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Monday, 28 November 2016

Do Dogs Synchronize Their Behavior with People? Researcher Seeks Participation in Online Study


Please welcome today's guest contributor, Charlotte Duranton, a PhD student at the University Aix-Marseille – Laboratory of Cognitive Psychology. For this online study, Charlotte is seeking participants who own dogs as well as those who do not. Please share the study far and wide!

Our dogs are not only our best friends, they are even our shadows. When you are tired and just want to hang out at home, many dogs will lay down and sleep at your feet. And when you are full of energy and ready to go out, your companion dog is ready to go, waiting to get out, and full of enthusiasm. In both, the dog is a reflection of your own state.

While these behaviors are typically accepted by the general public, they lack extensive scientific study. This is the topic I am investigating for my PhD project: Do dogs display behavioral synchronization with their humans?

Non-conscious synchronized behaviors are found in various species and among all taxa of live beings. Synchronization is observed within intraspecific groups and dyads and has various adaptive values. Being synchronized with others helps: i. decrease the pressure of predation on offspring, ii. increase the effectiveness of anti-predation strategies, and iii. increase social cohesion (see Duranton & Gaunet 2016 for a review). 

This last point is essential when thinking about dog-human groups and dyads. In humans, synchronization helps foster relationships and social bonds between individuals. The more affiliated individuals are, the more behaviorally synchronized they will be (Duranton & Gaunet, 2016).

When considering the dog-human relationship, we know that dogs are very sensitive to our body movements, and such a sensitivity is proposed to be the basis for behavioral synchronization between dogs and humans (Duranton & Gaunet, 2015). 


Social referencing is a type of behavioral synchronization that has recently been identified between dogs and their owners. When confronted with an unfamiliar stimulus, dogs looked at their owners to see their reactions, and then the dogs reacted accordingly. Dogs used their owner’s reaction as a guide when reacting to an unknown object (Merola et al., 2012) and an unknown person (Duranton et al., 2016). Movement alone was sufficient for the dogs to synchronize with the human’s reaction (Duranton et al., 2016).

The scientific question...
We now want to investigate the existence of behavioral synchrony from the dog towards the human when they are alone together without any external stimuli. Do dogs, in a quiet place, with no external events or stimuli, synchronize their behavior with the behavior of their owners?

Get involved!
Help us investigate this question by participating in our online citizen project: www.dog2human-synchrony.fr

Study participants will watch a few short videos and report back on what you observe. The study takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

Study participants
We seek participants who own dogs as well as those who do not own dogs, so please share the study widely!

French or English, your pick!
The study is available in both French and English! 

Access the study here: www.dog2human-synchrony.fr

Please don't hesitate to contact me should you have any questions: charlotte.duranton@cegetel.net

Thank you for considering contributing to this study!


Charlotte Duranton,
University Aix-Marseille – Laboratory of Cognitive Psychology – CNRS
Association AVA

References


Monday, 26 September 2016

What’s Behind Our Lasting Relationships with Dogs? Researcher Seeks Help

Please welcome today's guest contributor, Karen Griffin, a PhD student at the University of Lincoln who is trying to figure what makes relationships with dogs work. Please read on, as she is hoping for your help!

Hi Mia & Julie,

I am currently working on a study to examine factors that affect successful dog relationships and placements.  I am using a new approach to do this, which involves dog owners and shelter/rescue staff assessing dogs using a set of game-like tests.


What makes some relationships work? Flickr Creative Commons
The abandonment of dogs is a problem that affects much of the world.  In the UK between 2014 and 2015, local authorities handled over 100,000 stray dogs.  In the US, the problem is even more monumental; recent estimates suggest that nearly four million dogs enter shelters nationally per year, and over one million of those are euthanized.  

These are frightening statistics, and science has taken notice in recent years, aiming to understand and help reduce this epidemic.  However, much of this research is narrow in focus and scope, by relying on the analysis of retrospective data, that’s collected by shelters when dogs are relinquished, or in the way it conceptualizes the dog-owner relationship.  In the case of the latter, the dog-human relationship is traditionally understood as a static, unchanging one (e.g. Prato-Previde et al., 2003; Marston et al., 2005).  At the same time, there are indications that our lifestyles and relationships with dogs are not fixed, but dynamic. 

