ABRI Articles

These articles, studies, abstracts, and reviews have been made available to ABRIOnline by our generous contributors. A downloadable PDF version of each article is also available to download after clicking on the read more link.

All materials © Animal Behavior Resources Institute, Inc.

 

Evaluation of association between retention in the home and attendance at puppy socialization classes

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No matter how you play with your dog, you might have the type of dog who tends to get overly aroused when she gets excited. Just like some children, some dogs come hard–wired to spiral into a state of emotional overload in seemingly low–key situations. Other dogs, especially adolescents, haven’t yet perfected their emotional thermostats, and need their owners to help them learn to keep their emotions in check. In either case, all dogs need their owners to know the signs of over arousal, and to know how and when to calm things down before they begin to spiral out of control.

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The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has released new guidelines on the use of dominance theory in behavior modification of animals.

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According to a new veterinary study published in The Journal of Applied Animal Behavior (2009), if you’re aggressive to your dog, your dog will be aggressive, too. Says Meghan Herron, DVM, lead author of the study, "Nationwide, the number–one reason why dog owners take their dog to a veterinary behaviorist is to manage aggressive behavior. Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them, or intimidating them with physical manipulation, do little to correct improper behavior and can elicit aggressive responses." Indeed, the use of such confrontational training techniques can provoke fear in the dog and lead to defensively aggressive behavior toward the person administering the aversive action.

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Punishment can be effective in specific cases, but it must be used carefully due to the difficulties of performing it properly compared to positive reinforcement and due to its potential adverse effects. The following is a description of the difficulties and adverse effects that one should be aware of when using punishment (aversives).

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It is impossible for most pet people to stay at home and entertain their cats all day. The remedy for Bored Cat Syndrome is enriching the home environment and giving the cats choices. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished.

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The following guidelines on the use of punishment with animal behavior problems was published by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and is reprinted here with permission. The AVSAB emphasizes that the standard of care for veterinarians specializing in behavior is that dominance theory should not be used as a general guide for behavior modification. Instead, the AVSAB emphasizes that behavior modification and training should focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors, avoiding the reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, and striving to address the underlying emotional state and motivations, including medical and genetic factors, that are driving the undesirable behavior.

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At the recent conference for the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, Dr. Katherine Houpt was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award from CENSHARE. Dr. Houpt has made many outstanding contributions to human animal relationships by improving the lives of animals and people through her research, teaching and service in animal behavior and animal welfare. Behavior is the reason we love and bond with animals. Unwanted behavior is the most important reason for breaking the bond and leaving millions of animals homeless or dead, when unwanted by people. Dr. Houpt is a Charter Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and has been honored by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine with the title of James Law Professor of Animal Behavior. Her leadership and vision have made it possible for many students and colleagues, who, with her support, have also become leaders in veterinary behavioral health and welfare.

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The following guidelines on the use of punishment with animal behavior problems was published by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and is reprinted here with permission. Punishment, or the use of aversives, force, coercion, or physical corrections in order to change an animal's behavior (For actual scientific terminology, refer to Definition), is commonly used by the general pet owner and by many dog trainers. Some punishments are seemingly innocuous, such as squirting a cat with water when it jumps on a counter or shouting "no" when your pet misbehaves. Other punishments, such as jerking a choke chain or pinch collar to stop a dog from pulling, throwing a dog down on its back in an alpha roll when it nips, tightening a collar around a dog's neck and cutting off its air supply until it submits, or using an electronic collar to stop a dog from barking are more severe.

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The following position statement on the adverse effects of punishment was published by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and is reprinted here with permission. AVSAB's position is that punishment (e.g. choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars) should not be used as a first–line or early–use treatment for behavior problems. This is due to the potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear–related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.

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The following position statement on Behavior Professionals was published by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and is reprinted here with permission. If your pet has a behavior problem or if you want information about
your pet's behavior, the first source of information should be your
veterinarian. Only veterinarians can rule out medical problems,
diagnose behavioral disorders, and prescribe medications. If the
problem is complicated, he/she may feel your pet needs a higher
level of expertise and refer you to a veterinary colleague who has a
special interest in behavior problems or to one who is board–
certified in animal behavior by the American College of Veterinary
Behaviorists (ACVB) or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

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Behavior Talk, the weekly podcast from ABRIonline.org, is now available. Each episode of Behavior Talk features news and notes, tips, and an in–depth interview with leading animal behavior experts.

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An Open Letter to My Colleagues in Veterinary Medicine: Puppies begin learning at birth and their brains appear to be particularly responsive to learning and retaining experiences that are encountered during the first 13 to 16 weeks after birth. This means that breeders, new puppy owners, veterinarians, trainers and behaviorists have a responsibility to assist in providing early learning and socialization experiences with other puppies/dogs, with children/adults and with various environmental situations during this optimal period from birth to 16 weeks of age.

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