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2018 Canine Science Symposium Agenda

3:20 pm: Break


3:35 pm: Day 1 Closing Plenary Presentation

Jenny Essler, PhD, Penn Vet Working Dog Center


Starting from Scratch: What We've Learned Developing Puppies into Detection Dogs


The Penn Vet Working Dog Center is a research and development center for detection dogs. Dogs enter the program at 8 weeks of age and start their foundation training, including odor recognition, from the start. As the dogs mature, they are trained in the discipline that best suits their physical and behavioral strengths. Potential careers for these dogs include search and rescue as well as drug, explosives, and medical detection (i.e. ovarian cancer, infection). In the 5 years since the Center opened, the process for building the foundations for odor detection has evolved. This presentation will discuss what has worked well – and some of what hasn’t worked – to optimize the dogs' performance.


4:35 pm:  Speaker Panel Discussion 


5:00 - 7:00 pm: Cocktail Hour, Networking

B: Working Dogs


Monique Udell, PhD

Oregon State University Human-Animal Interactions Lab


DAID Training: Dogs as Active Partners in Animal-Assisted Intervention Programs


Dog ownership and interactions with dogs in therapeutic settings have been found to have a variety of beneficial outcomes for humans. In this talk I will discuss, and show examples from, a current program where we are investigating the efficacy of engaging a family’s own dog as an active therapeutic partner for children with developmental and motor disabilities (e.g. autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy). In the current program children learn about basic dog behavior, how to properly walk their dog and in one condition learn how to train their dog using an imitative training methodology (‘Do As I Do’ training). We are evaluating the effects on the dog-human bond, increased physical activity and quality of life. The most recent dog training intervention was conducted at one of our local animal shelters (Willamette Humane Society, Salem OR). I will discuss some of the strengths and challenges of conducting AAI programs for children at an animal shelter, and how research into active pet-owner partnerships could benefit pet dogs, as well as those seeking homes.

Day 1 - Saturday, April 14, 2018

A: Training


Rachel Gilchrist, BS

Arizona State University Canine Science Collaboratory


Is the Click the Trick? Examining the Efficacy of Clickers and Other Reinforcement Methods in Training Naïve Dogs to Perform New Tasks


Clickers are often used to aid in the training of dogs; however, evidence of their superior efficacy in the acquisition of novel behaviors when compared to other secondary reinforcers or primary reinforcement alone is almost entirely anecdotal. In a series of experiments carried out by the Canine Science Collaboratory, naïve puppies were positively reinforced with only food, with food preceded by a verbal secondary reinforcer (“chee”), or with the sound of a clicker followed by food. To compare the dogs' performance under these separate reinforcement conditions, novel behaviors that increased in duration, distance from the experimenter, and specificity were used. In this talk, I will discuss the results from these experiments and how their findings may aid in our understanding of how clickers function in the training of our dogs.

A: Shelter Adoption


Alexandra Protopopova, PhD

Texas Tech University Human-Animal Interaction Lab


Adoption and Enrichment Interventions at the Animal Shelter


What does science tell us about the multitude of innovative strategies currently implemented in animal shelters across the US? This talk will review the current research aimed at increasing the likelihood of adoption and improvement of the well-being of dogs while in the shelter.


B: Behavior


Nathan Hall, PhD

Texas Tech University Canine Olfaction Research & Education Lab


Repetitive Behaviors in Dogs: Recent Research on Causes and Treatments 


Highly repetitive behaviors that appear to serve no function, such as tail chasing, circling, fly biting, and light chasing, can be pervasive and challenging for owners and trainers. This talk will highlight the latest research exploring the causes of these behaviors. We will also discuss how scientifically informed behavioral assessments can be conducted to develop individualized training programs to reduce these challenging behaviors.

8:45 am: Doors open for check-in, coffee and breakfast bites


9:30 am: Welcome


9:40 am: Opening Plenary Presentation

Clive Wynne, PhD, Arizona State University Canine Science Collaboratory 


Dogs Deserve Better


I argue that how people care for their dogs is not keeping up with the best practices that science is developing. Too many trainers continue to use outmoded ideas of dominance and aversive control. People rely on the notion of breed to tell them how a dog will behave when differences in behavior within a breed are as great, or greater, than differences between breeds, and 95% of shelters dogs are not pure-bred. We know dogs are highly social beings, and yet it is widely considered acceptable to leave them shut up alone all day. Although civilized people subscribe to the five freedoms, which includes the freedom to express species-typical behaviors, the Animal Welfare Act allows dog breeders to confine dogs their whole lives in cages only six inches longer than the dog itself (not even counting its tail). Can we really claim to be treating our animals any better than people in far poorer countries whose dogs may not get veterinary care, but they are free to live how they choose and are seldom lonely?


10:35 am: Break


10:50 am: Session 1 - Choose A or B

11:35 am: Break


11:50 am:  Session 2 - Choose A or B

2:20 pm: Break


2:35 pm: Session 4 - Choose A or B

A: Shelter Adoption


Alexandra Protopopova, PhD

Texas Tech University Human-Animal Interaction Lab


The Art & Science of the Meet-and-Greet


The first meeting of a potential adopter with their future dog is arguably a crucial moment that sets up the pet-owner bond. However, best practices for this important part of sheltering are missing. This talk will cover the most recent multi-site national study to develop these best practices.

B: Working Dogs


Nathan Hall, PhD

Texas Tech University Canine Olfaction Research & Education Lab


The Nose Knows: Recent Research in K9 Scent Work


A better understanding of the power and limits of the dog’s nose is critical for optimal training and performance of working and nosework dogs. Expecting dogs to search for finds that are too easy is not so fun, and finds that are impossible can be frustrating for all involved. This talk will leverage the latest science on the dog’s sense of smell to help nose work trainers better understand the dog’s sense of smell and how this is leading to the latest optimized training protocols. 

B: Behavior


Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB, DACAW, CAWA

San Francisco SPCA


Biology or Psychology? – Guidelines to Improve Welfare of Shelter Animals with the Help of Psychopharmacology


The shelter environment is hopefully just a temporary home for most animals. But exactly for that reason living in this temporary environment can be very stressful for many animals. Dogs and cats alike can suffer from fear, anxiety and stress related signs that decrease the welfare of shelter animals significantly and with this may reduce their adoptability. Stress related signs can include a host of somatic problems such as sleep disturbance, anorexia or even aggression. To ask the question whether this is a psychological or a biological problem does not allow for best practices. We must assess and address the overall welfare of each individual animal and answer the question “Is the condition due to psychological factors or biochemical disturbances?” Assessing the welfare to answer this question is of utmost importance in guiding treatment decisions with psychotropic medications in shelter animals. In this presentation we will learn about key diagnostic principles and realistic expectations for treatment plans.  

12:35 pm:  Lunch


1:35 pm: Session 3 - Choose A or B

A: Training


Erica Feuerbacher, PhD, CPDT-KA

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 


Assessing Preference & Reinforcer Efficacy


The effectiveness of reinforcers is essential to training. So, how do we assess how effective a reinforcer is? A common way is assessing preference for an item or an interaction as a reinforcer. However, preference doesn’t always give us the whole picture. To look at how preference and reinforcer effectiveness interact, we will use behavioral economics, which deals with how much behavior a reinforcer can maintain and how we can apply these topics to improve our dog training.