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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #175
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Stimulus control and the development of complex behavior in domestic canines.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 120 D
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Russell W. Maguire (Simmons College)
Discussant: Michael J. Cameron (Simmons College)
CE Instructor: Kimberly Crosland, Ph.D.
Abstract: The purpose of this symposium is to demonstrate the generalization of stimulus control procedures to domestic canines within applied settings. In all three studies the subjects were domestic canines (e.g., pet dogs) and the studies were conducted in applied settings (e.g., homes and a shelter for abandoned animals). The Burke, Maguire and Cameron study replicated and extended the work of Bright, Maguire and Cameron (2008). This study taught a canine conditional discriminations (identity and arbitrary matching-to-sample performances) that then set the occasion for the emergence of symmetrical and possibly transitive relations that documented the formation of stimulus classes, and possibly classes of equivalent stimuli, in animals. The Bright, Maguire and Cameron study employed respondent conditioning techniques to decrease barking in a shelter to increase adoptability of animals. The third study (Lovejoy, Maguire and Cameron) used errorless instructional procedures (e.g., delayed prompt procedure) to teach a canine to run an obstacle course. The results documented rapid and durable acquisition of a sequence of skills. The combined results of these studies demonstrated the systematic nature of applied behavior analysis and generalization of stimulus control procedures across species.
Canine responding during and after matching-to-sample training
SALLY BURKE (Simmons College)
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to assess for the emergence of symmetrical matching-to-sample relations, and the formation of stimulus classes with a female German Shepherd, The subject was initially taught to identity match-to-sample using colors (e.g., black and white) and objects. The subject was then taught conditional discriminations (matching objects-to-color). Following this training the symmetrical stimulus-stimulus relations (sample-comparison reversibility) were assessed in the absence of reinforcement. The results indicated that the subject was able to demonstrate symmetry but not transitivity (although additional data regarding this aspect of the study are currently being collected). There is limited documentation of non-human subjects demonstrating the emergence of symmetrical and transitive performances, indicative of the formation of equivalence classes, and there are no known findings for the canine species. The present results add to this body of knowledge and are discussed in terms of how to train and assess for the equivalence phenomenon..
Acquisition of an obstacle course sequence by a domestic canine via errorless instruction
JENNIFER A. LOVEJOY (Simmons College)
Abstract: A good deal of animal training relies exclusively upon differential reinforcement of correct responses (i.e., correct response are reinforced and incorrect response go unreinforced). Although this approach has successfully established a myriad of skills across many species it can, at times, result in lengthy training, frequent errors and even failure to acquire the targeted skill. The purpose of the present study was to combine an errorless procedure (delayed prompt) with forward chaining to teach a naïve domestic canine a three-step obstacle course sequence. Once the initial step was acquired the next step in the sequence was introduced, again taught via delayed prompt. Finally, the third step was added and it too was acquired with few or no errors. The results indicated rapid acquisition of the individual steps as well as the combined sequence with few or no errors. Further, control generalized to novel trainers without additional training. The results are discussed in terms of the effect errors have on the development of inappropriate and competing forms of stimulus control.
Pavlov’s Shelter Dogs: Transferring Control of a Conditioned Stimulus to Elicit More Adoptable Behavior
TERRI M. BRIGHT (Simmons College)
Abstract: Often, the decision of whether or not to adopt a dog from a shelter is influenced by the immediate environment. The level of barking in a shelter can be intimidating to visitors and have a negative impact on the adoptability of individual animals. This experiment took place in a large, urban, “open-admission” Shelter, where dogs’ adoptions are largely dependent upon their appeal to visitors who walk onto the adoption floor. In an attempt to decrease noise and increase adoptable behavior, the sound of a “bear” bell was repeatedly paired with a food reward, until an anticipatory response (i.e., the absence of barking) was observed in the dog upon hearing the bell. This behavior was maintained across thinned schedules of reinforcement. The control was then transferred to a bell hung on the door to the Adoption Room. Data documented the control of the bell over the dogs’ behaviors as well as an increased rate of adoptability. The results are discussed in terms of the applied significance of the study.



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