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They Just Want to Play – Increasing Welfare, Reducing Shelter Length of Stay and Increasing Live Outcomes for Dogs with Barrier Frustration. Presented by K. Holden Svirsky

  • Friday, April 22, 2022
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • GoToWebinar


  • A discounted registration for a member of Doggone Safe.
  • A member of Pet Professional Guild International Chapter Registration: The registration code can be found in your member's area on the PPG website.
  • PPG Member Registration
  • Public Registration

Registration is closed

CEUs: PPAB 1, CCPDT (pending), IAABC 1, KPA 1

For understandable safety reasons, many shelter and rescue organizations test a dog’s “sociability” with other dogs on a leash or through a fence. Members of PPG’s Shelter & Rescue Committee found that this results in false positives for “dog-aggression,” which can result in dire consequences for the animal, including euthanasia or increased length of stay due to adoption barriers.

When 60% of US households have dogs, a sheltered dog who must be the “only animal in the home” has a much lower chance of being adopted. A great many dogs bark, lunge, growl and/or snarl when introduced to other dogs on a leash or through a physical barrier like a kennel door or fence. However, we have found that a significant number of these dogs have the ability to exhibit appropriate, pro-social and playful behavior with other dogs when these barriers are removed.

This session will focus on introduction methods and behavior modification protocols that are realistic for resource-thin shelter and rescue organizations, who may not have the luxury of qualified behavior specialists to perform dedicated and time-consuming desensitization and counterconditioning procedures. We believe we can increase adoption rates, reduce euthanasia, reduce “kennel stress” and length of stays with the playgroup and behavior modification protocols presented.

This was previously aired at Geek Week 2021

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the free PPG resource ThePetRescueResource.com for shelters and rescues, and see case studies and examples of the treatment of aggressive behavior with playgroups.
  • Define and understand barrier frustration vs. fear, proximity sensitivity, compulsive fighting, etc.
  • Why mislabeling dogs presenting with frustration as “dog-aggressive” is a serious welfare concern.
  • How to treat barrier frustration without the resources for desensitization.

About Your Presenter

K. Holden Svirsky CTC

K. Holden Svirsky CTC completed a behavior internship with Dr. Jeannine Berger at the San Francisco SPCA in 2015. She is a graduate of the prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers and was awarded its shelter and rescue scholarship in 2014. She has completed Michael Shikashio’s (also presenting at Geek Week) Aggression in Dogs master course and is beginning her certification for treating separation anxiety with Malena DeMartini.

Holden sits on the PPG Shelter and Rescue Committee, is an author of ThePetRescueResource.com, and has had articles published in BARKS from the Guild. She has been a teacher as long as she can remember, and began her career in behavior work with children, teaching language and math skills to students with autism, attention deficit, attention deficit-hyperactivity, dyslexia and hyperlexia.

She worked full time as a behavior specialist at several shelters from 2012 to 2019. She performed intake at shelters all over the state of California, taught public classes, held private consultations, executed behavior modification on hundreds of shelter animals, ran playgroups, counseled adopters, and trained service dogs for veterans.

Holden currently teaches specialty group classes for the award-winning Bravo!Pup in Oakland, California including classes for shy/fearful dogs and inter-dog social behavior. In her private practice, HoldenK9, she consults privately for individual clients and shelter/rescue organizations across the United States.

Holden grew up with working-line gun dogs, has adopted & fostered many mixed breed shelter dogs, and currently shares her life with a Yakutian Laika -- an ancient sled dog breed -- nicknamed ZZ. In her free time, Holden is a sailor and canicross runner, hoping to get into bikejoring in 2022. She currently lives on Nantucket Island.

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