Bliss-Moreau, E., Moadab, G. 2016. Variation in behavioral reactivity is associated with cooperative restraint training efficiency. JAALAS 55(1), 41–49.
Training techniques that prepare laboratory animals to participate in testing via cooperation are useful tools that have the potential to benefit animal wellbeing. Understanding how animals systematically vary in their cooperative training trajectories will help trainers to design effective and efficient training programs. In the present report we document an updated method for training rhesus monkeys to cooperatively participate in restraint in a ‘primate chair.’ We trained 14 adult male macaques to raise their head above a yoke and accept yoke closure in an average of 6.36 training days in sessions that lasted an average of 10.52 min. Behavioral observations at 2 time points prior to training (approximately 3 y and 1.3 y prior) were used to quantify behavioral reactivity directed toward humans and toward other macaques. Individual differences in submissive–affiliative reactivity to humans but not reactivity toward other monkeys were related to learning outcomes. Macaques that were more reactive to humans were less willing to participate in training, were less attentive to the trainer, were more reactive during training sessions, and required longer training sessions, longer time to yoke, and more instances of negative reinforcement. These results suggest that rhesus macaques can be trained to cooperate with restraint rapidly and that individual difference data can be used to structure training programs to accommodate variation in animal temperament.