Equitation Science and the 5-4-3-2-1 Framework for Ethical Animal Training
Paul McGreevy (University of New England NSW, Australia)
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper
Paul McGreevy BVSc, Ph.D., FRCVS, is a veterinarian and ethologist. He is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and seven books. With expertise in learning theory, animal training, animal welfare science, veterinary behavioural medicine and anthrozoology, he is a co-founder and honorary fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science. He led the VetCompass Australia initiative that brought together all of the Australian veterinary schools to provide ongoing national disease surveillance for companion animals and horses. With the additional involvement of Massey University (NZ), the same schools collaborated under Paul’s leadership to create the One Welfare teaching portal.
This presentation describes the complex nature of human-animal interactions and captures the dynamic interconnection of five constructs, some established and some novel, to characterise safe, ethical and sustainable [best] practices in the management, handling and training of non-production animals. It interdigitates the Five Domains Model for animal welfare assessment, four possible operant mechanisms that interactions may follow, the three influences of attachment, arousal and affective state, and the two contrasting ethologies (human and animal), with a One Welfare approach. This 5-4-3-2-1 framework reveals that while arousal and affective state influence behavioural outcomes of operant conditioning, the trainer’s choice and application of the operant quadrants have a further and cumulative influence on attachment, arousal and affective state. The power of this approach is that, on one hand, it marries optimal interactions with the highly prized attribute of trust in animal–trainer dyads, which may be, at times at least, a manifestation of trainers as attachment figures. On the other hand, it reveals sources of disruption of human-animal and animal-human attachment that promote negative affective states which are incompatible with safe, ethical and sustainable practices. By bringing these constructs together, the 5-4-3-2-1 Framework aligns the Five Domains Model with the ultimate animal welfare aim of One Welfare. As such, it may also serve as a notional checklist for reflective practitioners who ascribe to the One Welfare approach and aim to achieve safe, ethical and sustainable animal management, handling, training and keeping practices.