Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #464
The Structure of Behavior in the Domestic Dog
Monday, May 26, 2008
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Chicago & Alton
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Monique A. R. Udell (University of Florida)
Abstract: Domestic dogs, Canis familiaris, are an ever-present part of our society. However, until recently there has been relatively little scientific literature on the behavior of the species. Given the large population of dogs that coexist with humans and the vital working roles dogs serve in our community, a better understanding of canine behavior is necessary. Current empirical research on the behavior of the domestic dog will be discussed.
The Use of Human Given Cues by Canids: Factors that Predict Success or Failure on an Object Choice Paradigm.
MONIQUE A. R. UDELL (University of Florida), Clive D. L. Wynne (University of Florida)
Abstract: Domestic dogs have been shown to perform above chance on object choice tasks involving human given cues. However past methodology has made it difficult to distinguish between behavior established in the home and learning that occurs during testing. By reducing the number of trials and looking at trial by trial performance we were able to identify several performance patterns that individual dogs display in response to specific stimuli. Our data shows that pet dogs utilize specific human cues, but not topographically similar non-human cues in an object choice paradigm. The size of the human given cue is also important. Pet dogs are typically tested in their owner’s homes without regard to rearing environment or individual history. The importance of rearing environment, testing environment, and the presence of key stimulus properties in predicting individual performance on tasks requiring the use of human cues is discussed.
Who’s your master? Imitation and Social Learning in Dogs (Canis familiaris)?
NICOLE R. DOREY (University of Florida), Clive D. L. Wynne (University of Florida)
Abstract: According to Miklosi, Topali & Csanyi (2004), studies of dog cognitive behaviors have more than doubled between 1991 and 2001. Very few studies, however, have looked at social learning in dogs, and none have successful applied the two-action method. This method best controls for other social learning processes such as stimulus enhancement. We investigated whether a dog would manipulate an object (door) to obtain reinforcement after having observed a demonstrator do so. Some observers saw a trained conspecific use either its paw or snout to open the door; others saw the door opened by a human (their owner) using either her arm or nose. The dog observers saw the door opened five times before being allowed to attempt it themselves. Preliminary results indicate that dogs do not imitate either type of demonstrator. However, a human demonstrator, but not a conspecific, induces social learning.
Can Domestic Dogs Locate a Disappearing Object After Altering their Orientation?
SYLVAIN FISET (Université de Moncton in Edmundston)
Abstract: The objective of the present study was to determine whether domestic dogs can relocate a disappearing object after a 180 degrees self-produced movement around an array of potential hiding locations. Two opaque containers were placed at each end of a board facing the dog and an attractive object was hidden inside one of the two containers. Then, the dog was guided along a semi-circular path to the opposite side of the apparatus where he was released. In Experiment 1, the dogs could see the target hiding location as they walked around it and all dogs (N = 15) solved the problem without difficulty. In Experiment 2, the dogs were still guided along the semi-circular path but a barrier prevented visual tracking of the target hiding location during the dogs’ movement. Results showed that the dogs, as a group (N = 13), performed above chance but individual data revealed that some dogs failed to locate the hidden object. The present results are discussed in a comparative perspective and various factors are examined to determine why some dogs failed the task.
Toys as a “Natural” Stimulus Class in the Domestic Dog.
ERICA FEUERBACHER (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Studies of animals suggest they respond differentially to positive and negative instances of human beings. For example, pigeon behavior came under the control of “humanness” so quickly that the researchers suggested that they did not teach the pigeons this concept, but rather the pigeons had already formed this stimulus class and their procedures merely tested for a “natural” concept (Herrnstein & Loveland, 1964). Domestic dogs, especially those that reside in home settings, have extensive exposure to a variety of stimuli that can potentially constitute other “natural” stimulus classes or concepts. One diverse group of stimuli that dogs come into regular contact with are toys. To test for such class formation, the experimenter placed toy and non-toy objects on the floor and cued the dog to retrieve the object. The results showed that the dog only retrieved toy objects. We further tested the class by training a new response to one member of the class and later expanded the class by providing experiences similar to the ones with the toy class (e.g., chase them, tug on them, or chew on them). The results are discussed in terms of procedures to build stimulus classes.



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