Top 10 Animal Behavior Conferences for 2018

Top 10 Animal Behavior Conferences for 2018

best conferences of the yearWe’ve compiled the Best Dog Conferences for you to attend in 2018 and beyond because we’ve done that every year (2017, 20162015). Explore science topics, learn better training skills, concentrate on motivation or the human-animal bond. It’s all here. Let’s go!

Conferences are listed in chronological order due to the author’s inability to decide which should be first.

1. ClickerExpo

ClickerExpo will be held in 3 locations throughout 2018. This year ClickerExpos have slightly different labs and workshops depending on the location.

Irvine, CA

When: Friday, January 19-21, 2018

Where: Irvine, CA

Why: Educational Themes are back for 2018. Themes are labs and presentations focusing on a certain concentration. Themes include: Trainer Skill Development, Teaching People, Aggression and General Behavior Management, and Veterinary Environments. Feel free to follow a single theme or skip around and explore a variety of topics. There’s something for everyone! CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.

More Information: https://clickertraining.com/clickerexpo/2018/socal/register

St. Louis, MO

When: Friday, March 16-18, 2018

Where: St. Louis, MO

Why: Educational Themes are back for 2018. Themes are labs and presentations focusing on a certain concentration. Themes include: Trainer Skill Development, Teaching People, Aggression and General Behavior Management, and Veterinary Environments. Feel free to follow a single theme or skip around and explore a variety of topics. There’s something for everyone! CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.

More Information: https://clickertraining.com/clickerexpo/2018/stlouis/registration

United Kingdom

When: Friday, October 26-28, 2018

Where: Winchester, England

Why: Join Ken Ramirez, Kathy Sdao, Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D, and Michele Pouliot covering topics such as errors and choice in training.

More Information: https://clickertraining.com/clickerexpo/luminos

 

2. Animal Management Behavior Alliance (ABMA) Annual Conference

San Antonio, TX

When: Sunday, April 8-13, 2018

Where: San Antonio, TX

Why: The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) specializes in animal care and training through enrichment. This year’s theme is “History in the Making: The Future of Behavior Management and Its Role In Conservation”. Conference locations include the San Antonio Zoo and Sea World.

More Information: https://theabma.org/abma-annual-conference/

 

3. Canine Science Symposium

San Francisco, CA

When: Saturday, April 14-15, 2018

Where: San Francisco SPCA in San Francisco, CA

Why: Bringing together professors of Psychology, Anthrozoology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Behavior Analysis, this symposium covers the science of welfare for shelter dogs, training, and canine aggression. Enjoy two days with some of the leading canine science minds with Julie Hecht, Monica Udell, Kathryn Lord, PhD, and Clive Wynne, PhD. CCPDT and IAABC Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.

More Information: http://events.sfspca.org/css2018

 

4. IAABC Animal Behavior Conferences

 

IAABC Conferences will be held in 2 locations throughout 2018.

Boston, MA

When: Thursday, April 19-22, 2018

Where: Burlington (Boston), MA

Why: The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants has creatively merged their multiple species Conferences into one event. Choose to follow the Dog, Cat, Parrot, Horse tracks or Business tracks, or pick and choose which presentations you’d like to join. The conference features speakers discussing the latest science, treatments, and protocols for managing and modifying behavior in all species. Some Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.

(Read about our experience at the 2015 IAABC Conference.)

More Information: http://iaabcconference.org/home/

United Kingdom

When: Saturday, May 22-23, 2018

Where: Manchester, England

Why: The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants UK conference concentrates on dogs and horses. Topics include aggression, client compliance, and presentations of case studies. The conference features speakers discussing the latest science, treatments, and protocols for managing and modifying behavior.

(Read about our experience at the 2015 IAABC Conference.)

