they may be used to develop an animal profile
to facilitate “matching” of pets and homes or to “prescribe”
enrichment and rehabilitation activities.
These efforts are gaining widespread acceptance within the animal
sheltering community. The
question that begs to posed, and answered, is “does the science
support the expectations?”
The session will include a general introduction to the field of testing
and the concepts of reliability, content, construct and predictive
validity, scales and other relevant issues.
Several presentations will feature work conducted at animal
shelters and will help to delineate the opportunities, and limitations
of this environment. The
session will conclude with a discussion of how to move forward with
consensus efforts regarding methods and interpretation that can be a
service to the animal sheltering community.
animal shelters face, and the tools required (10 min)
Wright and Stephen Zawistowski:
Testing: Theory and
application (30 min)
Predictability of a Shelter Dog Behavioral Assessment Test
Barry and Diane
The Effects of Shelter Stress on Dogs and Cats
Reid and Jill
The Sweet Smell of DAP
Head Start (30
Marylee R. Nitschke
Where we have been in the control of behavior
Historical notes on the control of behavior: ideas, notions,
theories, methods and some equipment. The history of applied
psychology's development of how interspecific behavior can or cannot be
regulated by others will be outlined. Illustrations of
"equipment" will accompany the outline.
Patricia B. McConnell
Publishing without Perishing
No matter how extensive our
training in animal behavior and how deep our experience has been working
as applied behaviorists, few of us have had mentors who've taught us how
to negotiate the world of publishing. There's no doubt that many
of us have a great deal of knowledge that we'd like to share, and that
there's a huge market of people who love to read about companion
animals, but bridging that gap can be rewarding and exciting, or an
exercise in frustration (or most likely, both). In this 40 minute
talk, I'd like to discuss some of the in's and outs of publishing books
related to applied behavior, and generate a discussion from other
participants who've published. The goals of this talk are to
stimulate more publications from knowledgeable people and to increase
the reinforcements that we authors get from our efforts.
Examining Canine Behaviour During Training Classes
The processes of learning and memory are critical for enabling
animals to display adaptive and flexible behaviour in response to a
changing environment. Expression
of adaptive behaviour is a function of many complex influences,
including physiological and emotive states. Numerous studies have
demonstrated that stress can have a detrimental effect upon learning and
memory. Predictability and controllability of a stressor may also be
factors that modify the impact of stress. Companion dogs may encounter
stress during the acquisition of operant responses, such as sit, stay,
come, or heel. Although most dogs acquire these responses in the context
of structured obedience classes, the classes often differ in the operant
conditioning procedures employed by the instructors. The objectives of
this study were: i) to identify if differences exist in the behaviour of
dogs during different training classes with different training methods,
ii) to determine if differences exist in canine performance upon the
completion of different training classes, iii) to determine if
differences exist between different training classes regarding owner
reported satisfaction, owner perceived canine performance, and owner
perceived handler and canine emotional states during classes. Subjects
were privately owned companion animals attending one of three different
dog obedience-training schools. The
primary measure for comparison in this study was observable behaviour,
the secondary measure was an owner completed survey. The behaviours
compared between training classes were: mobility, vocalization, play,
escape from the gentle leader, escape from owner, yawning, aggression
toward the owner, aggression toward another person, aggression toward
another dog, and submissive posturing such as pinned ears, lowered head,
lowered body, and tucked tail. Canine performance during sit, down,
stay, come, and heel exercises was also recorded and compared between
training classes. Ideally this information will be utilized to
help improve the welfare of dogs during basic obedience training.
Applied Animal Behaviorists, we often deal with people who are in
varying degrees of distress, confusion, and vulnerability.
It can be difficult to handle the tricky emotional situations
that develop in the course of appointments.
Ironically, many of us, myself included, have little or no
training in dealing with the human species—the one that is there at
every appointment and decides whether or not to stick with the program.
So much of our success with clients depends on the rapport we are
able to establish with the human clients, and this can require some
delicate verbal foot work. I
have compiled some expressions and phrases that I find useful to diffuse
tension, to offer empathy and sympathy to clients, to connect with them,
and to take a bit of the sting out of things that must be said, even
though I would rather not. My
goal is to share the “spiels and phrases” that I find useful and
generate a discussion about useful things to say so that we all go home
from the meeting with more useful ways to talk to our clients.
Effects of Shelter Stress on Dogs and Cats
day in shelters people do some form of behavioral evaluation of their animals.
These evaluations are designed to determine which animals should go back
into the world to be "pet" animals.
As part of the process we must consider
the effects of the shelter environment on the animals and how it may
influence their behavior. For example, are dogs that show slight fear and
submission under stress better pets than dogs that show confident behavior
under stress? Can we even talk about predicting behavior in this way?
