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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Poster Session #47B
AAB Saturday Poster Session
Saturday, May 27, 2023
1:00 PM–3:00 PM
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall F
Chair: Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas)
1. Context and State Dependent Learning Effects in Different Shelter Dog Populations
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
JAMES MCGUIRK (Virginia Tech ), Erica N. Feuerbacher (Virginia Tech), Lisa Gunter (Arizona State University)
Discussant: Paula Kenyon (Northeastern University and Grupo Método)
Abstract: Animal shelters have limited resources, especially when considering the modification of canine behavior. This issue of resources is particularly relevant to the question of whether training should be carried out while dogs are living in such facilities or post-adoption in their new homes. While research in other species has shown context-dependent and state-dependent learning effects, little is understood about the retention of learned behaviors by shelter dogs. Given that a shelter is a different context from an adoptive home, a context in which dogs experience much greater stress levels than those living in homes, their learning could be impacted by both context- and state-dependent effects, leading to reduced retention and recall of behaviors learned while living in the shelter. In this study, we trained 17 owned and 17 shelter-living dogs in a training room within the animal shelter to acquire a novel behavior, touching their nose to a traffic cone. One month later, we tested both owned and shelter dogs’ performance of this behavior in their homes. We then assessed their response latency, and whether dogs correctly responded in their homes at the same training level reached in the shelter, or if behavioral criteria needed to be lowered for them to respond correctly. Preliminary results show that acquisition by former shelter dogs closely correspond to that of owned dogs. In test, shelter dogs had much longer response latencies than owned dogs, and dropped more steps, but both groups were able to test at higher criteria levels in the home than at the shelter.
2. Action at a Distance: Eliminating Undesirable Behavior by Creating Alternative Chains
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
JOSEF HARRIS (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Darlene E. Crone-Todd (Salem State University)
Abstract: To reduce undesirable behavior, a trainer might try reinforcing alternative behavior or attempt to directly eliminate the unwanted behavior using punishment or extinction. Alternatively, another strategy could be to change the stimulus control for the undesirable behavior. For example, Davidson and Rosales-Ruiz (2022) reduced the occurrence of jumping and mouthing in a young dog by changing the discriminative stimuli for these behaviors. This strategy may also be applicable in situations in which a behavior chain leads to an undesirable behavior. Behavior chains can be conceptualized as single units (Findley, 1962). Changing earlier links in a chain would create a different unit and, thus, eliminate the discriminative stimuli for the undesirable behavior. In the current study, a pet dog displayed an undesirable whining behavior during training sessions. During baseline and reversal sessions, the experimenter used one chain to begin training sessions, which reliably produced the unwanted behavior. During the second condition, the experimenter used a very similar chain but changed the first link in the chain. This condition did not occasion the undesirable behavior. These results demonstrate that changing earlier links in a chain is a viable way to reduce an undesirable behavior.
3. Alternative Contingencies and Assent in Positive Reinforcement Rat Training
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
HANNAH DAVIS MCGEE (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Paula Kenyon (Northeastern University and Grupo Método)
Abstract: A recent trend in animal training is to give the animal more choices during training. For example, when clipping a dog’s nails, a trainer may have the dog touch a target to “ask” to begin the session. If the animal repeatedly initiates training sessions, it is generally assumed that the animal is having a positive experience. However, positive reinforcement can be coercive if the learner has no other way to access the reinforcer (Goldiamond, 1974/2002). If alternatives are available, the animal may no longer choose to participate in the original procedure. In this experiment, a rat earned food by completing a target response. When the rat was given the option to provide assent (work for positive reinforcement) and withdraw assent (escape) during sessions, changes in the rat’s behavior were observed. These changes included the frequency and accuracy of the target response, the duration of time spent completing the training task, and the inter-response times. Additionally, differences were observed in the rat’s affect (e.g., teeth chattering) during the different conditions. These results suggest that one way to improve participation during training may be to give a participant an ongoing way to terminate a training task.
4. Signaled Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior to Address Excessive Vocalization in Dogs
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
KIKI YABLON (Kiki Yablon Dog Training/Karen Pryor Academy)
Discussant: Darlene E. Crone-Todd (Salem State University)
Abstract: Excessive vocalization is a common complaint of dog caregivers. Persistence and duration in vocalization may be shaped during inconsistent attempts to implement differential reinforcement (DR) in natural settings where the caregiver’s attention is divided. The use of correlated stimuli to signal when reinforcement is and is not available during differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) could be useful in such circumstances. We evaluated the use of a signaled DRO procedure, designed after an interview-informed pairwise functional analysis, with assessment and intervention procedures implemented by three dog caregivers under experimenter supervision via Zoom. In a pre-test under intervention conditions sans the correlated stimulus, no dogs met the target duration criterion of 5 min for quiet behavior. During intervention, two dogs met the target criteria of 5 min of quiet for three consecutive trials without resetting, while a third did not exceed 15 s of quiet in a similar number of trials. In a post-test under intervention conditions sans the correlated stimulus, one dog met the 5 min duration criterion, while another did not. For the dog that did not meet the duration criterion without the signal, performance improved with the reintroduction of the stimulus, though not to target levels.



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