Learning Principles and Behavioural Modifications

Hewison, Lynn and Mills, Daniel (2021) Learning Principles and Behavioural Modifications. In: Small Animal Veterinary Psychiatry. CAB International, pp. 123-141. ISBN 9781786394552

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Problem behaviour often relates to clusters or degrees of behaviours, emotional states and cognitions, which the owner finds problematic (see Chapter 7). Training and behaviour therapy involve using controlled interactions and structuring of the environment to bring about change in either the motivational (specific goal) or emotional (appraisal and subsequent strategic focus) basis to the problem behaviour. Depending on the nature of the problem, it may be more efficient to focus on either the motivational or emotional element. For example, if a dog presents with food guarding and it can be established that the behaviour is limited to this particular context, then it might be hypothesized that the dog is specifically motivated to protect food for some reason (there are both potential diseases and learned reasons why this might be the case). However, if it is established that the dog is more generally protective of resources, and possibly also has broader issues associated with intrusion into its personal space (including territory), it might be indicative of a more general problem with frustration. In the former case, managing the specific factors leading
to a motivation to protect food may be more efficient; however, in the latter case, rather than seeking to address each context as a separate problem, focusing on treatment to reduce the tendency for frustration might be more efficient. This chapter considers how managing contingencies within the social and physical environment can be used to bring about predictable changes in behaviour to support the management of a range of problems. Rather than approach this issue from a‘theory first, application second’ perspective, which is commonly used in many other texts (e.g. Horwitz and Mills, 2009; McGreevy and Boakes, 2007; Ramirez, 1999), the chapter is structured along the lines of considering first those practices and practical outcomes that alter the specific motivation for a behaviour (which underpins traditional training practice), and then considering how more general changes in behaviour can be brought about through
the control of emotional arousal and executive function (see Section 7.4 – Executive control of behaviour and emotion). We introduce technical terminology and theoretical concepts on an as-needed basis to make the chapter more accessible to those without a learning theory background. For those seeking more information on theory, we suggest the texts cited above.

Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:44284
Deposited On:01 Apr 2021 15:38

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