This is a great episode where I get the chance to chat with a fellow behavior consultant about, well, a whole bunch of topics! Lauren Novack from Behavior Vets joins me in a fantastic conversation where we go down rabbit holes in applied behavior analysis, consent-based training, trauma in dogs, and a whole lot of other behavior geekery.
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Lauren Novack is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and Family Paws Parent Educator. She founded and operated dog walking and training company Lauren’s Leash in 2011 which she operated in Manhattan through 2018 before joining Behavior Vets. She has had the honor of helping to inform the company's vision, processes, and direction while working with the most challenging dog behavior cases in Manhattan alongside a team of world class veterinarians and trainers. She creates custom behavior intervention plans for dogs (and their people) who have been diagnosed with neophobia, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, various types of aggression, and separation anxiety. In addition to her work with private clients, Lauren offers webinars on various applied behavior analysis topics to animal behavior professionals for Behavior Vets and professional organizations.
An insatiable learner, Lauren began her graduate studies at Hunter College's Animal Behavior and Conservation program before transferring to the Applied Behavior Analysis department. After finishing all coursework and accruing 360 supervised hours working with human kiddos, she is one thesis away from her M.S. in ABA. Her research focuses on the intersection between animal welfare and evidence based behavior interventions for companion animals.
Lauren serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for Daily Paws, a digital pet brand at Meredith Corporation. Her television appearances include Fox & Friends, Fox5 NY, Fox Philadelphia, and Rachel Ray. She appeared on panels at zoos and rescue organizations and regularly contributes to articles on various online platforms and print media including B.F. Skinner foundation's Operants Magazine, Broadway Barks, NY Mag, Chewy, BarkPost, and The DoDo.
Lauren lives in the center of Manhattan with one rescued mixed breed pup (Grayson), one cat (Maui) and one husband. In the rare moments when she’s not working or studying, she enjoys exploring Manhattan’s concrete and culinary landscape with her family.
This is a great episode where I get the chance to chat with a fellow behavior consultant about, well, a whole bunch of topics. Lauren Novak from behavior vets joins me in a fantastic conversation where we go down rabbit holes and applied behavior analysis, consent based training, trauma and dogs and a whole lot of other behavior geekery. And if you are interested in hearing more about applicable and immediate steps you can use with your own dog, or in your cases, I just launched a subscription series called Help for dogs with aggression, which is an additional format to this podcast where I walk you through a variety of aggression issues, and how to solve them. You'll find a little subscribe button on Apple podcasts where the by the end of the dog is listed. Your support the show is very much appreciated. You guys know I love science and for this episode, we're going to be geeking out with Lauren Novak who is an associate certified dog behavior consultant kPa certified training partner and family paws parent educator. She founded and operated dog walking and training company Lauren's leash in 2011, which she operated in Manhattan through 2018. Before joining behavior, vets who's got an awesome team. I know Elise and JJ the owners are wonderful people and they've got an incredible team working with them. Lauren has had the honor of helping to inform the company's vision, processes and direction while working with the most challenging dog behavior cases in Manhattan alongside a team of world class veterinarians and trainers. She creates custom behavior intervention plans for dogs, and there are people who have been diagnosed with neophobia, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, various types of aggression and separation anxiety. In addition to her work with private clients, Lauren offers webinars on various Applied Behavior Analysis topics, to animal behavior professionals for behavior vets, and professional organizations. She's getting her master's in applied behavior analysis, and she's appeared in many TV shows, including Fox and Friends Fox, five, New York, Fox, Philadelphia and Rachael Ray. She's also been featured in a number of publications, including BF Skinner's foundations, operant magazine, Broadway barks, New York, mag, chewy Park post and the dodo. So welcome to the show, Lauren, hey, how you doing, doing doing well doing well. So we are going to be chatting about science, science based dog training, quote, unquote, and a lot of what we might think about when we're talking about science and dog training, because before the show, we were chatting about, you know, what makes a science based dog trainer why science is so important. And certainly in the dog training community, we are drawing on a lot of different lenses, a lot of different sciences, where we take into account what somebody has researched, or what somebody said in a certain study, and then we extrapolate that for our own needs in the dog training community. And there can be some pros and some cons to that. But let's first start off by defining what is a science based agenda, we see that on people's marketing materials, and we hear it in conversations, sort of as like a badge that we wear,Unknown:
