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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.

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43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Poster Session #57
Saturday, May 27, 2017
12:00 PM–3:00 PM
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall D
Chair: Susan D. Kapla (Northern Michigan University)
33. Dogs That Save Your Life: A Review of How Working Dogs are Trained
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
OANH LUC (University of Nevada, Reno; University of North Texas), Janie A Funk (University of Nevada, Reno), Breanna Dorsey (University of Nevada, Reno), Melia Shamblin (University of Nevada, Reno), W. Larry Williams (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: Working dogs assist humans in potentially dangerous circumstances, such as detecting explosives, seizing criminals, avoiding obstacles undetectable to human handlers, and locating missing persons in disaster situations. This presentation identifies the following categories of working dogs: guide dogs/service dogs, military police dogs, and detection/search & rescue dogs. Professional organizations responsible for the training of working dogs must ensure the accuracy in performance by these working dogs. The development of training programs that result in successful outcomes (i.e., dogs that exhibit few errors while working) is paramount as any errors made by the working dogs in the field may further contribute to the danger inherent in these circumstances. Given the implications of training successful working dogs, one would assume the professional organizations overseeing the training would consult the literature on best practices. However, the literature which is likely to be contacted by said professionals generally does not mention, let alone utilize, behavior analytic principles. The current presentation offers an account of the behavior analytic presence in journals accessed by professionals likely to make regular contact with working dogs. Implications of the presence, or lack thereof, as a means to disseminate behavior analysis to a wider community will be discussed.
34. A Functional Analysis and Treatment of a Domestic Pet Guinea Pig’s Disruptive Squeeking Behavior
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
KIMBERLY TRUONG (SEEK Education), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles; SEEK Education)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: Researchers have studied guinea pigs extensively in a biological laboratory setting for centuries, with the term “guinea pig” becoming synonymous with a research subject in popular nomenclature. However, very few behavioral studies with domestic pet guinea pigs have been done, particularly in the field of applied behavior analysis. Typical information on guinea pig behavior for pet owners consists of anecdotal data, including descriptions about the guinea pigs’ possible emotional states in the presence of certain response topographies. This study utilized a functional analysis and BAB experimental design to investigate the loud, disruptive squeeking behavior (“wheeking”) of one domestic pet guinea pig. Functional analysis results were inconclusive, although wheeking typically occurred immediately after guinea pigs were exposed to the auditory stimuli accompanying the opening of their food pellet bag. Treatment consisted of delayed delivery of food following wheeking behavior, with a return to baseline in which food delivery occurred immediately. Results showed marked decreases in the total duration of wheeking behavior. Loud squeeking evoked by plastic bag noises is a typical complaint amongst guinea pig owners. Some owners may return pet guinea pigs due to this disruptive behavior. Successful treatment may be used as an alternative to surrendering the animal to the pet store or animal rescue.
35. Observations of Therapy Dogs’ Stress and Affiliative Behaviors Across Time
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
MEGAN ELIZABETH ARANT (Texas Tech University), Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: The use of therapy dogs in educational programs are increasing and children are benefiting from these interactions. However, the effects on dogs used in therapy sessions is yet largely unexplored. The purpose of this observational study is to identify the rate of stress and affiliative behaviors in therapy dogs over continuous exposure to the same child and in the same location. Additionally, we explored if gender or other aspects of the child impacted the rate of stress or affiliative behaviors across time. Four therapy dog-child dyads were assessed during experimental Applied Behavioral Analysis-type educational sessions. The dogs’ interactions with the children were videotaped and then their behaviors recorded. Sessions were spread out for several months and varied three to ten minutes per session. Therapy dogs, in this study, showed individual variability; one dogs’ affiliative behavior increased and stress behavior decreased over time, whereas another dog showed the opposite pattern of behavior. Additionally, different children induced different changes in the same dog, suggesting that aspects of the child are important in determining the wellbeing of the dogs.
