APDT Conference: Day 4.1

Day four of the APDT conference and another day of selections. I took a bit of everything this day – scientific, behavioural, and something different.

First up I did two sessions with Simon Gadbois who could be considered an expert in canid behaviour. Simon’s first session was: “Canine Neuroscience”, which was followed by “Aggression and Aggressiveness in Context”.

To save me having to take copious notes, which I would have, here are the two powerpoints –  apdt-2013-gadbois-aggressio apdt-2013-gadbois-canine

What I have done is jotted down some of the notes I took and included is the slide that they were relevant to or when mentioned. I’ll start with the neuroscience talk, which I found captivating and it was interesting to hear some of the thoughts from someone who actually researches and bases his theories on science.

Here the points to add to the notes:

  • There is a direct link between the brain and behaviour [10]
  • The brain learns well to punishment [13]
  • Is there a Fixed Action Pattern? Maybe there are action patterns but they can be loose or rigid (i.e. not fixed) as there are so many variables [13]
  • Social stress is stress coming from the environment [25]
  • Play is a real buffer for stress [32]
  • The animal needs to know there is more than +R. It must have a contrast for learning to occur. Those who say they only use +R will be using from elsewhere in the matrix – they may not know it but they will be [39]
  • Feedback must be given [40]
  • Play can be one of the best forms of motivation but how it is used is important – switched on or switched off [45]
  • The cue / anticipation becomes more important than the reward [45]
  • Lack of feedback creates frustration – give them information.

And that was a great session followed by the one on aggression. Again, here are the points to add to the powerpoint:

  • Aggression is not a still picture it is a movie – what happened before and after [7]
  • Personality is made up of: temperament (always there); and character (can change) [7]
  • In wolf packs it is not the higher status wolf that eats first, usually the others will eat, the higher status will see that the food is edible and then move in and the subordinates move out
  • The tone you use when communicating makes so much difference
  • Smelling v Sniffing [20]
  • There are two types of aggression:
    • Reactive – difficult because you don’t really know why; more classical conditioning
    • Proactive – you know why and this is generally very self-rewarding; more instrumental
  • Dominance hierarchies do exist [34]
  • The point of a dominance hierarchy is to avoid conflict – if there is no DH then there would be chaos [35]
  • Panksepp [41]

Hopefully you can take something away from this. It was great to listen to someone with such an academic background.


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