it is it's a badge that we wear. And I'm really glad I was drawn to the people who wear that badge when I was first starting out, because I do think that they have a leg up. And there's so little that we know, there's so so so little that we know, I find that when people say that they are a science based dog trainer, they're talking about their use of the quadrants, or their use of specific quadrants, and I hate the term quadrants. It's not how we define or categorize different contingencies and consequences. In ABA, it's it's a very dog trainee term, right the quadrants. But you could be using any quadrant, you're still science based, right? Just just being able to say I'm using a quadrant doesn't make someone a evidence based trainer, I think very few of us are evidence based trainers, I think in order to be an evidence based trainer, you have to be manipulating variables, taking data and making decisions based on what you find. And that's a skill that very few of us have been taught. But that's what happens in the field of applied behavior analysis. So as part of my master's, I had to do 360 hours with kids. And the thing that's so lovely about that field and about working with kids, is that you've got 1000s 1000s of journal articles demonstrating the functional analysis and treatment of behaviors in children, adults, tons of different humans and so if you encounter a problem, you can very easily go find some material. Oh, this is very similar. This group of kids display this the functional analysis display this and they did this treatment and it was approved. Maria, and it worked here with the limitations. Here's what they did next, it's, you can see the progression of why people make the decisions that they do and treatment. And there's actual evidence for it, you can again, you can cite 1000s of studies. And when we're talking about, you know, science based treatment for dog trainers, we're generally talking about, I would say, like theoretical stuff, you know, we know what operant conditioning is, we know what classical conditioning is, we know that it's effective, we know how it works in a multitude of species, most of most of the actual work is in a laboratory with like rats, or mice or pigeons. So I think it's a very different thing to take an animal, you know, I work with companion animals, pets that are owned mostly dogs, I think it's very different to take an individual animal in a living environment, I'm in New York City, these dogs are in apartments, that are displaying various problems, let's say aggression towards people in the building, or their dogs on the street or whatnot, and look at what's happening and come up with a treatment plan that looks very different than what's happening with a rat in a box. Right? I can No, oh, this is so I'm going to use positive reinforcement. But are you using positive reinforcement? Right? Did you actually take the time to take data and analyze what's happening? So I think there's a lot that's really awesome that's going on in the world right now. Dogs are actually being studied. We've got some papers coming out in Java, and the Journal of veterinary behavior. Thank goodness, we're starting to finally have some, some data and some evidence come out. But it's very, very beginning stages. And so I think that's really great news, because I think a lot of people in our generation are really, really hungry for this stuff.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, you bring up a lot of good points, because the I think, many of us aren't tracking any kind of data. With the work we're doing with our client dogs, we are taking information from maybe some articles or some research we're seeing or some particular lens of science that we might catch on a seminar or during a conference, and then applying it to our practices. So we might consider that that Yeah, sure. We're using science in our work, but are we actually seeing if it's working? Right, you know, I was talking to Trish King, I just recorded a podcast with her and we were talking about the study of dogs in general, the study of dog behavior is actually still kind of in its infancy, compared to the human research, which you were just mentioning, there's tons of data, and and research done with the human population. But with dogs, it's actually quite a young industry that we're working with. And there's not have as much information as we would like to think out there about dog behavior. So what are your thoughts on that? What are your feelings about it? Would you agree in the same regard, as far as it just still being in its infancy?Unknown:
It is. And I think that's really exciting, because you don't have to have some unique fireworks idea to go do good, helpful work that will make a difference in people's lives. Because there's so little that has been done, right? Any any data is is helpful. There's so little available, we are in our infancy. I love I'll give you an example. I took a I started in the animal behavior and conservation department at Hunter and I took a class on companion animals. And I did a paper for the end of the term about dog welfare, a huge literature review. And since then, for my thesis, I wanted to go back and look at you know, what's new since 2018. And let me tell you, there's so much news since 2018. I mean, I think there are more papers about welfare in companion animals, than there were from 2018 Till now than there were 2018 and prior to 2018. So it's awesome, like this area is exploding, which is also exhausting, because there's so much to read, right. But I think it's really exciting. It's an area ripe for for research and for, I think a lot of collaboration with dog trainers to like we were talking about the reason that I love applied behavior analysis so much is because as someone in behavior analysis, you are considered a scientist practitioner. And that is so important to me, because the real problems of the world that need to be solved, you know, and in our world and our little area of the world, that's dogs and their relationship with their owners and the way that they exist in a human world. You're not going to really know what the problems are or how to best help what what data to take what questions to ask if you're just theorizing about stuff right up in your ivory tower. So I love that in this work, the theoretical meets the practical application so that we can actually look at stuff that can be immediately helpful to other living beings.