IFAAB 2007 Abstracts
Are Dogs Entering Our Shelters Really Becoming More Difficult?
and Sharon Wirant
It is a widely-held belief that dogs
entering shelters in the northeastern United States have become
more challenging in terms of their behavior problems. Dogs
with difficult behavior problems generate a variety of issues:
for shelters, who need to find homes for these dogs and face
higher euthanasia rates; for new custodians, who must live with
and handle these dogs; for trainers and behavior consultants,
who end up treating these dogs once placed with their new
custodians. In response to the changing situation, many shelters
are transporting purportedly "easier" dogs and puppies from the
southern U.S. to provide adoptable dogs for their communities. Using
six years of data (2001-6) from a New England shelter, we asked three
questions central to this issue: (1) Are we seeing an increase in the
number of dogs entering the shelter with a bite history; (2) Are we
seeing an increase in the prevalence of "problematic" behaviors in
dogs entering the shelter; (3) Are dogs transported from shelters in
the southern U.S. more or less likely to exhibit these same
"problematic" behaviors? As behavior consultants, we should be
highly concerned about the dogs that are being placed into
unsuspecting pet homes; transporting more "adoptable" dogs may not be
the answer and will not address the behavioral situation in the northeast.
Putting Ourselves Out of A Job
There is a rising tide of increasing
numbers of dogs with behavior issues, and the issues they have are becoming
more and more serious. We see it in private practice and in shelters across
the country. What do we need to do to stop and reverse this trend? The
typical applied animal behaviorist spends their time trying to fix what is
broken. How do we start creating situations? animals? that don't break. This
talk will generate ideas on how we stop and take a breath from the fixing,
and start to focus on the preventing.
Sleep deprivation in horses and other sleep problems in companion animals
Joseph J Bertone and Dan Estep
Equine conventional wisdom dictates that horses can achieve ‘sleep’ in the
standing position. Almost any
horse that has episodic drowsiness is quickly diagnosed as a narcoleptic and
a search for imipramine begins.
Although it is true that some horses can remain standing for prolonged (3 to
6 months) periods of time, there is a
subset of horses that seems to require periods of paradoxical sleep (PS) and
associated REM that cannot go
without this stage for more than 2 to 4 weeks. If they go with deprivation
of PS, they begin to show episodes of
near collapse. Pain associated with being in or achieving the recumbent
position, or herd or environmental
insecurity hamper these horses from achieving the essential recumbent
position to achieve PS and episodes of
near collapse ensue. In this presentation, we’ll show video of some of these
horses and discuss the relevance of
the problem for applied animal behaviorists and veterinarians.
Specific Legislation - What we all should know
Crista L. Coppola
Breed specific legislation is a hot topic right now. Who is it affecting
and who will it affect in the near future? What are the two sides to the
controversy? Should we be doing anything to stop it? Regardless of which
side we are on we need to know the facts.
The Effect of An Odor Eliminator, Zero Odor Litter Spray, on Feline
Decreasing litterbox odor is an important treatment component in
addressing feline inappropriate elimination. A three-phase study was
conducted to determine if the use of Zero Odor® Litterbox Spray
increases the preference of litterboxes to cats, presumably by its
odor-eliminating quality. In the first phase, cats were given a
litterbox preference test between a litterbox sprayed with Zero Odor and
one without. In the second phase, the number of occurrences of behaviors
indicative of a cat’s dissatisfaction with the litterbox (scratching at
the sides of the box, floor or wall, hesitating when entering the
litterbox, balancing on the side of the box and eliminating outside of
the litterbox) was compared before and after the use of Zero Odor®.
Last, the frequency of eliminations that occurred outside the litterbox
was measured during a baseline phase and a test phase, in which Zero
Odor® was sprayed into all litterboxes in the home. Significantly fewer
behaviors associated with feline litterbox dissatisfaction and fewer
undesirable eliminations were observed in Phases Two and Three
respectively. These findings suggest that use of Zero Odor® Litterbox
Spray appears to decrease litterbox odor and increases the
attractiveness of litterbox to cats.
What Does it Take to Make a Behavior Program Succeed in a City Run
Animal Behaviorists market themselves not only to the veterinary community,
but also to animal
shelters and humane organizations. This presentation includes data
from a nine-month retrospective review of a pilot project to introduce
a Behavior Program into a Southern Californian animal shelter. The
Irvine Animal Care Center (IACC) is one of approximately 11 animal
shelters and humane organizations in Orange County, and provides only
services for the city of Irvine.
