Practical, humane behavioral analysis for dogs and training intervention starts with behavior analysis. Dog training is not a recipe that you can replicate over and over.
Dogs are individuals, and to work with them in a way that teaches them so they can understand, you need to observe each situation from a scientific standpoint.
This is a skill that anyone can learn – certified dog trainers, behaviorists, veterinarians, vet techs, and groomers. Even the average dog owner can learn the basics of behavioral analysis and apply them to day-to-day interactions and long-term training or behavior intervention plans.
What Is Behavioral Analysis For Dogs?
Behavioral analysis for dogs is when you observe the relationship between your dog’s environment and their behavior.
All of your dog’s actions are influenced by a combination of the input from their five senses (sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch).
Biological factors, such as hormones and genetics. Pharmacological factors, which may include any medications they take, and experiential elements.
For example, past experiences that contribute to their associations with similar environments.
Becoming skilled at behavioral analysis for dogs allows you to look at not only what your dog does but also the motivations. Also, the emotions and triggers behind their behavior.
The Art of Functional Assessment
The difference between observing a dog’s behavior and conducting a functional assessment is knowing what to look for.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What undesired behaviors do I see?
- Do events happen right before the behavior?
- Does my dog achieve or avoid this behavior?
- Emotional and instinctive feelings is the dog experiencing?
- I want my dog to do what?
Types Of Behavioral Analysis For Dogs
There are two types of behavior that you’ll quickly learn to recognize and act on accordingly.
Respondent behavior will only occur if preceded by an antecedent. As the term implies, this is a behavior that occurs in response to a stimulus.
Operant behavior is shaped by a consequence. And is one that occurs more often if it precedes a pleasant result. It can also be further broken down into the ABC model of practice.
The ABCs Of Behavioral Analysis For Dogs
Remember your ABCs when analyzing a dog’s actions:
A is for antecedent, a factor that leads to a behavior.
Examples of antecedents include a doorbell ringing, a squirrel darting across your yard, or a platter of bacon left unattended on the coffee table.
B is for behavior, what your dog does in response to the antecedent.
Examples of behaviors include barking, running after a squirrel, or stealing a delicious strip of bacon.
C, for Consequence, what your dog experiences immediately after a behavior. Consequences can be man-made or occur naturally.
Without intervention and may encourage or discourage the behavior.
Examples of consequences include being reprimand. Experiencing the thrill of the chase, or getting spook when the plate of bacon crashes to the floor.
Apply Behavioral Analysis For Dogs is what?
Apply behavior analysis is when you use information you’ve gathered with behavioral analysis to strategically create behavior changes. By increase or decrease occurrences of a behavior.
All of these concepts are also put into other animals, including humans. They commonly use for educational settings, workplaces, and health care facilities.
You can improve your relationships with your significant other, kids, and family members. And even yourself, through applied behavior analysis.
What This Means For How You Train Dogs
A science-based approach takes away the emotional aspect of dog training that allows us to be subjective.
When our dogs do not behave as we expect or desire, it can be difficult not to feel a blow to the ego. It can sometimes seem almost as though a dog is challenging or believes they are “the boss.”
But taking your dog’s behavior personally does not contribute to their progress.
When you step back and look at your dog’s behavior from a scientific standpoint. You’ll find it very easy to stay cool, calm, and collected. Only then can you gain the clarity to develop a strategic behavioral intervention plan.
Designing A Behavioral Intervention Plan
Before you begin developing a behavioral intervention plan, look back at your ABCs.
How can you change the antecedent? When possible, eliminate or reduce the dog’s exposure to it. Especially if it causes the dog to go over the threshold. So overstimulated, or stressed that they can’t be trained.
Consider redirecting an undesired behavior to a comparable, yet appropriate one. If your dog jumps on guests, you can teach them to retrieve a toy for guests instead. They will not be able to do both at once.
Encourage appropriate behaviors with pleasant consequences. Like games, treats, toys, and/or praise. Unpleasant effects can reduce undesired behavior, but can lead to fallout.
Changing antecedents and encouraging appropriate actions with an enjoyable reinforcer is the preferred way to conduct a behavioral intervention.
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