Credit: Steve Benisty
This is where my PhD research steps in.  I have applied a very different approach, and have redefined the dog-owner relationship as a dynamic entity that changes over time.  Over the course of the relationship, conflict will inevitably arise, as it does in any close personal relationship, and it is the ability of one member of the party (i.e., the dog or the owner) to resolve the conflict. It is this conflict resolution that will determine if the relationship will continue and be successful or not.  The inability to resolve conflict could lead to the relationship failing and the dog being relinquished. 

So now the question is, what do we do about this?  How can we understand or predict which dogs and owners will be able to resolve conflict and thus which relationships will succeed?  My research has hypothesized that behavioural flexibility (i.e., adaptability) is central to this, so I am assessing this in both humans (i.e., long-term dog owners, dog adopters, and dog relinquishers) as well as dogs.  

Game time
This is where I need help!  I created a citizen science study that dog lovers worldwide can join.  I have developed a set of four game-like tests that assess behavioural flexibility in dogs:
  • L-Shaped Food Finding Test
  • Time Alone Test
  • Three-Toy Test
  • Pointing Test

About you
I am seeking help from people in these two groups:  
  1. Long-term dog owners to participate with their own dog(s) (i.e. people who have owned their dog for at least three years)
  2. Animal shelters, rescue centres, rehoming organizations to participate with dogs without a current home
Time commitment
The study should take approximately 10 minutes per test plus 10 minutes for set-up and background survey completion.  An hour should be sufficient for everything.  Please note, you do not have to complete all four tests to participate.




Please don't hesitate to contact me should you have any questions: kgriffin@lincoln.ac.uk Thank you for considering contributing to this study of what makes relationships stick!

University of Lincoln
School of Life Sciences

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Dog Aging Project

Please welcome today's guest contributor, Dr. Silvan Urfer, a veterinarian with a background in population genetics. He is based at the University of Washington and currently working on the Dog Aging Project.

As a researcher working on the Dog Aging Project, I am glad to share some of our current work and results with the readers of this blog. Our project is based at the University of Washington in Seattle under the direction of Drs. Daniel Promislow and Matt Kaeberlein, and we are interested in studying aging in privately owned dogs – both descriptively and by testing interventions that we expect to increase healthy longevity in our four-legged friends. By following 10,000 companion dogs from homes throughout the United States over their lifetime, the Dog Aging Project aims to discover the genetic and environmental factors that determine whether a dog will live a long and healthy life. Moreover, through an intervention study we describe here, we will explore the potential to actually increase the likelihood that a dog will live a healthy long life. 

Meet Zeke, a canine citizen scientist in the Dog Aging Project
Aging is the single most important risk factor for a variety of diseases that affect both dogs and humans, such as cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, arthritis, or kidney failure. Thus, addressing aging can be expected to result in a wide variety of potential health benefits: In fact, the potential benefits of targeting aging lead us to believe that this approach can be called “The Ultimate Preventive Medicine”, as it would have beneficial effects across the wide spectrum of otherwise unrelated diseases that share aging as their common risk factor.

Interestingly, the basic mechanisms of aging appear to be very similar across species, which has allowed scientists to identify risk factors and interventions in species with very short life spans, which can then be translated to longer-lived species. Thus far, this process has led from yeast through worms and flies to mice. We now argue that establishing the privately owned domestic dog as a model for human aging is the logical next step to take.

Dogs are a very interesting model in that they share our human environment, develop many of the same age-related diseases that we develop ourselves, and also receive comparable medical care, which we argue makes them an ideal model for aging in humans. In addition, the dog’s comparably shorter life span also means that it is better suited as a model for evaluating genetic and environmental risk factors as well as potentially beneficial interventions on healthy aging, seeing as the results will become apparent much more quickly than they would if such studies were to be performed in humans. With this in mind, our goal is to establish a generally accepted definition of what constitutes an aged dog, and then investigate the factors that contribute to that phenotype – be they genetic, epigenetic, metabolic, or environmental.