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, and I Along those lines, I see how oftentimes where we're being taught something right from a scientist or somebody that's in the academia. And then we as dog trainers kind of have this responsibility to interpret it, and then apply it to our own work. But what I've seen happen, and I'm sure you've seen this as well, is that something, some new idea comes out, whether it's presented somewhere or some paper comes out, somebody might read the abstract only, they don't actually go through any of the, there's maybe like a sample size of seven or something like that. And then they are suddenly applying it in their own work, as almost like gospel can almost be like the only thing they start doing with certain cases. And I find that very problematic, because there's a lack of data, right, in terms of applying it to their own practice, and maybe even a misunderstanding if they're not really reading the research well, and and oftentimes, we have to question the research and where that data is coming from where that study, or that research is actually getting all their data from, you know, we were talking about, you know, owner directed surveys and things like that. So talk more about that, and why we have to be really careful. In our community right now, especially with all of this new science being thrown at us. How I think as community, we need to be careful, what do you think along those lines?Unknown:
I see. You know, I actually haven't been to conferences in a couple of years, just because I've been having to focus on my own graduate work. And there's only so much space in your brain at one time. So I can't speak to what's really going on right now. But I do think that in our field, we go through fats, and whatever's big and whatever's it's not even necessarily something that's new, it could be something that somebody talked about 20 years ago, and it's just out of favor, and then someone brings it back into favor, or it could be something new. But we go through fads, and people get really excited, and they put whoever's speaking about it up on a pedestal. And I think it's, it points to the fact that everyone in our field, everyone I know, is absolutely starving for information and knowledge, and is very passionate about learning, the best ways to help their clients, the best ways to help their clients, dogs, you know, because we're working in a field where we're seeing suffering every day. And so when we see something that works, we're like, Oh, my God, I have to have that I've got to learn it, I've got to apply it. And when you learn about one thing at a time like that, you can kind of get your blinders on. And you know, you start seeing it everywhere you go, I kind of think about it. Like when I'm really hungry, or I try to be on a diet, and then I start to eat chocolate bars where they don't exist, literally. Is that chocolate bar? Oh, no, that's just your that's just your phone. Right. And I think it happens because people are so passionate and so into things. And also horses, sometimes a horse and not a zebra, right? Like, it's, that tends to happen. And so without being able to widen the scope, widen the lens, without understanding where that information came from, and how it fits into everything else. Yeah, we can, we can get a little too zoned in on on certain things, and then maybe try to apply them to clients when they're, it's not the right fit for for that client. So and that just goes back to really not looking at clients as individuals. And that's what's so tricky about what we do is that every client that we work with, is an individual. And so really stepping away from recipes, and looking at an individual and putting very individualized, customized plans together for an individual is is the best thing that that we can do. But when you're new when when you're learning, you know, you're relying on recipes for a little while, because that's that's the process.Michael Shikashio:
What are your What are your recommendations for somebody that is just starting out, or maybe it's new to training, and they're, they're getting all this information, which is coming at a exponentially faster rates in the last even a few years than it was, you know, 10 or 20 years ago, we're seeing so much information thrown at trainers through social media through different conferences and online webinars. And all this access to information is wonderful. However, how do you sift through that if you're somebody new and you're seeing some new research coming out, or somebody's talking about that, and you're actually interested in learning more about the science behind it? What do you recommend for resources there?Unknown:
You know, you make very good points. There's so much coming out. And I think part of that is COVID. Right? We all we all started working from home and information went online rather than having to, you know, fly to conferences and pay for hotel rooms and all of that stuff. I think the thing that's really important to learn how to do first and foremost is to learn how to identify who you should be listening to and who you shouldn't be listening to. And for me, that's not a decision I make based on who is hosting someone or what organization is talking about a person? And is more about? Is this person speaking about something that they are an expert in? And when I say expert, I mean like, if if there's someone from academia, what have they published on the topic? Where did they get their degree? Who did they study under? You know, really learn about that person? And and where are they got their knowledge from before you decide that you want to listen to them. And for someone who's who's speaking and sharing knowledge who isn't coming from academia, there's, there's so much great stuff to know. And I think I think that one's a little bit trickier. Because if you have someone from academia, you can look up, where did they go to school? And you can look up on ResearchGate, what did they study? What did they publish, someone who is more hands on has a very different skill set, and a very different and equally important set of knowledge to share with people who are doing applied work like us. And for that, I think you just have to go and listen and determine for yourself if it is in alignment