More Information: https://iaabcconference.org/uk/

 

5. PennVet Working Dog Conference

Essington, PA

When: Friday, April 20-23, 2018

Where: Essington, PA

Why:  You may have seen this conference’s DVD’s on TawzerDog. Did you know you could attend the Penn Vet Working Dog Conference? This year’s theme is “Creating the Working Dog: Puppy to Professional” with Patricia McConnell, PhD, CAAB as the keynote speaker discussing resilience in working dogs. Individual topics include breeding, health and nutrition, and training for reliability and confidence.

More Information: http://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/centers-initiatives/penn-vet-working-dog-center/working-dog-conference

 

6. PPG Training & Behavior Workshop

 

Kanab, UT

When: Sunday, April 22-26, 2018

Where: Kanab, UT

Why: Four days of lectures and hands-on clinics on the Location: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary campus.  With industry experts in multiple species, sessions include stranger fear, relationship building, and husbandry skills.

More Information: https://petprofessionalguild.com/2018-Kanab

 

7. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Training Camp

Wilmington, OH

When: Friday, June 1-3, 2018

Where: Wilmington, OH

Why: It’s back! The Ultimate Dog Sports Training Camp covers Obedience, Rally, Agility, Nosework, Freestyle, and Rally FrEe!  Join 16 energizing dog sports goddesses for 3 days of fun and learning. Work on heeling, utilizing play to build motivation, clean cuing, and so much more. Priority registrations will be given to students that have previous enrollments in FDSA online courses.

More Information: https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/ipo-courses/8-fdsa/2436-ferretpalooza

 

8. International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Conference

Sydney, Australia

When: Monday July 2-5, 2018

Where: Sydney, Australia

Why: The International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) annual conference covers new and intriguing ideas in Human-Animal Interactions. This year’s theme is “Animals in Our Lives: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Human–Animal Interactions” The speakers and program for 2018 is pending, but topics include grief, shelter animals, and the ethics of animal use.

More Information: http://www.isaz2018.com/

 

9. The Emotional World of Dogs

Bensalem, PA

When: Saturday, July 7-8, 2018

Where: Bensalem, PA

or

Oakland, CA

When: Saturday, July 28-29, 2018

Where: Oakland, CA

Why: This is a Two-Day Seminar with Professor Daniel Mills, Lincoln University, United Kingdom presenting the latest research on dog cognition and emotion as well as how these findings can be applied in clinical practice. Topics include attachment, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships, separation disorders, and puppy development.

More Information for Bensalem, PA: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-emotional-world-of-dogs-new-insights-into-behavior-and-training-tickets-40718237344?aff=es2

More Information Oakland, CA: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-emotional-world-of-dogs-new-insights-into-behavior-and-training-tickets-40718438947?aff=es2

 

10. Clinical Animal Behavior Conference

Las Vegas, NV

When: Oct 5-7, 2018

Where: Las Vegas, NV

Why: The Clinical Animal Behavior Conference is a collaboration between AVSAB, SVBT, and AVBT, giving members and non-members the opportunity to learn about clinical behavior of multiple species. Topics include husbandry, development, and behavior modification for horses, cats, and dogs. The 2018 website isn’t available yet, but the Facebook event page below has details.

More Information: http://www.animalbehaviorconference.com/

and the Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/130096144343477/

 

Looking Ahead to 2019

Some of the best conferences and seminars fill within days of registration opening. Following these organizations on social media or signing up for newsletters will give you a heads up when registration opens.

The Art & Science of Animal Training Conference

Wolf Park Behavior Seminars

Woof!

Why You Should Attend A Dog Trainer Mastermind Group (+ Our First Meetup!)

Why You Should Attend A Dog Trainer Mastermind Group (+ Our First Meetup!)

Ever wish you had a group of local, friendly dog trainers to talk to? What about a group of dog trainers you felt comfortable bouncing ideas off of?

