Anders Hallgren

  • Psychologist and animal behaviorist

Föredrag och kurser

(Svenska) Nyckeln till lycka – Att motverka social stress hos hundar

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Social stress är vanligt hos hundar

– om hur du undgår det och får en lycklig hund

Seminariet är baserat på min nya bok med samma titel. (Se Böcker)

Det här seminariet bottnar i ett projekt med syfte att försöka fastställa vilka faktorer hos människan som kan åstadkomma brister i hundars välfärd. Det tar upp vilka psykologiska, etologiska och etiska företeelser som kan orsaka psykiskt lidande. Det är ju tyvärr så att det hittills inte varit möjligt att mäta psykisk misskötsel genom att studera djuren, trots att många försök gjorts, till exempel med mätningar av kortisol. Därför är en analys av djurägarens beteende ett alternativ.

Metoden bygger på en jämförelse mellan å ena sidan en hunds naturliga behov och beteende och å andra sidan hur stor avvikelsen är från hur vårdnadshavaren tillgodoser dem.

Seminariets första del tar upp en sammanställning av femton beteenden som hundar visar, som är till för att stärka de sociala och emotionella banden mellan individerna i en grupp. Ju fler sådana beteenden som finns hos hundarnas anfäder, de vilda hunddjuren, exempelvis vargar, desto större betydelse har de för gruppsammanhållning, samarbete och i förlängningen överlevnad. Att de lever kvar hos våra tamhundar visar också hur viktiga de är. Då är det viktigt att inte motverka dem från människans sida. Exempelvis kan en auktoritär behandling av en hund, med mycket straffande, orsaka en så stark stress att hunden får en mängd symtom. Hundar är genetiskt programmerade för goda relationer och hård och sträng behandling motverkar väl fungerande relationer.

Seminariets andra del tar upp social stress, det som bristande psykologisk välfärd åstadkommer. Det är ett onaturligt, lågintensivt och långvarigt mentalt slitage. Förr eller senare ger det negativa effekter i en hunds nervsystem bland annat i form av obalans i serotoninaktiviteten och i ökad kortisolproduktion. Effekter i beteendet är vanliga, som till exempel passivitet, ibland till och med inlärd hjälplöshet samt ökad tendens att reagera emotionellt, ofta i form av rädsla och aggressivitet. Det är den här typen av stress som medför emotionell utmattning, eller utbrändhet, hos människor. Enkelt uttryckt: Onaturlig social livssituation skapar onaturlig stress.

Den tredje delen av seminariet tar upp på vilka sätt vi kan fungera med våra hundar för att minska risken för social stress. Det handlar om att undvika vissa saker och att göra andra saker med hundarna – enkla, naturliga saker.

 

Nyckeln-till-lycka-Omslaget-webb

The psychology of the dog – and the owner…

The concept of leadership is misunderstood and misused and I give details about the criticism from several modern ethologists of that concept. For instance, among pack animals in the wild there are no observations of a rank order based on aggressive power demonstrations.

In the speech I suggest that we nullify terms like leadership and rank order-based dominating learning, and exchange them for “teachership”. Instead of trying to be leaders, we shall examine ourselves as teachers. I point out the mistakes most of us do when training our dogs, and several in the audience recognize themselves – but with laughter.

And then we turn to situations in everyday life, where we are more just friends with our dogs. But even in that role we tend to create problems for our dogs, in spite of actually trying to prevent unruly behavior. Sometimes by just giving attention to the very behaviors we want to get rid of.

The speech lasts around an hour and a half. After the intermission there will be time for questions from the audience.   

Seminar on Stress

Stress is the musketeer of the body

– and also its potential enemy

Stress is something that is supposed to help individuals to overcome problems. When needed, the body becomes physically stronger and the mind more alert and sharp. This process demands a lot of energy, though, so the cost is high. For that reason it is essential that the stress reaction is short and followed by a period of recovery.