Comparative Emotions Panel
J. Wright, P McConnell, J Ha
Recent statements on the neurobehavioral correlates of emotional expression
and recognition in people has provided us with an opportunity to question
the assumptions we have about similarities and differences in emotion and
expression of emotion in humans and nonhuman animals. Bradshaw and Sapolsky
(2006) have suggested that if humans and nonhuman animals share
morphological, physiological, and genetic traits, then there is little
reason to exclude mental states. Panskepp's research (1998) on
neurohormonal correlates of emotion in non-human animals has been used to
inform our understanding of several types of human behavior, including
social attachment, addiction and the production of laughter. Adolphs (2006)
presents evidence that one of the amygdala's role in emotion is to direct an
active search for relevant social cues, like fearful expressions, in faces.
But what does this all mean for applied animal behaviorists? Three relevant
questions will be briefly addressed: "What are emotions?," "How do or might
animal emotions influence our work?", and
"what do we need or want to know about emotions in companion animals?." The
focus of this session is to initiate discussion on these topics.
Client Compliance Panel
Lauren Hays, Karen London, Mary Lee Nitschke, Pia Silvani
Coming up with a plan that would work if only our clients would follow it is
not a very lofty goal. Coming up with a plan that our clients are willing
and able to follow and helping them to do so is really what we want to do.
Let those among us who have never had client compliance woes cast the first
stone because this is a universal problem. How can we improve client
compliance so that we can better help animals of all species, including our
own? This topic is an area of interest across many disciplines, all of which
can offer information, wisdom, and experience to us in our quest to improve
client compliance in our own field. We plan to discuss the factors that are
most critical in influencing clients to follow a treatment program and
stimulate a discussion about what we have all collectively found useful or
not so useful in getting clients to help themselves and their animals with
Suzanne Hetts, Wayne
As well all know, animal behavior
consulting is not regulated by government licensure. Behavior consultants
who are also veterinarians are bound by certain standards of practice
established by the AVMA. Those trained in other fields, such as zoology and
comparative psychology, have no practice standards or guidelines to follow.
The American Psychology Association has practice guidelines for those
working in human psychology but none for those trained as comparative
Certification by the Animal Behavior
Society requires adherence to the Society’s ethics guidelines. Some
non-academic certifying organizations for both behavior consultants and dog
trainers also have ethical guidelines.
The guidelines from each above
mentioned group will be reviewed, and discussion encouraged from
participants as to what should be included in a “best practices” document
for anyone offering services as a behavior consultant to analyze and modify
Feline Behavior Problems After Adoption
It is a common thought among shelter workers that the number one behavior
problem in cats after adoption is housesoiling. This project sought to find
out if this was actually true. 100 consecutive cats of all ages adopted
from the Animal Rescue League of Boston were followed up by phone after
adoption at 1 week, 1 month, 2 months and 3 months. Preliminary results
indicate that the most common problems pertain to biting when petted or
aggressive play behavior. None of the cats were returned during the
Reading Micro-Expressions Across Species
Decades of research, primarily by Psychologist Paul
documented that human facial expressions of the primary emotions, like
fear and anger, are universally produced and perceived across all
cultures. He has also found that “micro-expressions,” or extremely
brief and subtle changes in expression, are honest, involuntary and
usually unconscious indicators of the true emotional state of a person.
In this presentation I will compare this work with the expressions of
dogs, and argue that one of the reasons that dogs and humans are such
‘best friends’ is that we share similar expressions of emotions like
fear, anger and happiness. The presentation will include voluntary (and
anonymous!) participation in a brief research project that asks viewers
to evaluate fleeting and subtle changes of expressions on human faces,
helping to answer the question: are professionals who work with
aggressive dogs better than the general population at reading subtle
expressions of emotion on either species?
Disentangling the perception of problem behavior in dogs
Dog behavior problems can be a huge source of stress to their owners.
are faced with the choice of seeking help from an applied animal behavior
professional, or more often, then not, they result in the animal being
or surrendered to the care of a rescue shelter. Behavior problems, like
excessive aggressivity, anxiety, fear and property destruction and so on,
common among dogs adopted from rescue shelters (Voith and Borchelt, 1996),
this exposes dogs to the risk of being returned to the shelter once again
(Miller et al., 1996). Researchers have attributed this so-called
“expectationgap” between an owner’s expectations about a dog’s behavior and it’s actual
behavior in the home, to a large number of failed relationships between
and their pets (Ledger, 2000,
Salman et al, 1998,
Patronec et al., 1997).
incidence or reported dog behavior problems appears be an interaction
the dog’s actual behavior and the pet owner’s perception of that behavior,
based on their expectation. But what are the factors to consider when
examining this complex relationship, is it possible to tease the them apart?