A networking event, or better yet a Mastermind Meetup (otherwise known as a peer advisory board), can be extremely useful to gain traction when you’re first starting out or even if you’re stuck in a rut in your current businesses. Getting an outsider’s perspective from someone that’s been in your shoes can be the best way to open new opportunities for you and your business.

mastermind group for dog trainersA mastermind meetup is a group of like-minded individuals that get together from time to time to share their goals, obstacles, experiences, and insights to benefit the group as a whole. You learn from each other, you keep each other accountable, and you support and help each other. There are many benefits, both tangible and intangible, to having a group like this to turn to as you start your own dog training business or grow a business you already have.

1. You Can Make Life-Long Friends And Partnerships

When you’re meeting with like-minded people that are passionate about the same things you are, you’re able to connect on a whole new level. You’ll feel like you’ve found “your people” and share business and personal challenges, goals, or experiences that are helping you succeed or inhibiting your progress. You’ll have an instant, reliable, supportive network to turn to as you start and grow your business.

Not to mention, the endless opportunities for collaboration and cross promotion that will result in having a strong support network of like-minded trainers in your area! Just because a group of trainers service the same area doesn’t mean you necessarily overlap in target audiences, skillsets, availability, types of services, and more! These days, there is usually more business coming in than many dog trainers can handle. The mindset you should have if you’re looking to network and find a mastermind group is that there truly is an abundance of business and dog training clients that need your help.

2. You Discover New, Creative Solutions For Your Business

The benefit of speaking to others who have been in your shoes and are like-minded is that you can collect valuable, honest, and relevant feedback about your business choices and initiatives. You can hear how others of similar backgrounds and passions would approach your challenges and generate ideas to overcome them.

When you’re surrounded by other like-minded individuals, you’ll feel validated that you’re on the right path to reach your goals and your dream. Seeing others succeed will help to motivate you to keep going as well.

Additionally, a facilitator or someone who hosts/organizes the mastermind meetup, also has a wealth of knowledge and resources to share with the group and is going above and beyond to help others grow and succeed as well. They bring their own skill set and experiences to the table.

3. You’ll Be Accountable To Make Improvements

Ideas are great, but taking action is better! 

One of the most valuable aspects of having a mastermind group is that you can hold each other accountable so you all make progress in your businesses. 

Mastermind groups are more than just a networking event. You actually sit down, share your goals, and work together to make actionable plans to make improvements within your businesses. When you share your goals and action items with someone else, you’re more likely to take those steps and reach your goals!

The connections you make in a mastermind group go much further than a handshake at a networking event. You’re truly in it together to help each other stay accountable so everyone in the group can succeed. 

7 reasons to attend a mastermind group for dog trainers4. You’ll Gain Industry Insights Found Nowhere Else

When you get together with other people from within your industry, you can gain insights you won’t find online, in books, or in seminars. Each person brings their own unique learning experiences to the table for all to learn from. One person’s challenge becomes a learning experience for everyone in the group. There is just nothing like it! There is nowhere else to find this kind of knowledge.

5. You Find Relief In Knowing You’re Not Alone

Typically, when you’re starting your own dog training business, you’re considered a “solopreneur” or solo-entrepreneur. It can be isolating when you have no one to turn to or relate to. You have to figure everything out on your own and while you should always trust your gut and do what feels right, you don’t know what you don’t know. Speaking to others who are or have been in your shoes is a great way to build connections and find relief in knowing you aren’t completely alone in this adventure. Others might bring up experiences or insights that you hadn’t thought of or experienced yourself. Mastermind groups help you expand your awareness of what it takes to run a successful dog training business.

6. You Get To Work ON Your Business Instead Of IN Your Business

While learning how to post on Instagram or writing up thorough client notes is important, mastermind group discussions should focus more on the bigger picture. You’ll be able to take a step back, reflect, analyze, learn, and plan your next big business goals.

Many times as solo business owners we spend a lot of time working in our businesses – creating documents, sending emails, working directly with clients. This time away from the office allows you to refresh and reinvigorate yourself for your next business steps.

