Harmon introduced today's guest speaker, Kristin Kontogianis.  She is a student at the WSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and has worked with Harmon on occasion.  She also works with the Humane Society as well.  Kristin completed her undergrad work at the University of Washington.  She has been interested in animal behavior since she was very young.
 
The #1 behavior of concern for humans is aggression, of which the main symptom is dog bites.  4.5 million dog bites occur each year.  If you have children and have a dog that has been in your family for its whole life, and then suddenly biting someone, it is important to think about next actions.  Aggression is not a “dirty word” but actually a natural activity for dogs, especially with regard to territorial aggression, protective aggression, etc.  There are ways we can mitigate behavior.  Especially with older dogs, there are many hyper sensitivities that surface from previous experiences or discomforts.  When Kristin has worked on such dogs, they can attempt to train them to not respond so negatively to such experiences. 
 
14-39% of dogs suffer separation anxiety.  Common signs are vocalization, especially when owners leave them for longer periods of time.  This could quickly lead to an eviction in a crowded place such as an apartment complex, as the dog may be too loud for neighbors.  One dog she’s previously worked with was Mara, who she learned was very mouthy and uses her teeth when taking treats.  Within 20 minutes of working with Mara on the first day she was surrendered to the Humane Society, the dog would now use its tongue when given food. 
 
She had worked with a dog named Benji that couldn’t easily in a new home, and was very reactive.  They added a pharmacological solution in their therapy to help.  Something they must do when working with dogs is understanding their thresholds.  With Benji, he would be very reactive to various stimuli and would need to be trained outside.  Benji also had a phobia of men.
 
Part of the reason she is so dedicated to these programs is that she has a shelter dog.  She was difficult to handle once they moved to Seattle.  When Kristin took her to a behaviorist, she was diagnosed with a few phobias.  Overall however, she has been able to train her dog to
work well with these phobias.  She also mentioned a behaviorist here in the Palouse that can help anyone in the area.
 
Wende asked whether a dog may be too old to be trained, and Kristin didn’t believe so.  “With consistent training, I think every dog can make improvement,” she said.  The shelter training program is a vet-med program right now at WSU, but they’re working on training others to help their own animals.