Independent Study 490A: Positive Reinforcement Training Piglets to Stand in a Container and Follow a Human

  • Adrianne R. Kaiser (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Jason W. Ross (Iowa State University)
  • Joshua T. Selsby (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J Stalder (Iowa State University)


The Department of Animal Science within the biomedical research area is using the pig as a model for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the leading, fatal, X-linked disease, affecting 1:3,500 male births worldwide. Two tests require the pigs afflicted with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy is to stand still and walk in a controlled manner. To accomplish this pigs need to undergo Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT). Therefore, the objectives of this study was to use PRT on young pigs to 1) get them to recogonize PRT during lactation 2) have them stand still one way for a 5-min period in a plastic storage container (to resemble the embedded force plate) and 3) follow a handler at a steady gait down an alley way and back (resemble the GaitFour Analysis). A total of 10 Landrace x Yorkshire barrows (4.64 ± 1.45 kg) were tested. Barrows were enrolled on trial when they were 15 days of age. Barrows were trained to stand still for 50-min and walk down an alleyway. On the first day of PRT in lactation, the average latency for the first barrow to approach the handler and receive a marshmallow was 32.2 min and by day 3 onwards the first barrow immediately approached the handler. By Day 11, 5 barrows completed the 1-minute standing test in the container but it took until day 22 before all barrows stood for 5-minutes. On Day 23, 7 barrows followed the handler down the alley but it took until day 27 for all pigs to follow the handler. Therefore the current PRT methodology worked to keep barrows still for a 5-minute consecutive period and all barrows followed the handler up and down the alley way.

Keywords: Animal Science

How to Cite:

Kaiser, A. R., Johnson, A. K., Ross, J. W., Selsby, J. T. & Stalder, K. J., (2014) “Independent Study 490A: Positive Reinforcement Training Piglets to Stand in a Container and Follow a Human”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 11(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-1198

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Published on
01 Jan 2014
Peer Reviewed