A problem in today’s society is that there are so many different stress factors. Neither people nor dogs are prepared for this, so stress will affect body and mind. Prolonged stress, or a traumatic experience, will change an individual socially, psychologically and physiologically and lead to behavior problems and disease.

In this seminar I will discuss stress from several aspects. In general, there are two types of physiological reactions, although combined; the endocrine stress and the stress on the brain. The endocrine stress is based on the reactions in some of the hormone producing glands, like the adrenals. The stress reactions in the brain are based on several systems to maintain the equilibrium of the organism.

To be able to manage stress in dogs it is imperative to know the most common factors that stress dogs. We will discuss over- and understimulation as well as feeling of insecurity and learned helplessness. Besides this we will discuss different therapeutic strategies, both those that are psychological, medical and those based on natural supplements.

This seminar is open for anyone with an interest in canine behavior. No previous training is necessary. Most of the facts and terms presented are easy to understand.


 

Preliminary schedule:

09.00 Opening and presentation

09.30 History and definition of stress

09.45 Two types: Endocrine stress and brain stress

10.00 Endocrine stress
The adrenal glands effect on the organism (adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol). A system strives after balance. The Tyroxine (thyroid hormone) affect on stress. Testosterone is partially a stress hormone. (Discussion on why our male dogs are becoming  more masculine.)

12.00 Lunch

13.00 Brain stress
Difficult to separate from endocrine stress. The brain’s physiologic mechanisms to reach balance. The connection between brain stress and endocrine stress.

14.00 Cause of different kinds of stress
Genetic, over- and understimulation, uncertainty, chock, prolonged physical effort or demands, hormonal change, disease, pain etc.

15.30 Break for coffee

16.00 Diagnosing and therapy for different states of stress

17.00 End of day

 

Drive and motivation

This two-day seminar highlights common problems that you meet in training and working with dogs, either for competition or duty work. We discuss different causes of why training is unsuccessful, with emphasis on drive and motivation – important issues of all training.

We will carefully scrutinize processes connected with drive, in the brain as well as in the endocrine hormones of the dog. This deep analysis will help teach us know how to keep the dog’s energy and working capacity on a high level.

Motivation is the willingness of an individual to perform. This concept is crucial for how we succeed in training and work. If we can keep the dog’s motivation high, the training will succeed. There is a lot you can do to motivate a dog, but unfortunately some of those things will lower the motivation instead. Therefore, we have to understand how motivation works, both physiologically and psychologically. We will go through as many things as possible that would lower or raise the motivation of a dog. Unfortunately, motivation usually has a declining curve. So the result may be poor because of lack of motivation, regardless of all of our training and that the dog knows what to do. We also need to be aware of all the different things that compete for the dog’s attention.  So we have to learn how to analyze what exactly is motivating the dog in a certain situation. For instance, the dog’s wish to get to know a new dog in the training area could be stronger than the will to track a person.

This seminar is focused on why a dog does not do well in training and work. That is one reason why we also go through many elements that disturb learning and performance, as well as different problem behaviors, especially aggression. If a dog becomes aggressive, it may risk the career of a working dog or in competition. Hormone disturbances and pain are the most common causes behind problem behaviors, therefore we take some time to discuss how to analyze a dog in this respect. We also look closer at the misunderstood and misused concept of “leadership”.

The seminar will to some extent penetrate some physiological and psychological depths, as for instance how the brain works in relation to drive and motivation. No special knowledge is needed in biology and psychology, everything will be easy to follow and there will be time for questions.

 

Preliminary schedule:

Saturday

09.00–09.30  Common problems with work- and competing dogs.
Why do so many fail?

09.30–10.00 How to predict a dog’s possibilities – About testing.
Tests can only predict up to 60 % . Guessing gives you 50 % …

10.00–10.30 Demands on the dogs.
Are the dogs, the handlers or the trainers the cause of problems?

10.30–11.00 The training – how do we improve it?
Obedience training may lower the working performance!

11.00–11.30 Demands on the dog handler.
Knowledge and personality is importance.