Apart from their usefulness as a model for human health, identifying interventions that have the potential to make our dogs live and stay healthy for longer would be a highly desirable goal all in itself, and there is also the aspect of keeping service and other working dogs healthy for longer, which has the potential to generate substantial financial savings.
Shadow, of the Dog Aging Project
One such potential intervention is a drug called rapamycin: It is the product of Streptomyces hygroscopicus, a bacterium that was originally discovered in the soil of Easter Island/Rapa Nui in the 70’s. Rapamycin has been FDA approved as an immune modulator since 1999 and has more recently been shown to increase longevity by 30% when given to mice that were biologically about as old as a 60-year-old human. We know that it achieves this effect by activating some of the same metabolic pathways that are activated by eating a low calorie diet, and we also know that feeding dogs a low calorie diet makes them live and stay healthy for longer. Based on this, it follows that giving rapamycin to dogs could be an interesting and potentially very valuable intervention to increase healthy lifespan in our dogs.

We recently completed a double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study on 24 privately owned middle-aged medium size dogs that received either rapamycin or placebo for 10 weeks. This being a pilot study, our main goal was to make sure there were no side effects at the doses we used. In addition to clinical evaluation, we also did bloodwork before, during and after the study, as well as heart ultrasound before and after because rapamycin has been reported to have positive effects on heart function in aging mice.

The results are now in, and we are pleased to report that rapamycin did not cause any clinical side effects in our study population at the doses we used. The bloodwork showed some changes that may indicate longer red blood cell survival and some changes in metabolism, but all blood parameters remained within normal limits in our population.

However, the most interesting part of our results – especially considering our relatively small sample size – is that rapamycin seems to have significant beneficial effects on heart function. Even more interestingly, those beneficial effects seem to be highly specific to the measures of heart function that we know are deteriorating with age, and they seem to apply to both the contraction (systole) and the relaxation (diastole) phases of heart function (Fractional Shortening and E/A Ratio). In short, rapamycin seems to be able to reverse some of the changes that are characteristic of an aging heart when given to dogs for 10 weeks, which is certainly encouraging within the context of improving healthy aging in our dogs.

We are currently seeking funding for a larger, longer term trial of rapamycin in privately owned dogs, which will allow us to determine whether it has a beneficial effect on life expectancy and healthy aging in them. We predict that rapamycin will not only allow the dogs to live longer, but will reduce their risk for several types of cancer, cognitive decline, kidney disease, and other age-associated disorders. For this study, we are planning to recruit several hundred dogs to study over a period of several years, which will allow us to collect more extensive data on health and mortality. More information on the project and how you can help can be found at our web site at http://dogagingproject.com

Dog Aging Project
University of Washington Medicine Pathology
1959 NE Pacific Street
Box 357705
Seattle, WA 98195
Waiting Wolfhounds. Credit: Silvan Urfer
Further Reading








Thursday, 30 June 2016

Italy: The Fifth Canine Science Forum is Here

Hello world!

It’s Mia and Julie, and we’re at the 5th Canine Science Forum in PADOVA, ITALY!! This is our third canine science forum together. Do You Believe in Dog? started in 2012 when we first met in Barcelona, Spain. Two years later we had a great conference in Lincoln, UK, and now we’re in Italy where the coffee is very, very, very good. We also like the canine science, but really, the coffee is fabulous.


What’s the Canine Science Forum?
You know when you come across a headline, “Study finds dogs do X!!” The Canine Science Forum (CSF) is where researchers behind the headlines come together to share and discuss their latest studies and theories about dogs, wolves and related canines. It’s a place to get a pulse on the field -- what’s going on, and what’s to come.


The CSF is also a reminder that when a headline states, “Study finds X…” that's typically an oversimplification of what was actually found. There's a lot of discussion of the nuances of dog behavior and cognition. And science is complicated, but each study brings to the table a piece of the puzzle that is understanding more about the wonderful (and also, the not so wonderful) dogs in our lives.


The conference consists of short talks, plenary talks, and poster sessions (and important espresso coffee shot breaks). Today we're presenting a poster about Do You Believe in Dog? and the importance of communicating our fields' findings to everyone. The blog will continue to be a space where researchers can share the findings of their research, helping it jump over the paywalls and without the stuffy scientific language, to help dogs everywhere. If you're a researcher and you'd like to know more, check out the contributors page!


