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Open AccessArticle

Using Principles from Applied Behaviour Analysis to Address an Undesired Behaviour: Functional Analysis and Treatment of Jumping Up in Companion Dogs

1
School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5DL, UK
2
Department of Psychology, Troy University, Troy, AL 36082, USA
3
Faculty of Psychology, Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz, Bogotá 110231, Colombia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1091; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121091
Received: 13 November 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 6 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
This study investigated the effects of behaviour-change procedures typically applied with human learners on an often-reported undesired behaviour of companion dogs, i.e., jumping up on people. It was found that jumping up was maintained by owner provided consequences (i.e., access to a preferred object or attention). During treatment, dog owners were successfully taught to implement a time-based reinforcement strategy with high fidelity, which yielded important reductions in jumping up. These findings may be helpful for owners and animal behaviourists alike when assessing and treating undesired behaviours in companion dogs.
The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of procedures successfully used in human related applied behaviour analysis practices to the field of clinical animal behaviour. Experiment 1 involved functional analyses to identify the reinforcement contingencies maintaining jumping up behaviour in five dogs. Experiment 2 comprised teaching dog owners a noncontingent reinforcement intervention (i.e., time-based reinforcement) via behavioural skills training. Single-case experimental methods were implemented in both experiments. The results of Experiment 1 showed that access to a tangible (dogs D01, D02, D03, and D04) and owner attention (dog D05) were reliably maintaining the jumping up behaviour. Experiment 2 demonstrated that noncontingent reinforcement effectively reduced jumping in three out of four dogs (Tau −0.59, CI 90% [−1–0.15], p = 0.026, Tau −1, CI 90% [−1–−0.55], p = 0.0003, and Tau −0.32, CI 90% [−0.76–0.11], p = 0.22 for dyads D01, D02, and D05, respectively), and that behavioural skills training was successful in teaching owners to perform a dog training intervention with high fidelity. Although the results are promising, more canine-related research into functional analysis and noncontingent reinforcement, as well as implementation of behavioural skills training with animal caregivers, is needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: companion dogs; functional analysis; noncontingent reinforcement; behavioural skills training; ABA companion dogs; functional analysis; noncontingent reinforcement; behavioural skills training; ABA
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Pfaller-Sadovsky, N.; Arnott, G.; Hurtado-Parrado, C. Using Principles from Applied Behaviour Analysis to Address an Undesired Behaviour: Functional Analysis and Treatment of Jumping Up in Companion Dogs. Animals 2019, 9, 1091.

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