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Starts Thursday, September 19th

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The Science of Fear

What makes this course different?

  • Go deep

    Go beyond a surface level understanding of how fear develops. Explore the science and gain insight and understanding to working with fear. Learn directly from a PhD and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

  • Direct interaction

    You'll interact directly with Dr. Spaulding. All students have access to live lectures and the opportunity to ask the Dr. Spaulding questions during the lecture. Full students attend weekly discussions sessions led by Dr. Spaulding. (Lectures are also recorded for those who cannot attend live).

  • Apply what you learn

    Students are given the opportunity to apply what they learn during class. This is done with interactive activities during lecture and applied problem-solving challenges during discussion sessions. Learn how to make the connection between the science of behavior and working directly with animals.

Course details

  • Course consists of live lectures and discussion sections. Lectures are also recorded for those who cannot attend live. Discussions are NOT recorded.

  • Next course begins September 19th.

  • Lectures (all students) are Thursdays at 6:30 pm ET. Discussion sessions (full students only) are on Thursdays at 6:30 pm ET.

  • The course runs for four weeks.

  • Auditors: 4 CEUs from IAABC and CCPDT

  • Full students: 8 CEUS from CCPDT, 10 CEUs from IAABC

  • $330 for full students, $200 for auditors

Course Curriculum

Week 1

  • Course orientation
  • What is emotion?
  • What is fear?
  •  Types of fear
  • Classical conditioning
  • Unconditioned and conditioned stimuli and responses
  • Types of conditioned responses

Week 2

  • Biological preparedness and innate fear
  • Biologically prepared fear and working with behavior issues
  • Distinguishing between instrumental and classical conditioning
  • Factors influencing the strength of learned fear
  • The influence of emotion on memory

Week 3

  • Extinction in classical conditioning
  • What is trauma?
  • Symptoms of PTSD
  • Do non-human animals develop PTSD?
  • Impacts of trauma on the brain, cognition, and behavior
  • Impacts of trauma on reward processing and attention
  • Working with dogs (and other animals) with a history of trauma
  • Stress and the stress response

Week 4

  • The impacts of stress on fear
  • Avoidance learning
  • The relationship between avoidance, extinction, and treatment-resistant fear
  • Counter conditioning and its limitations
  • Best methods and strategies for addressing fear 
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of behavior modification for fear

Your Instructor

Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB

Dr. Kristina Spaulding has been in the dog training and behavior profession for over 20 years. She owns Science Matters Academy of Animal Behavior LLC. She has a PhD in biopsychology—the study of the biological basis of behavior—and is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. She also has a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. As part of her graduate training, Dr. Spaulding instructed university courses on learning, neuroscience, and behavior and was formally trained in effective teaching techniqes. In graduate school, she received an award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. She is particularly interested in stress, neurobiology, cognition, emotion, and well-being and how to apply these concepts to the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of behavior problems in dogs. She currently teaches a variety of online courses and webinars on the science of behavior through her website, She also regularly presents on canine behavior science at conferences and other events. In 2019, Dr. Spaulding received the Association of Professional Dog Trainer’s (APDT’s) Member of the Year Award. She currently serves on the IAABC Foundation Board and the Fear Free Advisory group.

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