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Behavior Analysis in Practice

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DOI: 10.1007/s40617-021-00554-y


The most effective behavioral interventions are function based, which requires the identification of the behavioral function. A functional analysis is conducted to isolate and identify the environmental variables maintaining target behavior, and this method is effective across species. In domesticated dogs, mouthing is a common behavior and is considered problematic by many people. However, mouthing is not always simple to treat with standard interventions without identifying the function of the dog’s mouthing. Without efficacious interventions, undesirable behavior in companion animals may result in reduced welfare, an increased likelihood of relinquishment, or an increased probability of euthanasia. The purpose of this study was to provide a clinical demonstration of an owner-conducted functional analysis to identify the contingencies maintaining mouthing behavior in dogs and apply the results to owner-implemented function-based interventions to reduce mouthing. Identified functions included attention and tangibles, and owner-implemented interventions were successful at reducing mouthing in all three dogs.


Accepted version. Behavior Analysis in Practice, Vol. 15, No. 1 (March 2022): 269-283. DOI. © 2022 Springer. Used with permission.

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