North American Veterinary Community Conference 2017 – Part 3


Behaviour buffet

As the owner of an 18-month-old terrier, I was perhaps a little obsessive about doing anything I could to prevent her suffering from separation anxiety, I think I cracked it but I still wanted to hear what Laurie Bergman (also a terrier fan!) and Terry Curtis had to say on this subject. The comedy duo provided a whole buffet of tasty behaviour platters. I join them for the first and second courses on “Problems Cats and Dogs Have When They’re Home Alone – It’s Not Always Separation Anxiety” followed by “Canine and Feline Behaviour Towards Others – It’s Not Always Aggression”. Unfortunately, during their presentations, Laurie and Terry experienced sound issues when playing their video footage but fortunately both speakers demonstrated another one of their talents, replicating the audio aspect of their patients presented as case studies. Pets can suffer from barrier or crate anxiety and departure anxiety rather than separation anxiety in the absence of their favourite person. Case studies were presented to highlight the differences in these situations. With respect to aggression in dogs, the speakers explained that not all aggression is the same and therefore a diagnosis is vital. Fear aggression is the most common cause of aggression towards people and signs of aggression are mixed with signs of fear. More video footage was provided by Terry and Laurie from cases of fear aggression towards other dogs, cars and bikes, with treatment consisting of avoidance with gradual exposure and classical conditioning where the situation becomes positive (treat induced!). This helps to change an unpredictable and scary situation into one that is positive and therefore the dogs’ reactivity decreases. The cases presented during these two presentations were very powerful and demonstrated that with perseverance and time, reactive behaviours were successfully reduced.


I love being up to date on all things veterinary related which means working at The Webinar Vet is a good fit for me! I must have clocked up more CPD hours than any other vet in the UK or maybe the world!! Right, back to the blog! Karen Overall sympathised that often vets in general practice do not have access to journals so it can be tricky staying up to date with emerging data from the research world (unless you have a membership with The Webinar Vet where our speakers provide all the latest information to you in the comfort of your home). Karen and Rachel Casey provided take home messages of recent publications related to dog behaviour studies some of which included:

  • Earlier weaned puppies had an increase prevalence of undesirable behaviours
  • People with less experience with dogs, find it more difficult to identify fearful dogs
  • Vets and owners have different interpretations of stress in dogs
  • Touching dogs on their head, neck and paw increases stress
  • Dogs do not have a fixed social structure

Both Karen and Rachel discussed that no study is perfect and has its limitations and sometimes have confounding factors, it’s the nature of the beast!

The final part of my blog on NAVC will be available to view tomorrow (9th March 2017)

Blease’s Blog


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *