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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #338
CE Offered: BACB
The Dog is Always Right: Assessment and Treatment of Pet Dog Behavior Challenges
Sunday, May 26, 2024
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 102 AB
Area: AAB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Stephanie Keesey-Phelan (The Dog Behavior Institute)
Discussant: Kiki Yablon (Kiki Yablon Dog Training/Karen Pryor Academy/BehaviorWorks)
CE Instructor: Stephanie Keesey-Phelan, Ph.D.
Abstract: Many dogs engage in a variety of behaviors that can create challenges for the people living with them. The dog training industry is quick to provide blanket recommendations. In other words, dog trainers often provide recommendations for treatment based on topography, without considering the function of the behavior. Behavior analytic research has clearly demonstrated the superiority of function-based treatments. While researchers have started to extend this model to dog behavior, it is still often overlooked in practice. These presentations will walk through two dog behavior case studies in which a behavior analytic approach was used for canine clients and their people at the Dog Behavior Institute. The first case included a functional analysis (FA) of dog-directed reactivity; the FA was conducted remotely and clients coached using behavior skills training (BST). The second case involved a treatment analysis for a dog jumping on visitors. We will discuss the strength of using behavior analysis to address common dog behavior challenges.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Dogs, functional analysis, treatment analysis
Target Audience: Participants should have an understanding of a function-based approach to behavior change, including assessment and treatment. Some familiarity with functional analyses may be beneficial.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe the application of the functional analysis methodology to dog behavior problems (2) Name at least one sign of stress in dogs that might be considered when assessing access vs. escape functions in dog behavior (3) Name an ethical consideration when implementing functional analyses with dogs
Canine Functional Analysis of Dog-Directed Reactivity
STEPHANIE KEESEY-PHELAN (The Dog Behavior Institute), Ran Courant-Morgan (The Dog Behavior Institute)
Abstract: This study involved the application of functional analysis (FA) methodology to dog-directed reactivity in a home-based setting. Reactivity involved whining, growling, or barking in the presence of another dog while oriented toward that dog. The experimenter used behavior skills training (BST) to teach caregivers to implement two single-function functional analyses. All training and coaching of the FA conditions were completed remotely via Zoom. The first FA tested for an escape function and involved an escape test and matched control. The second FA tested for an access/tangible condition and involved an access test and matched control. The caregivers implemented the FAs on two separate days while the experimenter coached them live via Zoom. The results of the FAs indicated that dog-directed reactivity was maintained by escape. These results suggest that behavior analytic FA methodology can be applied to the behavior of domestic dogs and extends the literature on conducting FAs remotely.
Treatment Analysis as an Alternative to a Functional Analysis for a Dog Jumping on Visitors
RAN COURANT-MORGAN (The Dog Behavior Institute), Stephanie Keesey-Phelan (The Dog Behavior Institute)
Abstract: The current study involved a treatment analysis of escape and attention provided noncontingently to decrease jumping. Rose was an adolescent mixed breed dog whose family reported that she was overexcited when people visited the home. Reactions included repeatedly jumping on, pawing at, and licking visitors, as well as barking when leashed away from visitors. Video of Rose’s responses to visitors was analyzed and baseline data were used to design a treatment analysis. A treatment analysis using NCR was selected as the intervention after considering the risks and benefits of conducting a functional analysis. Providing reinforcement for these behaviors in their natural environment could result in increases in the behavior that would be dangerous for typical visitors to the home, which included both children and elderly family members. Noncontingent attention and escape were provided on a more dense schedule than the schedule on which the behavior occurred in baseline conditions. Providing non-contingent escape resulted in the lowest rates of jumping, suggesting that this behavior functioned to access escape. The results of this study suggest that a treatment analysis could be a desirable alternative to a functional analysis in an applied setting with dogs.



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