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  • Anxiety: The Whole Story. Presented by Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD

Anxiety: The Whole Story. Presented by Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD

  • 11 Jun 2020
  • 1:00 PM
  • 11 Jun 2023
  • 2:00 PM
  • Recorded Webinar


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So you have a shy dog - one who's easily frightened of strange people or places, or maybe even one who sits at home IMAGINING what horrible thing might happen next. Is this because of genetics? Or did you mess up somehow? In this webinar, Jessica will talk about the biology behind anxiety: the roles of genetics, early environment (as early as in mom's uterus!), and socialization.

Spoiler alert: you didn't mess up. But this webinar will help you understand better where your dog is coming from and help you think through the many different puzzle pieces that made her who she is. Jessica will also provide concrete suggestions for breeders, puppy buyers, and working dog trainers to help minimize the chances of producing or buying anxious dogs.

Learning Objectives:

  • List the different methods by which parents pass information on to their offspring, which might make offspring more or less anxious

  • Discuss the importance of mild stress, but not trauma, in early life

  • Explain how genetics and early life experiences can interact to result in adult anxiety

  • Describe the pre-fear period in puppies and explain its relevance to adult anxiety

  • List some negative effects of stress in terms of health and well-being

About The Presenter

Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD

Jessica is a veterinary researcher who is fascinated by dog behavior. After eleven years working as a computer programmer, she decided to go back to school to research the causes of behavior problems in dogs. She received her veterinary degree in 2012 from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, where she also received a Master's degree for her work on stress behaviors in hospitalized dogs. After graduation, she completed a year-long internship specializing in shelter medicine at the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program. She received her PhD in genetics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying a group of foxes (often known as the "Siberian silver foxes") which have been bred over many generations to be friendly to humans. She is currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a postdoctoral associate, studying the genetics of behavior in pet dogs through the Darwin's Ark project and the Working Dogs Project. Her ultimate goal is to find genetic causes of fearfulness in dogs, to work with behaviorally challenged shelter dogs, and to help people better understand the science behind dog behavior. She also frequently teaches online classes and webinars about canine genetics and behavior. Jessica lives in Raymond, NH with her husband and three dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @dogzombieblog or on Facebook at facebook.com/dogzombieblog.

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