7. It’s Electrifying

When else will you be able to be completely honest with a group of people? Share the highs and lows of starting your business. Share your expectations versus the reality of what it actually is like. Vent about the challenges your experiencing or share your success with others who understand what it means! Finding your “kind” of people is invigorating! You don’t have to go at it alone.

One of my main missions with this blog is to help other positive dog trainers (or whatever you want to call dog trainers that follow Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) principles in training) succeed with their businesses. There is often a ton of focus on learning the science of training dogs with little acknowledgment of how to run the business side of things. However, if you’re in this profession for the long haul, you have to pay attention to both. Without a thorough understanding of how to run a business, you will not be able to take your passion for dog training full-time or be able to sustain it full-time for many years.

How to Attend a Dog Training Conference

How to Attend a Dog Training Conference

With the registration date for ClickerExpo coming up, I began to think about what learning goals to concentrate on this year, who I wanted to hear speak, and if there should be a theme or if I should just see whatever sounded interesting. I then began to think about the other part of going to conferences; meeting people and networking. So many times I’ve seen someone I haven’t seen in years passing by in between sessions and had that 7 second drive-by conversation, “Hi! How are you doing! Great to see you! Let’s meet for lunch or something!” The other person responds, “Great!” and then that’s the end of it. This year, I really want to make a plan.

1. Put people you want to meet on your schedule.

I always have the best of intentions and every conference I fail. This year I’m putting people on my schedule. Message people and ask them for a time to meet or share a meal or have a drink. Put the appointment on your schedule with a reminder so you don’t become that person that stood someone up at a training conference. You have 3 meals a day, after conference drinks, breaks in between speakers, and skipped session periods you can fill. Fill them. If meals are coordinated and prepaid you might consider skipping one and doing a DIY lunch at least one day to accommodate people who aren’t purchasing meals.

Related: Are drinks after the conference your favorite part of attending conferences? Do you like meeting online friends in-person? Ever wish you had a group of local, friendly dog trainers to chat with to continue the conversation? Check out our latest project: Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers

2. You don’t have to fill every session.

I actually learned this when I got violently ill at a conference. Fatigue set in and I needed to prioritize my energy instead of my desire to see everything. There were some session slots where there just wasn’t anything that really perked my interest or I had seen all the presentations already. I skipped that period and took a nap, waking up refreshed for the speakers I really wanted to see. When I skipped and didn’t take a nap, I met a bunch of people that were also skipping!  If you’re just trying to fill time by seeing a speaker, meet up with people instead.

3. Introduce yourself to people sitting or eating alone.

If you haven’t filled a meal period with a scheduled meet up then scan the dining area and look for people wearing the conference badge who are sitting alone. Go introduce yourself and ask if they want company. Please don’t push in if the person says they’d rather be alone. Conferences can be overwhelming and some people need quiet time. I’ve had many amazing conversations eating with strangers. Meeting and talking to people way outside your normal circle can be more educational than some presentations. This practice also makes everyone feel welcomed and interesting. Which brings us to number 4.

4. Remember to get cards or contact information for people you meet.

I’m putting this on a post-it note on my forehead this year, “Please give me your business card.” After introducing myself and eating with a stranger and having a lovely conversation, it inevitably happens that the conference bell rings and you’re off and running to the next session. The number of times I’ve grabbed my things and said, “Thank you for the wonderful lunch!” then sprinted away is embarrassing. Take a moment, get a card or have the person put their email address in a note for you. When you get seated at your Must Get To session, make a note of where you met them, what you did together, and the general topic of conversation. Even if you never message them you will have a reminder if you see them at the next conference.

5. Organize meetups with your virtual friends.

We all have them, people we “know” from Twitter, Facebook, certification organizations, clubs, and schools. Schedule a meetup and get a few people you want to meet in one place. On Twitter you can create a hashtag and have people retweet or reply they’d like to join. You can create calendar and Facebook events so other people can invite other people. While it may seem fun to set these up for dinner at a restaurant, some trainers are on a budget. You might consider doing these in hotel common areas instead of restaurants so everyone can bring their own food yet still have dinner together. Remember to send reminders to everyone who was interested when you get to the conference.