36. Determining Compassion Fatigue in Animal Care Employees Using Behavioral, Physiological, and Subjective Measures of Stress and Wellbeing
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
ALLISON ANDRUKONIS (Texas Tech University ), Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: The aim of this study was to develop measures of compassion fatigue across various professional situations involving animal death: veterinary euthanasia, animal shelter euthanasia, and livestock slaughter. A meta-analysis was initially preformed to determine the quality and quantity of research on the phenomenon of compassion fatigue within the previously mentioned areas. In the following study, using behavioral and physiological measures, we assessed the prevalence of compassion fatigue in animal care professions as well as determined the effect of species (e.g. dog, cat, pig, etc.), animal behavior (e.g. struggling, calm, friendly, etc.) and setting (e.g. veterinary hospital, animal shelter, food processing plant) on the severity of compassion fatigue. Physiological measures including heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, skin conductance, and cortisol levels were collected before and after the euthanasia or slaughters. Additionally, non-verbal behavioral as well as subjective measures (The Professional Quality of Life Scale and Impact of Event Scale) were collected to determine perceived stress and wellbeing.
37. Differential Reinforcement Effects in Dogs Experienced and Inexperienced with Training.
Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
VALERI FARMER-DOUGAN (Illinois State University), Julia Henning (Illinois State University), Antonia Berenbaum (Illinois State University)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: According to the Disequilibrium Model (Timberlake & Farmer-Dougan, 1991) the degree to which the ratio of instrumental (I) to contingent (C) responding is disrupted from a baseline bliss point (Oi/Oc) results in varying reinforcement/punishment effects. When the contingency reduces the contingent response below baseline (I/C > Oi/Oc), a reinforcement deficit is imposed for the contingent response (e.g., treat eating), and the rate of instrumental responding (e.g., initiate to human) increases. Punishment effects occur when the I/C is pushed above baseline: Too many treats may punish initiations (a satiation effect, I/C < Oi/Oc). Thus, low reinforcement rates are ineffective and high rates may produce satiation, but moderate rates of reinforcement should produce optimal rates of responding. However, inexperienced dogs are likely to have different I/C baselines: Their baseline approach to humans may be lower, thus a contingency which requires increased approaches may push the dog into approach excess more quickly (reducing approaches reduces human contact; I/C > Oi/Oc), and high food reinforcement rates may be necessary to offset punishment of newly trained behavior. Thus, depending on the dog, the same reinforcement rate may invoke very different reinforcement outcomes. The present study investigated this using dogs highly experienced with and inexperienced with training. Dogs were assessed for baseline rates of approaches to humans and treats, and then their approaches to humans to earn a treat was reinforced at 5 I/C ratios: 200%, 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%. Experienced dogs showed highest rates of initiation to humans at 25-50% disruption, supporting the disequilibrium model: Experienced dogs needed lower rates of reinforcement to elicit optimal behavior and avoid satiation. Inexperienced dogs showed a slowly increasing rate of initiations to humans as reinforcement rates increased. This supported the hypothesis that inexperienced dogs need higher rates of reinforcement to maintain response rates and offset the less rewarding human interaction. The present results have important implications for training, and suggest that reinforcement procedures should be matched to training experience levels.
38. Doggone Affordances: Perception of Vertical Reaching by Canines.
Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
VALERI FARMER-DOUGAN (Illinois State University), Matthew Langley (Illinois State University), Isabella Raymundo (Illinois State University), Antonia Berenbaum (Illinois State University), Jeffrey B. Wagman (Illinois State University)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: According to affordance theory (Gibson, 1966; Reed, 1996), an organism successfully performs a goal-directed behavior because it has “affordance” that the behavior can be performed. Affordances allow organisms to perceive a future environmental state and to determine the necessary potential behaviors required for completion of the goal. To do this the organism must be able to determine the fit between its physical capabilities (e.g., its body size/ shape, flexibility, speed, strength) and the environmental conditions (e.g., object laoyt, size/shape, rigidity or flexibility). Researchers investigating human activities such as moving through doorways, reaching elevated objects, or walking inclines have found there are perceptual boundaries between one set of behaviors (e.g., walking through a doorway with straight shoulders) and another set of behaviors (e.g., turning shoulders sideways). That is, there appears to be a constancy across how and when individuals switch from one set of behaviors to another: For example, a ratio of approximately 1.2 doorway-to-shoulder-width is required for perceiving that a doorway can be walked through without turning. Whether such affordance consistencies are found in non-humans has not been well investigated. Cabreraa, et al. (2013) found that hamsters and rats perceive affordances when lever pressing: Lever height had a significant effect on rate of lever pressing. When lever height was re-scaled to account for body size, the ratio of lever pressing to height was found to be nearly identical for both the rats and hamsters. The present investigation extends the work on perceived affordance to dogs. In experiment 1, 19dogs were presented with a preferred treat at varying heights. The treat was initially presented at a low height, such that the dog could easily eat from the cup without rearing (raising front feet off the floor). The treat cup was then raised and lowered to determine the exact height at which the dog began to rear. Experiment 2 replicated experiment 1, but after dogs reared during baseline, weights totaling 10% of their body weight were added as the dogs reared. Data yielded a significant correlation between shoulder to floor height and rearing height, showing a perceived affordance consistency for rearing. How identifying and understanding affordances in dogs may assist trainers is discussed for from both theoretical and applied perspectives.
