Targeting to Overshadow Fears and Anxiety in Miniature Swine

Authors

Rivard, G., Brocksmith, D., Stewart, I., Bouchard, G.F.

Abstract

We use targeting to overshadow fear responses in Miniature Swine (MS).Targeting is part of the unique Sinclair’s proprietary behavior program called Behavioral Enhancement System™(BES).BES is an integral approach to MS behavior instituted and developed by Sinclair to provide well-conditioned and easily trained MS to clients.We use targeting to replace an unacceptable behavior such as a fear response with an acceptable one that involves a touch in response to the same stimulus. The handler first finds highly prized reinforcers, often a food reward, and gradually teaches the MS that is afraid to interact with people to want to interact with people.In this case the MS is taught to “touch” a target-stick for food-reward.It is walked a short way following the target stick and asked to “touch” the target, then food-reward.Once the MS can predict a reward is coming when interacting with people, we can condition a MS to cooperate for SOPs such as loading a cart. Every week, technicians participate in a POC (Performance On-Cue) tournament with a MS they have trained. MS follows targeting cues to navigate through a maze of obstacles. Fears and anxiety are eliminated because the MS is taught another behavior (touch) that is more enjoyable or pleasant to exhibit in the presence of the stimulus (human interactions, obstacles, and cart) that elicits the abnormal behavior, i.e. a fear response.

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