At a Glance
Some dogs struggle in everyday life situations because of behaviour challenges.
Dog Behaviourists use a process called functional behavioural assessment (FBA) to figure out what’s causing the behaviour.
An FBA can lead to a plan for how to change the behaviour.
What is a
Functional Behaviour Assessment?
An FBA is an approach to figuring out why a dog acts a certain way. It uses different methods to understand what’s behind behaviour challenges.
The basic idea is that a dog’s behavior serves a purpose. Whether they know it or not, dogs act in certain ways for a reason.
If we can understand what’s causing a behaviour, we can find ways to change it.
The steps of a
functional behavioral assessment
During an FBA, the team gathers information and uses it to make a plan to change behaviour.
1. Define the behaviour
An FBA starts by defining a dog’s behaviour. Using vague or general language makes it hard to understand what’s happening. That’s why it’s important for the team to be specific and objective.
2. Gather and analyze information
After defining the behavior, the team pulls together information. It may look at videos, interview the dog owner and handlers, and observe the dog. The goal is to answer questions like:
When and where is this behaviour happening?
Where is it not happening?
How often is the behaviour occurring?
Who is around when it occurs?
What tends to happen right before and right after the behaviour?
3. Find out the reason for the behaviour
Using the information collected, the team makes a best guess about what’s causing the behaviour. It’s the team’s job to figure out what the student is getting from the behaviour. It may be that the dog is trying to escape or avoid something, for example.
4. Make a plan
Next, the team tries to see if its best guess is right. The dog behaviourist leads this part. It includes making changes in the dog’s environment to see if the behaviour changes.
To do this, the team creates a behavior intervention plan (BIP) to train and reward positive behaviour. As we learn more, we can adjust the plan.