Dogs on the Couch

The October 1 & 2, 2016 Seminar

If you attended the seminar and would like to review the seminar lectures, this presentation will be viewable until November 20, 2016.

If you would like to be notified when the next seminar is scheduled, please send an email to the Center requesting to be added to the seminar waiting list.

This 2-day seminar focuses on dog behavior, but with discussion of relevance for other species and parallels with human psychiatric disorders.

This seminar incorporates much of Nick’s recent research that resulted in his new book (release August 2016) Pets on the Couch - Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry. 

The Seminar covered the following.

Dominance versus Conflict Aggression

In this talk, Dr. Dodman will address the current controversy regarding the terms dominance and conflict used to describe owner-directed aggression.  He will describe this issue in the context of a scientific classification system that has implications for people as well as non-human animals. Clinical signs of this type of aggression will be described.  Treatment of owner-directed aggression and the likely outcome of treatment measures will be addressed.   Dominance struggles occurring between dogs in the same household, a condition known as sibling rivalry or alliance aggression will also be discussed, including a treatment regimen that has proven most successful. 

Fear, Territorial, and Predatory Aggression

Dr. Dodman will discuss the role of fearfulness and territoriality in generating aggression to strangers both on and off the owner’s property. The critical importance of early socialization (even before vaccination) will be stressed if fear-based aggression is to be avoided.  Territorial aggression will be considered as that arriving from fear or dominance or a combination of these two factors and different treatment approaches for both will be highlighted.  The natural behavior of predatory aggression will be featured toward the end of this talk and its unnatural expression when directed toward people and moving objects.  Proper control and treatment of predatory aggression will be addressed.

Canine Fear-Based Behaviors featuring Diagnosis and Treatment of Separation Anxiety

The centerpiece of this presentation will involve a thorough discussion of separation anxiety in dogs, how it arises, when it arises, and what can be done about it.  Separation anxiety and other situational fears common in domestic pets (as well as people), will also be covered in this talk, including fear of travel and doctor visits. Treatment options for the various conditions will be considered.

Canine Phobias/Post Traumatic Stress Disorders

Phobias in general will be the topic of this talk. Noise phobias, in particular, storm phobia, will be the main topic.  The enigma of how storm phobia arises and what factors are involved will be laid out, as will effective treatment options ranging from the use of various types of storm capes and wraps to environmental provisions including that of companionship. Almost identical phobias exist in people and the classification system used for the in psychiatry can easily be applied to dogs and other animals

Canine Compulsive Disorder – Spinning, Sucking, and Snapping

A leader in canine compulsive disorder research, Dr. Dodman will discuss the cause of these sometimes confusing and difficult to treat conditions.  The latest findings regarding the genetic underpinning of compulsive disorders as well as environmental input and the expression of well-known canine compulsive disorders such as acral lick dermatitis, flank sucking, and tail-chasing will be detailed.  New findings about the etiology of tail chasing in bull terriers will be discussed as they relate to what is now considered a canine form of autism, not simply a compulsive disorder. If the audience is so inclined, he will briefly address compulsive disorders in other species, including humans, and the known link between OCD and Tourette’s syndrome [TS] (with reference to clinical work, genetics, and an equine version of TS. Phenotypic and genetic studies in purebred cats is shedding new light on the problem of compulsions. If time and interest permit, this work can also be presented. Treatment of the various compulsive disorders will also be described, including what can reasonably be expected in terms of results.

Medical Causes of Behavior Problems – Things You’ve Got to Know

Dr. Dodman firmly believes that trainers and veterinarians, alike, need to be aware of the possible role of medical conditions in generating what appear to be purely behavioral problems.  In particular, he’ll discuss what is and is not known about the all-to-common state of borderline hypothyroidism and its role in generating aggression, anxiety, and possibly even contributing to the expression of compulsive disorders.  Various types of partial seizure disorder – also prevalent in humans -- will be illustrated, including how these problems can contribute to a rage-like state of aggression, fly-snapping, indiscriminate eating of inedible objects and even extreme and irrational fear.  Canine cognitive dysfunction (canine Alzheimer’s) will also be discussed, including how the diagnosis is made, what other diagnoses can be confused with it and how to manage it. Parallels between human Alzheimer’s [AD] and the corresponding canine and feline conditions will be highlighted. Nocturnal separation anxiety occurring in older dogs will also be described as an entity and one in which must be recognized by all.  Medical issues causing pain or discomfort lead to this condition in dogs and children. Other known conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, liver problems, and kidney/bladder problems will also be mentioned.

Psychopharmacology of Behavior Problems – What works and why

Dr. Dodman will discuss how and why behavior modifying drugs work and will run through an assortment of them in terms of when they can be applied, how they can be applied, and what are reasonable expectations of their use. Specifically in this talk, pharmacological treatments to modify aggression, separation anxiety, and compulsive disorders, will be detailed, including specifics of titration of these medications and possible side effects. Medications used to treat behavior problems in animals are identical to those used in people for similar reasons.

Well-Adjusted Dogs – Seven Steps to Producing a Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Dog

In this presentation, Dr. Dodman will go through the seven steps that he has enumerated as being something that all dog owners should know and apply in order to maximize the physical and psychological well-being of their dog.  The steps include exercise and diet, clear communication, proper leadership, proper control, assuagement of fears, and provision of a suitable indoor and outdoor environment and activities.  Each one of these subjects will be gone through in detail explaining why the various interventions work and the resulting improvement that can be achieved.

Case Presentations

Following each day of the formal presentations, Dr. Dodman will run through an assortment of case reports detailing dogs that he has seen, the diagnoses and difficulties in diagnoses that he has encountered and the final conclusions, treatment and result of treatment outcome.  Cases include those of extreme owner-directed aggression, inexplicable fearfulness, attention-deficit disorder, complex partial seizures, and more.