The Science of Fear

Improve your ability to decrease fear and anxiety in dogs. This course will take a detailed look at how animals develop fear, how it impacts them, and how to address it.



Self- Paced Course

Go deep

Go beyond a surface level understanding of how fear develops. Explore the science and gain insight and understanding to working with fear. Learn directly from a PhD and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

Learn at your own pace

With the freedom to set your own pace, you can delve deeper into challenging topics and breeze through familiar ones, ensuring a tailor-made learning journey that suits your needs.

Apply what you learn

Students are given the opportunity to apply what they learn in the quizzes included in the course. Learn how to make the connection between the science of behavior and working directly with animals.

Course details

  • The course is designed to run for four weeks, however complete it at your own pace!

  • Recorded lectures and exercises

  • Earn 4 CEUS from IAABC and CCPDT

  • $200

Course Curriculum

Module 1 - What is fear? How do you identify it?

Course orientation

What is emotion?

What is fear?

Types of fear

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Module 2 - How is fear learned?

Classical conditioning

Unconditioned and conditioned stimuli and responses

Types of conditioned responses

Distinguishing between instrumental and classical conditioning

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Module 3 - How can we predict the strength of fear?

Factors that influence the strength of the fear response

The impact of emotion on learning

Extinction in classical conditioning

Interactions between fear, classical conditioning and operant conditioning

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Module 4 - How is fear impacted by stress?

What is stress?

What are the different types of stress?

How does stress affect fear?

How does stress affect extinction?

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Module 5 - How does trauma change the brain and behavior?

What is trauma?

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Do non-human animals develop PTSD?

How does trauma impact fear, cognition, and behavior?

How does trauma impact reward processing and attention?

How does trauma impact arousal and aggression?

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Module 6: How do we address fear?

What are desensitization and counter conditioning?

Is counter conditioning a type of extinction?

Why are extinction and counterconditioning so fragile?

How can we enhance the effectiveness of counterconditioning?

What is the relationship between avoidance, extinction, and treatment-resistant fear?

What is exposure therapy and should it be used in non-human animals?

What additional steps can I take to learn more about the science of behavior?

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Your Instructor

Kristina Spaulding, PhD, CAAB

Dr. Kristina Spaulding has been in the dog training and behavior profession for over 20 years. She owns Science Matters Academy of Animal Behavior LLC. She has a PhD in biopsychology—the study of the biological basis of behavior—and is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. She also has a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. As part of her graduate training, Dr. Spaulding instructed university courses on learning, neuroscience, and behavior and was formally trained in effective teaching techniques. In graduate school, she received an award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. She is particularly interested in stress, neurobiology, cognition, emotion, and well-being and how to apply these concepts to the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of behavior problems in dogs. She currently teaches a variety of online courses and webinars on the science of behavior through her website, She also regularly presents on canine behavior science at conferences and other events.

In 2019, Dr. Spaulding received the Association of Professional Dog Trainer’s (APDT’s) Member of the Year Award. She currently serves on the IAABC Foundation Board and the Fear Free Advisory group.