Neurodiversity in Animals: Four-Part Series

Part 1: The Science of Neurodiversity in Animals
Saturday, March 30, 2024
11am to 1pm EDT (USA and Canada)

Part 2: The Sensory Brain
Saturday, April 27, 2024
11am to 1pm EDT (USA and Canada)

Part 3: The Attentional Brain
Saturday, May 18, 2024
11am to 1pm EDT (USA and Canada)

Part 4: The Social Brain
Saturday, June 8, 2024
11am to 1pm EDT (USA and Canada)

While animals do not express, and may not experience, variations in neurobiology in the same way that humans do, there is increasing interest in animal neurodiversity both clinically and scientifically.
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The webinar is suitable for pet owners, veterinary professionals, animal trainers, animal behavior consultants, animal behaviorists, pet guardians, shelter and rescue staff and volunteers, and anyone with an interest in evidence-based behavior and training.

8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) Pending:

  • CPDT
  • IAABC
  • KPA
  • PPAB
  • RACE

In this Webinar: 

The concept of neurodiversity is primarily used with regard to humans. Neurodiversity refers to the concept that different neurological conditions are normal variations in the way the brain processes and perceives the world around us. Did you know that research suggests that animals have diverse brains too? They can show variations in how they process sensory, attentional, and social information. Some of these variations may be similar to human conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more.

In animals, while we don't typically diagnose them with these human-specific conditions, researchers have observed a wide range of naturally occurring behavioral and cognitive variations that suggest a form of neurodiversity. While animals do not express, and may not experience, variations in neurobiology in the same way that humans do, there is increasing interest in animal neurodiversity both clinically and scientifically. For example, in dogs, studies show variations in behavior and cognition that might be analogous to certain human neurological conditions.

To ensure we approach this fascinating topic from a multidisciplinary perspective, with a focus on practical application while also bringing you cutting-edge research findings, we have brought together a team of Behavior Vets presenters with a special guest speaker - a world-renowned Neuroscientist who leads a research team studying neurodiversity in animals and people.

During this series, we will highlight similarities and differences between humans and animals, with a focus on clinical presentations related to sensory processing, attentional processing, and social processing, including a discussion of the existing canine literature, and the all-important practical management of clinical conditions.

Our presenters include Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist Dr Elise Christensen, Veterinarian and Neuroscientist Dr Kathy Murphy, and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant Bobbie Bhambree, all of whom will be on hand to discuss these topics with the sensitivity they require.

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🌎 EDIT:
We acknowledge the concerns raised about our upcoming webinar series, discussing neurodiversity in dogs. Our goal is to foster a dialogue on neurodivergence, that aims to shift away from the medical model to embrace a more holistic understanding that values neurodiversity.

Our team will be using nomenclature that is true to each speaker, but it may be different for each other and different from the preferences of some our audience. We acknowledge this conversation involves multiple passionate viewpoints. We are coming to this conversation about neurodiversity in animals in the spirit of inquiry, kindness, and support for the human-animal bond.

Behavior Vets actively seeks to be an inclusive platform for both the community we serve, and those we collaborate with. Our commitment extends to providing a platform where diverse perspectives are shared and respected. We recognize concerns about safety and prioritize creating an environment that fosters understanding, empathy, and support for all individuals, regardless of neurodivergent experiences.

We therefore honor our guest speakers own set of circumstances by not including their details on the public facing advertisement for this event. We appreciated this may not suit some, however we have chosen this path in this spirit of seeking a safe space for all.

Within our speaker group for this series, we have speakers who have both been formally diagnosed as neurodiverse and those who self-identify as neurodiverse, and with a variety of lived experience of neurodiversity which has led to many fascinating private conversations. The conversation that led to the creation of this series was one around the potential risks associated with pathologizing neurodiversity, to what extent that approach is relevant, or not, to animal species, and how we might create a safe space to discuss it in animals given the context of increasing scientific interest.

We actively seek, throughout this series, to be respectful and understanding of differing views and definitions of neurodiversity in animals, while remaining committed to bringing you reflection and review of the latest scientific information. We intend to open the conversation and discuss both the science, lived experience with these conditions, and our knowledge of dog behavior.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. And thank you to those in our industry who have shared their thoughts and concerns. We recognize the sensitivity of this conversation and appreciate your contributions.

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Tuition:
  • Early Bird Tickets – before February 29: $179
  • General Admission Tickets – after February 29: $225
  • Shelter/Rescue/Vet Student/Vet Tech Tickets - no expiration date: 30% off general admission ticket (discount code is SDFWBV)


Discounts are available for groups of 5 or more - please contact [email protected] for more information.

Cancellation policy: No refunds

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Meet the instructor

Dr. Kathy Murphy

Dr. Kathy Murphy (BVetMed, DPhil, CVA, CLAS, MRCVS) is a veterinary surgeon and neuroscientist. She graduated from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons UK in 1999, initially working in mixed clinical practice before studying for two post graduate clinical qualifications with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, and Laboratory Animal Science.

In 2009 she was awarded a highly prestigious Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship to study for her PhD, in Behavioral Neuroscience, at The Queens College, University of Oxford, UK. She subsequently worked in the USA as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Anesthesiology at the Icahn School of Medicine NYC, where her research into the long term effects of anesthesia on learning and memory contributed to a change to the safety advice for the use of general anesthesia in children.

