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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #51
Applications of Behavior Analysis for Basic and Applied Questions in Canine Behavior
Saturday, May 24, 2014
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
W182 (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Terri M. Bright, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Simmons College and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

Beginning with Ivan Pavlov, dogs have historically been an important research subject and model organism. Dogs' popularity as a model organism for behavior has been recently renewed in the scientific literature. In this talk, we will explore the applications of behavioral principles to enhance canine welfare, and how canines can help us answer basic behavioral questions. In the first talk, we will show experimenters can use elicited behavior to increase appropriate behavior in shelter dogs. By simply paring the visual stimulation of an adopter with food, we successfully decreased inappropriate behavior of shelter dogs, such as barking. In the second talk, we will apply behavioral momentum theory to increase resistance to disruption for dogs performing an olfactory-based task. We will explore if Pavlovian conditioning of an odor increases canine's resistance to disruption when detecting the conditioned odor. Last, we will explore how dogs show similar cognitive heuristics to humans, and identify the evolutionary implications for behavior this may have. Together, this symposium will show how behavioral research can enhance canine welfare, and how canines can advance the study of behavioral principles in real-world settings.

Keyword(s): affect heuristic, animal shelter, behavioral momentum, dog
Evaluation of Behavioral Interventions to Decrease Unattractive Behavior in Shelter Dogs
ALEXANDRA PROTOPOPOVA (University of Florida), Clive Wynne (Arizona State University)
Abstract: Euthanasia in animal shelters is the number one preventable cause of death in pet dogs. Previous research has found that certain behaviors of dogs, both in and out of the kennel, influence the decisions of adopters. In a sequence of studies, we have evaluated common and novel behavioral interventions to increase attractive and decrease unattractive in-kennel behaviors of shelter dogs. In Experiment 1, we assessed additional exercise versus calm interaction as an abolishing operation (AO) for unattractive in-kennel behavior. In Experiment 2, we compared the efficacy of a Pavlovian versus an operant procedure to decrease unattractive behavior. In Experiment 3, we assessed the efficacy of a Pavlovian procedure on a whole shelter population level. Our results suggest that interventions that aim to function as an AO are not generally effective; however, we found that Pavlovian procedures are, surprisingly, an efficient and effective way to alter in-kennel behavior. Future research will focus on finding interventions to change out of kennel behavior, as well as assess the effects of both interventions on adoption rate. Our results will provide shelter staff and volunteers with an empirically validated training procedure to reduce undesirable behaviors of shelter dogs and, thus, decrease euthanasia rates
The Effects of Prior Pavlovian Conditioning to an Odor on Resistance to Disruption of a Discrimination Task Involving that Odor in Dogs
NATHANIEL HALL (University of Florida), Clive Wynne (Arizona State University)
Abstract: The present study explores the effects of Pavlovian conditioning of an odor CS on resistance to disruption in an odor-discrimination task. Dogs were trained on two different odor discriminations (A vs. B and C vs. D). After reaching a stable performance on both discriminations, half of the dogs received appetitive Pavlovian conditioning to either odor A or C for five days. The remaining dogs received an explicit negative (un-pairing) contingency to either odor A or C with food. All dogs’ accuracy on both odor discriminations was measured during three disruption phases. For the first disruption, dogs were fed immediately prior to the session either 50, 100 or 200 percent of their daily food ration. For the second disruptor, food was buried in all of the discrimination bins. The last disruptor was extinction. Performance on the conditioned or explicitly un-paired odor discrimination was compared to the performance for the unexposed odor discrimination. Thus far, two of three dogs have shown enhanced resistance to disruption for the Pavlovian conditioned odor (see Figure 1) compared to the unexposed odor, and one of the two dogs showed greater disruption for the negative contingency odor (see Figure 2). Data collection is continued to further elucidate the effects of the positive and negative Pavlovian contingencies.
When Dogs Judge Less as More
Kristina Pattison (University of Kentucky), THOMAS ZENTALL (University of Kentucky)
Abstract: When humans are asked to judge the value of a set of objects of excellent quality they often give it higher value than those same objects with the addition of some objects of lesser quality, an example of the affect heuristic known as the less is more effect. Monkeys too have shown this suboptimal effect and now we have found a similar effect in dogs. Many dogs will eat a piece of carrot or a piece of cheese, however, when given a choice between the two, most of them prefer the cheese. Surprisingly, when offered a choice between a single piece of cheese and a piece of cheese plus a piece of carrot, most of the dogs preferred the single piece of cheese. The less is more effect appears to be an evolutionarily functional rule of thumb or shortcut that allows for rapid decisions (even when rapid decisions are not necessary) by humans and other animals even though such decisions sometimes result in suboptimal choices.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh