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In this webinar, Laura offers a deep dive into why and how becoming trauma-informed will not only profoundly transform your relationship with dogs, but also your practice as a dog behavior professional. 


In Laura’s words,

“Consider the following scenario involving a large breed dog ambushed by another, smaller dog at a local dog park. After this attack, the dog just mentioned became acutely fearful and the post reported that he “went after” his canine housemate. I encountered this all-too-common story through a post on a major dog training listserv whose heading (written by a professional dog trainer) was “Psycho Dog!” It is not just that slapping labels like “psycho” on dogs often has life-threatening consequences. Dogs who are “psycho” much more frequently encounter euthanasia rather than understanding and empathy. It is also that such labels lead to the creation of toxic stories about dog behavior that closely parallel stories told about traumatised children acting out their emotional struggles: “People find it difficult to bring empathy to understanding the devastating impacts of these children’s trauma. They are ungrateful. They push us away. They are argumentative. They do not listen. They try to control everyone around them. They are manipulative. They will never learn. They are unlovable (Tucci, 2018).” * A much better response to these children as well as “psycho” dogs would be to become trauma-informed and develop compassion for their devastating struggles. The “Psycho Dog” represents a particularly egregious example of a larger ignorance in the dog training community about trauma, what it is and how to address it.”


In this webinar, you will learn:

  • That trauma is vastly under-recognised in dogs and that we will make the world a better place for ourselves AND our dogs by understanding what trauma is and how it works.
  • That the autonomic nervous system activates adaptive survival responses (such as with the “psycho” dog) frequently misrepresented and subjected to negative interpretations.
  • That learning how trauma works in dogs requires moving beyond the behaviourist paradigm.
  • That trauma “is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body” (Bessel van der Kolk, MD).
  • That there are no stubborn or psycho dogs—only confused, scared, stressed out and/or traumatised ones.
  • That after you (whether “you” are a human or a dog) have been traumatised, you live in a different universe.


* Tucci, J., et al. (2018). Realizing “Deep” Safety for Children Who Have Experienced Abuse: Application of Polyvagal Theory in Therapeutic Work with Traumatized Children and Young People. Clinical applications of the polyvagal theory: the emergence of polyvagal-informed therapies. S. Porges and D. Dana, Eds. New York, W.W. Norton & Company

Laura Donaldson | What does it mean to be Trauma Informed?

    • Laura Donaldson, PhD, CDBC, KPA CTP
    • Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies (In Progress) Trauma Research Foundation, founded by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
    • Maxwell Medallion Award Winning Writer for Best Magazine Article on Dog Behavior & Training (Dog Writers Association of America, 2018)
    • Creator of the Slow Thinking is Lifesaving for Dogs® program
    • Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
    • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
    • Certified Control Unleashed™ Instructor
    • Official Mentor Trainer, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy




  • 16th July 2023

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