Out poster about Science Communication!
Email if you want a copy: DoYouBelieveInDog @ gmail.com

The conference began earlier this week on Tuesday and concludes tomorrow (here is the entire program). Anyone can follow all conference-based tweets on Twitter at #CSFPadova as well as @DoUBelieveInDog. We of course want to tell you about talk after talk after talk, but space, time, you get the picture... so here are a few highlights:

Doggie brains
Giorgio Vallortigara began the conference looking at brain asymmetry. The dog’s tail offers a pretty nifty insight into the brain — dogs wag more to the right when seeing an owner (associated with left hemisphere activation which is historically associated with approach-type behaviors), whereas seeing a strange person or strange dog prompts more wagging to the left (i.e., right hemisphere activation typically associated with more retreat behavior). Vallortigara also explored why brain symmetry evolved looking at both benefits to the individual as well as on the population level.

Smelly dogs
Márta Gácsi did not discuss why dog feet sometimes smell like Fritos (maybe next time, Márta!). Instead, Gácsi and colleagues from the Family Dog Project devised a simple, new procedure — that requires no pre-training — to test Natural detection task olfaction in canids, both hand-raised wolves and dogs.

In the study, they placed food in a plastic box with a lid to control the amount of smell released, and then placed the container under a ceramic pot to avoid visual cues. They wondered whether dogs would attend to the location of the hidden food, even when the access to the food was made increasingly difficult (see picture above). They found this was a good way to identify dogs who were both motivated and good at scent detection. Scent breeds and wolves were generally better at finding the food then non-scent breeds and short-nosed dogs. But hey, on an individual level, a Hungarian greyhound and Whippet (non-scent breeds), scored very very high, as did a Boston terrier (short-nosed dog).

A wider view of dog domestication
Friederike Range of the Clever Dog Lab, Messerli - Research Institute University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and Wolf Science Center reminded us that as dogs entered the human environment, it wasn't initially because they wanted to spend time with us, cuddle all night long, look into our eyes, and follow our gaze and gestures. Dogs entered the human environment for food and to scavenge and exploit our fabulous resources. She reminds researchers that dogs are adapted to the human environment as scavengers and this should be considered in terms of its consequences for dog behavior. Check out the Open Access article, Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the "Canine Cooperation Hypothesis" (Range & Virányi, 2015)   

Oxytocin. Don’t oversimplify me
Love? Affection? Come on, Anna Kis of the Family Dog Project would say. It’s way more complicated than that. Kis won the Early Career Scientist Award, and she discussed how oxytocin is being investigated in terms of human-directed social behaviors in dogs. She covered three main areas of research: measuring peripheral oxytocin levels using blood or urine, exploring single nucleotide polymorphisms in regulatory regions of the oxytocin receptor gene, and administering intranasal oxytocin. Julie covered her research on the oxytocin receptor gene in dogs here.

Stay in touch with the conference this week on Twitter at #CSFPadova

And drink a coffee with us!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Can Therapy Dogs Help Students Handle Stress?

Please welcome today's guest contributor, Molly Crossman, a Graduate Student & Co-Director of the Innovative Interactions Lab in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. 

More than 925 colleges and universities have therapy animal programs for their students. The idea is that playing with a dog (or a cat, rabbit, bird, guinea pig, actual pig, llama, or rat—to name a few of the available options,) will help students cope with stress. But with record-high rates of anxiety and depression among students, can a few minutes with an animal really help? 

To answer this question, we did a randomized controlled trial (the gold standard for testing out new medical and psychological treatments). We randomly assigned 67 students and medical residents (who have especially high rates of distress), to either: 

  • Play with a therapy dog, 
  • View pictures of the same dog, or
  • Wait for a turn to play with the dog

Our participants ranged in age from 22 to 37 years old, and the majority (55%) were female. We used the State portion of the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule to assess participants’ subjective experiences of anxiety and mood before and after participating. Both questionnaires ask respondents to rate how they are feeling at the moment, and both are well-validated for this purpose. 

 Photo: John Curtis/Yale Medicine
Dog: Finn (DYBID has to add that he's just the cutest! Look at those eyebrows!)
We found that interaction with the dog did reduce anxiety and improve mood for our participants. Participants who spent their time with the dog improved more than those who viewed (but did not interact with) the dog, and more than those who waited. In other words, as important as it is to take breaks, and as great as cute animal pictures make us feel, getting to interact with an animal is even better. 

