Home Alone - An Operant Approach to Separation-Related Vocalization and Pacing in a Companion Dog

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Abstract

Separation-related issues, often characterized by excessive vocalizations, locomotory behaviors and/or property destruction are common canine behaviour problems. While other disciplines (e.g., veterinary behaviour and applied ethology) have extensively researched these phenomena, behaviour analysis has paid little attention to them. This data-supported case study investigated an operant approach as treatment for separation-related behaviors in a companion dog. Lucy, a 6-month old, mixture-breed dog was presented for excessive vocalization when left alone. Upon initial consultation and baseline taking, it was found that Lucy had no settle response (i.e., lying-down on cue) in her repertoire and displayed high instances of vocalizations (i.e., whining and barking) and pacing (i.e., walking around the apartment) when left alone. Treatment comprised (a) teaching a solid settle response; (b) shaping successively longer durations of separation; and (c) counterconditioning with a stuffed toy. A modification of ABC design was used for data analysis. Results showed overall improvements in settle responses, vocalizations, and pacing. A follow-up probe detected medium-term improvements across all behaviors. This case study suggests shaping procedures as potential treatments for canine separation-related issues. More research is needed to further investigate efficacy and generality of operant approaches for treating separation-related behaviors of varying magnitudes in companion dogs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2019
EventAssociation for Behavior Analysis International, 45th Annual Convention, Chicago, IL - Hyatt Regency Chicago, Chicago, United States
Duration: 23 May 201927 May 2019

Conference

ConferenceAssociation for Behavior Analysis International, 45th Annual Convention, Chicago, IL
Abbreviated titleABAI
CountryUnited States
CityChicago
Period23/05/201927/05/2019

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    Pfaller-Sadovsky, N. (2019). Home Alone - An Operant Approach to Separation-Related Vocalization and Pacing in a Companion Dog. Poster session presented at Association for Behavior Analysis International, 45th Annual Convention, Chicago, IL, Chicago, United States.