Check out our latest project: Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers

Did we miss anything? What is your go-to strategy for attending conferences? Tell us in the comments!

Top 10 Dog Training Conferences for 2017

Top 10 Dog Training Conferences for 2017

See the latest post: Top 10 Animal Behavior Conferences of 2018


We’ve compiled the Best Dog Conferences for you to attend in 2017 because we’ve done that every (20162015). Explore science topics, learn better training skills, concentrate on motivation or the human-animal bond. It’s all here. Let’s go!

Conferences are listed in chronological order due to the author’s inability to decide which should be first.

the best dog training conferences coming up in 2017

1. ClickerExpo

ClickerExpo will be held in 3 locations throughout 2017. This year ClickerExpos have slightly different labs and workshops depending on the location.

Portland, OR
When: Friday, January 27-29, 2017
Where: Portland, OR
Why: Educational Themes are back for 2017. Themes are labs and presentations focusing on a certain concentration. Themes include: Trainer Skill Development, Teaching People, Aggression and General Behavior Management, and Veterinary Environments. Feel free to follow a single theme or skip around and explore a variety of topics. There’s something for everyone! CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information: http://www.clickertraining.com/clickerexpo/portland/registration

Stamford, CT
When: Friday, March 31-April 2, 2017
Where: Stamford, CT
Why: A complete Equine Theme which includes Husbandry, Saddling, Trailer Loading, and much more continues for 2017. This is in addition to the Themes listed for Portland above.  CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information: http://www.clickertraining.com/clickerexpo/stamford/registration

ClickerExpo Europe
When: Friday, November 3-5, 2017
Where: Denmark
Why: The ClickerExpo 2017 schedule for Denmark has not been released yet. It will be released by 15 February 2017.
More Information: http://www.clickertraining.com/clickerexpo

2. WOOF!

When: Friday, February 10-12, 2017
Where: University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.
Why:  It’s back! It’s’ back! The very successful WOOF! European Behaviour & Training Conference has been on hiatus since 2013, but it’s back for 2017. 3 full days of brilliant seminars with Bob Bailey, Susan Friedman, Kay Laurence, Jean Donaldson, and Clive Wynne.
More Information: http://www.domesticatedmanners.com/woof2017

3. Canine Science Symposium

When: Saturday, March 11-12, 2017
Where: San Francisco SPCA in San Francisco, CA
Why: Bringing together professors of Psychology, Anthrozoology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Behavior Analysis, this symposium covers the science of welfare for shelter dogs, training, and canine aggression. Enjoy two days with some of the leading canine science minds with Julie Hecht, Monica Udell, Sheila D’Arpino, and Erica Feuerbacher. CCPDT and IAABC Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information: https://www.sfspca.org/get-involved/events/CSS2017

4. IAABC Animal Behavior Conference

When: Saturday, April 8-9, 2017
Where: Culver City, CA
Why: The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants has creatively merged their multiple species Conferences into one event. Choose to follow the Dog, Cat, Parrot, or Horse tracks, or pick and choose which presentations you’d like to join. The conference features speakers discussing the latest science, treatments, and protocols for managing and modifying behavior in all species.
(Read about our experience at the 2015 IAABC Conference.)
More Information: https://iaabc.org/conference/2017

5. DogEvent 2017

When: Thursday, April 14-17, 2017
Where: Rambouillet, France
Why: 4 days of dog training, behavior workshops, and demos on the outskirts of Paris! Each day has a theme: Clicker Training, Motivation, Aggression, Canine Sorts, and more. Speakers include Emily Larlham, Chirag Patel, Nando Brown, Denise Fenzi, and Lori Stevens. Presentations will be given in English.
More Information (in French): https://www.weezevent.com/dogevent-2017
More Information (in English): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dogevent-2017-tickets-27382612130?aff=es2