This discussion would explore ideas about how we interpret behavior in shelters
to predict success in new homes and how the concept of stress plays a
role in that interpretation.
Who Bite and Then Apologize: What’s going on?
All of us have had clients who report that their dogs bite them and then
"contrite" afterwards. However,
this contriteness doesn’t carry over
into an inhibition of a bite response on future occasions.
going on that causes this "apology" in an owner-aggressive
this represent a situation of "reconciliation behavior" (a
work with primates)? If so, what does it mean for dog social
and what are it’s ramifications for applied animal behavior work.
Data will be presented. Discussion
will be encouraged.
phobia is a common problem in dogs and, arguably, in cats.
Behavioral modification techniques have been inconsistently
successful in modulating symptoms so many practitioners advise
medication. A literature
review of behavior modification techniques and medication therapies
currently advocated will be presented.
In addition, a system for evaluating thunder phobia symptoms for
client monitoring has been developed recently which is valuable for
client monitoring. Finally,
some alternative medicine therapies currently being used
experimentally for treatment will be discussed.
Randall Lockwood (leader), Suzanne Hetts, John Wright
in the Forensic Evaluation of Canine Behavior
is increasingly being introduced in criminal and civil trials. This has
- Assessment of
general temperament in cases of fatal or severe dog attack
- Evaluation of
prior training for guard, attack or dog fighting
reconstruction in fatal or severe dog attack
- Assessment for
behavioral indications of abuse or severe neglect
is an emerging discipline and many of the assessments that have been
used in court have been done in a rather unstructured fashion. In the
absence of "generally accepted" procedures or protocols, any
such assessments may be subject to Daubert hearings that challenge such
evidence as "junk science". If applied animal behavior is to
gain broader acceptance in the courts as a science, the profession will
need to reach some consensus on best practices.
panel will discuss these concerns with specific attention to such
standardized/quantitative should assessment
- Are control groups
- What variables may
invalidate such assessment ? (e.g. time lag between incident and
assessment, how and where animal has been confined)
- What special
considerations are needed in a forensic investigation? (e.g. record
keeping, chain of evidence, blind or double-blind procedures, videotape
- What is the best
way to present such evidence to the court?
Q. Estep, Ph.D.
in Applied Animal Behavior Case Loads
Over the last eleven years, my case load has changed.
While this year I am seeing about the same number of cases that I
saw in 1991, the proportion of cases that involve cats as patients has
decreased from 33% to 17%. The
diversity of presenting problems has also decresed over the years.
The majority of cases now involve dog aggression to people.
My experience may not be unique.
Conversations with other applied animal behaviorists suggest
similiar changes in case loads. Why
have these changes occurred? Have the frequencies of the problems
themselves changed or are clients getting help elsewhere?
What do these changes mean for our practices and the future of
animal behavior consulting? If
we want to see a greater diversity of cases, what might we do?
These questions will be posed for discussion.
H. Polsky, Ph.D.
Issues relevant to
animal behavior forensic expert as exemplified in the
qualified applied animal behaviorist have the opportunity to play
significant roles in civil and criminal litigation involving dog
attacks. This role involves
one of consultation to attorneys or testifying as an expert regarding
factors or circumstances which influence or prompt a dog to become
aggressive. Examples of kind of behavioral issues the applied animal
behaviorists may be called on to address while engaged
in forensic work
comes from the well publicized case in which a 33 y.o San
Francisco lady, Diane Whipple, was
viciously mauled to death by two Presa canario dogs.
Did the owners of these dogs know they could kill? Did these dogs
demonstrate behavior prior to the mauling of Whipple to indicate
conclusively that they were dangerous by nature?
Evidence from this case relevant to these issues will be
discussed to exemplify the kinds of issues applied animal behaviorists
frequently need to address in dog bite litigation.
Reid and Pia Silvani
there such a thing as an evil puppy? There are occasional reports of
very young puppies that are unusually aggressive. Typically, they are
excessively mouthy, they get frustrated easily, and they throw serious
temper tantrums. Are these puppies inherently "different" or
"abnormal"? Should they be euthanized or can they be turned
around? Case studies of devil puppies will be presented, followed by a
discussion of what can be done, if anything, to help these puppies and
Reid and Jill Goldman
Sweet Smell of DAP
arriving at a shelter are often anxious and fearful., Shelter personnel
are always seeking ways to help these dogs adjust to their new
surroundings. The manufacturers of Dog Appeasing Pheromone claim that it
can help reduce stress. We compared new arrivals at our shelter, some
were exposed to DAP and some were not. We examined the dogs' behavior
for indications of stress.
Pamela Reid and Peter Borchelt
animal behaviorists are sometimes called upon to evaluate dogs suspected
if being involved in a serious or fatal attack on a person or other dog.
