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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #446
Behavior Analytic Approaches to the Analysis of Canine Behavioir
Monday, May 31, 2010
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Lone Star Ballroom Salon A (Grand Hyatt)
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Ronald Allen (Simmons College)
Discussant: Russell W. Maguire (Simmons College)
Abstract: Unfortunately, much of dog training relies on fad and fashion with few approaches based solidly on science. The purpose of this symposium is to present three papers involving the analysis and treatment of canine behavior from purely behavior analytic view. The first study evaluated the theory of “calming signals’ (i.e., that certain behavioral presentations from another can decelerate canine manifestations of stress and anxiety). Shelter dogs served as subjects via an alternating treatments design. The results indicated little correspondence between the calming signals and behavior and suggests a more scientific approach is needed. The second study replicated an earlier experiment in which domestic canines were taught to run an obstacle course via an errorless procedure. The results indicated that this approach generalized successfully to other breeds, settings and trainers, documenting the efficacy of the procedure. The final paper discusses the application of more involved functional assessment and functional analysis approaches to evaluating canine behavior. Case studies are presented to illustrate their application.
Canine "Calming" Signals: Can Humans Use Them to Influence Fear and Anxiety Behaviors in Shelter Dogs?
TERRI BRIGHT (Simmons College)
Abstract: A population of fearful, anxious and aggressive dogs exists in every animal shelter, where millions of dogs are relinquished by their owners every year. Many of the relinquished dogs have behavioral problems; others are strays who may or may not be claimed by their owners. During their stay in the shelter, many dogs exhibit fear, anxiety and aggressive behavior. In this study, the behavior of shelter dogs, known to be under the effects of numerous stressful stimuli, were matched to behavioral definitions of anxiety, fear, and/or aggression. Then they were videotaped while the experimenter emitted what is popularly known as “calming” signals. Emitted human signals were yawning, lip-licking, look-look-away, and head-turning; these are all behaviors seen to occur between dogs. This was interspersed with the neutral presence of a human, and with an “away” condition. The videotape was then studied, and the dog’s calming signals, along with fear, anxiety and aggressive behaviors were noted for each experimental condition. Systematic covariation was not observed between canine behavior and calming signals, suggesting the absence of a functional relation. Reasons are discussed, including the impact of extraneous variables within a shelter
Teaching Dogs to Run an Obstacle Course via Errorless Instruction: A Replication
JENNIFER A. LOVEJOY (Ipswich Public Schools), Russell W. Maguire (Simmons College), Michael J. Cameron (Simmons College)
Abstract: Lovejoy, Maguire and Cameron (2009) successful taught a domestic canine to complete a three-step obstacle course via an errorless procedure (delayed prompt) and forward chaining. The purpose of this study was to replicate this training protocol across different species of domestic canines, different training settings and different trainers. Two additional dogs were trained by different trainers in different settings using the same procedure. The initial step of the sequence was taught via delayed prompt. Once this 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 replicated the findings from the previous study, including rapid acquisition of the training sequence with few or no errors. These outcomes documented the generalized ease and effectiveness of this approach. The results are discussed in terms of the effect errors have on the development of inappropriate and competing forms of stimulus control and how typical training procedures often fails to avoid them.
Applying Advanced Behavior Analytic Approaches to Domestic Canines
TERRI BRIGHT (Simmons College), Ronald Allen (Simmons College)
Abstract: For the most part, sophisticated behavior analysis with animals is reserved for experimental subjects (e.g., rats, pigeons and primates). Behavior analytic procedures applied to domestic animals may be either simplistic or incorrect (e.g., use of rewards versus reinforcers). Certainly, the application of sophisticated stimulus control and functional analysis protocols are rare. The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss the application of more complex approaches with domestic canines, particularly the use of functional assessment and analysis procedures to analyze canine behavior. At present, the reasons cited for canine behavior are typically medical or mentalistic. This paper presents alternatives to these approaches. For example, how one might systematically alter antecedent and postcedent events (structural and functional analyses, respectively) within typical settings are presented. Case studies are cited throughout as examples and the resulting data are discussed. The outcomes are discussed in terms of expanding the application of behavior analytic procedures for the benefit of dogs and their owners.



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