11.30–12.00 Drive and motivation – definition
It is hard to increase the drive – but easy to suppress it!

12.00–13.00 Lunch

13.00–14.30 The physiology of drive
On genetics, the brain and hormones as well as factors that effect the dog’s drive and motivation.

14.30–15.00 Break for coffee

15.00 –17.00 Motivation, need and emotion.
Motivaion: Willingness and readiness to reach a goal by specific actions. Motivation is based on natural needs and works through feelings. The time of introduction before the training is very important.

Sunday

09.00–10.30 To analyze motivation and factors affecting those. Learning and motivation.

Learning takes place i logical brain structures. Motivation takes place in emotional brain structures. Learning and motivation have different curves!

10.30–12.00 Competing motives. Motivation and satisfaction. Reward touches two different systems.
The dog can only be motivated for one behavior at a time. Satisfy all other needs before the training! Do not satisfy the working motivation! Short training passes. Train the motivation. Always stop while the motivation is high.

12.00–13. 00  Lunch

13.00–14.30 When it does not work.
Leadership, punishment and corrections are common solutions to various problems. What does that mean? Factors that lowers the threshold for aggression.

14.30–15.00 Break for coffee

15.00–16.00 Analysis
On how to analyse underlying causes for problems. Pain and pain analyse; hormones and hormone analysis

16.00 End of day

 

The Alpha Syndrome

This seminar is based on my book “The Alpha Syndrome”.

The  alpha role is today emphasized in dog upbringing and training and the role of the leader is exaggerated and misinterpreted. By describing a pack of canines as a human society, where low status and low rank is negative and high status and high rank is something desirable, the dog becomes a careerist, all the time aiming for a higher position in the group.

Consequently, dog ownership becomes a struggle for positions and it becomes important not to let the dog win in different situations. There are dog trainers and writers that teach dog owners not to let the dogs eat their food before the family members eat theirs, or not to greet the dogs when coming home, because then the dogs may have advanced upwards a step on the social ladder in the family. They even warn dog owners not to be too kind to the dogs because the dogs may because of that overtake the leadership in the family. When a dog does not obey a command they say that the dog defies and that is one step in the efforts to advance to a higher rank. It does not occur to them that it could be a result of poor training or poor training methods

If the diagnosis of a problem behavior is “lack of leadership”, consequently the therapy is to “take the insubordinate down”. In doing so one gets a temporary effect of more submission than usual in the dog, and it also becomes more afraid of punishment and therefore temporary more obedient.

Because the problem behavior usually recurs after a period of time, this creates a feeling that the diagnosis was correct but that the dog owner is not strong and severe enough as a leader. The owner then tries to be more severe and gets a new temporary effect and an accelerating spiral of violence has started…

In the process, the dog owner struggles with feelings of being insufficient, of being bad as a dog person and a bad leader. Also the demand upon the owner to be severe and punishing in the relationship with the dog feels wrong for most people.

Is the concept of leadership really relevant? Is it correct that the structure of a group of canines contains a built-in struggle for positions? Is the dog a careerist? Is it important to be a leader? What signifies the alpha position?

These and other questions are put forward in the seminar and it is shown through many studies today that we do not have to keep a watch on our leader role at all.


Preliminary Schedule

09.00 Opening and presentation

09.30 Definition of the concepts of leadership, dominansbegreppen ledarskap, dominans och and rank order, and the role of leadership in history and currently.

10.30 Biological functions of dominans and advantages with rank structures.

11.00 Dominans and aggression.

11.30 Is it relevant to include leadership in dog training?

12.00–13.00 Lunch

13.00 Criticism of the leadership concept the way it is used today. How normal relations function among animals.

14.00 Alternative theorier on rank order

15.00 Break for coffee

15.30 On the ”lack of leadership” diagnosis and quick-fixes. Leader or teacher?

16.00 Operant training developes obedience on the dog’s terms.

17.00 End of day

 

 

Copyright © Anders Hallgren 2019