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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #165
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Military and Police Working Dog Training: Evolution in Response to Broader Changes in Applied Animal Behavior

Sunday, May 24, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Lila Cockrell Theatre (CC)
Area: AAB; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Megan E. Maxwell, Ph.D.
Chair: Megan E. Maxwell (Pet Behavior Change, LLC)
STEWART J. HILLIARD (United States Air Force)
Dr. Stewart Hilliard began training sport and police dogs as a youth in 1980, and remains deeply immersed in this field. He received his Ph.D. in animal learning from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998, and was appointed to a post-doctoral position with the United States Army Military Working Dog Veterinary Service at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. In 2005, he became a civil servant working in the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland, and has served in multiple leadership capacities in this organization, tasked with providing the thousands of patrol and substance detector dogs required by U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy security forces around the world. Thus, for more than 30 years he has been a practitioner and leader in a field of applied animal behavior that remains central to civil and national security issues for the global community; and he has been both an observer of, and a participant in, a rapid evolution of methods and principles of sport, police, and military working dog training. As a longtime journeyman dog trainer, and also an academically trained specialist in animal learning, Dr. Hilliard has a unique and penetrating perspective on the seismic changes taking place in this compelling field of applied animal behavior.

The training of police and military working dogs is rooted in 19th Century Europe. Dog breeds that originated as pastoral herding animals in the Old World, and in an old century, have become instruments of civil policing and military power in a global 21st Century community stitched together by satellites, airliners, and computers. The methods by which working dogs were trained 100 years ago reflected traditional coercive notions of education and behavioral management. It was taken as a given that a dog should be physically forced to perform, and that much of its performance could and should be motivated by discomfort- and stress-avoidance. In this form, working dog training developed for perhaps 75 years, influenced chiefly by European ethology, and relatively isolated from American psychology and behaviorism. In the late 20th Century, powerful methodologies founded in the obscure field of exotic animal training began to penetrate, first into dog obedience training and companion dog behavioral management, then into the methods used by participants in international working dog competitions such as IPO (International Prufungsordnung). However, until recently police and military working dog training has not reflected this influence. It is only in the past 15 years that "operant methodologies" have been integrated into the field, with consequences that are still unfolding today.

Target Audience:

Those interested in learning about dog training for military working dogs and how this training has been impacted by broader changes taking place in applied animal behavior.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to: (1) describe at least two aspects of the ethologically driven model that dominated the training of police and military working dog training, and which still strongly influences the field; (2) understand the special challenges involved in training and utilizing police and military working dogs that are traditionally, and often of necessity, trained and deployed in intense motivational states such as predatory and aggressive arousal; (3) describe at least two examples of the role of behavior-marking in solving traditional technical dog training problems based upon the presence of Pavlovian contingencies inescapably embedded in instrumental conditioning protocols; and (4) understand the role that aversive control of behavior continues to play in managing police and military working dog trained performance.
Keyword(s): dog training, military work



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