She moved back to the UK in 2013, to take up clinical-academic positions at the University of Oxford and subsequently Newcastle University, and concurrently completed a Residency in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia with the European College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, during which she became increasingly interested in how pain re-models the nervous system and this can manifest as behavioral problems in pets.

Alongside these positions Dr. Murphy founded, and is now Director of, Barking Brains Ltd (a neuroscience outreach platform for the animal behavior and training community), which focuses on translating neuroscientific information into practical and useful information for people interested in animal behavior. In order to maximize the impact of her diverse interests and skill set, Dr. Murphy teamed up with Behavior Vets in 2022 when she took up the position of Chief Scientific Officer.

She is now able to focus on her new found passion for science communication and providing evidence based, up to date, accessible, scientific information to clinicians, animal professionals and their clients, about subjects related to pain, behavior, neurobiology and the many interrelated factors.

In addition to Dr. Murphy's primary career roles she was Trustee and Veterinary Advisor to the Rottweiler Welfare Association for 14 years; is co-founder of Ethics First (a collective which lobbies for ethical decision making in clinical practice); is an Oversight Committee Member for the UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter; a guest lecturer in Clinical Animal Behaviour at the University of Edinburgh, UK; lectures internationally; sits on numerous National and International boards, working groups and ethical review panels; is an ad-hoc reviewer for neuroscience, veterinary medicine and anesthesia and pain journals; and continues to collaborate on research projects.

Dr. Murphy lives in the UK with her husband Elliot (ret. Search and Rescue handler and now scentwork and mantrailing trainer) and their 5 dogs: Nancy a Rottweiler mix, Zebedee and Nela the German Shorthaired Pointers and Albi and Haggis the Weimaraners.
Patrick Jones - Course author
Meet the instructor

Dr. E’Lise Christensen

Dr. E’Lise Christensen (DVM, DACVB) is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist and an international lecturer and author. Dr. C received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 2002. She first became interested in veterinary behavior as a high school student when she worked at a veterinary practice and began training animals for pet therapy at a local substance abuse facility. While in veterinary school she researched separation anxiety in shelter dogs, was an assistant trainer at an animal shelter, and studied with numerous board-certified veterinary behaviorists.

After veterinary school Dr. C began a rotating small animal internship at SouthPaws Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield, Virginia. While working there she continued her studies in veterinary behavior. She practiced feline-only medicine in Arlington, Virginia and general medicine in Bloomingdale, New Jersey before entering the Behavior Residency Program at Cornell University in 2004. During her residency she researched the behavior of dogs, cats, and horses and treated behavioral problems in a number of different species. Her most cited research involved evaluating the efficacy of canine temperament tests in the shelter system.

Dr. Christensen has contributed to articles in Dog Watch, Cat Watch, Cat Fancy, Dog Training Solutions, Real Simple, Newsday, and various other print media. She has been a contributor and guest on Foxnews.com’s “Pet Health” and “Studio B with Shepard Smith”, ABC News’ “Nightline,” and many other radio programs, television programs, and newscasts. She enjoys lecturing nationally and internationally on an array of behavior topics including, but not limited to, small animal behavior, public health and animal sheltering topics.

Dr. C is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Speaker’s Bureau and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. C is always working on new ideas to support animals, families, trainers, and veterinary colleagues as they learn more about behavior and manage animals with behavioral disorders. Work-life balance is her last unicorn. She is also on a crusade to rescue the Oxford comma.
Patrick Jones - Course author
Meet the instructor

Bobbie Bhambree

Bobbie Bhambree (CDBC, CPDT-KA) is the Director of Education and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant at Behavior Vets. She is also a faculty member of CATCH Canine Trainers Academy and Agility University. Bobbie started her career in 2003 as a pet behavior counselor with the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center. While there, she implemented behavior modification programs for dogs who had been surrendered by the public or seized by Humane Law Enforcement. In 2007, Bobbie joined the Humane Society of Westchester, spending the next nine years as their shelter trainer. She created and implemented training and enrichment programs for the dogs, counseled adopters, trained volunteers, participated in community outreach programs, and performed evaluations.

In 2016, Bobbie joined the North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington, NY as the Director of Pet Behavior. During her tenure there, she managed a team of canine and feline trainers who focused on developing behavior modification and enrichment programs for the animals in the shelter. She also deployed for the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team to work in the field, supporting the team with dog fighting busts, puppy mill cases, and hoarding cases. In addition to this work, she founded and directed her own company, DogCentric Dog Training, helping people whose pet dogs experienced a wide spectrum of canine behavior issues. Bobbie presented at the Lemonade Conference, hosted by IAABC and Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, and at the HeartDog International Wellbeing Summit in 2022.

Over the years, Bobbie has very successfully competed in agility in various venues with several of her dogs including, Marvel who came in third for Performance Speed Jumping and Performance Grand Prix at Mid-Atlantic Regionals in 2019. Bobbie has authored several articles for the agility-focused publication, Clean Run. She is passionate about working with dog sports teams struggling with behavior issues. Bobbie regularly teaches behavior workshops for the dog sports community, including a recent project called Brain Camp.

Bobbie currently shares her life with four terriers, one Pitbull, and a border collie/whippet mix (Tricky, Ziggy, Marvel, Heady Topper, Eleanor Rigby, and Phuncky) and a very supportive husband in southern New Jersey.
Patrick Jones - Course author