14th ESVCE Annual Congress


16-17 October, Barcelona, Spain

Report on the annual combined congress of the European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE) and the European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine – Companion Animals (ECVBM-CA)

The annual combined congress of the European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE) and the European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine – Companion Animals (ECVBM-CA) was held in Bellaterra-Barcelona on October 16-17, 2008; the selected topics were “Aggression in companion animals – from physiology to prevention” and “Physiological indicators of behavioural disorders”.

The meeting, which was attended by about 200 delegates, included 18 oral and 15 poster presentations.
On the first day of the meeting, T. De Keuster spoke about the epidemiology and prevention of canine aggression; she emphasised the importance of more research and the role of education in the prevention of dog bites. C. Halsberghe highlighted important issues concerning aggression in the veterinary practice and stressed the importance of keeping up with the latest scientific developments.

In his talk about the ethology of canine aggression, J. Fatjó assessed the differences in classification and understanding of canine aggression between different authors. K. Houpt gave an overview about physiological and biological correlates of aggressive behaviour in companion animals, such as hormonal, neurological, nutritional or genetical factors.

B. Schöning presented results of a study, which indicate that formal and standardised temperament tests can give some information on the probability of biting. The importance of training methods and puppy socialisation classes was examined in a study about the identification of risk factors for aggression towards conspecifics (Richards et al.,). C. Syracusa spoke about the influence of housing systems on fear and aggression of dogs housed in no-kill shelters in Italy, and based on these findings, gave recommendations to promote welfare and adoption of these dogs.
However, as J. Fatjó pointed out, aggression may potentially impair the social bond between two individuals; a study conducted by Cozzi et al., disclosed evidence for reconciliation in dogs.
A study presented by J. Kiddie did not only identify risk factors for owner directed aggression in domestic cats, but showed that the way questions about aggressive behaviour were asked influenced the outcome.

D. Mills transmitted results about the influence of Rabbit Appeasing Pheromone on young rabbits, and E. Walsh spoke about factors, which influence the perception of three breeds of dog in Ireland.
The second day started with a talk given by P. Pageat.   Measurements of the heart rate before, during and after transport showed that horses experience stress also during transports of short duration. A study conducted by Léon et al, examined peripheral 5-HT concentrations in the blood of dogs with different aggressive behaviours.

M. Alnot-Perronin pointed out that anxiety-related behaviours are very common in parrots, and presented evidence that measurements of the Heterophil to Lymphocyte Ratio could be used to assess anxiety in these birds.

R. De Meester spoke about a new test and scoring system capable of differentiating behavioural differences in guide dogs to improve breeding populations of guide dogs. D. Mills related the results of a study, which had examined the visual processing of human faces by dogs.
G. Landsberg added more knowledge on the long-term effect of DAP collars on socialisation of puppies. Finally, S. Normando gave an overview on the prevalence of problem behaviours of rabbits, ferrets and rodents kept as pets, as mentioned by the owners.

A round table on the prevention of canine aggression concluded the programme.
The coffee breaks were employed to discuss the presented posters with the authors and to obtain information about products offered by the exhibiting enterprises; the mild autumn weather permitted to pass the coffee breaks outside on the campus. The Gala dinner, which took place on Thursday evening, permitted to taste various samples of delicious Catalan food and to cultivate contacts to other delegates.

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