Canine Science Symposium

Weimaraner puppy
April 13, 2019
San francisco, United States

Canine Science Symposium

$125 - $299

The 7th Annual Canine Science Symposium returns to San Francisco in a new location: San Francisco State University

This year, you’ll be learning from the best canine scientists as they discuss their latest applied research in shelter dog play groups, summary label & explanatory fictions in dog behavior, canine sociability, adoption event best practices, canine detection & odor training, shelter dog welfare & enrichment, veterinary care accessibility and much more!

dog welfare
canine detection
April 13, 2019
09:00 - 17:00
April 14, 2019
09:00 - 17:00

1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
United States

Dog trainers
shelter volunteer

Nathan Hall

Dr. Hall is an Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science at Texas Tech University and the Director of the Canine Olfaction Research and Education Laboratory in the Department of Animal Science. Dr.

Kelsea Brown

Kelsea Brown is a PhD candidate in Animal Science at Texas Tech University. She studies canine social behaviors, animal welfare within the shelter, and community outreach as it pertains to increasing veterinary services for underserved populations.

Lindsay Mehrkam

Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam is an applied animal behaviorist, animal welfare scientist, and doctoral-level Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.

Sheila D’Arpino

Dr. Sheila Segurson D’Arpino completed veterinary school and then a specialty training program in animal behavior with a focus on sheltered pets at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1996 and 2005, respectively. Dr.

Erica Feuerbacher

Erica Feuerbacher, M.S., Ph.D., BCBA-D, CPDT-KA is an Assistant Professor of Anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, MT

Lisa Gunter

Lisa Gunter, MA is a PhD student at Arizona State University in the Department of Psychology's Behavioral Neuroscience area and conducts her research under the mentorship of Clive Wynne in the Canine Science Collaboratory.

Sasha Protopopova

Dr. Alexandra (Sasha) Protopopova, MS, PhD, CPDT-KA is an applied animal behavior scientist in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech University. The Human-Animal Interaction Lab, directed by Dr.

Monique Udell

Dr. Monique Udell received her M. S. and Ph. D. from the University of Florida where she co-founded the Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab and studied with Dr. Clive Wynne.

Clive Wynne PhD

Clive Wynne is currently Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Director of Research at Wolf Park, Indiana. He was educated at University College London and Edinburgh University in Scotland.

