Arousal: Science, Not Sex

High arousal. Over arousal. Low arousal. Arousal as a behavior description is ever-present in our conversations about animals within shelter, performance, and working environments. Across training settings, we’ve attached the label readily without an agreed-upon definition of its meaning. What does arousal mean? What is the relationship between arousal and emotion? How does arousal relate to other descriptors we use (often interchangeably) like drive, frustration, aggression? Is there a functional component to arousal? Is use of the label beneficial for training conversation or does it muddy the waters? Let’s unravel the science of arousal and consider the applications within training practices and behavior-change plans. It’s not sex, but for behavior nerds it’s still sexy!

Please note: This Session was recorded in 2018; content presented in 2019 may vary slightly.  

Lindsay Wood Brown

Lindsay Wood Brown,  is a board-certified applied animal behaviorist (ACAAB) and a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP) with a master's degree in psychology and a concentration in animal behavior from Hunter College. Lindsay works at Karen Pryor Academy  as a Course Developer and has been a member of the  KPA faculty member since 2012. She specializes in resolving behavior conditions and consults for animal shelters on the design and implementation of behavior programs, effective modification methods for a range of behavior conditions, and development of robust operational strategies to achieve behavioral health within the shelter.

Lindsay served as the Director of Operations for Lynchburg Humane Society (LHS), an open-admissions animal shelter located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her role at Lynchburg Humane included the oversight of all shelter operations, with a strong focus on behavior and behavior modification to increase the number of animal lives saved and rehomed successfully.

Prior to her role as Director of Operations in Virginia, Lindsay served as the Director of Animal Training and Behavior for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, Colorado. She developed Boulder Humane's Training and Behavior Department, including the curriculum for a wide array of positive reinforcement, clicker training classes for community members. Lindsay also developed the organization's comprehensive behavior modification program, which focuses on rehabilitating dogs with specific concerns, including food-guarding, fearful behavior, body-handling sensitivities, separation anxiety, and dog-dog aggression.