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Drugs and Behaviour in the Canine


On Tuesday 15th April, the UK Registry of Canine Behaviourists held their Annual Educational Day. The event was held in the Club House of the beautiful Cold Ashby Golf Club, Northampton, writes Mike Mullan.

The forty plus delegates, made up of full members, associate members and their guests, enjoyed a thought provoking, at times, mind stretching, lecture by Daniel Mills, BVSC, MRCVS. Daniel broke the day up into two main papers, both of which were related to each other. Both papers majored on how drugs could be used in the art of Behaviour Modification in the Canine. Although Daniel did stress on more than one occasion during his presentation that the use of drugs would only usually used as a last resort or maybe in critical cases, he firmly made the point that if approached correctly, most undesirable behaviour in the canine could be modofied by changing the way in which owners of such a dog treated it or by introducing a suitable training programme - not necessarily obedience training but by teaching the dog to react in a more acceptable way by reward or habit.

It was fascinating to follow the way in which a given drug would block certain behaviour and how others would promote these. Daniel was concerned that the correct diagnosis was made when assessing a dog presented with a supposed behaviour problem and that if it was agreed that medication was to be used in the modification of such behaviour then the correct agent in the correct quantities was of the utmost importance but at the same time one must be aware that agents are not specific to a given behaviour problem.

Daniel Mills lecture was indepth and so very technical that there is no way that I could even start to do it justice in this small report but I would stress that any genuine student who is studying Canine Behaviour would gain greatly by attending one of his educational days should the opportunity occur. Daniel is a lecturer at Lincoln University and heads up the Animal Behaviour Cognition and Welfare Group.

The u.k.r.c.b. will be holding it’s Annual Symposium at Loughborough University on Sat October 4th 2003 - the theme for this year’s event is “Stress Reduction in Canine Behaviour”.