Guest: Kellie Snider and Lauren Novack

Kellie Sisson Snider was introduced to clicker training when she had an aggressive cockatoo in the 1990s. She was advised to read Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot The Dog” book while being coached via email about how to work with her bird. She got hooked on behavior. When she had read everything she could understand on behavior analysis as a self-taught learner in the 1990s and early 2000s, she was advised by Marian Bailey to study under Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz at the University of North Texas.

Kellie earned her B.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis and her M.S. in Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Her thesis was the Constructional Aggression Treatment, which became an influential technology in aggressive dog work. Kellie and Dr. Rosales-Ruiz taught seminars about the procedure across the US and internationally. Their DVD on CAT became a bestseller for Tawzer Dog Videos.

Kellie focused on understanding and treating canine aggression, and on environmental adjustments for emotional behaviors. She worked in her own practice with aggressive dogs for about 6 years, and for 13 years in shelter animal behavior as a manager and director. Her book, Turning Fierce Dogs Friendly: Constructional Aggression Treatment for Rehabilitating Aggressive and Reactive Dogs, was published in 2018 by Companion House Publishing. She currently works as an artist and writer and lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

Lauren Novack. After operating her own dog services company in Manhattan for 7 years, Lauren Novack accepted the positions of Director of Behavior Therapy and Behavior Consultant at Behavior Vets NYC in 2018. She has had the honor of helping to inform Behavior Vet’s vision, processes, and direction while gaining tremendous experience working with the most challenging dog behavior cases in Manhattan alongside a team of world class veterinarians and trainers. She creates custom behavior intervention plans for dogs (and their people) who have been diagnosed with neophobia, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, various types of aggression, and separation anxiety.

In addition to her work with private clients, Lauren offers webinars to animal behavior professionals on various topics in applied behavior analysis. She is currently creating modules on Client Instruction and Communication for the IAABC Dog Trainer Professional Course launching this summer. You can find her work in the BF Skinner Foundation’s Operant’s Magazine, which is publishing an animal focused issue guest edited by Dr. Eduardo Fernandez later this year.

Lauren is currently a graduate student in the Applied Behavior Analysis department at Hunter College, where she is one thesis away from her M.S. in ABA. She lives in the center of New York City with one pup, one cat, and one husband.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What is Constructional Aggression treatment.
  • What makes it constructional.
  • How this approach is different from other aggression treatment protocols.
  • How CAT deals with the function of aggressive behavior.
  • Some common misconceptions trainers may have about CAT.
  • Changing emotional behaviors by changing contingencies.
  • How CAT makes use of clicker training principles.
  • Making ethical choices in training, particularly in the use of negative reinforcement.

Links Mentioned:

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