If you think I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, Thank You!

That means you stopped by Dog Spies in May 2013 and read a post with the same title. But that was #SPARCS2013, and this is #SPARCS2014; same concepts, different location, topics and speakers. During this year's 3-day event, June 20-22, leading canine researchers will cover three general areas of research that get at the core of what it’s like to be a dog:

Topics that many dogs are better acquainted with than their humans:

SPARCS is a unique venture organized by Prescott Breeden of The Pawsitive Packleader, Seattle Dog Training and Arizona State University Canine Science Collaboratory. From June 20-22, 2014, anyone in the world can see some of the leading canine science researchers in action — either in-person in Newport, RI, or via free Live Stream to your living room (or bathroom, if that’s where you prefer to take your canine science).

SPARCS is short for the Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science, which aptly summarizes the conference goals: (1) to promote research and education in canine science, and (2) to provide a platform for leading minds in canine science to present, discuss and debate modern behavior science. It is an international initiative to discuss what is known (and not known) about dog behavior, biology and cognition. No hooey included.

As a new addition to #SPARCS2014, Do You Believe in Dog? — featuring myself and fellow canine researcher Mia Cobb — will moderate. In conferences, I find that all the great info being discussed moves very fast. A question pops into your mind and you need clarification, but the speaker is already on the next topic.

At #SPARCS2014, Do You Believe in Dog? will act as your pause button, fielding questions and expanding on speaker content. We’ll monitor social media, moderate the daily panel at the end of each day (posing your pressing questions and diving into hot-button topics), and we'll hold post-talk interviews with each speaker (of course, speakers should be prepared to field questions on Ryan Gosling and his dog). We're putting a large emphasis on engaging both the live and online audiences, so follow along at @DoUBelieveInDog and #SPARCS2014.

Now for the #SPARCS2014 featured speakers and their talks! Visit the conference page for abstracts and learning goals for each talk, and speaker bios listed here:

Ray Coppinger, PhD

  • Aggression: Not a unitary behavior

  • Why do breeds of dogs behave differently? --> Julie comment: Think this is a simple answer? HA!

Simon Gadbois, PhD

  • The neuroscience, ethology and semiotics of social behaviour: Get your ethograms and semiograms ready! --> Julie comment: If you know what an ethogram is (without googling it!) I’ll give you a gold star! Here's a brief introduction to ethograms at Do You Believe in Dog?

  • Applied canine olfactory processing: What trainers need to know beyond learning theory

  • It is not what you like, but what you want that counts: The neurochemistry of behaviour and motivation

Sam Gosling, PhD

  • Overview of research on temperament and personality of dogs

Kathryn Lord, PhD

  • Barking and conflict

Patricia McConnell, PhD

  • I see what you’re saying: Translating conflict-related visual signals

  • Coyotes, Koalas and Kangaroos: What the behavior of other animals can teach you about your dog --> Julie comment: I haven’t seen a talk with this scope before!

James Serpell, PhD

  • Individual and breed differences in aggression

  • What the C-BARQ can tell us about human temperament --> Julie comment: C-BARQ stands for Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire. Get acquainted with it here.

  • The influence of owner/handler personality on the behavior of dogs

Monique Udell, PhD

  • Integrating ethology, learning theory & cognition in animal training

Clive Wynne, PhD

  • Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? --> Julie comment: I’m sure trainers and owners want to know, “Do some approaches to dog behavior have more of a basis in learning theory than others?”

Prescott Breeden, BM, CCS

  • The phenotype of molecules: Why nature vs. nurture is the wrong question --> Julie comment: And the right question is...

#SPARCS2014 also features short presentations from emerging researchers. Check out the SPARCS Facebook page for speakers and topics.

Enter to Win Free Registration!

In preparation for the big event, Do You Believe in Dog? is holding a ticket giveaway that ends May 20, 2014!

Tell us 1) why you want to attend this major canine science event, and 2) who will benefit if you get to attend.

Post your answer below or over at the Do You Believe in Dog? Blog or Facebook page to be in the running for the free, #SPARCS2014 registration in Newport, RI (travel not included). Details at Do You Believe in Dog?

Finally, SPARCS is made possible by you! “Donations are absolutely optional however graciously appreciated.” Check out donation and membership opportunities.

Did you catch #SPARCS2013? Tell us what you thought and what you’re looking forward to at #SPARCS2014.


Images: SPARCS, Do You Believe in Dog? and Dog Spies.