Dopamine and Serotonin – Dog Speak with Colin Spence and Patricia McGrady

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Chat, banter and discussion about the dog world. Colin and Patricia are behaviourists and will be talking about everything from diet to behaviour. With industry speakers, case studies, news, views, controversial subjects, topical issues and plenty of tips and knowledge, these podcasts are for anyone with an interest in dogs.

Here Robert Falconer-Taylor talks about neurotransmitters including Dopamine and Serotonin

Robert Falconer-Taylor chats with Claire Martin

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@Dog Centred Care hosts chats from the Dog Centred Care FB group –

In this next discussion as part of his monthly series , Robert talks with Claire Martin. They talk about the role of dog sports in the lives of Claire and her dogs, the role of her dogs in education and the benefits they can bring to the social and emotional well-being of our young people, the dynamics of living with a large group of dogs and linking all of these to the hedonic budget of the dogs through activation of the seeking system.

This is a cracker !

BIO from Claire :

I am a COAPE trained behaviourist and trainer, a secondary school teacher and I live with a family of 9 rescue sighthound dogs.

The dogs and I train and compete at a variety of dog sports including canicross, bikejor, scooterjor, agility, hoopers, lure coursing and mantrailing.
My dogs also come to work with me, to the specialist school where I work, and they are present in lessons and in everyday school life. Our students have a range of medical needs but many are very able and most are neurodiverse.

With a colleague I have written a level 2 accredited qualification in dog training and husbandry that sits within the school education framework and I teach this course to around 50 students a year.

I see some behaviour clients still, despite my full time career!, primarily dogs who are reactive and often bite risks.

My particular skill set is in developing the ‘hedonic budget’ of these dogs, particularly balancing their individual emotional needs (conceptualised within Panksepp’s emotional SYSTEMS e.g. SEEKING in all its variations, see Karin Pienaar’s Talk on MHERA) and mood state.

I also volunteer as the sole behaviour adviser for a podenco rescue and as part of a team providing support to the dogs homed by a U.K. sighthound rescue.

Robert Falconer-Taylor chats with Karin Pienaar on MHERA

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In the first of Roberts monthly live chats in the Dog Centred Care group on Facebook ( , he welcomes Karin Pienaar. Karin has just finished writing a book about MHERA and we will be discussing the new science underpinning the System, the philosophy behind it and its practical application in dogs with behaviour problems. We’ll also talk about how MHERA can be applied in everyday life across species (including humans) to help us all lives happier, healthier and longer lives.

BACKGROUND STORY: COAPE (the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology) was founded in 1998, and a non-negotiable cornerstone of its approach to animal behaviour has always been that non-human animals live rich emotional lives much like we humans do. Out of this approach, the “Emotional Assessment – Mood State Assessment – Hedonic Budget Assessment – Reinforcement Assessment” (EMRA) was born. EMRA is a practical tool designed for behaviourists to use in their assessment and management of behaviour cases and is widely used all over the world.
Around 2015, advances in neuroscience and its application in the practical assessment of welfare in animals lead to the realisation that more important than emotional states themselves, was the animal’s mood state.

The EMRA System developed by COAPE was inherently emotion-centric and it needed an upgrade. In 2018, COAPE became COAPE International in the cable hands of Karin Pienaar and colleagues and Karin’s first job was to undertake that upgrade. 4 long years later, MHERA™ (Mood State Assessment – Hedonic Budget Assessment – Emotional Assessment – Reinforcement Assessment) was born.

Bio :
Karin Pienaar: COAPE International Partner. DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CertCAB, CAPBT Practitioner, CAB.
Karin has been working in the field of animal behaviour therapy since 1997. She completed her Diploma in Animal Behaviour in the UK with COAPE. She is a member of both the CAPBT and ICAN and is an International Certified Animal Behaviourist (CAB).

After more than 20 years of consulting with dog and cat owners, Karin now focuses mainly on managing COAPE International, presenting the COAPE Diploma and mentoring students. She is also responsible for course advancement and developed the MHERA™ concept which is now taught as a core component of the COAPE approach. Karin is the Behaviour Consultant to numerous pet companies such as Eukanuba and Ascendis Animal Health in South Africa and is a regular contributor to several local and international magazines, as well as appearing on television and radio when time allows.

She heads the Enrichment Partnership Program between COAPE International and several captive wildlife facilities, to develop bespoke enrichment programs to promote the behavioural and emotional health of animals, as well as implementing consent-based training to facilitate stress-free husbandry and medical procedures. The captive animal project provides the unique opportunity to apply COAPE’s MHERA™ and ESTA™ techniques to a huge variety of animal species, with great success to date.