Saturday 22 May 2021
Inaugural Annual Conference


Ticket Prices

Early Bird (limited)
Student / Member

Bookings now open



Please select an item from the Itinerary to view more information


Ticket Prices

Early Bird (limited number) – £45
Student / Member – £65
Non-member – £85

Bookings now open


Eligible for 7 CEUs (IAABC)


9.30 Welcome

Loni Loftus BSc (Hons) MSc PGAed CCAB – Events Subcommittee Chair, FAB Clinicians

Conference welcome and introduction.

9.50 Seeking

Rachel Casey – Director of Canine Behaviour and Research, Dogs Trust

One of the most basic and important systems of the brain is the one which allows animals to search for, find, and acquire all the resources needed for survival. The affective neuroscience researcher Jaak Panksepp termed this the ‘Seeking’ system, the activation of which leads to approach behaviours, but also sensation of the positive emotional states associated with anticipation or excitement. Whilst animals engaged in ‘seeking’ would be regarded as being in a positive state, some resulting behaviours are not necessarily compatible with living in human environments, and inability to show learnt or rewarded behaviours can result in frustration.

This talk will introduce some theoretical background from neuroscience which helps understand the concept of ‘seeking’, before discussing how the behavioural consequences can lead to problems for our companion animal species living in human controlled environments – particularly when we and our animals are in an enforced lock down! The presentation includes insights on the importance of appropriately encouraging and directing appetitive behaviours to avoid the development of behaviours that are often regarded as undesirable. Finally, the talk will give examples of where abnormal or apparently functionless behaviours can arise for animals in sub-optimal environments.

10.55 Fear/Anxiety

John Bowen – Behaviour Consultant, Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, RCVS

12.00 Morning Speaker Panel

Rachel Casey & Jon Bowen

Join our morning’s speakers for a live discussion panel

12.30 Lunch And Breakout Rooms

13.15 Frustration

Helen Zulch – Head of Professional Development in Canine Behaviour, Dogs Trust

Frustration, the emotion which we typically experience when we feel thwarted from achieving something of importance to us, can serve a useful purpose. In terms of an animal’s survival, it can be the driver to persist and strive to obtain something which is necessary for life. However, it is generally described as a negative emotion due to both the discomfort which an individual experiencing it feels, and the risk of negative behaviours arising from it, for example aggressive responses. It is generally accepted that an animal experiencing severe, prolonged or repeated bouts of frustration is in a negative emotional state and that this needs to be addressed.

This talk will briefly discuss frustration as an emotional state from a theoretical perspective, before examining the sort of situations which are likely to trigger frustration in some of our companion animal species and how it is likely to be manifest. Finally, the importance of recognising this as a differential for a behaviour presentation and what this means for both treatment and prevention strategies will be covered.

14.20 Grief/Loss in companion animals

Professor Daniel S. Mills – Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine, University of Lincoln

As the pressures of lockdown hopefully ease, understanding the role of grief and importance of safe havens and secure bases to the animals we share our lives with can be critical to ensuring a comfortable transition to the new normal. I would like to suggest that doing this is perhaps the least we should do for them given the emotional support they have given us in this difficult time.

15.20 Coffee Break

15.30 Social Play


Sarah has a special interest in the interplay between emotional and physical illness in dogs and cats and will be exploring this during her presentation.

16.30 Afternoon Speaker Panel

Helen Zulch, Daniel Mills & Sarah Heath

An opportunity to join the afternoon speakers for a live discussion panel.

17.00 Close