6. Animal Management Behavior Alliance (ABMA) Annual Conference

When: Sunday, April 23-28, 2017
Where: Cincinnati, OH
Why: The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) specializes in animal care and training through enrichment. This year’s theme is “Back to Basics: Crossing The Bridge Between Training and Conservation.” Conference locations include multiple zoos. This year’s keynote speaker will be Megan Parker, PhD, Co-founder & Director of Research, Working Dogs for Conservation discussing ways to use dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell to protect wildlife and wild places.
More Information: https://theabma.org/abma-annual-conference/

7. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Training Camp

When: Thursday, June 22-25, 2017
Where: Linn County Expo Center, Albany, Oregon
Why: It’s back! The Ultimate Dog Sports Training Camp covers Obedience, Rally, Agility, Nosework, Freestyle, and Rally FrEe!  Join the energizing dog sports goddesses Denise Fenzi, Deb Jones, Hannah Branigan, Julie Flanery, Loretta Mueller, Nancy Gagliardi Little, Shade Whitesel, Amy Cook, Julie Symons, and Stacy Barnett for 4 days of fun. Work on heeling, scenting, retrieves, utilizing play to build motivation, and so much more. Priority registrations will be given to students that have previous enrollments in FDSA online courses.
More Information: http://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/camp

8. International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Conference

When: Thursday June 22-25, 2017
Where: Davis, CA
Why: The International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) annual conference covers new and intriguing ideas in Human-Animal Interactions. The speakers and program for 2017 is pending. Stay tuned to the link below to keep up as this conference program develops.
More Information: http://www.isaz.net/isaz/conferences/

9. International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) Conference

When: Friday, August 7-10, 2017
Where: Aarhus, Denmark
Why: The International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) annual conference covers the presentation and discussion of advances in applied animal behaviour science and education and. The speakers and program for 2017 is pending, but topics include, Animal learning and cognition, Social behaviour of animals, Animal stress responses, and Human-animal interactions. Stay tuned to the link below to keep up as this conference program develops.
More Information: http://conferences.au.dk/isae2017/

10. APDT Annual Conference and Trade Show

When: Wednesday, October 18-21, 2017
Where: Richmond, Virginia
Why: You’re a professional dog trainer, this is your Association. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers Annual Conference is full of prestigious speakers and engaging seminars. The speakers and schedule for 2017 is still pending. This entry will be updated as information becomes available.
(Read about our experience as a volunteer APDT Border Collie.)
More Information: https://apdt.com/conference/


 

Guest Post: What Breed is That Doggy in the Shelter Window?

Guest Post: What Breed is That Doggy in the Shelter Window?

This post is written and provided by Lisa Gunter, MA. Lisa is a PhD student at Arizona State University in the Department of Psychology and conducts her research under the mentorship of Clive Wynne in the Canine Science Collaboratory. She has presented her research at numerous conferences including the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Interdisciplinary Forum for Applied Animal Behavior, the Veterinary Behavior Symposium and the International Society of Anthrozoology.

Doggy in the Shelter Window_

What Breed is That Doggy in the Shelter Window?

Chihuahua. Chow Chow. Pointer. Irish Wolfhound. When thinking about unique breeds and the range of physical differences that exist with man’s best friend, it’s hard to believe that a tiny toy lap dog and another that’s as tall as a human are of the same species [1].

For centuries, we’ve bred dogs for the purpose of aiding us in our work, such as in hunting (Labradors), herding (German Shepherd), and livestock protection (Great Pyrenees) [2]. Our influence on how dogs look and act brings along with it expectations about different dog breeds. When I say “Golden Retriever,” you likely think of a fluffy blonde dog that enjoys playing with children. When I mention a Border Collie, you probably imagine a wickedly smart black & white dog that plays fetch for hours.

