karibefit asks...

I have a dog who has major anxiety problems. He's afraid of noises we make in the kitchen, even though we give him plenty of treats. The major problem we have is he is afraid of getting into cars, even though the result is always to the park, Petsmart, etc. This only some of the major anxiety problems and would like advice on where to turn as far as dog help and what to look for a trainer. We live in Texas and most dog owners we know, don't know how to help us! Any direction would be great!

Poor pup! It sounds like he is completely unsocialized. Dogs that aren’t exposed to a variety of sights and sounds between 4 and 14 weeks of age can become wary of them after. Since the behaviors you mentioned are just some of his major anxiety issues, I recommend you see a Veterinary Behaviorist right away. Behavior modification alone is often not effective for dogs with severe anxiety like you describe. Training only works when there is an identifiable trigger and you have a controlled situation or context where the dog can learn. If your dog is as anxious as you imply, there may be no safe place to start training. Medication will help compress his behavior so he doesn’t become as fearful once triggered and recovers quicker.

CAUTION: Every animal is a unique being in a unique situation and what you see on these webpages is generic and general and may not specifically apply to your animal's situation. Any responses to questions through this website similarly cannot be as precise and informed as is possible in a face-to-face assessment. Accordingly, you should not rely on anything set forth herein as the last word, and you hold Helping Pets Behave harmless from any liability whatsoever based on your reliance on the information you receive through this website.

Ask Me lack of socialization unsocialized dog anxious behavior fearful behavior phobic behavior

neurosciencestuff:

Gambling with confidence: Are you sure about that?
Life is a series of decisions, ranging from the mundane to the monumental. And each decision is a gamble, carrying with it the chance to second-guess. Did I make the right turn at that light? Did I choose the right college? Was this the right job for me?
Our desire to persist along a chosen path is almost entirely determined by our confidence in the decision: when you are confident that your choice is correct, you are willing to stick it out for a lot longer.
Confidence determines much of our path through life, but what is it? Most people would describe it as an emotion or a feeling. In contrast, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have found that confidence is actually a measureable quantity, and not reserved just for humans. The team, led by CSHL Associate Professor Adam Kepecs, has identified a brain region in rats whose function is required for the animals to express confidence in their decisions.
How do we know when a rat is exhibiting confidence? The researchers devised a method to study decision making in these animals. The rats were offered an odor that they were trained to associate with one of two doors. When they chose the correct door, they were rewarded. This part was easy for the animals: their selections were almost always correct.­­ Things got trickier when Kepecs and his team offered a mixture of the two scents, with one dominating over the other by only a very small percentage. The rats now needed to choose the door representing the dominant odor in order to get their reward – a choice that reflects their best guess.
In work published today in Neuron, the team describes how confidence can be measured simply by challenging a rat to wait for the reward to be revealed behind the door. The time they are willing wait serves as a measure of the confidence in their original decision. “We found that the rats are willing to ‘gamble’ with their time,” Kepecs explains, sometimes waiting as much as 15 seconds, which is an eternity for these animals. “This is something that we can measure and create mathematical models to explain,” says Kepecs. “The time rats are willing to wait predicts the likelihood of correct decisions and provides an objective measure to track the feeling of confidence.”
The researchers hypothesized that a distinct region of the brain might control confidence. Previous work has suggested that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a part of the brain involved in making predictions, might have a role in decision confidence. Kepecs and his team specifically shut off neurons in the OFC, inactivating it, and found that rats no longer exhibited appropriate levels of confidence in their decisions.
“With an inactive OFC, the rats retained the ability to make decisions – their accuracy did not change,” says Kepecs. “And they spent the same amount of time waiting for a reward on average. The only difference is that animals’ willingness to wait for a reward was no longer guided by confidence. They would often wait a long time even when they were wrong.”
The discovery offers a rare glimpse into the neuronal basis of a higher-level cognitive process, and is likely to have implications in human decision-making as well. As Kepecs describes, “we now know that the OFC is critical for making on-the-fly predictions in rats. The human OFC is just a more sophisticated version of the rodent counterpart.” The team is expanding their research to explore how the elusive feelings of confidence are based on objective predictions that influence human decisions as well.

neurosciencestuff:

Gambling with confidence: Are you sure about that?

Life is a series of decisions, ranging from the mundane to the monumental. And each decision is a gamble, carrying with it the chance to second-guess. Did I make the right turn at that light? Did I choose the right college? Was this the right job for me?

Our desire to persist along a chosen path is almost entirely determined by our confidence in the decision: when you are confident that your choice is correct, you are willing to stick it out for a lot longer.

Confidence determines much of our path through life, but what is it? Most people would describe it as an emotion or a feeling. In contrast, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have found that confidence is actually a measureable quantity, and not reserved just for humans. The team, led by CSHL Associate Professor Adam Kepecs, has identified a brain region in rats whose function is required for the animals to express confidence in their decisions.

