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Dr. Mindy Waite: Functional Analyses and Reinforcement-Based Treatments for Mouthing in Dogs

  • Saturday, March 18, 2023
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • GoToWebinar

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Dr. Mindy Waite:  Functional Analyses and Reinforcement-Based Treatments for Mouthing in Dogs


CEUs: PPAB 1, CCPDT 1, KPA 1, IAABC  Pending

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The most common cause of companion dog relinquishment and non-medical euthanasia is problem behavior. Many animal behavior professionals utilize descriptive assessments, functional assessments, or medical assessments to try and identify the functions of problem behavior in order to target those functions in behavior modification protocols. However, studies have demonstrated differences in accuracy and efficiency between functional assessments and functional analyses. 

Mouthing is a relatively common problem behavior observed in pet dogs, and many owners seek to reduce the frequency of the behavior. However, the functions of dog mouthing are unknown; therefore, behavior interventions are based on descriptively-informed behavioral functions. As a result, current interventions may lack efficacy or even worsen the behavior. 

Although the functional analysis is the gold standard for identifying human behavioral functions and developing function-based interventions, its use in the animal behavior field is still relatively rare. This study assessed the validity of the functional analysis for mouthing in companion dogs and tested function-based interventions informed by the results. Participants included three dogs and their owners participating in a functional analysis and intervention assessment. Data indicate that function-based interventions informed by functional analysis results were efficacious for reducing problem mouthing. 

Discussion in this session will include how the functional analysis was set up, behavior was measured, data were analyzed, and results were integrated into interventions.

 

Learning Objectives:

  •  Identify the importance and definition of an operant behavioral function (what drives a particular operant behavior).
  •  Be able to describe the relative differences between functional assessments and functional analyses, in addition to understanding the differences in outcomes and efficiency.
  •  Understand the relative frequency and possible functions of dog mouthing behavior.
  •  Have a very general understanding of the setup of a functional analysis protocol and interpretation of functional analysis results in the context of dog mouthing behavior.

 

About Your Presenter


Dr. Mindy Waite

Dr. Mindy Waite is a board-Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is also a lecturer in behavior analysis in the psychology department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she performs research on companion canine behavior.

Her early studies focused on the prevalence, function, and function-based interventions for mouthing behavior in dogs. Current studies are assessing simple, owner-implemented food preference assessments for dogs and also training dogs to cooperatively engage in basic veterinary care. Her research has received several awards, including the Marian Breland-Bailey Award and Fear Free Award, as well as competitive funding from Fear Free.

Dr. Waite will begin lecturing in the applied animal behavior and welfare program at Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2022. She received her BS in genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her Ph.D in molecular biology (mouse brain development) from the University of Michigan, and her MS in behavior analysis from Marquette University.



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