Improving in-kennel presentation of shelter dogs through response-dependent and response-independent treat delivery

Alexandra Protopopova, Clive D.L. Wynne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


In a sequence of studies, we evaluated 2 behavioral interventions designed to decrease undesirable in-kennel behaviors of shelter dogs. In Experiment 1, we compared the efficacy of a simple pairing of person with food (response-independent treat delivery) to an increasing interval differential-reinforcement-of-other-behavior (DRO) procedure and a control condition. Both procedures decreased the median percentage of undesirable behavior from baseline (88.13%, interquartile range [IQR] = 52.78% and 66.43%, IQR = 89.06% respectively), and the control condition increased behavior by 15.13% (IQR = 32.08%), H(2) = 6.49, p = .039. In Experiment 2, we assessed the efficacy of a response-independent procedure on the whole shelter population. We found a 68% decrease from baseline in the number of dogs that behaved undesirably (U = -4.16, p < .001). Our results suggest that a response-independent procedure is equivalent in efficacy to a DRO procedure to decrease undesirable in-kennel behavior of shelter dogs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-601
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015



  • adoption
  • animal behavior
  • animal welfare
  • shelter dogs

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