In this study I will attempt to identify and disentangle some of the
involved in the reporting of dog problem behavior. I will examine the
incidence of behavior problems in dogs surrendered and adopted from an
shelter and the attempt to identify variables and examine their contribution
the perception of problem behavior. These variables include human
traits, levels of attachment between the pet and owner and the kinds of
activities the owner engages with the dog. I will also examine demographic
information, hours spent indoors vs. outdoors, hours spent alone, diet etc.
will couch my findings based on previous studies, and provide new data to
hopefully generate some new hypothesis to the management and treatment of
perceived dog behavior problems.
Presentation and Development of Flank and Blanket Sucking in 77 Doberman
A Survey of
Prescription Drug Usage in Felines
Veterinarians and Animal Behaviorists were sent a survey designed to
determine the usage and effectiveness of transdermal medications in cats
with behavioral problems. Because cats are typically exceedingly difficult
to pill, finding alternative methods may help prevent the following: 1)
turning indoor cats into outdoor cats with the accompanying hazards of
outdoor living, 2) the surrender of cats to animal shelters for lengthy
periods of time, or 3) immediate euthanasia.
Evaluations: A Validity Study on Owned Dogs
behavior of dogs in a shelter environment for the purposes of determining
adoptability is a contentious issue. Popular “temperament tests” have been
subjected to limited reliability and validity studies. One fly in the
ointment is that validation studies have been conducted on shelter dogs. It
is unethical to adopt out dogs that failed the test; consequently follow-up
data are available only on dogs that passed and were adopted. We have no
information on the post-adoption real world behavior of dogs that were
euthanized. The objective of this study is to test owned dogs in an
environment somewhat similar to a shelter – the boarding kennel. Boarded
dogs are evaluated by means of a typical shelter dog test and their
reactions are correlated with owner reports of the dogs’ real world
behavior, obtained via the C-BARQ questionnaire.
Classical Conditioning – What’s New in an Old Story?
Nancy G. Williams and R. K.
Historically, the psychology literature has examined the development,
maintenance and extinction of classically conditioned (emotional) responses.
Until recently, treatments for maladaptive or problematic emotional
responses were without the benefit of knowing how responses or subsequent
behavior modification affected the underlying physiology of the individual.
Advances in technology have correlated physiological data such as heart rate
(HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) with behavioral responses during
stress, to assess therapy and improve treatment modalities.
We will provide an overview of the classical conditioning literature and how
recent studies have improved our understanding of traditional literature
with psychological and physiological data. Using this information we will
discuss how we can integrate the use of
feedback mechanisms in order to improve treatment modalities. Several case
studies in dogs will be used to illustrate the principles discussed in this
session. Panel discussions will include developments in cognitive behavior
If classical conditioning “trumps” operant conditioning in changing animals’
emotional responses, then repeatedly delivering food to an animal as it
starts displaying fearful or aggressive behaviors should serve to build an
appetitive CER (conditioned emotional response) to the stimulus (or stimuli)
that triggered those behaviors. This would, over time, cause the animal to
“feel better” about that stimulus, resulting in less fearful/aggressive
behaviors in the future. Human intuition, though, warns us never to “reward”
fear or aggression by feeding a growling, snarling animal.
What are the behavioral effects of feeding a dog as he begins to growl or
snarl? Does it matter if he’s fearful or not? Can you reinforce an emotion
such as fear? Or does reinforcement strengthen specific behaviors only?
One example for discussion is the case of a male walrus named
zookeepers decided to feed him whenever he made a unique gonging sound, even
though this sound always coincided with an aggressive display. The result
after many weeks was 1) an overall decrease in his aggression, and 2) the
gong sound came under stimulus control (i.e., a verbal cue from the
trainers) and was dissociated from aggressive behaviors.
What do you do with a deaf
This is a case study about a three month old deaf
Dalmatian puppy. The owners had read all the information they could find on
the website. But the puppy was extremely active, ignored the
flashlight-treat clicker training, and grabbed and tore clothing. They took
her to obedience training at PetsMart with an instructor who said she could
help, but were not helped. The puppy continued to be "hyperactive," ignored
efforts to get her attention, and was very jumpy and nippy. I will present
the techniques we used (with some tweaking of the program during
implementation) to modify her behavior successfully.