In the United States, there are a little over 80 million dogs living with us with 20% of those dogs adopted from shelters [3]. As many of you have experienced firsthand, the way animal shelters operate today has changed from what homeless animals experienced just fifteen years ago. Before 2000, dogs usually stayed on average for about 10 days at the shelter. Then, over half were euthanized, and the others were either adopted or redeemed [4]. Today, the situation is better. While almost 4 million dogs are entering animal shelters each year, only 30% are euthanized [5]. While we’re pleased with these improvements, one of our main foci of research in the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University is to further increase adoptions and reduce euthanasia rates for pet dogs.

Given the importance placed on appearance in our culture, it should come as no surprise that looks matter in canine adoption, too! Researchers from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) [6] found that appearance was the single most important reason people gave for why they adopted the dog they did. In our own lab we found that when potential adopters were presented with photographs of dogs that had been either adopted or euthanized they were able to distinguish which dogs had met which fate solely because the adopted dogs were more attractive than those that had ended up euthanized [7].

The Pit Bull Label

If you work in animal sheltering, you’ve likely heard of the term “pit bull.” While there is a specific breed of dog known as the American Pit Bull Terrier, more conventionally this label has been applied to many breeds that are short-haired, muscular and blocky-headed such as American and English bulldogs, Staffordshire bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers as well as mixes of these types of dogs [8].

Recent studies into dog adoption [11, 7, 12-13] have found breed to be associated with different outcomes, including but not limited to increased euthanasia and length of stay. With the big role that physical appearance plays in dog selection, our lab was interested in understanding how breed labels could influence how attractive a dog seemed to be.

So what is the basis for the negative perceptions about pit bulls? The pit bull terrier does have a past that includes bullbaiting and dogfighting (which still occurs illegally in some areas of the US), and reports of aggression towards humans, specifically dog bite injuries and even deaths, have likely contributed to the unfavorable public opinion of these dogs as well [14-18]. Yet while an association may exist between certain types of dogs and aggression towards people, the reliability of breed characterizations in positively identifying dogs involved in these types of incidents is hotly debated [8, 19].

Labels vs. DNA Analysis

Photo by Erin Bessey

Photo by Erin Bessey

Which leads us to wonder what breeds of dogs are there shelters? It’s a more complicated question than it may appear, because breed assignment is usually based on the way the dog looks. Yet, researchers from Western University of Health Sciences [20-21] have found discrepancies between breed identification and the results of DNA analysis, and researchers in Florida found at one shelter that 50% of dogs that were labeled as belonging to a pit-bull-type breed lacked the DNA breed signature [22].

In our own lab, we’re wrapping up a multi-shelter study using the MARS Wisdom Panel. While it’s too early to talk about our specific findings, what we can say is that these shelter dogs show a range of breed diversity (over 150 breeds were identified at each shelter!), there are much fewer purebreds than we anticipated, most dogs have more than two breeds in their breed heritage and correctly identifying the breeds of a mixed breed dog via visual identification alone is an extremely difficult task.

Canine Science Symposium

Research questions like the ones I’ve mentioned here are just some of the questions we attempt to answer in the Canine Science Collboratory. If you enjoy learning about the latest research in canine science, you may want to consider attending our Canine Science Symposium. Now in its fourth year, the Symposium will be taking place at the San Francisco SPCA on April 16 & 17.

2016_website_square_imageWhile most of the speakers at the Canine Science Symposium are former or current students of Clive Wynne (the director of the Canine Science Collboratory), our research interests are diverse as evidenced by this year’s Symposium topics. Our presentations include decoding dominance in dogs; canine sociability and attachment; using advanced behavioral principles in dog training; applying cognitive, behavioral and physiological measures to improve shelter dog welfare; using play as training and enrichment; understanding visitor behavior in shelters to increase adoptions; exploring canine olfaction and interpreting canine body language. We want those that come out to learn with us to be able to walk away with new techniques and approaches to try in their interactions with shelter dogs, dogs that they train and the dogs they live with.

