Author

Sobie

Date of Award

12-2003

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott

Third Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Contemporary professional applied animal behavior management employs a diagnostic and treatment approach for unwanted pet behavior that incorporates ethology-based causal factors. As in behavior therapy for humans, behavioral assessment includes descriptive functional analysis when possible to determine relevant contingency variables. But this information is then considered in the context of an appropriate motivational classification, such as social or prey-directed motivation or fear-motivated, and treatments are designed accordingly. A different view is that behavior can be treated effectively without a presumption of the motivation through analysis of the manifestation of the behavior itself. This study sought to evaluate the efficacy of an intervention designed without consideration of behavioral classification to reduce the frequency and duration of on-leash lunging in dogs. The intervention utilized a combination of response-cost, negative reinforcement of an incompatible behavior (DRI), and positive reinforcement of other behavior (DRO). Results of the study showed that the intervention produced at least some decrease in both the frequency and duration of evoked lunging in 8 of 9 subjects tested, indicating that motivational classification may not always be a necessary component of treatment of behavior problems in dogs.

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