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Course starts August 14th

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Pricing options

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What makes Science Matters Courses different?

  • Go deep

    Go beyond a surface-level understanding of behavior. Explore the science and gain insight and understanding into both the prevention and treatment of behavior issues. 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.

Topics covered

  • Key concepts and building blocks
  • What animals need
    • Welfare vs. well-being
    • Attachment
    • Stress coping 
    • Flexible problem-solving
  • The Biology of Behavior
    • Evolution and natural selection
    • Neurobiology and the brain
    • Genetics/epigenetics
  • Stress
    • Basics
    • Impacts of stress 
      • During development
      • Seniors
      • Learning/memory
      • Health
      • Aggression
      • Sex differences
    • Specific populations
    • Stress and the brain
  • Emotion
    • Basics
    • Theories of emotion
    • Emotion in dogs
    • Consciousness and self-awareness
    • Emotion and pain
    • Emotional regulation and reactivity
    • Individual differences in emotion
    • Emotion and motivation
  • Cognition
    • Basics
    • Goal-directed behavior
    • Executive function
    • Decision-making
  • Individual differences in stress resiliency
  • Promoting well-being
    • Assessing welfare/well-being
    • Preventing and mitigating stress
      • Development
      • Predictability/control
      • Training methods
    • Building resilience and stress coping
      • Learned industriousness
      • Social support
      • Enrichment and exercise
      • Appropriate challenge
  • Emotional health and mental health (behavior issues)
    • Mental health  in non-human animals
    • Emotional/mental health and stress
    • Emotional/mental health and the brain
    • Labels
    • Trauma
    • Impulsivity and hyperactivity
    • Depression, fear, anxiety
    • Aggression
    • Effective behavior modification plans
  • Applications for all of the topics above will be discussed throughout the course

Course details

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

  • Next course begins on August 14th, 2023.

  • Live lectures are Mondays at 12 pm ET. A recorded version of each lecture will also be posted for those who cannot attend live.

  • Discussion sessions (full students only) are on Thursdays at 12 pm ET. Attendance is required for full students. Discussions are not recorded.

  • Runs for sixteen weeks. (No class the weeks of 9/4 and 11/20.)

  • Auditors: 16 CEUs from CCPDT and IAABC.

  • Full students: 32 CEUs from CCPDT and 40 CEUs from IAABC.

  • Full students earn a certificate of completion and a website logo for marketing.

  • Course access for 18 months.

  • Content updated twice a year with the latest research.

Lecture excerpt

Big Feelings

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.

Choose the right option for you

All students gain access to the live lecture. Full students also gain access to a one hour live discussion each week. Lectures are also recorded for those who cannot attend live.