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2023 Session Descriptions

  • The Why of Behavior: Understanding the Function of Behavior and How It Can Help Us Design Better Behavior Change Programs
    • ​Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, PhD, BCBA-D, CAAB, CPDT-KA -As animal professionals, we are always interacting with animal behavior, whether that’s our main focus as a professional or not. Understanding why animals engage in different behaviors can help us understand better their perspective, as well as helping us make better choices when we interact with them. Operant behavior is affected by its consequences—reinforcers and punishers. When an animal is continuing to engage in an operant behavior, it is because that behavior is contacting reinforcement, what we call the function of behavior. We will discuss the various functions a behavior can have, including social interaction, food/edibles, tangibles such as toys, escape, and automatic reinforcement as well as ways of trying to discern the function of the behavior. Finally, we will discuss how we can use our understanding of the function of behavior to most effectively design and implement behavior
      change programs.

  • Promoting the Self-Regulation of Behavior
    • Dr.Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB - ​Are you interested in developing better self-control in dogs? Executive function refers to the mental processes that are involved in the self-regulation of behavior. For example, maintaining focus, inhibiting behavior, adjusting behavior based on context, and working toward a goal. These behaviors are critical for successful interactions in daily life. This talk will review of what we know about the development of executive function in dogs and how this knowledge can improve our ability to raise emotionally healthy dogs.

  • Hyperactivity and Impulsivity in Dogs
    • Dr.Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB - ​Dogs with high energy, low frustration tolerance, and poor self-control can be very difficult to live with. Clients often come to us in desperation after struggling to live peacefully with their dog for many months. Is it just an issue of lack of exercise and enrichment, or could there be something else going on? This talk will explore the research on hyperactive and impulsive behavior in dogs and how it can inform our approach to these cases. Understanding the underlying components of these issues can greatly improve our ability to achieve successful outcomes.

  • Working with Under-Socialized Dogs & Cats
    • Dr. Karen van Haaften, DVM, DACVB - Dogs and cats from hoarding environments, puppy mills, or neglect cases can pose unique behavioral challenges. Shelters, fosters, and adopters often struggle to meet their needs and help them learn to live comfortably with people. This presentation will explore the most
      common behavior challenges and strategies for successful behavior modification and long-term adoption success.

  • Enhancing our Training- How to Choose a Functional Reinforcer
    • ​​Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, PhD, BCBA-D, CAAB, CPDT-KA - Across species, identifying effective reinforcers is essential for teaching and maintaining desirable behaviors. In companion homes, owners often need their animals to respond to them despite there being a multitude of other valuable environmental reinforcers, like smells, other animals, or people.Owners can also sometimes have low rates of reinforcement and need to maintain long chains of behavior with infrequent reinforcement. Therefore, identifying effective reinforcers that can be used to maintain long chains of behavior and compete against other reinforcers is critical. I have conducted a variety of studies assessing the efficacy of a variety of potential reinforcers, including food, access to the owner, petting, and vocal praise, for dogs. I will review the research and what it says about what consequences are most valuable to dogs, and when and how we might use our reinforcers to help
      maintain desirable responding in our dogs. I will also tie in research from other domains which can help
      inform our choice of reinforcers, such as the physiological effects of petting on dogs, and how we can
      use these same concepts with other species.

  • INTERACTIVE SKILL BUILDING- Improving Our Training: Identifying the Most Effective Reinforcers for Our Learner
    • ​Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, PhD, BCBA-D, CAAB, CPDT-KA

  • Why Enrichment Matters
    • Dr.Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB - We hear about enrichment—and its benefits—all the time. But, what do we really know about enrichment? How is it defined? How do we choose appropriate enrichment? What does the research tell us about the effects of enrichment on behavior? Get answers to these questions and more in this talk. We’ll review the literature on enrichment and discuss how that information can be applied to domestic animals.

  • Historical Periuria & Shelter Cats
    • ​Dr. Karen van Haaften, DVM, DACVB - House soiling is a common behavioral complaint for surrendered cats at
      shelters in North America. Medical and behavioral differentials and work-ups will be discussed in this presentation, along with tips for adoption counseling & post-adoption support.

  • What’s One More? Considerations for Transition; New Life for Herd and Flock Species
    • Danielle Bolm RVT, LVT, KPA CTP, VTS - This lecture will touch on considerations when adding a new pet that is a herd or flock species to the farm. Briefly touching on what protocols that should be implemented, especially with the different ways these pets can be acquired. Understanding the Seeking System to achieve the physical and emotional needs and being mindful to avoid negative emotions during the transition. Integrating classical conditioning and/or operate conditioning to create and maintain a positive emotional during this adjustment period.

  • INTERACTIVE SKILL BUILDING- What’s One More? Implementing R+ Interactions for Herd and Flock Species
    • Danielle Bolm RVT, LVT, KPA CTP, VTS - This presentation will teach ways on how to use positive reinforcement training techniques into daily interactions to create a positive emotional state. We will be coving what positive reinforcement training is, how to use a conditioned reinforcer, and what different reinforcement types a herd/flock animals may value more than other species. This will start with human-animal introduction, creating positive interactions, and build onto husbandry or medical care. Examples will be: Interactions with new humans, wearing halters, learning to lead, grooming, hoof/foot care, and implementing low stress handling for medical care.


  • INTERACTIVE SKILL BUILDING- Enriching the Individual
    • Allie Bender, CDBC, CPDT-KA, SBA - Creating a sustainable enrichment plan to meet all of an animal's needs can be challenging. It's even more challenging for individuals who are currently confined, from shelters to boarding to kennel rest at home, or those who are transitioning to a new environment. In this interactive lecture, we'll explore how to use an enrichment framework to meet the needs of an individual animal by creating a plan for a shelter dog together.

  • INTERACTIVE SKILL BUILDING- Enrichment for a Population
    • Allie Bender, CDBC, CPDT-KA, SBA - One of the most difficult differences between a home environment and a facility is the number of animals to care for. How can we focus on the individual needs of a larger population while creating a sustainable practice for facilities? In this interactive lecture, we'll explore how to apply an enrichment framework to a population of animals by creating a plan for shelter cats living in group housing.

  • ​Challenging Shelter Behavior Cases
    • ​Dr. Karen van Haaften, DVM, DACVB - During this presentation, we will explore a series of complex behavior
      cases in the shelter setting. Cases will represent common conditions that are often present in animal shelter populations.

  • ​INTERACTIVE SKILL BUILDING- Moral distress, professional values/identity, direct communication
    • ​​Dr. Taylor Miller, DVM, MS - Moral distress describes the state of mental distress that occurs when we are unable achieve what we feel is morally right due to circumstances out of our control (compassionate
      euthanasia of an injured but repairable puppy d/t limited finances, owners unwilling to euthanize…yet, the need to depopulate an entire herd/flock for disease control even though individuals within that herd/flock are perfectly healthy, having to balance creative solutions to terrible situations against how Facebook might interpret them, etc).

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