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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #140
Novel Methodological Considerations in Applied Animal Behavior
Saturday, May 23, 2020
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M2, Marquis Ballroom 5
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Veronica J. Howard (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)

Contemporary behavior analysts have taken a renewed interest in addressing concerns related to applied animal behavior using the methodologies from behavior analysis at large, from solving problem behavior to improving animal welfare in general. The studies in the following symposium highlight the unique methodologies used to assess and evaluate behaviors of different species in novel ways. The symposium aims to provide samples of different types of research, starting from basic/translational and moving to applied work. The first presentation will have a basic approach to describe and evaluate group foraging with applications involved. The following two talks will embody translational/applied work using new technology. The fourth and final talk will address problem behavior using a different approach than standard applied practice. Finally, discussant remarks will offer commentary on how these different and sometimes new methodologies may impact the field of applied animal behavior. By bringing together different areas of research with the common thread of new methodologies, we hope to offer novel perspectives regarding methodology for the audience.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): animal behavior, methodology
Ideal Free Distribution in Canines: Free-Operant Evaluation of Group Foraging
ALLYSON R SALZER (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: The Ideal Free Distribution equation describes behavior of organisms in groups and is an extension of the matching law. Ideal Free Distribution suggests the allocation of the number of organisms across two or more resource sites will be distributed equally across those resource sites. This project sought to develop and replicate a new method of foraging research for canines through validation of a novel dispenser in basic behavioral research. The purpose of this study was to determine if Ideal Free Distribution could describe the behavior of the domesticated canine in a daycare setting. Canine behavior was recorded in a free operant arrangement on various variable time schedules of reinforcement. Results indicate the Treat-n-Train ® dispenser offers a novel and effective method to study basic behavioral processes in canines without compromising data quality. Additionally, the Ideal Free Distribution equation adequately describes canine foraging behavior in controlled environments and was successfully replicated with a new sample of canines in a different environment. Implications and future directions will be discussed such as expanding the use of the Treat-n-Train ® dispenser to study additional behavioral processes and extending foraging research in the domesticated canine.
Behavioral Correlates of Urinary Output in Cats Housed in a United States’ Animal Shelter
ALLISON ANDRUKONIS (Texas Tech University ), Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University), Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: The proposed study aims to examine behavioral correlates of urinary output in singly-housed cats housed in animal shelters. Behavioral measures will be collected through a coded behavioral evaluation as well as through the use of an Animal Actical Z series. On day 1 and day 8 of the study, the cats will be subjected to a behavioral evaluation adapted from ASPCA’s Feline Spectrum Assessment. This assessment involves a minute of the researcher passively standing in front of the cat’s room, a minute of the researcher placing her hand in the cage, and a minute of the researcher dangling a string toy in the cage. Change in litterbox weight and urine clump weight are measured daily and the cat continuously wears the Actical for the week study.
Effects of Additional Walk and Play on Physical Activity and Rest in Shelter Dogs
EDUARDO CORDOVA (Texas Tech University), Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: To evaluate the effects of social play and walks, physical activity and rest of dogs from two different locations were evaluated using a within-subject design. Physical activity and rest were evaluated for 16 days using an accelerometer (Whistle Activity MonitorTM) worn on a collar. The first four days of the 16-day period were used to establish a base level of activity; no additional exercise was administered at this time. After the baseline period, subjects were assigned to three conditions: baseline, walk, or play. For the remaining 12 days of the study, subjects progressed through four-day blocks in each condition. During the walk and play conditions, subjects received an additional 15-minute walk or 15-minute play with a companion, respectively; subjects in the baseline condition did not receive additional exercise. Average in-kennel rest and physical activity during exercise periods were evaluated. On average, dogs were more physically active during walks than during playtime with a companion; subjects rested more after receiving an additional playtime than after receiving an additional play. Subjects displayed individual differences.
Using Stimulus Control and Shaping to Reduce Stereotypic Behavior in a Racehorse
ANJA KRING (University of North Texas; The Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals ), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas), Mary Elizabeth Hunter (The Art and Science of Animal Training)
Abstract: Thoroughbred racehorses often acquire stereotypical behavior patterns, such as weaving, cribbing, and tongue biting. These types of behaviors are often presumed to be automatically reinforced. Typical interventions can include response prevention, surgery, and drugs. However, treatment is often ineffective. The horse in this study was a 12-year-old thoroughbred gelding. When he was put in a stall, he would hang his head over the stall door or through the window, bob his head, stomp his foot, and pace periodically between this location and the feeder in the stall. These behaviors occurred with or without preferred food present. In addition, these behaviors caused the horse significant pain and associated lameness in his front feet. Treatment was carried out in a different stall from the horse’s normal stall. The first step in the shaping procedure involved walking the horse into the stall and then immediately letting him leave. The length of time in the stall was gradually increased and other factors were gradually added in, such as having the trainer leave. As a result of the procedure, head bobbing and pacing both reduced significantly.



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