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Article

A Case Study on the Behavioural Effect of Positive Reinforcement Training in a Novel Task Participation Test in Göttingen Mini Pigs

1
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Gronnegaardsvej 15, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
2
Novo Nordisk A/S, Novo Nordisk Park 1, 2760 Maalov, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Nélida Fernández
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1610; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061610
Received: 8 April 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 26 May 2021 / Published: 29 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
In laboratory animal research, many procedures and tests will be stressful for the animals, as they are forced to participate. Training animals to voluntarily participate using reward-based training such as clicker training or luring may reduce levels of stress, and thereby increase animal welfare. Clicker training is traditionally used in zoos, aquariums, and with pets to train the animals to cooperate during medical procedures, whereas in experimental research, luring seems to be the preferred training method. This descriptive case study aims to present the behaviour of clicker trained and lured pigs when they are subjected to a potentially fear- and stress-evoking behavioural test—the novel task participation test—in which the pigs must walk a short runway with a novel walking surface. All eight trained pigs voluntarily participated and only one of the lured pigs showed a behaviour indicating decreased welfare. Hence, training pigs to cooperate during experimental procedures resulted in a smooth completion of the task with no signs of fear or anxiety in seven out of eight animals, and we thus suggest that training laboratory pigs prior to experimental procedures or tests should always be done to ensure low stress levels.
In laboratory animal research, many procedures will be stressful for the animals, as they are forced to participate. Training animals to cooperate using clicker training (CT) or luring (LU) may reduce stress levels, and thereby increase animal welfare. In zoo animals, aquarium animals, and pets, CT is used to train animals to cooperate during medical procedures, whereas in experimental research, LU seem to be the preferred training method. This descriptive case study aims to present the behaviour of CT and LU pigs in a potentially fear-evoking behavioural test—the novel task participation test—in which the pigs walked a short runway on a novel walking surface. All eight pigs voluntarily participated, and only one LU pig showed body stretching combined with lack of tail wagging indicating reduced welfare. All CT pigs and one LU pig displayed tail wagging during the test, indicating a positive mental state. Hence, training pigs to cooperate during experimental procedures resulted in a smooth completion of the task with no signs of fear or anxiety in seven out of eight animals. We suggest that training laboratory pigs prior to experimental procedures or tests should be done to ensure low stress levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: laboratory pigs; clicker training; positive reinforcement training; welfare laboratory pigs; clicker training; positive reinforcement training; welfare
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MDPI and ACS Style

Jønholt, L.; Bundgaard, C.J.; Carlsen, M.; Sørensen, D.B. A Case Study on the Behavioural Effect of Positive Reinforcement Training in a Novel Task Participation Test in Göttingen Mini Pigs. Animals 2021, 11, 1610. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061610

AMA Style

Jønholt L, Bundgaard CJ, Carlsen M, Sørensen DB. A Case Study on the Behavioural Effect of Positive Reinforcement Training in a Novel Task Participation Test in Göttingen Mini Pigs. Animals. 2021; 11(6):1610. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061610

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jønholt, Lisa, Cathrine J. Bundgaard, Martin Carlsen, and Dorte B. Sørensen 2021. "A Case Study on the Behavioural Effect of Positive Reinforcement Training in a Novel Task Participation Test in Göttingen Mini Pigs" Animals 11, no. 6: 1610. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061610

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