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The Effects of Reward-Based Training on the Behavioral Assessment of the Domestic Dog

By Shelby Vandergraff

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Abstract

Contrary to popular belief, pet overpopulation is caused more by owners failing to keep their dog than with accidental or intentional breeding (Moulton et al., 1991). Factors related to relinquishment have been researched, and concluded that behavioral problems are the most reoccurring reasons observed (Bailey, 1992; Miller at al., 1996; Patronek et al., 1996; Serpell, 1966; Salman et al., 1998, 2000; Scarlett et al, 1999; New et al., 2000; Shore et al., 2003, 2005; Mondelli 2004, Blackwell et al., 2008). When animals are relinquished to the shelter, the likelihood of the animal being euthanized increases. The purpose of this research was to observe if utilizing reward-based training on a select sample of dogs, by teaching them three basic cues, would improve their behavioral assessment results. Behavioral assessments are performed in shelters to determine the dog's behavior which can affect its adoptability, and served as an instrument of measurement for this research. The cues were unrelated to the behavioral assessment and consisted of "leave it", "place", and "sit". The researcher compared the pre and post test item numbers and the total numbers of each dog from the initial assessment to the final assessment. The mean of the total scores of each dog from the initial assessment was 13.66 (SD = 3.44). The mean of the total scores of each dog from the final assessment was 10.33 (SD = 2.07). The results of a dependent paired samples t-test were statistically significant at the .05 alpha level, t(5) = 2.599, p = 0.04. The Cohen's D measure of effect size was 1.035435, which corresponds to a large effect. Due to the results, the null hypothesis is rejected, thus indicating statistical significance in both the initial and final assessment scores. Practical significance was also indicated. The application of reward-based training to the pet dog improves behavioral assessment scores, which improves adoptability and retention in the home, and decreases risk of euthanasia.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Pages 115
Degree Master of Science in Agriculture
URL https://digitalcommons.murraystate.edu/etd/71/
Language English
University Murray State University
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal roles
  3. Dogs
  4. Mammals
  5. open access
  6. Pets and companion animals
  7. training
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  1. open access