For more information on the research studies I mentioned above, check out the journal articles references below. If you’re interested in attending the Canine Science Symposium, head on over to the SFSPCA website  for all the details including speaker bios, presentation descriptions and online registration (at the bottom of the page). Our early-bird registration ends March 2nd, so those that want to attend should sign up now!

References
1.   Coile DC. The dog breed bible. Hauppauge: Barron’s Educational Series; 2007.
2.    Serpell J. The domestic dog. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1995.
3.     American Pet Products Association. U.S. pet-ownership estimates from the APPA for 2012. Available: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/ pet_ownership_statistics.html#.U0oh8uZdW_A. Accessed 30 January 2014.
4.    Wenstrup J, Dowidchuk A. Pet overpopulation: Data and measurement issues in shelters. J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 1999;2(4): 303-19.
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States. Animals. 2012;2(2): 144-59.
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Modern Training for Modern Dog Trainers

Modern Training for Modern Dog Trainers

The internet is a powerful resource for continuing education. As our industry progresses into the modern age, trainers are discovering new ways of learning, including online classes. One class that has really struck me is Michael Shikashio’s class on dog aggression through Dog Trainers Connection. The DTC is an online course platform where you can find a variety of mini-webinars by world renowned professional dog trainers.

What Makes an Online Class Great?

While nothing beats a hand-on approach to learning new dog training skills. Online classes allow trainers from all over the globe to access teachers and education they might not otherwise have the ability to access. Additionally, online classes are usually less expensive than in-person seminars.

What makes an online class stand out though? How do you know you’ll get valuable information from it? You’ll want to make sure the class includes some or all of the following:

  • Video – Dog training is a very visual skill. Most trainers need to see it in action to understand new concepts so video allows people online to watch and learn.
  • Written Material – Whether the written material is a copy of the slides or additional handouts, written material will help you refer back to what you learned for years to come and is extremely helpful.
  • Live Instruction – Some of the best online courses offer a live webinar portion. You can learn a lot from watching a trainer work with a dog live – with no edits. Dog training is all about problem solving so watching an instructor problem solve in real time can be very valuable.
  • In-depth Structured Outline – Just like any class, the online class should also have a structured outline or curriculum of the skills you can expect to learn.
  • How to Work Aggression Cases A-ZQ&A with the Instructor (Live or Forum) – There is no reason an online class can’t offer you the ability to ask questions to the instructor. Good students will have questions about the material. Questions also help learners process the information they are absorbing.
  • Transcripts of the Recordings – Transcripts allow you to go back and search for things that were said. Video recordings are great but you can’t easily search for information like you can with text.
  • CEUs from Certifying Organizations – CEUs are important to track and gain to maintain your certifications. They also are a good representation of the quality of the class your thinking about taking. Lots of CEUs generally mean very high quality material.

How to Work Aggression Cases A-Z with Michael Shikashio

Michael Shikashio is the president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). He is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and specializes in dog aggression. He is the epitome of a knowledgeable, qualified, and professional dog trainer.

https://youtu.be/p9jWtlbd5Bg

Michael has impressed a lot of trainers with this new course. In fact, before I even got the chance to write this article, the first course has already sold out! How to Work Aggression Cases from A-Z contains all of the qualities of a great online class I listed above. Thankfully, Dog Trainers Connection is opening up a second session so that more trainers can access his in-depth course on working aggression cases.

How to Work Aggression Cases A to Z is a five-part video series. It includes everything you need to know about before taking aggression cases.

  • Considerations Before Taking Aggression Cases
  • Initial Phone Call Process
  • Initial Assessment and Evaluation
  • Safety Precautions and Protective Gear
  • Collaborating with Veterinarians
  • Case Studies
  • Making a Prognosis
  • Classical and Operant Conditioning Training Methods
  • Behavior Modification Plans
  • Trouble Shooting
  • and more!

If you’re considering adding aggression cases to your services, this course will set you up for success. Learn more about the course at Dog Trainers Connection.


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