In cases where the dog is still alive, it may be desirable to conduct a
behavioural assessment. We show video footage to spark a discussion of
the format of evaluations for dangerous dogs and what we can conclude
from these evaluations.
with Cats: A proven, positive intervention that benefits cats and
cat owners too
training,' a technology derived from laboratory operant conditioning,
but developed by practitioners, world wide, over the last ten years, is
much more appropriate for cats than the traditional methods usually
implied by the word ‘training.’ Indoor cats, especially, benefit
from an enlarged behavioral repertoire developed with a clicker and food
treats. The training process itself constitutes mental and physical
enrichment of the environment.
Even unskilled pet owners and children can learn to click
effectively, to teach target-following and gentle play, as well as
husbandry behaviors such as tolerating grooming and nail clipping,
coming when called, and using a scratching post. A simple clicker-based
repertoire tends to replace undesirable behaviors that have surfaced due
to lack of stimulation, such as aggressive play and destructiveness.
Since 1998 cat owners, veterinarians, and shelter workers have
been developing and sharing successful clicker techniques for overcoming
fear, socializing feral kittens and adult cats, eliminating cat chasing
by dogs, and even neutralizing cat-to-cat hostility in indoor cats.
Clinic or shelter volunteers or staff can use clicker techniques, if
necessary working through the cage bars without handling the cats, to
reduce fear and stress, establish social contact, and make shelter cats
Introduction and Prevention of Intercat Aggression
shelter staff, veterinarians, veterinary staff, and animal behaviorists
commonly make recommendations on the proper technique for the
introduction of a new cat into a household with resident cats.
Cat owners often ask for advice on how to best select an
individual cat to assure a successful companion for their household cat.
Realistically, the best approach many animal behavior problems is
to give good advice on how to avoid them.
What are the most common recommendations given to new cat owners?
Which recommendations regarding this topic are founded on
scientifically planned and well researched studies?
How much impact does a gradual introduction really have when
compared to other types of introductions?
What recommendations regarding the age and sex of a new cat
should be made? I will
present a review of existing literature regarding these topics as well
as a short survey of the recommendations given at two animal shelters,
two veterinary hospitals, and a pet store.
An open discussion of feline matching and introduction amongst
the forum participants is hoped for.
of a Shelter Dog Behavioral Assessment Test
Behavioral assessment tests (“temperament tests”) are widely used in
shelters to determine a dog’s suitability for adoption.
The tests are utilized on a pass/fail basis.
The dogs that “pass” are placed up for adoption.
The dogs that “fail” are put to sleep.
Shelter workers assume that the behaviors exhibited during the
tests will likely appear after adoption.
This study was undertaken in order to test this assumption.
A 140 item behavioral assessment test was administered at the
ASPCA by trained staff to 70 dogs which were 4 months of age and older.
The test included cage behavior, housetraining, walking in public
places, friendliness, response to petting, response to handling, play
behavior, ability to obey and learn commands, response to threats,
response to pain, response to loud noises and frightening objects,
behavior toward other dogs, reaction to being left alone and reaction to
confinement. The evaluators
objectively observed the dog’s behavior noting the position of the
ears, tail, mouth, eyes, body posture and movement and vocalizations.
All dogs tested were placed in new homes.
No dogs were put to sleep as a result of their behavior during
the test. A 45 item
questionnaire was administered to owners after adoption at 5 intervals:
1 week, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months and 6 months to 1 year.
The questionnaire included items that pertained to the behaviors
evaluated during the behavioral assessment test:
e.g. housetraining, behavior when handled, play, friendliness,
fears, behavior toward other dogs, behavior toward people. It also
inquired about behavior problems in general.
The results of the evaluation and questionnaires were compared to
shelter's dream is a high rate of successful, permanent placements.
's shelter we have initiated "Head Start," a program that
identifies dogs who are at a higher risk of being returned and trains
them before they are placed in adoption.
The training is done by volunteer trainers from around the
county, aided by a team of volunteers from the shelter.
The trainer teaches and guides their team through a month of work
with a group of dogs. A
training session is provided for the new owners when the dog is adopted.
As the first trainer to plunge into this program, I have witnessed many
growing pains: possible conflict among trainers regarding techniques;
communication issues among team members; owner compliance; etc.
Many shelters around the country are instituting training
programs--a close look at the first year of Head Start could be helpful.
the Byte Out of Electronic Presentations
computer can be a powerful tool for presenting lecture material.
Good electronic presentations keep the audience's attention without
distracting from the message. I will share basic information relevant to giving electronic
presentations, including tips on using PowerPoint, graphic file
management, video formats, electronic imaging programs, data storage,
data input options, etc.