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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your ClickerExpo Experience

Filed in - ClickerExpo 2017 - Events

1. Set Simple Goals

There are a lot of luscious choices at ClickerExpo, so how do you choose wisely? Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to set simple goals.

Even simple goals help you get the most out of Expo decisions, because you eliminate what’s extraneous and focus us on what helps meet your goals. Interested in seeing as much of Ken Ramirez as possible? Easy. You can identify his courses quickly and set up your schedule to include them. Want to get a solid grounding in clicker training? Easy, look for the Foundation-level courses. Want courses in particular topic areas like dog-sport competition or equine? That’s easy, too. Every course has an associated topic area, such as Competition, Aggression and Behavior Management, Teaching, Skill Development, Science, and more.

To learn about more helpful strategies for working through your choices at ClickerExpo joyfully, see my related post How Is ClickerExpo Better than a Box of Chocolates?

2. Measure Twice

The most common reason for schedule conflicts is not realizing that a Learning Lab may have a prerequisite Session
Once you’ve set your goals and selected courses that match them, check your schedule for conflicts!

The most common reason for schedule conflicts is not realizing that a Learning Lab (an interactive course where you reserve a spot) may have a prerequisite Session (a lecture-style course with open seating). How will you know? First, that requirement is indicated in the description of the Learning Lab. Second, a clue is in the Learning Lab title. Labs with prerequisite Sessions have titles that include the lingo “In Action.”

For example the Learning Lab with Hannah Branigan, Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra Depend-Ability - In Action, has a Session that precedes it.

If you are participating in a Learning Lab, be sure it’s a good fit!
The description header of the Lab will detail the kinds of solid skills or behaviors you and your dog will be expected to have in order to participate. For example, here is the header to Animals in Control: The Choice Is Theirs - In Action:

We will have approximately 6 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should have some experience with shaping. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session.             

3. Know the Faculty Members

Watch some of their videos or some of their past presentations at ClickerExpo, or read a book that they’ve written.
When I plan to see a musical on Broadway, I listen to the music ahead of time. It helps me get an idea if I’ll like the style of the show. (Yes, thank you, I saw and loved Hamilton!) Likewise, you can do pleasant research on the writing and teaching of the ClickerExpo faculty members. Watch some of their videos or some of their past presentations at ClickerExpo, or read a book that they’ve written. With this preparation, you will get a sense of different faculty members’ ideas and styles, which can help you plan your schedule and choose courses. Of course, you can always just go with the “Surprise me!” method, too!

4. Life’s Better Shared, So Share!

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my “alone time,” but I love when others share great experiences with me. When you share you can talk about what you have heard, what you learned, and your interpretation of a new idea. Plus, if you are bringing a dog to ClickerExpo, it can be fun for both of you, but it is also a commitment to put your dog’s needs first. If you are at Expo with a friend, s/he can help you out with your four-legged friend (and vice versa!), which is all the better. Remember, you have a referral code you can give to any first-time attendee, that when applied rewards you both. Learn more about the Refer-a-Friend Program.  

5. You Have Made Good Choices

You can’t possibly see every speaker and attend Session or Learning Lab you think is going to be great, but you will see great ones all the time.
You can’t possibly see every speaker and attend every Session or Learning Lab you think is going to be great, but you will see great ones all the time. If you become “at one” with that, you’ll be what psychologists term a Satisfier, and you’ll appreciate your choices. Satisfiers feel really good about difficult choices. “Optimizers,” on the other hand, worry that they missed “the best” and that creates stress for them!

What has worked for you? What would you share with others? Let me know!

About the author
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Aaron Clayton is President of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and TAGteach International, and a member of the ClickerExpo Faculty.