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Anxiety: The Whole Story

May 24

4:00 pm PT


So you have a shy dog – one who’s easily frightened of strange people or places, or maybe even one who sits at home IMAGINING what horrible thing might happen next. Is this because of genetics? Or did you mess up somehow? Jessica will talk about the biology behind anxiety: the roles of genetics, early environment (as early as in mom’s uterus!), and socialization. Spoiler alert: you didn’t mess up. But this talk will help you understand better where your dog is coming from and help you think through the many different puzzle pieces that made her who she is.

Presented By:

Jessica Hekman

Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD is a veterinary researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and teaches online classes about the biology and genetics of canine behavior. Jessica received her PhD in Animal Sciences (Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics) in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studied canid behavioral genetics. Previously, Jessica graduated from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 with a dual DVM/MS degree. Her Master’s work was on the behavior and cortisol responses of healthy dogs to being hospitalized overnight. She also completed a shelter medicine veterinary internship at the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. Jessica’s current work focuses on the genetics of behavior in both pet and working dogs through a citizen science approach. Jessica is passionate about using genetics to discover how brain function differs between confident and anxious dogs.

Jessica lives in Raymond, New Hampshire with her husband and three dogs: Chris, a 40-something data nerd and musician, who she trains to do household chores; Jenny, a 10 year old mixed breed who still enjoys her walks in the woods; Dashiell, a 3 year old English Shepherd who she trains in Nosework and fitness; and Fitz, a 2 year old border collie who is new to the family and hopes to do agility when he settles in.