Evaluating And Addressing Problem Behaviors In Dogs



Eileen Koval

What is a Problem Behavior? It depends on who you ask! A behavior may be a problem to one person but not another. In this four-hour program, we will look into changing cultural expectations, human selective pressures in breeding, the role of animals in our lives, training and socialization, genetics, neurobiology, stereotypic behavior, medical issues, and other behavior-related topics.

Hour 1) Framework for Identifying and Addressing Problem Behavior

We will begin by identifying how and why problem behaviors manifest and how to address them through the lens of the “The Humane Hierarchy (from Dr. Susan Friedman, PhD)” and the “Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare.” Once we have covered the framework with how we identify and approach behavior issues for evaluation, we will discuss some common issues, including why do they do it, how does it manifest, and how can we address these problems.

Hour 2) Guarding Behavior

Guarding can present for many reasons stemming from fear of losing access to resources to an actual behavior that we bred dogs to perform. Some dogs enjoy guarding! We will take a look at early signs of its manifestation and how to address situations without escalation.

Hour 3) Dominance in Dogs

This is a hot topic that has undergone extensive research in recent decades but it is filled with widespread myths, confusion, and some hidden truths. We will uncover how dominance presents in dogs citing recent scientific research, work with wolf-mix dogs, and studies with free-range dogs. You’ll also learn when dominance is a concern, and how a better understanding of dominance in dogs can improve your communication and interactions with them.

Hour 4) Canine Stress and Anxiety

A major part of addressing canine anxiety and stress is recognizing it is happening. We will uncover body language signs indicating stress and anxiety, when a dog is shut down vs calm, discuss fight/freeze/flight responses, and look at when these are acute problems in reaction to a specific situation vs something bigger like hyperarousal. You will also learn ways to better connect and help these dogs that you encounter in the scope of your professional interactions.