Aggression in Dogs Conference

Conference Program


 Thursday, October 1, 2020

3:00-6:00: Registration 


Friday, October 2, 2020

8:00-9:00: Registration/Breakfast

9:00-10:30: Michael Shikashio, CDBC – Lecture TBD

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:15: Amy. L. Pike, DVM, DACVB. DVM, DACVB, IAABC-CABC 

Medical Causes and Medication Interventions for Aggression in Dogs: In this talk, we will explore common medical causes of aggression, including endocrinopathies and pain. We will also dissect out whether there is a link between hypothyroidism and aggression, through examples in clinical cases and diving into what the research literature tells us. For the last portion of the talk, we will discuss the use of psychotropic medications for aggression cases and what role medication can play in helping your clients and patients once medical causes have been appropriately ruled out and treated.  

12:15-1:30: Lunch

1:30-3:00: Katenna Jones, ScM, ACAAB, CCBC, CDBC, CPDT-KA 

Fighting Like Cats & Dogs: Dealing with Interspecies Aggression: At some point when working as a behavior consultant, we will all eventually encounter cases of conflict between cats and dogs. Often, the consultant’s focus ends up placed primarily (or even exclusively!) on the dog while the cat is just along for the ride. Commonly, this is simply due to not knowing how to deal with the cat or perceiving the cat as an insignificant element. However, as with any relationship, all parties involved must participate in order to achieve any type of long-term improvement. Further, it isn’t unusual for the cat to be the main source of concern. In this session, we will discuss addressing the cat half of the equation, helpful strategies for safety and management, as well as tips and techniques for dealing with aggression between cats and dogs. 

3:00-3:15: Break

3:15-5:00: Denise Fenzi 

Understanding High Drive Dogs: When the Abnormal is Absolutely Normal: What could possibly be desirable about a dog who hangs off your clothing for hours a day?  Whatever could be making your client beam with pride as they discuss these behaviors? And why on earth would anyone breed these qualities into their dogs on purpose?!  Dogs bred for the protection sports and working applications are notably different from more typical pet dogs. This talk will help you understand the terminology used by the working dog community, explore the specific behavior traits that they find desirable, discuss some of the unique aspects of these dogs that must be considered when making training plans and decisions and, hopefully, help you come to understand the perspective of working dog owners and the dogs themselves, so that you can better help these teams in the future.  By the end of the talk, Denise hopes that you will share her appreciation for dogs who appear, by all accounts, to be absolutely abnormal, when in fact they are exhibiting the height of desirable behavior.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

8:00-9:00: Registration/Breakfast

9:00-10:30: Jim Crosby. M.S, CBCC-KA

Tools for Evaluating Aggression: What Works in the Real World? There are various tools that evaluators use to try and predict behavior, specifically aggression, in dogs. But what works, and what doesn’t, when dealing with the worst of the worst: i.e. bona fidefighting dogs? Can these dogs ever be reintegrated into the real world? Which tools show promise-and which tools are full of stuffing? This case study will look at a population of actual fighting dogs, with fighting records, wins, and kills, and how effective some tools were based on long-term tracked outcomes. We will look at two sets of evaluations, two general approaches, and review methods and madness in one particular large case, with overview support from another very large fighting dog seizure. Videos of evaluations will be included.

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-1215: Kim Brophey, CDBC, CPDT-KA

Ethological Contributions to Aggression in Dogs: Ethically and effectively working aggression cases as a canine behavior professional requires us to perform both initial and ongoing comprehensive analysis of all contributing elements to a dog’s behavior. We must be able to identify, understand, and integrate the full scientific scope of potential factors influencing aggression – learned, environmental, genetic, and unique internal conditions of the individual animal’s own self.  Failing to competently do so can lead to misunderstandings and incorrect assessment of cases, obstacles to the progress of behavior modification, inadequate safety and management provisions, and even present life-threatening circumstances for both animals and people. 
In the wake of our industry’s tremendous and positive recent movement to improve understandings and practices through adherence to the fundamental principles of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), certain critical cornerstones of behavioral science from other equally important disciplines have been accidentally left behind, lost, and neglected. As a result, we are often failing to provide the level of complete professional intervention on canine aggression cases that we are charged to deliver. 
Ethological contributions to dog behavior – and specifically aggression – are essential pieces of the puzzle in the big picture of every animal on earth. This seminar will provide attendees with powerful, game-changing insights into many otherwise confusing behaviors in dogs through the lens of ethology. Most importantly, we will see how a truly integrated scientific approach to our work carries the responsibility to regard and serve each dog as an individual because every factor in their being matters, rather than being an individual despite them.  