Neurobiology of Learning and Behavior in Companion Animals
This presentation provides a basic overview of the
neurophysiological, and neurochemical substrates of behavior in companion
animals. Audience members will be introduced to the organization and
functional anatomy of the nervous system and neural transmission, with a
focus on the neurophysiological and hormonal mechanisms of behavior and the
biological substrates for learning and memory.
Human Directed Aggression in the Miniature Pet Pig
Miniature pigs are frequently adopted by owners who know little about the
physical and behavioral attributes of swine. Behavior problems, including
human directed aggression, are common complaints, resulting in miniature
pigs being relinquished to shelters and pig rescue groups in alarming
numbers. Many possible causes for the aggression problems in pet pigs have
been suggested, including early weaning, lack of environmental enrichment,
inadequate socialization and improper training. One objective of this study
was to determine if correlations exist between age of weaning and aggressive
behavior towards humans, and between environmental enrichment and aggression
towards humans. The second objective was to gather information about the
patterns of development of aggression in pet pigs; specifically, at what age
do pigs generally first show aggression, under what circumstances they
display aggression and what methods pig owners utilize in response to their
pigs’ aggression. In order to gather information about these problems, I
used an Internet survey site to collect information on hundreds of pigs,
specifically about aggression problems that the owners had encountered.
Piecing Apart ‘Resource Aggression
Emily Weiss, Heather Mohan, MS
Resource Aggression is often used as a catch all phrase encompassing food
aggression and non-food object related aggression. We have found profound
differences in behavior between dogs that display aggression with both food
and non-food items, and dogs that display aggression with only food items.
The purpose of this presentation is to share video and data regarding these
two types of aggression, and generate a discussion regarding a formal
separation of the two for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
Liability in Dog Training Issues
In a society where lawyers outnumber doctors, dog owners and dog trainers
should be wary of potential liability! The cost of defending a law suit can
quickly lead to financial ruin.
This presentation will include a discussion of common situations which may
give rise to lawsuits with an emphasis on dog bite cases. The speaker will
illustrate the types of cases with examples, photographs and sample verdicts
and settlements demonstrating the extent of potential liability. Each state
has laws and the speaker will discuss the common themes between the states
and how case verdicts can be decided.
Common issues that involve dogs are the general liability of owners and
trainers, situations involving contract issues, negligence issues arising
from dog training. The top ten things that a dog trainer should never say
to a client to protect them will be outlined.
We will give discuss measures that dog trainers can take to protect
themselves from legal peril and what to do in the event that trouble arises.
Urinary behaviour of female Jack Russell Terriers
in relation to stage
of the oestrous cycle, location, and age
In female canids, including domestic dogs (Canis
with urine is thought to convey information on reproductive state, yet
little is known about how urinary
behaviour changes across specific stages
of the oestrous cycle. We measured urinary
behaviour (proportion of
directed urinations) of intact Jack Russell Terriers (n=10) across
anestrous, proestrus, and oestrus during walks in familiar and novel
environments. Females ranged in age from 1.3 to 8.7 years. Stage of
oestrus was assessed using vaginal cytology,
behaviour, and physical signs.
Proportions of directed urinations were higher during proestrus and oestrus
than anoestrus, and were higher in older females than younger females. The
findings in this study indicate that, in female Jack Russell Terriers,
scent-marking with urine advertises reproductive state and continues to
develop in adulthood.
of owner-reported kitten and puppy behavioral problems and traits following
I will compare the incidence of owner-reported behavioral problems and
perceptions of traits for kittens (N = 126) and puppies (N = 224) adopted
from two different shelters when they were from 6 weeks to 13 weeks of age.
The kittens were adopted from The Humane Society of Broward County (FL), and
the puppies from the MSPCA in Boston. Three different phone interviews were
administered in the first year following adoption: at approximately 4 weeks
post adoption, 18 weeks, and 52 weeks. A subset of the kitten data set
consists of results already published (JAVMA, 2004), and a subset of the
puppy results were presented at IFAAB in 2001 (N = 198). The comparative
treatment will describe the similarities and differences similarly-aged
kittens and puppies across the same categories of behavior.
Leopards, Wolves, Cats and Dogs:
The Evolutionary Conservation of
Behavior and Implications for Behavior Consulting
Modern genetic analyses are providing new insights into the evolution of
domestic cats and dogs. Combined with comparative behavior studies, we are
getting a better idea of how our companion animals are similar and how they
are different from their wild ancestors. I will review these data, and
some of their implications. This will be placed into the popular culture
and how people view and deal with the behavior of their pets.