The informant interview is the interview process between the behavior counselor and the animals’ guardians. The goal is to collect information from the animals’ guardians to assist in developing a contingency statement. During the interview the behavior counselor has to take the answers provided by the animals’ guardian that are often interpretations of behavior, and convert their answers through additional questioning into “clear descriptions of the actual observable and quantifiable behavior involved.

During the informant interview there are several components of information that should be established.

  • The behavior counselor must develop a clear concise, measurable description of the problem behavior or behaviors.
  • It is also important to understand the setting events, the context, that makes the problem behavior more likely.
  • It is necessary to understand the motivating operations that influence the value of the consequences such as satiation, deprivation and any conditioned emotional responses such as fear or aggression.
  • Discriminative stimuli should be identified alongside the consequences that follow the behavior. We need to be able to answer, ‘what does the animal get out of this situation?’
  • The behavior counselor should rate the efficiency of the problematic behavior particularly if there are several problematic behaviors at play.
  • The history of the behavior should be sought and the results, if any, from previous behavioral change programs.
  • During the interview it is also advisable to ask the animals’ guardians what alternative behaviors they would feel are more appropriate and acceptable

When the informant interview is complete the behavior counselor can develop a preliminary contingency statement that will help with developing further questions.

O’Heare, J. (2008) Functional Assessment 108, CASI,

O’Heare, J (2007) Aggressive Behavior in Dogs, DogPsych Publishing, Ottawa Canada.

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