Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Comparison of Paired- and Multiple-Stimulus Preference Assessments using a Runway Task by Dogs


Preference assessments identify foods that might be valued by an animal but do not capture differences in the magnitude of value. In combination with demand, the more effort required to acquire the commodity – the more valued and likely it is to function as an effective reinforcer for use in dog training. In the current experiment, two preference assessments' applicability was measured using a combination of choice assessment and effortful runway task. Eight dogs experienced a paired stimulus preference assessment and multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessments combined with a 3-m runway task. The preference assessments identified different most-preferred foods, but the same least-preferred foods. The reinforcer assessment results showed that the dogs moved faster to obtain their most preferred food as identified by the multiple stimulus without replacement assessment compared to the most preferred foods identified in the paired stimulus assessment. The paired- or multiple-stimulus-without-replacement preference assessments identified highly valued foods; however, the applicability of that commodity as a reinforcer was not independent of the assessment method. To ensure accurate reinforcer identification and consistency, a preference assessment should be conducted under similar conditions to that experienced when the reinforcer is used in training. Overall, the multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessment would be more useful to trainers, owners or scientists wanting to identify high-value foods for their animals to function as effective reinforcers for the elicitation of behaviors in a training context.


Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View