The Dog and Pony Show: Applications of Behavior Analysis to Domestic Animals

Presented by Dr. Erica Feuerbacher

Recorded on Thursday, November 30, 2023

Access provided upon registration on “My Courses” page

Behavior analysis is a highly adaptable science, helping us understand and improve human behavior as well as nonhuman animal behavior. In this presentation, I will discuss our translational and applied research with dogs and horses. Despite our long-standing relationship with dogs, few studies had investigated dogs’ preferences for different types of human interaction or what stimuli can function as reinforcers. Our research has investigated which human interactions dogs prefer, such as petting, vocal praise, and food delivery. Understanding their preferences, and the conditions which alter those preferences allow us to improve our interactions with them. Because we are interested in creating desirable behavior change in animals, we have also investigated effective reinforcers for dogs and horses, as well as the conditions under which those consequences might or might not function as reinforcers. In both species, we find food is a highly effective reinforcer. This presentation will dive into our studies on these topics, as well as pointing the audience to other useful research that has emerged in this domain. From these translational studies, we will move into applications of this knowledge. Recently, we have investigated the utility and feasibility of having average citizens train their dogs to detect invasive agricultural pests (spotted lanternfly) as a flexible, and ubiquitous detection tool. Spotted lanternflies are an emerging agricultural threat; however, our research and others has demonstrated dogs’ ability to detect their egg masses. Currently, we have citizen science teams training for deployment tests; their overall success points to the usefulness of this approach. On the horse front, we have investigated using remote feeders to change pasture usage in horses, to prevent overgrazing without having to erect physical fences. In sum, in this talk I will highlight the range of issues in the applied animal field for which our science is applicable, focusing on our own translational and applied research with dogs and horses. At the same time, the audience will learn about current issues in the dog and horse behavior world that can be addressed through behavior analysis. Finally, I will wrap up with considerations for ethically entering the applied animal field.

Access provided upon registration on “My Courses” page

This program, when attended in its entirety, offers 1.5 BACB ACE CEUs for Applied Behavior Analysts.