12:15-1:30: Lunch

1:30-3:00: Leslie McDevitt, MLA, CDBC, CPDT-KA, TAGteach Level 2

Cooperative Counter Conditioning for Aggressive Dogs: Putting the Learner in Control: Techniques are shared from her latest book Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed that are designed to give the dog control over his behavior mod. Requested Approach Training for dogs that aggress when something comes towards them, and Voluntary Sharing Training for dogs with resource guarding aggression, are two "games" which use start-button behaviors to empower dogs to be in the directors' seat of their counter conditioning experience. See the power of these games in action, and more

3:00-3:15: Break

3:15-5:00: Trish McMillan, M.S., CDBC, CPDT-KA, ACCBC

Secrets of the Shelter Ninjas: Shelter workers need to handle fearful and aggressive dogs on a daily basis. As such, it is imperative that they know a variety of safe handling techniques. This talk will give an overview of defensive handling techniques used by shelter staff experts to minimize harm to both the handler and the dogs in their care. Vet staff and trainers, you too can add the Shelter Ninjas’ tools and techniques to your repertoire to help keep you safe!


Sunday, October 4, 2020

8:00-9:00: Registration/Breakfast

9:00-10:30: Denise Fenzi

Puppy or Piranha?  Interactive Strategies for Raising, Training, and Enjoying High Drive, Enthusiastically Biting Dogs: A common reaction to one’s first working bred dog is “What did I get myself into?!”  Yet, handlers who choose to stick with these dogs fall in love with them; they love their intensity, energy, phenomenal rate of learning and sheer enthusiasm for working, at which point they cannot imagine having any other type of dog! How does one get from feeling like you are living with an angry piranha to embracing the best dog you’ve ever had?   This talk will offer specific advice to help you (and your clients) learn how to play with and manage high drive dogs. Denise will emphasize specific strategies for developing personal and toy play, handling tantrums, recognizing where these dogs will be particularly challenging and give hope to even the most discouraged handler!

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:15: Laura Donaldson, PhD, CDBC, KPA-CTP

Growing Pro-Social and Brain Power(ed) Dogs: Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for Canine Aggression: Cognition is often defined as the process through which both human and non-human animals acquire, process, store, and act on information from the environment. Cognitive distortions occur when subjects make consistent information processing errors in mapping meaning onto their experience. A frequent example of a specifically canine cognitive distortion appears when an on-leash dog believes that every approaching dog represents a dangerous threat – and the leashed dog then “protects” himself by lunging, barking and sometimes, even biting. Although this type of cognitive distortion is a critical component of canine aggression, no behavior modification program has yet incorporated this finding into their anti-aggression platform. My presentation will explore both how and why cognitive distortions fuel canine aggressive behavior and then will offer some intervention strategies for combatting such distortions. While most anti-aggression programs for dogs prioritize emotional restructuring through desensitizing and counterconditioning, I suggest that cognitive restructuring – teaching dogs to reframe cognitive distortions by developing better problem-solving as well as decision-making abilities – offers them potentially life-saving skills. I will particularly focus on helping dogs generate more appropriate decision rules about when to enact behavioral responses such as barking, lunging and biting. My model for this effort will be 2 programs that have successfully implemented cognitive life skills training in highly challenged populations: The Growing ProSocial program for incarcerated juvenile offenders and the BrainPower program for elementary school students who have exhibited aggressive behavior. While there is no straightforward comparison between these human programs and any that is developed for dogs, the Growing ProSocial and BrainPower movements can inspire us to discover cognitive restructuring’s great promise for addressing the urgent issue of canine aggression.  

12:15-1:30: Lunch

1:30-3:00: Michael Shikashio, CDBC – Lecture TBD

3:00-3:15: Break

3:15-5:00: Kathy Murphy BVETMED, CLAS, CVA MRCVS - TBD