An Interview with Dr. Karen Overall

In August of 2010, I interviewed Dr. Karen Overall.  During the 2–hour conversation we touched on many subjects.

Her list of credentials is as follows:

Karen L. Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, Diplomate ACVB, ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Psychiatry Department, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

PART ONE: Interview with Dr. Karen Overall
Part One deals largely with Pit Bulls, working dogs and why fear and pain-based methods are not a legitimate approach to train dogs. 

PART TWO: Interview with Dr. Karen Overall
Part Two is especially important for vets, vet behaviorists and dog trainers to watch.  If you have not seen part one, it’s ok, you’ll follow along just fine.  In Part Two, Dr. Overall clearly states there is an egregious disconnect in the veterinary education system.  It is the discipline of behavioral medicine and behavioral learning that is missing in faculty “worldwide” she stresses!  Dr. Overall states that “behavior ties all the disciplines together” and “if you cannot get close to the animal you can’t treat the animal”.  Additionally, Dr. Overall discusses how vets are the most “trusted” and the figureheads of the animal community and are often sought out for dog behavior and training advice and “many vets are walking around with the same misunderstandings about behavior and training as dog owners”.

We touched on the subject of pet dog training and the lack of “information vetted for quality” and the allure of the entertainer come dog “trainer” as well as the corporate ”chain” approach to pet dog training.  She offers solutions and insights as to how the profession of veterinary medicine and legitimate dog training can help more dogs when fully in concert with one another through wellness prevention and proper training.  In turn, we help grow and keep a thriving healthy population of pet dogs and clients for both vets and trainers.

I want to thank Dr. Overall for her time and her continued work with dogs. It was a pleasure speaking with her and I consider it a high point in my education in dog behavior, dog training and my understanding of the culture we both work in.  It is an honor to know her and learn from her. 

I’m sure the responses will be wide and varied as well as entertaining and interesting.  Please let’s keep it civil.  Thank you.

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