39. Stimulus Discrimination Training to Promote Consumption of Invasive Weed Species by a Goat: Preliminary Study
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
LORI-ANN B. FORZANO (The College at Brockport, State University of New York), Tara Kelly (The College at Brockport, State University of New York), Marcie Desrochers (The College at Brockport, State University of New York)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: The aim of the current research study was to increase the effectiveness of using a goat to control invasive weed species (IWS) in Western New York. IWS are harmful since they outcompete resources for native species and overtake large areas since they have no natural competitors. In this study, a goat was taught to prefer IWS over native species using stimulus discrimination training. Training involved delivery of a preferred food following a desired behavior (i.e., eating the IWS) in the presence of one stimulus (e.g., multiflora rose IWS) but not in the presence of another (e.g., maple native). A multiple probe design across plant species was used involving sequential introduction of a training condition across one plant species following a phase of no reinforced trials. Training consisted of five sessions, with three sessions indicating an increase in the percent correct selection of rose over maple. Baseline 1 (session 1) showed a 37.5% correct rose selection which increased to 50% during baseline 2 (session 6). Overall, the results of the study indicate that the training may be effective. Further research should use a multiple probe design across goats to determine the generalizability of stimulus discrimination training across different goats.
40. Citizen Science Volunteers and the role of Inter-observer Agreement in an Empirical Zoo
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
VALERIE SEGURA (Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens), Megan Morris (University of North Florida; Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens), Kaylin Tennant (University of North Florida, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens), Dan Maloney (Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens), Terry L. Maple (Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens; Florida Atlantic University)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: Behavioral Observation Team volunteers (BOTs; i.e., citizen scientists) are often used to provide information on animal welfare at zoological institutions. BOTs are asked to observe focal animals and provide data on the following behavioral dimensions: frequency, rate, duration, and intensity of various behaviors. The recent adoption of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) Animal Wellness Initiative aims to expand the role of BOTs and use their collected data for dissemination to the larger scientific community. The present study surveyed volunteer training and follow-up evaluation practices used in BOT/ citizen science volunteer programs in zoos across the US. Thirty-four separate institutions responded to the survey. Our findings determined that 71% of institutions surveyed frequently (40%) or occasionally (31%) use citizen scientist volunteers to conduct animal behavior observations, yet only 26% of institutions reported training volunteers on the subject of Inter-observer agreement (IOA). In addition, 52% of institutions reported never collecting IOA data. Lastly, 80% of responding institutions reported modifying animal husbandry practices based on the data collected by citizen science volunteers. Implications for modifying husbandry practices without collecting IOA data and suggestions for incorporating IOA into BOT training will be discussed.
41. Using TAGTeach to Increase Skill Acquisition of Dance Movements
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
ROBIN ARNALL (The Arc of the Ozarks, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Annette Griffith (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Susan D. Flynn (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: TAG (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) has many implications for athletic skill acquisition, as demonstrated through empirical research. For this study, a multiple baseline across behaviors design was used to examine the effects of TAG methods on the acquisition of novel dance movements. The participants in the study were three typically developing children and one child with multiple diagnoses, aged 5-12 years old, who regularly participated in a dance studio program. The results depicted more rapid and generalized learning across skill sets for different topographies of targeted dance movements: a turn, kick, and leap selected for the participants based on skill level and developmental age. This study was a replication from the study conducted by Quinn, Miltenberger, and Fogel (2015) on dance movement skill acquisition with the use of TAG instructional methods.



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