with, with what you've heard in the past or not. And of course, if you are going to a conference, and this is the benefit of conferences, the people that you respect, and you look up to, you just shadow them and listen to what they say until you learn more, right? Because you're going to learn just as much from the people who are asking questions about a presentation or confused about it or maybe don't agree with it, as you are going to from the person who's speaking. And I think that dialogue has to be open. And you have to be open to listening with a with a critical ear. And then going back and verifying that information for yourself, right? If someone is doing a presentation, and they're making huge claims, there better be a citation on that on that slide that you can go and you can read the paper yourself and verify if the way that they interpreted the study is how the authors of the study were meaning to talk about it.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, good points on being open minded, first of all, but also being an educated consumer, as we were chatting about before the show, in knowing what to look for, because it's easy to get latched on to somebody that's maybe a celebrity on TV, right? So mention any names, but that it's easy for sometimes people Oh, that person must be an expert, because they're famous. But that's not the criteria we should be looking for when we're looking for evidence based science based educational material.Unknown:
Yeah. And even you know, you can go to a talk by someone with a PhD. And what they're saying is nonsense, right? Just because someone has a credential doesn't mean that they're talking in an eloquent way about something, or maybe they're just not good at teaching, right? Not everybody who has lots of knowledge is good as good at teaching, or maybe is not good at teaching people who are not also trying to get their PhDs, right. If you're at a dog training conference, like you need to understand what the speaker is saying. And not everybody's good at translating. There are so many air quote, credentials in our field, that I think if you're new, and you're starting out, man, is it smart to look up what those credentials are, who came up with the credentials, what you have to do to get those credentials. If those credentials aren't even a thing. Because people make stuff up, they legitimately make stuff up. And so you know, if you're a dog owner, I think it's just as important if you're hiring someone to go online and figure out what those different credentials are, because there are so many specialties within what we do. And so some of those those credentials can be really, really helpful and helping owners figure out who to go to right if they have a specific problem they're trying to solve. And they can also be incredibly confusing.Michael Shikashio:
Very good advice. Very good advice. Now we're gonna take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors. And we'll be right back to talk more about your thesis work and stoic dogs and some of the measurements and we're gonna geek out a little bit, so I'm excited to pick this conversation up again. Thanks for tuning in. And I hope you are enjoying this episode. I have a very special offer that I am announcing just before the aggression in dogs conference this year. You've heard me talk about the aggression in dogs master course on this podcast. And for a limited time to celebrate the third annual conference. I'm going to launch a bundle offer that includes the course and all 14 webinars on aggressive dog.com. Yes, that's all of the webinars. The webinars alone would typically cost more than $450 to purchase together. But I'm including them for free in this special bundle deal with the aggression in dogs master course. Just some of the topics for the webinars include how to break up a dog fight dog to categorization dog to child directed aggression, and treating retreats with some of the most respected behavior pros in our field, including Suzanne clothier, Jen triack, Trish McMillan, and Dr. Jessica Hackman, just to name a few. And the master course gives you access to 23 modules on everything from assessment to safety, to medical issues, to the behavior change plans we use in a number of different cases, including blood Since taught by Dr. Chris pockle, Kim Brophy and Jessica Dolce, you'll also receive access to a private Facebook group with over 1000 of your fellow colleagues and dog pros, all working with aggression cases. After you finish the course you gain access to private life group mentor sessions with me, where we practice working through cases together. And if you need see us, we've got you covered, we're approved for just about every major training and behavior credential out there. This is truly the flagship course offered on aggression in dogs, and is perfect for pet pros that want to set themselves apart and take their knowledge and expertise to the next level. Or even for pet owners who are seeking information to help their own dog. You'll receive all 14 webinars, the master course, mentor sessions, and access to the private Facebook group for all just the price of the master course, which is only $495. There's only going to be 50 bundles available in this offer. And I will drop a link to the bundle in the show notes for this episode. The offer will expire on October 9 2022, which is just one week after the conference, though the bundle typically sells out quickly. So please take advantage if you are interested. Head on over to the show notes for this episode in the podcast platform. You're listening to this episode in and click on the aggression in dogs master course and expert webinar bundle link. Thanks again for your support of the show. And I hope to see you in the master course. All right, I'm here back with Lauren Novak. And we're gonna geek out a little bit on the thesis work you're doing and a little bit more about that. So tell us what what is it that you're focusing on with your thesis right now?Unknown:
Well, Mike, do you like working with stoic dogs that bite people without any warning?Michael Shikashio:
Certainly not. Everybody does. And so I'm very excited to hear about what you're up to with this.Unknown:
Oh, man. So the reason I got this idea of of what I wanted to work on is because I've been working with dogs doing some cooperative care stuff. So cooperative care, being teaching the dog to participate in handling and being touched. And that sort of stuff, whether it's a dog who will bite you if you go to pet it, or if you're trying to teach them to cooperate in anything from nail trims, to vaccines to blood draws or anything in between. And what I started seeing, as I was doing the bucket game, and the bucket game being, if your chin is down, I can touch you, if your chin comes up, I can't touch you. So you're teaching the dog away to say, for lack of a better term, yes and no. Some people use the term consent. Some people hate the term consent, because they don't think that the dog can actually consent to something if they don't know what's going on. I think it's an okay word to use, because you are teaching them with consistency, that chin down, I'm touching you chin up, I'm not touching you. Or I'll use eye contact sometimes for some dogs, I had a dog once I was doing this with little Doxie, who would really bite you, when you when you tried to just pet him. We did the muzzle training is wearing the muzzle and I use eye contact because he was so little and putting his chin down would make him even even smaller and even shorter and further away from me. And it was so cute. He wouldn't just look at you. But he started like doing this head throw thing where all of a sudden, like he would just come up if you started throw your throwing his head at you and staring at you to get to get you to touch him. And the parents could not believe it. I mean, I was like giving this dog a five minute massage and a couple of weeks, it was amazing, this work can be awesome. And when I work with dogs who take a little bit longer or have some pain issues, what I started to notice is when they would lift their chin up, they would start to lick their lips or turn their eyes to the side or turn their head to the side. And those are behaviors that we associate with distance increasing. Those are behaviors that we associate meaning I want space. And in dogs who bite without warning. Typically, those behaviors either were ignored because people didn't understand that the dog was asking for space. So they were touching the dog and the dog was licking its lips and turning away and the person kept petting the dog it didn't work. Or maybe they were punished for you know growling or biting. And so those precursor behaviors don't happen anymore because they were punished. And now you have a dog who is seemingly fine, and then bites. So I'm doing this work and this the dogs are putting their chins down and coming up and down and up. And I'm seeing these little behaviors come back and I'm like, You know what, I'm wondering if in this process, we're getting resurgence of those behaviors that we consider to be lower down on the you know, letter of aggression, lower down on the rungs are we getting resurgence of those innate To communication behaviors? And if so, can we bring them back? Can we teach a dog to lick their lips? Can we teach a dog to turn their eyes to the side? So what I wanted to do with my thesis was to just do cooperative care work and take a bunch of data to see, are we actually getting this to happen? And if so, and we reinforce it, can we get that behavioral variability back, and of course, simultaneously teach the owners or whoever's touching the dog that yes, all of these things mean, stop touching, and get the biting to stop. Because those are the hardest cases, right? Like the dogs that don't give you any warning. I mean, even as someone who worked with dogs, it's like, I don't want to touch you, I don't want to go near you, I don't feel safe. And then you know, my stress is up. So they're stressed. It's just, it's just a nightmare. And people say like, Oh, it's a dog bite, like you can't teach them to not bite anymore. But if you look at the literature with kids, who throw tantrums or aggressive, banging their head against the wall, whatever it is, what they have found in order to teach a new response, and to get the old behaviors not coming back, because that's the fear, right? Like you teach a dog new a new behavior, and one day, it's not going to work and the bite is going to come back. It's not only about teaching persistence, and duration. But teaching behavioral variability reduces the fact that you're going to get resurgence of that biting. And so I wanted to see if we could by teaching a novel behavior, so you'd have your chin down the novel behaviors, chin up, equals hands off, if that really is causing resurgence of that response class. So all of those other behaviors that are lip licking and turning away, and whatever all of those behaviors respond. All of those behaviors are in the response class of behaviors that are associated with distance increasing, can we get those those behaviors to come back? And then is there any association between the number of behaviors we get back, and if the dog bites again, and then simultaneously, I wanted to put a harness on the dog and test things like heart rate and heart rate variability and temperature? Because I also wanted to look at physiological parameters and stress, because I just am a super overachiever. But yeah, that's, that's what I that's the plan.Michael Shikashio:
So I've got a lot of wheels spinning in my brain right now, because there's so many things I want to unpack. So this is very exciting for me, I love you know, I love geeking out on this kind of topic, because this is actually very pivotal, I'm sure to the work you're doing AI behavior bets as well for this, you know, the type of exercise you're describing is would be, it is incredibly useful in the veterinary setting. So cooperative care, and using chin rest behaviors, things like Dr. Patel's bucket game, but So let's kind of unpack the ABA side of things. If we were to say, Can we get these behaviors back? Can we argue that we could use a differential reinforcement strategy or reinforce those subtle behaviors, like let's say, What were our criteria, just to reinforce any kind of head turn away that happens, or Let's actually use something that's not so maybe the tongue flick, or let's use a tongue flick behavior, so not necessarily something that is going to happen anyways, because we can assume the dog is going to eventually turn their head away anyways. So that's technically still in their repertoire. But let's say that tongue flick behavior comes back into their repertoire, do bark, and reinforce that at the time and do reinforce it with the function of the distance or reinforce it with some other reinforcer,Unknown:
you reinforce it. So so when I say response class, a response class is a group of behaviors that can look very different, but are all controlled by the same contingency. So in the ladder of aggression, all of those behaviors are maintained by somebody moving away. So the question is, if you have a dog who doesn't do anything, but bite, how are we going to get those behaviors back? And historically, extinction is used, you extinguish the response that you don't want, and you get some resurgence of the other behaviors. The problem with this is that how are you going to extinguish biting, even if you have a muzzle on Good luck? Good luck to you, if you want to try doing that. It's also a very stressful for the learner. So I'm trying to get away from that. And in functional communication training, what they've started playing around with in the human literature is teaching multiple responses. So to me, I'm like, Well, what what if we start reinforcing multiple responses, it's not just chin up. But if I see a pupil dilate, if I see a lip lick, anything, anything that might happen to research because I just keep lifting my hands off and giving the dog a treat every single time. And that's the thing that's really important you bring up a really, really good point is that in order for it to be true choice, the dog has to have more than one way of getting that consequence. And so it's not that Oh, their chin goes down and they get a cookie and their chin goes up and I take my hands off it It's chin down cookie, chin up, hands off, and you get a cookie. And if we want to make it even even more robust, also, you've got a treat filled toy over there on the other side of the room. And you can leave at any point and go get the same treats by, you know, pushing around your con wobbler. So, I just think all of this stuff is so important. And it touches on so many different points. Because if you look at the animal welfare literature, we're really moving away from freedom from frameworks, where it's like freedom from pain, freedom from stress, and we're moving towards freedom to frameworks. And so good quality welfare, is now considered a life worth living. Where an animal has a lot of diversity in their environment, has a large behavioral repertoire, and has a lot of choice, like a lot, a lot of choice. And so whenever we're designing a training plan, and we're trying to help an animal, I'm asking myself, How can we make their repertoire more diverse? How can we give them multiple ways to access the same consequences? And how can we be really sure that they're choosing to participate in this?Michael Shikashio:
And so that feeling of agency that you're describing is so crucial to pretty much all of our aggression cases, right? And when that, that choice in the environment having more than just the ones choice, and along those lines, correct me if I'm wrong, that's a Dr. Oh, procedure. So Differential Reinforcement of any other behavior, we can be focusing on, if we're using that strategy of say, I'm going to reinforce that tongue flick, or that, you know, moving your head away or going to slip that Kong wobbler. Any of those will be reinforced double behaviors, right?Unknown:
Yeah, anything wouldn't be a reinforcement behavior. And you know, to me in that paradigm, if you want to get up and walk away, cool, we're done. That's, that's fine. You have to choose to participate in order for it to be true choice.Michael Shikashio:
So let's go back to stoic dogs, right. And so we're talking about dog that really doesn't give us a lot of behaviors, or maybe they're shut down or you know, label is shut down learned helplessness where they're actually not offering much, or maybe nothing at all. Maybe they are that you. Ian Dunbar coined the phrase zero dog, which is a dog that gives zero signaling even for the best professionals. Because let's face it, there's a lot of dogs, that you know that people will say it happened out of the blue, or we weren't able to see anything coming. But you know, somebody that's been watching, you know, are observing dogs for a long time, he's often able to pick up on this real subtle micro signals, right. But let's say we have one of those true zero dog cases where the dog is not giving anything, they know that they're statue, right? They go from statute to biting. And they're not offering any other behaviors, maybe because of that, you know, the history of punishment. And they're just like saying, No, I'm not gonna do anything else here except freeze until you break my critical distance, and then I'm going to bite you. Do you have any suggestions on getting them to start to offer other behaviors in that context?Unknown:
That is the question. And that's the question that's so interesting to me. Last year, I did a cat webinar series with Kelly. And I was pushing to make it more errorless. And while we were doing this, and it was great, it was just great fun for me because I got to work with Kelly and send her videos and brainstorm. While we were doing this, I was working with a dog who was just like this, he was incredibly stoic and would do nothing. And for those who don't know, cat, it's constructional aggression treatment. And what you're doing is you're waiting for the dog to do anything to get you to move away from them. So these are for dogs who are typically like leash aggressive leash reactive, and they could be leash aggressive or leash reactive towards humans, dogs, skaters, whatever. If it's human, aggressive, you walk towards them, you wait for them to do anything and you walk away. And so in an aerialist procedure, you shouldn't be walking so close that the dog is shut down and cannot perform behavior. And so what we found was helpful in that circumstance was you want, you want the environment to be interesting. You want the environment to provide options. And so whatever the dog chooses, you walk away. And for this particular dog, once we were approaching threshold, the dog got kind of stuck. And I asked the owner to start cueing known behaviors just to get the dog moving. And so if the dog sat, I walked away, if the dog had targeted, I walked away, and I just stayed at that threshold for a while. And then had the owner stop offering the cue, just like we would if we were doing queue transfer where we're having the dog, you know, do it over and over again. And then we add the queue. I was kind of doing the opposite. So I would have the dog the owner wait for five seconds and if the dog didn't do anything good Do something, and the dog started doing stuff within within that five seconds, so the owner didn't need to queue it anymore. And the dog would offer stuff. And so that's my first thought is to start queuing stuff, when they're far enough below threshold that they are able to respond to a queue, or you're so far away, that they're able to do something, and you slowly shape the environment rather than shaping the animal. So that could mean walking into a room, just they see your hand, they see your foot, right not being on top of them, like, here's the nail clippers, I'm going to pick up your footing now. But starting way, way, way back, where they might be able to look at you look away, sniff the floor, pick up a bone, whatever it is literally anything else. And then you walk away and toss them a treeMichael Shikashio:
or in a sentence. Yeah. So in a sense, it's really important to, for that dog to feel safe making about making choices. Any other choices. Really,Unknown:
yes. This, it really reminds me of stuff I've done in my own therapy, in trauma therapy. You know, I was a professional dancer before this, and I have a big history of ignoring boundaries, my own boundaries, right? Like you're throwing up, take medicine and go to class, you have a sprained ankle, it doesn't matter rapid go to class, like, you ignore pain, you ignore the sensations of like, what's uncomfortable to you. But what happens when you start putting a boundary up, whatever that boundary is, and I don't need to get into my personal life to You know, describe this because it's a boundary for yourself. It's a boundary that you put up with other people and interpersonal relationships. When you put up a boundary, and it's respected. So often, the need to have that boundary dissipates. And I know that's a little woowoo. And not very, like data driven. And science. It's just my own personal experience. But that's very similar to what I see happening with these dogs. Because for so long, people ignore their boundaries, right? They're saying, I'm not comfortable with this, I'm not comfortable with this. I'm not comfortable with this, and people do stuff to them anyways. And all of a sudden, someone goes, Okay, hands off, that's fine. You said, No, I'm listening. That's totally fine. You do that 100 times. And eventually, they're like, oh, I can say no one, you'll listen to me. Okay, you can try the next thing. And then they'll try it again. And eventually, because they know that they can say no, because they know that they have multiple ways to communicate with you. And for you to hands off, they will allow you to do stuff. And I think this is really critical for dogs who have pain issues. Because I really highly suspect not for all dogs. But for some of those dogs, there's definitely a subset of dogs who snap quote, unquote, with no warning that I think there's a pain component there. They're not feeling well, that day, there's there's no way for us to met to measure that. Right? Like, how would we know. And their only way for us to tell us to not touch them is to bite. And so if we consistently over time, show them that if they ask in whatever way that they ask, we stop, then we can start touching them. Because if they hurt that day, they can tell us to stop and we'll stop. But we really have to honor that contract. And that's hard, because dogs are really, really cute and fuzzy, and I want to cuddle them all the time.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, yeah. And I really appreciate you sharing your personal story about, you know, the boundaries and establishing them. And how, how much that relates to dogs. Because especially when you're talking about pain, it makes perfect sense that we also when you think about the response that an animal human or dog has to pain, it's going to be much more intense, much more quick. It's not like, it's not like the drawers, the music where the dog seeing another dog from a mile away slowly right towards them, they have time to prepare, but pain is it's a completely different case, right? Where you suddenly you're in pain, and you're gonna react to it. And so you can see where dogs can go from like, zero to 60. And especially when you add in the stoic lack of response or lack of any indication, it can be a tricky case, forUnknown:
sure. Yes. And I think that's another another place where taking physiological measures could potentially help us. Yeah,Michael Shikashio:
talk more about that. Yeah, I'm just gonna ask you, what do you see there? And what do you what are you seeing that could potentially be working on what are you excited about in terms of measuring physiological? Maybe you can just define to what physiological responses. Sure.Unknown:
