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Consider the Circumstances: Trauma and its Consequences

February 12

11:00 am PT

This talk is eligible for CEUs from: CCPDT - Behavior, CCPDT - Training, IAABC, KPA


Trauma can be an issue for the animals we train. It can be an issue for the people who care for them. Literature continues to emerge on positive reinforcement approaches to help animals move beyond past trauma and form trusting relationships.

We will look at current concepts in medical care, both veterinary and human, to see how these concepts may be relevant for animal trainers. As trainers, we are frequently reminded that loving and working well with animals isn’t enough. To be effective, a trainer must also connect with the human handler. The scientific literature supports approaching animals with patience, realizing they may be stressed, and that stress can impact their ability to learn. But what about the human component of the team? How do we approach those people, who may be challenging to work with? People may not embrace or incorporate the training lesson into their routine. In the medical profession, we refer to this as “nonadherent” or “noncompliant.” How can we learn to understand that just having to train the animal can be traumatizing on a scale from mild “anxiety” to severe, life-threatening stress (and this is not hyperbole!).

A veterinarian and a human doctor discuss theories developing in the medical professions which hope to allow us to approach others with increased compassion and tolerance. We review the growing recognition in human medicine of the social determinants of health, and an intentional approach to caring for the whole person in order to meet their medical needs. Trauma-informed care is a large part of this approach. Kathie Nurena, MD, KPA and Linda Randall, DVM, provide a framework for a discussion centered on how this may translate into re-imagining our ability to better attend to the emotional and physical needs of animals. Compassionate care in veterinary practice and trauma-informed care in medical practice attempt to engender trust in the doctor-patient relationship. Seen through these lenses, it is hoped a more tolerant and healing relationship will develop. Trainers can add these concepts to their approach with the clients and animals they serve.

Presented By:

Linda Randall, DVM

Linda Randall, DVM began her veterinary career working with companion animals in a practice that was primarily dairy cattle. She then built Cloverleaf Animal Hospital, in Westfield Center, OH, gaining extensive experience as a Board-Certified Specialist in Companion Animals, while also establishing herself as a respected dog trainer. Using the science of positive reinforcement, Linda is committed to understanding how behavior informs access to medical care. She is especially interested in the convergence of human and animal emotional states as they intersect in marginalized communities.

Dr. Randall has been on the Board and is a past president of The Battered Women’s Shelter in Medina, OH, and has served multiple times as an expert witness in animal abuse cases. She is also a past president of the Ohio Veterinary Licensing Board, and has served as the chair and face of Agriculture Day for Leadership Medina County for over 16 years. She is proud of her recent webinar “Kids, Race and Positive Reinforcement”, looking at how, and if, positive training affected the way her young agility students interacted with animals, family and their social circle, and ways in which they perceived the news of the world.

Linda took a broken arrow path to her current career: she was an English Literature major at Earlham College, Richmond, IN, and subsequently taught English at Oakwood, a private Quaker school in Poughkeepsie, New York. Answering an ad in the New York Times led to a 3 year contract teaching English in Bida, Nigeria for the Nigerian Federal Government, which she was forced to leave early due to a coup. Returning home to Connecticut, Linda reconnected with her original passion for veterinary medicine (which she originally did not pursue because her high school guidance counselor told her Black people would not get in to vet school and women should stay home, an she wasn’t good enough in the sciences…) moving to Ohio to attend the University of Cincinnati in biology before being admitted to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

As the owner of One Smart Dog in Seville, Ohio, she specializes in helping people access their dog’s learning mindset through non-aversive training and instructing. Dr. Randall is widely known for her love of teaching people how to encourage their dog to be a good and joyful citizen of the world, for dancing the Lindy Hop wherever she goes, and her conviction that compassion, generosity, and a gentle sense of humor will always return to the giver tenfold. She is also determined to learn to play the ukulele.

Presented By:

Kathleen Nurena, MD, KPA-CTP

Kathleen Nurena (she/her) graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999. She completed her Family Medicine Residency at Stamford Hospital. She is now faculty at that program, with an interest in social determinants of health and scholarly activity. She also graduated from Karen Pryor Academy (KPA-CTP) and earned her Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) certification. She currently teaches nosework classes at Port Chester Obedience Training Club.

When Connecticut instituted a law mandating cross reporting of animal abuse and child abuse, Kathleen helped organize the first educational lecture for animal control officers, Department of Children and Families social works, and others in the state.

She has long appreciated how the principles of learning theory and the positive reinforcement principles she learning in animal training were relevant to her work with human learners. And, perhaps, some of the theories in the medical literature may be useful to animal trainers.