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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #209
Decreasing Canine Problem Behavior in the Animal Shelter Environment
Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Zurich C, Swissotel
Area: AAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Steven W. Payne (California State University, Fresno)
Discussant: Erica Jowett Hirst (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)
Abstract: The functional assessment and treatment of problem behavior in humans has a long history in applied behavior analysis. However, there is limited research in extending these findings to problem behavior in non-human animals, especially in the animal shelter setting. The two studies in this symposium tackle this issue from different perspectives (operant vs. respondent), procedures (consequent vs. antecedent), and aims (individual behavior vs. shelter environment). Discussion to follow.
Keyword(s): canines, functional analysis, problem behavior, shelter animals
Functional Analysis and Intervention of Problem Behavior in Animal Shelter Dogs
TATUM WINSLOW (California State University, Fresno), Steven W. Payne (California State University, Fresno), Kacie A Robles (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: Functional analysis (FA) is an empirical method for determining the functions of problem behavior by manipulating antecedent and consequent events. By determining the functions of problem behavior, one can develop function-based treatments to effectively reduce problem behavior and increase appropriate alternative behavior. FAs have been shown to be very effective in identifying the functions of problem behavior in typically and atypically developing humans. However, little research has been conducted to determine the effectiveness of FA methodology in identifying the functions of problem behavior in non-human animal populations. The purpose of the current study was to analyze the effectiveness of a modified functional analysis in determining the maintaining function of inappropriate behaviors of animal shelter dogs. Function-based treatments were used to verify the results of the functional analysis. For all three subjects, a single or multiple functions were identified. The results of the FAs were verified through successful function-based treatments. Overall, results demonstrated that functional analyses were effective in identifying the maintaining variables of behaviors of shelter animals that were potentially unattractive to adopters and lead to effective treatment plans. They also showed that each dog scored higher on an adoptability rating scale after treatment was implemented.

An Evaluation of Respondent Conditioning Procedures to Decrease Barking in an Animal Shelter

STEVEN W. PAYNE (California State University, Fresno), Kian Assemi (California State University, Fresno)

Euthanasia of adoptable animals is a prevalent problem in animal shelters across the nation (The Humane Society of the United States: HSUS, 2014). Of the 6 to 8 million pets being relinquished, only half (i.e., 3 to 4 million) are adopted yearly (HSUS). In order to decrease the number of animals euthanized each year, it is important to determine what factors affect the likelihood of adoption. One such factor that decreases the likelihood of adoption is the noise in the shelter environment (Copolla et al., 2006). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a respondent conditioning procedure on the reduction of noise in the kennel area of a California-based animal shelter. We conditioned the sound of a door chime (CS) with the delivery of food (UCS) to elicit a salivary response (CR), which is partially incompatible with barking. Baseline measures indicated that the sound in the shelter was louder than the volume needed to cause hearing loss over prolonged exposure (85dB). Results of the respondent conditioning procedure showed that the noise level decreased below this threshold. Implications and future directions are discussed.




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