CPT’s Mark Spivak Attends The 2018 PennVet Working Dog Conference

PennVet Working Dog Conference

From April 20 – 23, 2018, CPT founder and Head Trainer and Dog Star Technologies Chief Operating Officer Mark Spivak attended the 2018 PennVet Working Dog Conference proximal to the campus of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.  The 4-day conference featured nationally and internationally recognized speakers in the multidisciplinary fields of canine genetics, breeding, scent dog training, service dog training, evaluation, nutrition, fitness, behavior, and veterinary health.  The conference audience consisted of researchers, veterinarians, working and service dog program coordinators, working and service dog trainers, breeders, behaviorists, and PhD students in animal sciences and psychology.  Given the quality of the speakers and the audience, the conference provided excellent networking opportunities and information beneficial for productively evolving the evaluation, training, and fitness protocols for CPT’s service dog program.

While attending, Mark listened to numerous insightful speakers from the USA, Canada, and Israel and had the opportunity to observe the PennVet Working Dog Center, where they breed, train, sell, and study dogs for military, law enforcement, and disaster search purposes.  In addition, he made contacts with operators of the PennVet Working Dog Center, AKC executives involved in funding research, managers in the Department of Agriculture scent dog program, persons involved in designing and marketing leading edge canine fitness equipment, ADI executives involved in lobbying politicians to establish service dog policy, and persons involved in designing and marketing advanced service dog harnesses.

PennVet Working Dog Conference
Jane Russenberger explains why not all dogs or even purpose-bred dogs are optimal service dog candidates and how a properly designed breeding program can increase the number of high-potential candidates.
PennVet Working Dog Conference
Jane Russenberger explains how a well-designed breeding and evaluation program improves service dog graduation.
PennVet Working Dog Conference
Cindy Otto explains the benefits of PennHip vs. the OFA diagnostic method of hip dysplasia and methodologies of hip dysplasia treatment and rehabilitation.
PennVet Working Dog Conference
Elden Leighton explains the effects of genetics within a well-designed breeding program.
PennVet Working Dog Conference
Mark Ruefenacht explains methodologies and benefits related to proper statistical measurement of service dog performance.
PennVet Working Dog Conference
Bridget Stewart explains the stages of a working dog proprioceptive training program.

The Conference agenda included the following speakers and subjects:

Patricia McConnell, PhD, CAAB- “Creating and Maintaining Resilience in Working Dogs”

• Carmen Battaglia, PhD, American Kennel Club; Liz Hare, PhD, Dog Genetics, LLC and PennVet Working Dog Center; Eldin Leighton, PhD, Canine Genetic Services, LLC; Cindy Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVECC, DACVSMR, CCRT, PennVet Working Dog Center; and Scott Thomas- “”A National Breeding Cooperative for Detection Dogs:  What Will it Take?”

• Marina Hall Phillips, Assistance Dogs International Breeding Cooperative- “A Breeding Cooperative:  Systematically Working Together to Deliver Purpose-bred Stock”

• Russell Kelly, Royal Canin- “Nutrition and Practical Management Tools to Maximize the Puppy to Working Dog Transition”

• Eldin Leighton, PhD, Canine Genetic Services, LLC- “Using the International Working Dog Registry to Manage Breeder Selection and Mating Decisions”

• Bridget Stewart, Trainer, PennVet Working Dog Center- “Fitness for Puppies using FitPaws Equipment”

• Laura Monaco Torelli, KPA Faculty, CPDT-KA, TAGteach Level 3, Animal Behavior Concepts- “Ready… Set… for Groomer and Vet:  Everyday Training Tips for Animals and Caregivers to Improve Routine Care”

• Cindy Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVECC, DACVSMR, CCRT, PennVet Working Dog Center- “Can We Impact the Risk of Hip Dysplasia Through Exercise?”

• Leslie McDevitt, CDBC, CDPT-KA, International Association of Dog Behavior Consultants- “Creating a Focused and Confident Working Partner”

• Vicki Berkowitz, PennVet Working Dog Center; Paul Mundell, former CEO of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), Carl Rother, Senior Instructor, Puppies Behind Bars- “Crossing the Great Divide:  From 8 Weeks to Career Ready”

• Annemarie DeAngelo, Training Director, PennVet Working Dog Center and Jenny Essler, PhD, PennVet Working Dog Center- “Using an Artificial Odor, Universal Detector Calibrant (UDC), to Imprint and Train Working Dogs for Scent Detection”

• Mark Ruefenacht, Dogs4Diabetics- “Canine Olfaction: Performance Reliability and Statistical Confidence for the Working and Service Dog”

• Erin Perry, PhD, Southern Illinois University- “An Evaluation of the Relationship Between Phase of Work and Core Body Temperature in Working Dogs”

• Pat Kaynaroglu, Training Manager, PennVet Working Dog Center- “Evaluating the Tools used to Predict and Assess the Career Paths of Working Dogs”

• Eldin Leighton, PhD, Canine Genetic Services, LLC and Jane Russenberger, BS, Guiding Eye for the Blind- “Hands-on with the International Working Dog Registry (WDR) Database”

• Scott Thomas- “Assessing Puppy Aptitude Across Ontogeny and Breed”

• Fred Helfers, Pacific Northwest Police Detection Dog Association- “The Utilization of Double Blind Testing in Drug Dog Certifications”

• Brad Gillespie, Canadian Police Canine Association- “Improving Communication and Struggle in Learning to Meet Standards”

• Rafael Franco, MPH, Hebrew University- “Puppy Character Tests and Using Pet Pace Equipment to Measure Biometrics”

• Jane Russenberger, BS, Guiding Eye for the Blind- “Use of the Behavior Checklist to Screen Candidates for Breeding and Working Dogs at Guiding Eyes for the Blind”

Since returning from Philadelphia, Mark has scheduled a session for CPT’s service dog trainers to update them regarding pertinent information from the Conference.

PennVet Working Dog Conference
Bridget Stewart demonstrates proprioceptive training at the PennVet Working Dog Center.
PennVet Working Dog Conference
A PennVet WDC Trainer demonstrates working dog proprioceptive training during a tour of the PennVet Working Dog Center.

In Mark’s opinion, “CPT has the most diverse and personalized service dog program in the country.  We provide more customization than any company with whom I am familiar, implement medical knowledge and detailed recipient interviews that provide personalization beyond the acumen of any of our local competitors, and can provide program flexibility that is not available from the top tier national nonprofits.  Yet, we wish to maintain our position ahead of the curve.  In that regard, the Canine Science Conference in Phoenix and the PennVet Working Dog Conference were highly worthwhile.”

Mark continued, “The two referenced conferences, along with the DOD Conference that I attended in Raleigh, provided advanced scientific information and practical applications supported by methodologically sound studies, which contrasts to the political agenda, pablum, dreck, and speaker self-aggrandizement that is common to most dog trainer specific conferences. Moreover, the attendee community is more astute, practical, and open-minded to information than the majority of persons who attend dog trainer conferences.  I look forward to informing CPT’s staff about key information from the conference, especially in regard to studies that compared evaluation ages and practices and studies that compared working dog confidence and physical performance after engaging in formal proprioceptive fitness regimens.  As good as we are, I wish our program and our staff to constantly evolve and improve.”


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