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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #331
CE Offered: BACB
Applied Behavior Analysis With Companion Dogs: Functional Analysis and Preference Assessments
Sunday, May 26, 2019
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Swissôtel, Lucerne Ballroom Level, Alpine 1/2
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Steven W. Payne (California State University, Fresno)
Discussant: Christy A. Alligood (Disney's Animal Kingdom and University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Christy A. Alligood, Ph.D.

Functional Analysis and Preference Assessments are two methodologies commonly used in Applied Behavior Analysis to identify the functions of problem behavior and the efficacy of reinforcers, respectively, in human subjects. More recently, both of these methods have been applied to non-human animals, including companion and shelter dogs. However, research on these methodologies is limited, and there are questions as to how the efficacy of these procedures will generalize to companion animals. The studies in this symposium sought to further generalize the efficacy of these procedures. The first study in this symposium used functional analyses to identify the function of mouthing in companion dogs, and to use the results to develop function-based treatments. The second study sought to identify the whether paired-stimulus preference assessments or multiple-stimulus-without-replacement preference assessments were more effective and efficient at identifying reinforcers for shelter dog behavior. Implications of this research to companion animal welfare will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Dogs, Functional Analysis, Preference Assessment
Target Audience:

The target audience will be those interested in the application and study of functional analysis methodology and preference assessments. Applied Behavior analytic researchers, graduate students, and practitioners should find the content useful.


Developing Functional Analysis-Informed Interventions to Reduce Mouthing in Dogs

MINDY WAITE (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Marquette University ), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Marquette University ), Samantha Bergmann (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; University of North Texas ), Caitlin Fulton (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; University of Nebraska Medical Center )

The most common cause of companion dog relinquishment and non-medical euthanasia is problem behavior emitted by the dog. Mouthing is a relatively common problem behavior observed in pet dogs, and many owners seek to reduce the frequency of the behavior. However, the functions of dog mouthing are unknown; therefore, proposed interventions are based on inferred behavioral functions. As a result, current interventions may lack efficacy or even worsen the behavior. Although the functional analysis is the gold standard for identifying human behavioral functions and developing function-based interventions, its efficacy across animal behaviors is still being explored. This study assessed the validity of the functional analysis for mouthing in companion dogs and tested function-based interventions informed by the results. Participants included three dogs and their owners participating in a functional analysis and intervention assessment. Data indicate that function-based interventions informed by functional analysis results were efficacious for reducing problem mouthing in companion dogs.

Preference Assessment With Shelter Dogs
Cintya Toledo Fulgencio (California State University, Fresno), ERIN AUSTIN (California State University, Fresno), Steven W. Payne (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: Dogs may be relinquished to shelters and unlikely to be adopted if they engage in problem behavior. A successful way to eliminate problem behavior is through training techniques based on behavioral principles. Obedience training with the use of positive reinforcement has been successful in treating problematic behavior by dogs. In order for this method to work, it is essential that the stimuli selected function as reinforcers. A method used to identify potential reinforcers is to use preference assessments. A preference assessment is a systematic method used to identify stimuli that may serve as possible reinforcers by yielding preference hierarchies. Although preference and reinforcer assessments have been successfully used with humans, research with non-human animals is limited. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to compare the efficacy and efficiency of paired-stimulus preference assessment with a multiple-stimulus-without-replacement preference assessment. Results suggested that the results of both preference assessments corresponded with reinforcer assessments, but that the paired-stimulus was the most efficient. Overall, the data showed that while both types of preference assessments were efficacious, paired-stimulus preference assessments were more efficient. Implications for shelter welfare will be discussed.



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