Our study corroborates what many dog owners experience—playing with a dog really can improve mental health. But this evidence gives us something that our own experiences cannot. Our findings show that it is not just our high expectations that make therapy animals seem effective. In our study, less than 10 minutes with a therapy dog produced improvement on measures of real clinical symptoms, and that change was not just about taking a break from work.  

The Role of Therapy Animals in Combating Student Stress 
Our findings are important because student stress has reached a crisis point. Over 50% of college students have symptoms of depression, and 11% have thoughts of suicide. Of course, I am not suggesting that therapy animals will ever replace counseling centers on college campuses. On the contrary, therapy animals have already carved out a niche all their own. Therapy animals are appealing and students expect that they will help, therapy animals do not require appointments or commitments, and therapy animals can help many students in a small amount of time at little to no financial cost. In other words, even though therapy animals do not necessarily have a huge impact on every student, they are exceptionally well suited to make some difference for an enormous number of students. 

Graduate Student & Co-Director of the Innovative Interactions Lab 
Department of Psychology, Yale University 
Email: molly.crossman@yale.edu
Twitter: @mollycrossman

Reference
Crossman, M.K., Kazdin, A.E. & Knudson, K. (2015). Brief unstructured interaction with a dog reduces stressAnthrozoös, 28, 649—659.

For more coverage of this research, check out the Psychology Today post by Hal Herzog, ‘Stress Relief in Seven Minutes: Doggie Style. Do programs using dogs to relieve anxiety in university students really work?’ Nov 19, 2015

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

What happens to your heart when you share time with dogs? #HeartsAligned

Most dog owners will tell you that their dogs are good for them. They don't need a scientist to tell them that. But if you ask those same owners "How is your dog good for you?", they might struggle to find the words to describe what underlies the feelings they have about their animal companions.

I recently helped out with a demonstration (organised by Pedigree) that measured the heart rates of dogs and their owners, while separated and when reunited. The idea was prompted by an observation made by Dr Rollin McCraty, who monitored his son and their dog. We used non-invasive heart rate monitors on three dogs and their owners, to measure their heart rate rhythms in real time. We set the owner up on a couch, in front of cameras and lights in a studio, and kept their dog on the other side of a screen, out of sight, for less than two minutes. We then reunited the dogs and owners and encouraged the owner to relax with their dog on the couch, as they would usually do at home. The results? Well - see for yourself, here:


If you had asked me before the demonstration, what to expect, I would have told you "a reduction in heart rates for both dogs and owners over time (maybe 3-5min or so), perhaps after an slight initial increase of reunion excitement". I would not have predicted the close coherence in patterns that we observed within 1min of the reunion. Even as a dog owner and canine science researcher, who knows my dog helps me lead a healthier, happier life, I was astonished!

I genuinely hope this phenomenon is an area of human-animal interaction that attracts more research attention.

So how do dogs help our health?
It's currently unclear what processes underlie the coherence of heart rate patterns we observed between dogs and their owners during the Hearts Aligned demonstration. It's fascinating and something I'd love to research further. Although this was a small case study of just three dogs, the results were striking. 

These Australian dogs and their owners were randomly recruited through a routine casting call to the general public. The data are authentic. It was a delight to witness the beautiful relationship that Glenn, Alice and Sienna enjoyed with their dogs, Lyric, Juno and Jake. It would be interesting to explore the closeness of pattern alignment with other validated measures such as attachment (a term used in psychology that describes the strength of the emotional bond) between people and their dogs.


Glenn & Lyric, Alice & Juno, Sienna & Jake
Existing research suggests that pet owners exercise more, which of course is beneficial for our health. Pets have also been shown to improve cardiovascular health in other ways. For example, patting your dog can release oxytocin that acts to reduce levels of stress hormones, resulting in  lower blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, research shows us that heart attack survivors and people with serious heart related abnormalities who own dogs may live longer than people with the same problems who don't have pets. There are also many studies suggesting animal companions are good for boosting our social resilience and mental health too.

The Hearts Aligned demonstration shows us that perhaps something as simple as relaxing in the company of our dogs at the end of a day of work or school, might also help to reduce our heart rate and offer our bodies a break from the stresses of everyday life.

Speaking for myself, I feel more light-hearted when in the company of my dog. He distracts me from every day stresses, promotes me to get outside and exercise, makes me laugh every day with his antics and gives me company, even when other family members are away. I think I'm a fairly typical dog owner and that others share these feelings. Physically, these things probably result in a lower heart rate and blood pressure than I'd otherwise experience, and I suspect I feel less stressed than I otherwise would.

