An Evaluation of Respondent Conditioning Procedures to Decrease Barking in an Animal Shelter

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Steven Wade Payne
Kian S Assemi


A common problem behavior in animal shelters is excessive noise from barking, which can regularly exceed 100dBs.  Noise levels in animal shelters are correlated with increased stress in dogs, which may lead to increased problem behavior and a decrease in adoption.  The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the use of respondent conditioning procedures to reduce barking noise level in an animal shelter by pairing a door chime with edible items.  Following a baseline and neutral stimulus phase, the door chime was paired with edible items over a period of three weeks.  Following this pairing phase, the pairing was stopped to determine if the door chime would act as a conditioned stimulus and reduce barking.  These procedures were replicated following an additional baseline phase.  Overall, the procedure was effective in reducing the noise level of the kennel area as compared to baseline levels. Implications and future research areas are discussed.   


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