The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether dogs that exhibit stereotypy also show higher behavioral persistence in an extinction-learning task. Thirteen pet dogs with stereotypy and 13 breed-matched control dogs were assessed on a resistance to extinction test. Each dog was trained for 40 trials using a food reinforcer to nose-touch the experimenter's hand on a continuous reinforcement schedule. After acquisition, the dogs entered an extinction phase, during which food was no longer delivered. The numbers of nose-touches as well as inter-response times during this phase were recorded. A linear regression found that stereotypy status (t= -2.46, P= .027) and breed type (t= 2.44, P= .023) were significant predictors of the number of responses in extinction. Dogs with stereotypy responded more in extinction than control dogs. The mean number of responses was 13.4 (SD = 14.7) in the control group and 26.0 (SD = 15.3) in the stereotypy group. These results suggest a link between previous laboratory and zoo animal findings on the neurophysiology of stereotypy and the pet dog population. They also have implications for the use of extinction procedures to reduce stereotypic behaviors in pet dogs, as these dogs show enhanced resistance to extinction.
- Behavioral persistence
- Extinction learning