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Erica Feuerbacher

Associate Professor of Applied Animal Behavior & Welfare
  • Coordinator of the Applied Animal Behavior & Welfare Concentration
Dr. Erica Feurerbacher at the Holtzman Alumni Center. Evergreen and white columns in the background. Cropped vertically.
School of Animal Sciences (0303)
3020 Litton-Reaves Hall
175 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

My research focuses on domestic animal behavior, welfare, and learning/training. Most of my work focuses on dogs, but I also work with horses, cats, and other domesticated species. I explore fundamental learning processes in domestic animals and how those translate into the most effective and humane training and handling techniques. I evaluate interventions for improving shelter dog welfare, by evaluating the effects on behavioral and physiological measures of stress. I also investigate human-dog dynamics and how to improve the human-dog relationship. While some of my research focuses on basic learning processes, my research always has a view towards the applied dimension and how we can help companion animals and their caregivers. Current research explores interventions to improve shelter dog welfare, identifying and enhancing reinforcers for use in training, assessing interventions to address behavioral issues in dogs and horses, robot-animal interactions, and using citizen science to train dogs to detect agriculturally-relevant pests.

Current Courses

  • APSC 4464 Laboratory & Companion Animal Health & Management
  • APSC 5134 Applied Behavior Analysis for Animal Behaviorists
  • APSC 5184 Research Methods for Animal Behaviorists
  • APSC 5984 Special Studies: Companion Animal Behavior & Training
  • VM 8984 Special Studies: Companion Animal Behavior & Socialization

Previous Courses

  • APSC 5234 Applications of Applied Animal Behavior
  • APSC 5334 Adjunctive Approaches to Behavior Change in Animals
  • Ph.D. -  Psychology (Behavior Analysis) University of Florida, Gainesville, FL      
  • M.S. -  Behavior Analysis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX           
  • B.S. -   Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ               
  • B.A. -  Spanish, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ            



  • Behavior Analysis Research Award, University of Florida (2014)
  • E. F. Malagodi, Jr. Memorial Award, University of Florida (2013)
  • Marian Breland Bailey Award for Student Research and Scholarship, Association for Behavior Analysis International (2011, 2013)
  • College of Liberal Arts and Science Fellow, University of Florida (2009-2013)
  • Outstanding Behavior Analysis Graduate Student, University of North Texas (2009)
  • Outstanding Biology Teaching Assistant, University of North Texas (2009)


Book Chapters

Gunter, L. M., & Feuerbacher, E. N. (2022). Canine enrichment. In Animal behavior for veterinarians and staff (eds. Reid, P. & Collins, K.). Wiley Publishing.

Feuerbacher, E. N. & Protopopova, A. (2016). Proximate causes of cognition. In Animal Cognition: Principles, Evolution, & Development (ed. Olmstead, M.) Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.

Udell, M. A. R., Lord, K, Feuerbacher, E. N. & Wynne, C. D. L. (2014) A dog’s eye view of canine cognition. In A. Horowitz (ed.) Dog Behavior and Cognition – The Scientific Study of Canis familiaris. New York, NY: Springer.


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