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Companion Animal Behavior ANSC2003 T. Tennessen K. Harrigan, D. Hunter, T. Martin March 2005

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Presentation on theme: "Companion Animal Behavior ANSC2003 T. Tennessen K. Harrigan, D. Hunter, T. Martin March 2005"— Presentation transcript:

1 Companion Animal Behavior ANSC2003 T. Tennessen K. Harrigan, D. Hunter, T. Martin March 2005

2 Introduction 70% of surrendered dogs with behaviour related problems are euthanized the leading cause of mortality in dogs is due to behavioural problems (4) owners may inadvertently reinforce unwanted behaviour (5) Behaviour problems are one of the most common reasons pet owners give up their dogs.

3 Doggie See, Doggie Do… Observational Learning: Learning based on observing the response of another organism. (14) -indicator of higher mental abilities -requires animal to understand the structure of another animals behaviour (8) -involves learning by watching actions of the pack leader or human family (10) A child takes a toy from the toy box and plays with the dog. Doggie soon learns where to get play things. (12) When going to work or taking the dog for a walk, we proceed out the door, then leave the property. The door gets opened momentarily… Doggie knows the routine. He runs out the door and up the street! (7)

4 -involves recalling images of the owners activities -causes dog to interact with things that symbolize the owner and imitate the owners behaviour When we return home, we shower the dog with affection. We are generally very routine with our arrival. Sometimes we are late getting home. Doggie is anxious for us to arrive. He recalls pillow fluffing, books and magazines being put away, and the putting on of shoes before we left the house. The owner still hasnt returned… pillows go on the floor… magazines get chewed… chair seats get dug up… shoes come out of the closet. (2) Imitative Reinforcers: Stimuli arising from the match between the behaviour of the imitator and the behaviour of the model. (14)

5 -involves mimicking daily routine activities Some dogs attempt to reproduce human situations and postures. Mimicry is involved in training service dogs to do laundry, turn on and off lights etc. We lay on the couch and watch TV. We get up and Doggie is soon in our spot. We take the dog for a drive in the car. We stop for a treat. Doggie jumps from his spot in the car to the driver seat. (9) Mimicry: Imitation that involves copying the actions, behaviours or physical appearance of one species by another. (14)

6 Im waiting… Puppy eats dinner every night at the same time. Its late. Puppy bangs his dish, and we jump at his command. (12) Sits by the dinner table and looks at us lovingly. We give him a scrap. Its cute now, but it wont be long before puppy will be able to lay his head on the table and drool over our meals. (10) Continuous reinforcement: Schedule of reinforcement in which every response is reinforced. Usually used when first learning a behaviour and particularly in shaping behaviour (9) -inadvertently, we can reinforce a behaviour every time it occurs (1) d

7 Contingency-shaped behaviour: behaviour which has been learned by directly experiencing success or failure. (14) The dog has your shoe! The only way to get him to drop it is by presenting a treat. Doggie wins the game! (13) Playing tug of war, a dog can soon become agitated while trying to get the tug toy from the owner. Doggie growls and shakes the tug toy until it is free. He has won his battle. This play behaviour can lead to aggressive behaviour in future situations that are similar. (3) Chasing cars, bicycles and skateboards; barking at trucks or other vehicles that pass by; opening cupboards to sneak food; holding out for a treat when called to come home… can all be very satisfying. This behaviour is almost always self rewarding. Doggie knows the result, and the behaviour that makes it work! (10)

8 I Thought you said… -An animals behavioural expressions are often the result of his sensitivity to environmental stimulus. -can involve audio, visual, textural or touch (8) A signal or statement can acquire a different meaning depending on how it is presented. (9) The dog barks and we pat him to quiet him. He has not given us a desired behaviour but we reward his action. (4) We all love to sweet talk puppies and giggle at their puppy kisses. We let them know this is acceptable by cooing over them. When the pup is a mature dog, we are not so likely to appreciate it. (1) Discriminative stimuli: Stimuli that have acquired the function of setting the occasion for a behaviour to occur. (14)

9 Look at me! -starts as a puppy with mother -there are degrees of reward; the more valuable the reward, the faster the dog learns the behaviour -contact is a potential reward to be used wisely and carefully( 6) Gentle petting has a calming effect but lengthy sessions of petting can result in chronic attention seeking ( 6) without realizing, owners may pay more attention to the dog when it is misbehaving dogs who dont receive attention and reinforcement for appropriate behaviour may show undesirable behaviour to attract attention (3) Attention seeking: Touch and physical contact are primary reinforcers. (6) Nudging and mouthing for attention are very common and instinctive with dogs.

