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Dogs Healing Dogs: Using Social Facilitation in Behavior Modification

PT

Description

Dogs, particularly those recovering from trauma, often have a mistrust of humans. We lie to them far too often. We call them to us to put on a leash and end the fun, ask them to face situations they find truly frightening, and often even pet them in ways they don’t enjoy.

Dogs tend to tell the truth to one another though. If a dog lets another dog know, through nonverbal communication, that a new human or dog is not scary, or that a situation is actually safe, the fearful dog will often get through their fear more quickly. Play is a particularly effective way for dogs to heal one another from fear, to decrease over-arousal, and to teach important social skills for their future as pets.

Social facilitation is a modality that is often overlooked by trainers, shelter workers, and sports competitors alike. If a dog has (or can learn) social skills with other dogs, stable canine friends can be used to help build coping skills and help dogs heal from traumatic experiences.

Presented By:

Trish McMillan, MSc, CPDT-KA, CDBC

Trish McMillan (she/her) holds a Master of Science degree in animal behavior, and is a certified professional dog trainer and a certified dog behavior consultant. She has been involved in the animal rescue and sheltering world since the mid-1990’s, starting out as a volunteer and working her way up to a position as Director of Animal Behavior at the ASPCA’s NYC shelter. She has also worked as a behaviorist on the ASPCA’s field team, helping assess and rehabilitate dogs from cruelty cases, dogfighting and hoarding situations.

Trish currently does animal behavior consulting near Asheville, North Carolina, working with dogs, cats and horses online and in person. Her farm, Pibble Hill, is home to a peaceful collection of animals of five species. Trish speaks and consults nationally and internationally on animal sheltering issues, dog, cat, and horse behavior, dog aggression, and defensive handling. Her online shelter dog behavior mentorship has helped students from around the world apply best practices at their respective shelters and rescues.