How do we know when a rat is exhibiting confidence? The researchers devised a method to study decision making in these animals. The rats were offered an odor that they were trained to associate with one of two doors. When they chose the correct door, they were rewarded. This part was easy for the animals: their selections were almost always correct.­­ Things got trickier when Kepecs and his team offered a mixture of the two scents, with one dominating over the other by only a very small percentage. The rats now needed to choose the door representing the dominant odor in order to get their reward – a choice that reflects their best guess.

In work published today in Neuron, the team describes how confidence can be measured simply by challenging a rat to wait for the reward to be revealed behind the door. The time they are willing wait serves as a measure of the confidence in their original decision. “We found that the rats are willing to ‘gamble’ with their time,” Kepecs explains, sometimes waiting as much as 15 seconds, which is an eternity for these animals. “This is something that we can measure and create mathematical models to explain,” says Kepecs. “The time rats are willing to wait predicts the likelihood of correct decisions and provides an objective measure to track the feeling of confidence.”

The researchers hypothesized that a distinct region of the brain might control confidence. Previous work has suggested that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a part of the brain involved in making predictions, might have a role in decision confidence. Kepecs and his team specifically shut off neurons in the OFC, inactivating it, and found that rats no longer exhibited appropriate levels of confidence in their decisions.

“With an inactive OFC, the rats retained the ability to make decisions – their accuracy did not change,” says Kepecs. “And they spent the same amount of time waiting for a reward on average. The only difference is that animals’ willingness to wait for a reward was no longer guided by confidence. They would often wait a long time even when they were wrong.”

The discovery offers a rare glimpse into the neuronal basis of a higher-level cognitive process, and is likely to have implications in human decision-making as well. As Kepecs describes, “we now know that the OFC is critical for making on-the-fly predictions in rats. The human OFC is just a more sophisticated version of the rodent counterpart.” The team is expanding their research to explore how the elusive feelings of confidence are based on objective predictions that influence human decisions as well.

CAUTION: Every animal is a unique being in a unique situation and what you see on these webpages is generic and general and may not specifically apply to your animal's situation. Any responses to questions through this website similarly cannot be as precise and informed as is possible in a face-to-face assessment. Accordingly, you should not rely on anything set forth herein as the last word, and you hold Helping Pets Behave harmless from any liability whatsoever based on your reliance on the information you receive through this website.

confidence measuring confidence in rats

hecummin asks...

Hi Mary! I have a 9 month old orange tabby cat who is playful and energetic 75% of the time and extremely aggressive towards me the other 25% of the time. He will often curl up in my lap and clearly want to be petted, then without any warning - tail twitching, ears going back, restlessness - he'll just bite and latch on to my arm. I will direct him to another toy or if it persists, I will put him in a separate room until he calms down, but nothing is working. Tips?

Petting induced aggression in cats is not well understood. We think that for some cats, petting quickly becomes unpleasant. You can try pairing petting with treats and stopping BEFORE he gets upset. Simply note the number of strokes he can tolerate before he starts to get irritated. Pet him while he eats during training sessions. Gradually increase that number of strokes over time, always stopping well before he gets agitated. You may have to start with two strokes and work up to four or five.

For your own safety, toss a treat to the ground for him to chase the moment you detect the slightest indication of agitation. This immediately changes the context and should reduce the motivation to persist. Between training sessions only pet him when he approaches and for no more than two to three second intervals. Repeat only if he “asks” for petting again.

The reason toys have not worked is that his motivation for biting is not playful and picking him up to separate him for a “time out” could be dangerous. Never pick up an agitated or defensively aggressive cat. He’s trying to communicate that he doesn’t want to be touched. Think how awful it must feel for him to be picked up! 

You may need to accept your cat’s intolerance for petting. He is an individual that, like some people, is happier with a less clingy partner. I’m sure he shows his fondness for you in other ways such as following you around and hanging out with you while you rest. Enjoy those special moments and be patient with the petting. He may come around with time and training.

Thanks for your question!

CAUTION: Every animal is a unique being in a unique situation and what you see on these webpages is generic and general and may not specifically apply to your animal's situation. Any responses to questions through this website similarly cannot be as precise and informed as is possible in a face-to-face assessment. Accordingly, you should not rely on anything set forth herein as the last word, and you hold Helping Pets Behave harmless from any liability whatsoever based on your reliance on the information you receive through this website.

Ask Me petting induced aggression aggression towards people aggression in cats

CAUTION: Every animal is a unique being in a unique situation and what you see on these webpages is generic and general and may not specifically apply to your animal's situation. Any responses to questions through this website similarly cannot be as precise and informed as is possible in a face-to-face assessment. Accordingly, you should not rely on anything set forth herein as the last word, and you hold Helping Pets Behave harmless from any liability whatsoever based on your reliance on the information you receive through this website.

comic dog comic