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Anxiety - The whole story:

  • Genetic influence on behavior is not like an on-off switch – it is more like a chaotic weather system with lots of little pushes
  • There are breed differences in behavior, but how much is genetic?
  • In breeding for the “ideal” personality, we have to make tradeoffs
  • Intelligence may correlate with anxiety.
  • We can breed for tameness and resilience – but currently that’s not our priority
  • Puppies get information from their parents about the environment they should expect to live in (not just from genetics)
  • Mild stress in early life can be positive for developing a resilient adult – but not too much!
  • Anxiety can affect lifespan
  • Anxiety can be affected by chronic pain

Dr. Jessica Hekman | Anxiety: The whole story

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  • Jessica is a veterinary researcher who is fascinated by dog behavior. She received her veterinary degree in 2012 from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, where she also received a Master’s degree for her work on stress behaviors in hospitalized dogs. After graduation, she completed a year-long internship specializing in shelter medicine at the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. She received her PhD in genetics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying a group of foxes (often known as the “Russian tame foxes”) which have been bred over many generations to be friendly to humans. She is currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a postdoctoral associate, studying the genetics of behavior in pet dogs through the Darwin’s Ark project and the Working Dogs Project. Her ultimate goal is to find genetic causes of fearfulness in dogs, to work with behaviorally challenged shelter dogs, and to help people better understand the science behind dog behavior. She also frequently teaches online classes and webinars about canine genetics and behavior. Jessica lives in Raymond, NH with her husband and two dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @dogzombieblog or on Facebook at

  • 13th December 2020

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