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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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #147
CE Offered: BACB

Behavioral Genetics and the Evolution of the Domestic Dog: Implications for Social Behavior

Sunday, May 27, 2012
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
6E (Convention Center)
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: James C. Ha, Ph.D.
Chair: Christy A. Alligood (Disney's Animal Kingdom)
JAMES C. HA (University of Washington)
Dr. Ha's academic and clinical training is in the social behavior and cognition of birds and mammals, with a special focus on highly social species like domestic dogs, crows and jays, primates, and killer whales. His background includes degrees in Biology and Zoology and professional credentialing as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, the highest level of certification in applied behavior research and practice. He is currently a Research Associate Professor in Animal Behavior at the University of Washington where he teaches and conducts research. He also lectures on dog behavior nationally and internationally. After he ran his own consulting business from 1999-2007, he became a founding partner in Companion Animal Solutions, L.L.C. in 2007. He sees about 45 in-home cases in dogs and cats each year and supervises an additional 220 cases per year seen by their staff. In addition, he has participated in more than 25 legal cases as an expert witness, involving both dog bites and dog tracking behavior. He has been elected to numerous offices in the Animal Behavior Society, has served on the Society's Board of Professional Certification and as an Editor of the journal Animal Behaviour, and recently received the Society's Exceptional Service Award.

I review the latest research on the evolutionary relationships of dogs at the level of species and breeds. I briefly review the concept of, and evidence for, behavioral genetics in dogs before developing two basic principles of behavior: 1) species- (or breed-) typical behavior developed under evolutionary pressures and 2) the interaction of genes and environment, bringing in the role of experience and learning, to develop a modern ethological view of dog behavior. I then illustrate these principles with examples from comparative research on wolf and dog behavior and on breed-specific patterns in innate and learned behavior in dogs. Finally, I demonstrate the implications of evolutionary history, genetics and the environment for interpreting the social dynamics of domestic dogs. My goal is to illustrate a modern view of animal behavior which is intensely integrative, drawing together many disciplines including genetics, physiology, endocrinology, neurobiology, learning theory, and ethology under the organizing laws of evolution.

Keyword(s): behavioral genetics, dogs



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