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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #34
Reinforcer Preference Assessment and Manipulation With Pet Dogs
Saturday, May 26, 2012
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
620 (Convention Center)
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Carmen Buitrago (Cascade Pet Camp)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (Simmons College)

Reinforcer preference assessment procedures have been developed for use with humans, and have been shown to improve subsequent treatment efficacy. Little research has been conducted, however, on the use of such procedures in determining reinforcer preference among pet dogs. A variety of edible and nonedible reinforcers are used commonly in the training of dogs and treatment of dog behavior problems, yet such reinforcers often are selected without explicit testing of their efficacy prior to treatment implementation. In the first presentation of this symposium, the use of a paired-stimulus preference assessment with pet dogs is examined. In the second presentation, dogs are exposed to both single-stimulus and paired-stimulus preference assessments, followed by reinforcement assessments. In the third presentation, the use of a variety of reinforcers with pet dogs is examined and the role that reinforcer preference may play in the treatment of pet behavior problems is discussed.

Keyword(s): dogs, preference assessment, reinforcer assessment

Suckers for Beef Sticks: Use of a Paired Stimulus Preference Assessment With Dogs

LINDSAY PARENTI (Pet Behavior Change, LLC), Megan E. Maxwell (Pet Behavior Change, LLC)

Reinforcement status is often assumed in behavioral treatment plans with pets. As has been demonstrated in the treatment of behavior problems in humans, treatment of behavior problems in dogs could be improved with use of a highly preferred reinforcer, the potency of which is established prior to treatment implementation. In this study, seven dogs (Canis familiaris) were exposed to a paired-stimulus preference assessment that compared three edible items. A stable preference emerged within 16 sessions for all subjects, and all subjects demonstrated preference for the same food item (beef stick dog treats). This food item subsequently was used in a response acquisition procedure, and all subjects acquired the response on which food delivery was contingent.


Testing the Paired Stimulus Preference Assessment as a Predictor of Reinforcer Efficacy in Dogs

SARA M. VICARS (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)

Previous research has shown that the paired-stimulus (PS) preference assessment is effective in yielding a hierarchy of preference with animal participants; however, reinforcer assessments have not typically been conducted. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the use of the single-stimulus (SS) and Paired Stimulus (PS) preference assessments as predictors of reinforcer effectiveness with dogs (canis lupus familiaris). The preference assessments were followed by single, concurrent, and basis 2 progressive- ratio (B2PR1) reinforcement assessments to evaluate absolute and relative reinforcer efficacy with eight dogs. Results indicated that the PS preference assessment was able to predict preference and reinforcer efficacy across all participants. Various features of each assessment are discussed.


Reinforcement Variety in Shaping and Maintaining Behavior in Pet Dogs

Jennifer L. Sobie (University of Illinois), CARMEN BUITRAGO (Cascade Pet Camp)

Use of a wide variety of reinforcing stimuli has been suggested as important because reinforcer variety may help to prevent satiation (Bowman, Piazza, Fisher, Hagopian, & Kogan, 1997). Although it is difficult to identify two stimuli that have equal reinforcing capabilities in any specific operant relationship, Taravella, Lerman, Contrucci and Roane (2000) found that stimuli identified through supplementary assessments of low-ranked items preference assessments were found to increase behavior, indicating that less preferred stimuli can function as reinforcers. However, preliminary data generated in applied settings with pet dogs suggested that delivery of a less-preferred reinforcer in a context that has previously delivered highly-preferred reinforcers can act as a punisher and can increase latency to respond, reduce response frequency and affect response topography. In consideration of these findings, a series of studies were done evaluating the effects of using a variety of reinforcers in applied settings with the purpose of identifying relevant variables. This presentation discusses the findings and offers suggestions for best use of reinforcement variety.




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