Applied Behavior Analysis

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Journal of Animal Behavior Technology

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Canine acral lick dermatitis (ALD) is the outcome of self-injurious behavior (SIB) characterized by excessive licking and biting most often of the dorsal forelimbs. In this single-subject study, the covert SIB of a ten-year-old Rottweiler/Shepherd mix was assessed to determine the variables controlling the occurrence and maintenance of the behavior. Following the assessment, the efficacy of non-contingent toys, contingent and non-contingent petting, and protective equipment were evaluated to reduce self-injury hypothesized to be maintained by automatic reinforcement. To eliminate the protective equipment (e.g., Elizabethan collar), two methods were investigated to remove the component while maintaining low levels of ALD. The treatment plan successfully reduced, and subsequently ameliorated the dog’s ALD for a year following the intervention. More work is needed to determine the applicability of these methods and to identify additional effective behavioral strategies to treat this, often debilitating, condition in dogs.


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