So when we're talking about physiological responses, we're talking about responses that happen within the body, the autonomic nervous system, when a dog is or human, any of us is encountering stress. And the thing that's tricky about that is that our autonomic response to stress often looks very similar, if it's you stress or if it's de stress. So, you know, Michael Shikashio emails me and sets up a date for a podcast and I get excited, my heart rate probably goes up and my temperature goes up because I'm moving around. My mom calls me because her dog has to go Have a hospital and my heart rate goes up because I'm upset. So a lot of physiological responses and with dogs and with a lot of the studies with dogs, we're talking about urinary oxytocin, we're talking about heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, temperature, a lot of these things measure of arousal, but don't measure emotional balance. So they tell us if our dog is stressed or experiencing something, it doesn't say, if that experience is positive or a negative experience. The two things that are pretty well researched is pretty good evidence for, for being consistent in terms of being able to measure both arousal and Valence is illness. Pretty clear, the dog isn't feeling well, and urinary oxytocin. But fun news, you can't really measure urinary oxytocin in the middle of a training session. So that's not a helpful parameter for us as practitioners. Heart rate variability is something that has some evidence behind it. Some studies have shown that it doesn't measure emotional balance, and others have shown that it does not measure emotional balance. And heart rate variability is is tricky, because you can measure it in the moment. But some people suggest that you should measure it like at the same time every day, because heart rate variability will change throughout the day. So I don't know that we have a validated system of measuring it in dogs. But again, this is all so new, right? Like, we know that dogs with a bite history have lower heart rate variability as compared to dogs without by histories. What happens when those dogs experience stress? How does that change their heart rate variability in the moment, we have a little data, there's a study that compares dogs with bite histories versus their HRV during blood draws, okay? I want to know what happens in the middle of a training scenario, or when a reactive dog sees another dog on the street. And if we can determine that that stuff is a good measure of stress for us, and a dog that stoic we can use that, right, if you have a Polar heart rate monitor on which is just a chest strap, very easy, you know, probably build a harness that has a Polar heart rate monitor built into it, it's probably only $100. It's not that expensive. What great information for us, for stoic dogs to go, Oh, we're approaching threshold. Because I think threshold in terms of you know, when I say threshold I'm talking about at what distance are from what level of stimulation is the dog, noticing something but still able to learn versus so aroused. And so in their nervous system, they're so over activated or under activated, that they can't learn anymore, that might be able to help us find that place with stoic dogs or see what's happening so that we can leave them alone before they bite us. So I just think it'd be really interesting if we're doing these studies, and we're doing a functional analysis or trialing out a new intervention plan, why not put a harness on the dog and take some additional data? While we're doing it and see what we see. Maybe we don't learn anything, but maybe we do.Michael Shikashio:
It's all very interesting to me. And certainly, I'm excited to see what comes imagine that, you know, you get a dog with a harness on the tracks on measures those things, at even a higher degree that the technology as the technology continues to grow to but imagine it was just gives off like a green light or yellow light or red lines, like just for the for the average. Yeah, and they'd be like, Oh, red light means you know, something's going on physiologically, but I can't see. But this device is measuring. It's just really cool and fascinating when you think about it. Because, you know, we already have, you know, technologies catch up on measuring how much we sleep in our sleep patterns, and just how much think about how much that affects both human and dog behavior. You know, something that gets overlooked a lot with dogs is lack of sleep or lack of rest can affect their behavior. Everything. Yeah, right. Yeah. So all very exciting, all very exciting. I really appreciate you sharing, you know, the information from your thesis and all the stuff you're working on. And I'm sure we could geek out all day about that. But I want to to be able to tell people where they can find you and what you're up to.Unknown:
Yeah, I'm in New York City. I'm at behavior vets doing the good work with clients over here. We're in New York City. And we actually also have expanded into Westchester and New Jersey. So I don't know, man, we have hired so many people, and they're all really exciting. I'm so excited with the people that we've hired to be on our team. So we're doing webinars and seminars, we're actually starting a practicum now, so dog trainers who want more experience with the hands on behavior intervention, work with more severe cases can come work with us and learn from us. So that's a new exciting thing we're doing. And yeah, we're, we're just constantly doing new stuff. So behavior vets nyc.com.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, big shout out to behavior vets also catch the episodes with Bobby Banbury, who's from behaviorists as well as Dr. King. Eddie Murphy, who's recently joined your team from what I'm understanding, so are great people. Yes. Awesome, awesome team. Lauren, thanks so much for coming on the show and I hope to see you again in the future.Unknown:
So they're talking to you, guys.Michael Shikashio:
It's always such a pleasure to chat with my colleagues in the dog behavior community. Lauren has such a deep understanding of behavior and helping dogs and their people. And I hope you enjoyed the episode. I'd also love to hear what you would like for additional topics in future episodes of both the bitey end of the dog and the help for dogs with aggression podcast subscription series, you can reach out by emailing podcast at aggressive dog.com That's podcast at aggressive dog.com I'd love to hear more from you. And I thank you for tuning into the show. Stay well, my friends