Luckily, I was able to enjoy the relaxing effect of patting the beautiful Millie when I was invited onto the Studio 10 program to talk about how dogs can help us stress less on national TV:


Hearts Aligned is also fundraising for the national rescue organisation, Pet Rescue, who support over 950 shelters across Australia. We hope the video inspires people to share their own dog photos using the official hashtag #HeartsAligned. Each post on Facebook will trigger a $1 donation from Pedigree to Pet Rescue, up to $20,000. 

That's certainly enough evidence to make my heart feel good!

Mia

Further reading:
Cutt, HE, Knuiman, MW, Giles-Corti, B, 2008, ‘Does getting a dog increase recreational walking?’, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 5. pp. 17-27.

McConnell, AR, Brown, CM, Shoda, TM, Stayton, LE, Martin, CE, 2011, ‘Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership’, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, vol.101, no.6, pp.1239-1252

Headey, B, Na, F, Grabka, M, & Zheung, R, ‘Pets and human health in Australia, China and Germany: Evidence from three continents’, 2004, International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organisations Conference, Glasgow.

Nagengast, SL, Baun, MM, Megel, M, and Leibowitz, JM, 1997,‘The effects of the presence of a companion animal on physiological arousal and behavioural distress in children, Journal of Pediatric Nursing, vol. 12, pp. 323-330.

Thompson, KL, & Gullone, E, ‘Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviours in Adolescents: An Investigation into Associations with Attachment and Empathy’, Anthrozoos, vol.21, no. 2, pp. 123-137.

Wood L, Martin K, Christian H, Nathan A, Lauritsen C, Houghton S, et al. (2015) The Pet Factor - Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122085. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0122085

© Mia Cobb || Do You Believe in Dog? 2016

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Dog Researchers Head to the City by the Bay: The Canine Science Symposium in San Francisco, CA

Hi Julie & Mia,

I wanted to write to the two of you about the Canine Science Symposium. It's happening this April 16 & 17 in San Francisco, and I thought you might be interested to hear all about it. I bet Julie remembers speaking about anthropomorphism at the very first CSS. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get her back to San Francisco for the next one!

This year's Symposium promises to be bigger and better with an extra half day of presentations, more speakers and new breakout sessions to dig deeper into the research. Three years later since that inaugural Symposium at Pawsitive Tails, we're now at the San Francisco SPCA where we’ve partnered with the organization’s Behavior & Training Department, brought on sponsors (such as the Karen Pyror Academy) and in all, expect well over 100 shelter staff and volunteers, trainers and dog enthusiasts to join us for this day and a half of canine science. We love coming to San Francisco in part because of the vibrant dog community there!

While many Symposium speakers continue to return each year to share their research, we ensure that the topics are new – and we’re real sticklers on the “applied” part of the research. 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. 

This year’s addition of breakout sessions will provide more advanced content (something we think the Symposium crowd is eager for) and live opportunities to discuss research and training ideas (and in some cases, as they’re happening!). We like sharing our enthusiasm for dogs, and the Symposium is our opportunity to make our research accessible.
Xephos running the maze at ASU.
Our CSS speakers for 2016 include Drs. Clive Wynne (Arizona State University), Erica Feuerbacher (Carroll College), Lindsay Mehrkam (Oregon State University), Sasha Protopopova  (Texas Tech University) and myself. This year, we have new additions to our speaking roster including Dr. Monique Udell from Oregon State University and post-doctoral scholar Dr. Nathan Hall from Arizona State University. Dr. Jeannine Berger, who heads up the SF/SPCA’s Behavior Resources, will be speaking too (in the past, she’s led our roundtable, but now she’s joining us at the podium).

While many of us are former or current students of Clive’s, our research interests are diverse as evidenced by this year’s 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’re excited to return to San Francisco this April and hope to see many in the dog training and behavior community at the Symposium! 

For those folks that are interested in attending, head on over to https://www.sfspca.org/get-involved/events/CSS2016 for all the details including speaker bios and presentation descriptions, and online registration (registration is at the waaaay bottom of the page).

Our early-bird registration ends March 2nd, so those that want to attend should sign up soon!  

Lisa Gunter 
MA, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA