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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...


23 February 2016

Dog Researchers Head to the City by the Bay: The Canine Science Symposium in San Francisco, CA

Hi Julie & Mia,

I wanted to write to the two of you about the Canine Science Symposium. It's happening this April 16 & 17 in San Francisco, and I thought you might be interested to hear all about it. I bet Julie remembers speaking about anthropomorphism at the very first CSS. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get her back to San Francisco for the next one!

This year's Symposium promises to be bigger and better with an extra half day of presentations, more speakers and new breakout sessions to dig deeper into the research. Three years later since that inaugural Symposium at Pawsitive Tails, we're now at the San Francisco SPCA where we’ve partnered with the organization’s Behavior & Training Department, brought on sponsors (such as the Karen Pyror Academy) and in all, expect well over 100 shelter staff and volunteers, trainers and dog enthusiasts to join us for this day and a half of canine science. We love coming to San Francisco in part because of the vibrant dog community there!

While many Symposium speakers continue to return each year to share their research, we ensure that the topics are new – and we’re real sticklers on the “applied” part of the research. We want those that come out to learn with us to be able to walk away with new techniques and approaches to try in their interactions with shelter dogs, dogs that they train and the dogs they live with. 

This year’s addition of breakout sessions will provide more advanced content (something we think the Symposium crowd is eager for) and live opportunities to discuss research and training ideas (and in some cases, as they’re happening!). We like sharing our enthusiasm for dogs, and the Symposium is our opportunity to make our research accessible.
Xephos running the maze at ASU.
Our CSS speakers for 2016 include Drs. Clive Wynne (Arizona State University), Erica Feuerbacher (Carroll College), Lindsay Mehrkam (Oregon State University), Sasha Protopopova  (Texas Tech University) and myself. This year, we have new additions to our speaking roster including Dr. Monique Udell from Oregon State University and post-doctoral scholar Dr. Nathan Hall from Arizona State University. Dr. Jeannine Berger, who heads up the SF/SPCA’s Behavior Resources, will be speaking too (in the past, she’s led our roundtable, but now she’s joining us at the podium).

While many of us are former or current students of Clive’s, our research interests are diverse as evidenced by this year’s topics. Our presentations include decoding dominance in dogs; canine sociability and attachment; using advanced behavioral principles in dog training; applying cognitive, behavioral and physiological measures to improve shelter dog welfare; using play as training and enrichment; understanding visitor behavior in shelters to increase adoptions; exploring canine olfaction and interpreting canine body language.

We’re excited to return to San Francisco this April and hope to see many in the dog training and behavior community at the Symposium! 

For those folks that are interested in attending, head on over to for all the details including speaker bios and presentation descriptions, and online registration (registration is at the waaaay bottom of the page).

Our early-bird registration ends March 2nd, so those that want to attend should sign up soon!  

Lisa Gunter 

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