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Human-directed contra-aggression training using positive reinforcement with single and multiple trainers for indoor-housed rhesus macaques

By Darren E. Minier, Lindsay Tatum, Daniel H. Gottlieb, Ashley Cameron, Jessica Snarr, Richard Elliot, Ashleigh Cook, Kami Elliot, Kimberly Banta, Allison Heagerty, Brenda McCowan

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to improve human–animal management relationships by testing the effects of positive reinforcement training (PRT) on reducing human-directed aggression in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Contra-aggression uses a combination of positive reinforcement training techniques designed to actively reduce instances of aggressive behavior. Additionally, this study looked at how much post-training generalization occurs between the staff who trains an animal and non-training staff interacting with trained animals. Three training treatments were applied: a non-training group (controls; N=5), monkeys conditioned by a single trainer (ST; N=5), and monkeys conditioned by multiple trainers (MT; N=5). Each macaque received two tests (human-intruder, husbandry-response) to evaluate behavioral changes prior to training, when training ceased, and after a 6-week non-training period. The tests assessed the level of training generalization to human interaction. There was no marked improvement in animal progression through the training plan from single to multiple trainers (P=0.927), which is inconsistent with current training philosophy; however, both single and multiple trainer groups showed a significant reduction of aggression (ST: P≤0.001, MT: P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 132
Issue 3
Pages 178-186
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.04.009
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Animal training
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Desensitization
  5. Human-animal interactions
  6. reinforcement