Day 1
Day 2
Can a dog in a shelter tell us how he will behave in a home?
When dogs come into animal shelters, some kind of assessment – whether it is formally recognized as such or not – inevitably takes place. At one extreme a formal appraisal may be carried out, such as the “SAFER” or “Assess-a-pet” tests. At the other extreme, a shelter may rely on the informal impressions of their staff as the dog goes through vet checks and other intake procedures. A recent study argues that formal assessments are worse than useless and certainly the available tests have been little tested for validity or reliability. I will review the history of the different approaches and their pros and cons before concluding with suggestions on how to proceed in the critical issue of helping dogs find homes without harming people.
How explanatory fictions & summary labels get in the way of better understanding our dogs
In this presentation, we will discuss the common ways of describing behavior and its causes. I’ll delve into the concepts of summary labels and explanatory fictions, using "dominance" as our primary example. We'll also discuss the utility of behavioralizing, not just when describing dog behavior but our own behavior as well.
Loose language sinks dogs: Behavioralizing what we do to better serve our clients & our field
From the basic understanding of summary labels and explanatory fictions that were developed in our morning presentation, we will now delve into a number of terms that even we, as good behaviorists, use loosely and suss them out into their behavioral pieces. We will take examples from the loose language ever=present in dog training (think of words like “energy” or “respect”) and illustrate how they do not serve the needs of our clients and ultimately the dogs we’re training.
Breaking down barriers: Understanding the challenges of accessibility in obtaining veterinary care
Pets are important family members for many of America’s pet-owning households. It is estimated that 29 million dogs and cats live with families that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Due to the circumstances of these families, it is likely that most of these pets have limited access to veterinary care, including behavioral support. During this plenary session, we’ll discuss the results of a national study which aimed to understand more about the financial, geographical, educational, and cultural barriers, as well as physical limitations of the pet owner and transportation difficulties, that impact owners’ ability to access care for their pets. We’ll also discuss current practices among veterinary care providers that are delivering care to these underserved pet owners.
What are you looking at? Understanding the role of human influence in canine behavioral evaluations
Domestic dogs are exceptionally sensitive to the presence and behavior of social companions. These social tendencies play an important role in dogs’ success and can help facilitate dog-human bonds. However, frequently humans are unaware of the many ways their actions are influencing the behavior of onlooking dogs, including those under their care. In this talk we will explore examples of how human presence and behavior influence canine persistence, exploration and even the outcome of cognitive and behavioral assessments. With this deeper understanding, we will think about how dogs’ social focus influences behavioral evaluations and human-animal interactions in shelter, work and home settings and how we can use this knowledge to the benefit of both species.
Recent advances in canine detection science
The science of canine olfaction is constantly evolving as we develop deeper understanding of olfactory processes and canine capabilities. This talk will provide a general overview of the neurophysiology of olfaction and what we have learned about canine olfactory capabilities. We will also discuss interesting perceptual phenomena in olfaction and how experience influences perceiving. We will synthesize this information to help the audience members better understand the olfactory world their dog is experiencing.
What is canine welfare & how do we measure it in the animal shelter?
Considerable efforts have been made to improve the outcomes for dogs in animal shelters, resulting in substantial increases in the number of dogs adopted and returned to their owners as well as reductions in euthanasia. As the role of the animal shelter changes from one of temporary holding to longer lengths of stay, it is imperative we decide how best to measure welfare and how to use those outcomes to test evidence-based interventions intended to improve the conditions of shelter-living dogs. In this talk, I’ll discuss promising measures found across the literature that can help us better understand dogs’ experiences in the shelter as they await adoption.
Controlling odor and optimizing early training
Having good odor stimulus control is critical to the success of detection training with high accuracy. This deep dive session will provide general guidance on how odorants behave and how they can be best controlled to facilitate your detection training classes. In addition, we will discuss practical procedures to help facilitate the early steps of training, and will show what owners can do at home that will help prepare their dogs for success in classes. There will be time for any questions you have, and time to practice some of the lessons learned during this session.
From cuddling to coconuts: A review of enrichment interventions in the shelter
The use of behavioral interventions designed to improve the welfare of shelter dogs has become much more commonplace; yet, many interventions have not been empirically tested. Within the literature, animal scientists have explored the use of a wide range of enrichment strategies with sheltered dogs and tested their impacts on physiology and behavior with the goal of improving welfare. In this presentation, I’ll examine these interventions which can be broadly categorized as either social interaction with a human or conspecific; object enrichment; or sensory stimulation. I’ll also discuss the implications of these studies, including which additive interventions show the greatest potential for positively impacting dogs’ lives in the shelter.
The social dog: A review of canine sociability & potentially related constructs
Across the scientific literature, diverse methods have been used to evaluate canine sociability and social cognitive capacity. Methods such as open field assessment, ability to utilize human pointing gesture, and reinforcer efficacy of human social contact have shed light on the complexities of the human-canine bond. In this presentation, I’ll present key findings from each of these assessments, note their methodological differences, and discuss their implications for our interactions with dogs.
Reframing adoption as dating: Connecting marketing and social psychology to animal sheltering
Adopting a dog from the shelter is adding a family member into the family. Can we use research and ideas taken from the psychology of dating to help us increase match-making? This talk will explore how classic and novel research in social and marketing psychology relate and enhance our adoption counseling programs at animal shelters.
Correspondence of canine social behaviors across various assessments in an animal shelter
Dogs living in an animal shelter served as subjects in a multi-experiment study on canine social behaviors. We assessed the effects of minor procedural differences on canine behavior, as well as the correspondence of behavior across assessment types. Finally, new methods were introduced to tease apart the role of learning in canine sociability.
Sealing the deal: Adoption event best practices
What do we know about the best-practices of off-site adoption events? As it turns out, not much! By hosting 1 year of experimental adoption events in the community, we answered several questions about how to best conduct such events. We also provide data on the behavior of adopters during events and assess how the behavior of the dogs alters the behavior of adopters. These data will be used to establish best-practices for off-site adoption events and to identify target behaviors for the training of dogs housed at shelters.
The ins and outs of dog play
The ins and outs of dog play