10 I Didnt Mean to! Some times unwanted behaviour and/or aggression is not due to the dog misbehavin. It is because of physiological changes caused by injury or disease. Pain and disease can cause many changes in normal behaviour. Osteoarthritis Gum disease Gastrointestinal irritation Poor diet…the list goes on It is wise to have the dog seen by a veterinarian to check his health status before assuming there is a behavioural problem. (3)

11 I feel the vibes… Emotional Transfer: We send messages to our pets without knowing. Dogs are capable of sensing our emotional state which can lead to excitatory behaviours. We can affect behaviour by changing the way we hold the leash in response to a situation. If the dog senses fear, his reaction may also be fearful or aggressive. The owner holds Doggie in the veterinarian office and is worried that the vaccine will be painful for him. The doctor arrives and Doggie begins to snarl and growl. The owner cant understand why he would act like this. (12) -

12 Conclusion Many times we send dogs mixed signals and inadvertently reinforce unwanted behaviours. If the behaviour becomes a problem for the owner, the human-animal bond may become weak. Some owners surrender their pets to shelters when they can no longer cope with the undesired behaviour. Others are willing to live with the problem. A few will seek out professional advice. Many of the owners who do find help, usually start the retraining process full of vigor but tend to taper off in enthusiasm. Soon they are back to the same old routine and the dog reverts to misbehaving. The owner says the treatment did not work. Environmental and social experiences play major roles in the behavioural development of dogs. We as owners need to understand and appreciate this. (4) Continued …

13 Conclusion Dogs are intelligent. Most can think and do circles around their owners. They are able to accomplish this because most owners have never taken the opportunity to think like a dog. Most dogs are fairly well behaved, considering they have had to learn how to function in a society where some owners do not correctly identify what they want or expect from the dog. (2) It is sad to think that there are dogs that have had to suffer negative consequences for successfully establishing appropriate responses to our inadvertent behaviours.

14 Citation List 1. Bethel, P.2005 Inadvertent training. Inter Mountain Therapy Animals. [article online] Available from [Accessed 2005 March 04]. 2. Campbell, W How dogs think. A non-verbal link to canine communication [article online.] Available from [Accessed 2005 Jan 15]. 3. Dodd, R. and Hetts, S. Helpful article. The Chippewa County Humane Association [article online]. Available from [Accessed 2005 Jan 15]. 4. Dont blame your pet. Nova online [article online]. Available from [Accessed 2005 Jan 15]. 5. Estp, D.Q and Hetts, S Crazy owners make for crazy pets. [article online]. Available from [Accessed 2005 Jan 15]. 6. Fogle, B The dogs mind, understanding your dogs behavior. Howell Book House. New York. 7. Gavin, K. Mixed messages. Dog training, obedience, agility. [article online]. Available from [Accessed 2005 Mar 04]. 8. Harrigan, K. L Discrimination and observational learning in Equus cabllus B.Sc Project, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Truro NS. 9. Mugford, R Never say no. The complete program for a happier and cooperative dog. The Berkley Publishing Group, New York, NY. 10. Overall, K Clinical behavioral medicine for small animals. Mosby Inc., St. Louis, Missouri. 11. Postgate, M Inadvertent aggression training- especially on leash. [article online]. Available from [Accessed 2005 Mar 05]. 12. Rawlinson, S Superb collection of tips for dogs and cats. [Article online] Available from 13. Ridgeway, G But Ive tried everything… Dogs in Canada 95(13): Zentall, T.R Imitation in animals: evidence, function and mechanisms. Cybernetics and Systems: An International Journal 32:

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