ClickerExpo Course Details 2015

The program schedule for 2015 will help you learn more in three days than you thought possible! It is chock full of stimulating courses and exciting hands-on Labs, taught by the ClickerExpo Faculty who bring their unique talents and perspectives to work for you. The program features more than 50 courses. Register now!


Newcomer Orientation

Note:
This Session is STRONGLY recommended for first-time attendees. It will also be useful for Expo veterans who need a little refresher.

First time here? Welcome to ClickerExpo! Aaron Clayton will help you make the most of your experience in this Session designed specifically for newcomers to ClickerExpo. This Session will cover topics that include how to maximize your chances of winning the big daily raffle, navigating ClickerExpo with your dog, choosing courses and changing your schedule, and attending special events.

This practical but humorous introduction to ClickerExpo is a "must" for those experiencing the magic of ClickerExpo for the first time, and is a wonderful refresher for Expo veterans, too!

This Session supplements but does not replace the 9:00 a.m. Plenary Session.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
A Moment of Scence
Clicker Training 101

Are you new to clicker training? You may have heard the buzz words "operant conditioning" and "marker training," but what does that mean in terms of practical dog training?

Here's a crash course on clicker training, learning theory, and the laws governing how learning really works. You'll learn what you need to know about the underlying science in order to get out of the gate fast — or to get back on track. If you start your ClickerExpo experience on Friday with this two-hour Session, you will have the foundation and vocabulary to help you understand, enjoy, and benefit from the rest of the program.

Hannah Branigan will help you understand why clicker training principles work and what the terms really mean—and she will make it fun! Attendees will learn about the following topics:

  • What is learning?
  • Classical vs. operant conditioning
  • The ABCs of behavior
  • Mumbo Jumbo and Terminology: What does it mean, and does it really matter?
  • Quadrant Schmadrant
  • Extinction (and I'm not talking about dinosaurs!)
  • Event markers
  • Cues and stimulus control
  • Leash, clicker, and treats… but I only have two hands?
  • Tips for making it work in the “real world”

This is the first course in a recommended series of foundation courses at ClickerExpo. The series is intended for new or less experienced clicker trainers and is called the Foundation Curriculum.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
What a Concept!
New Frontiers in Concept Training
Related Lab:

This new Session follows the theme of concept training that Ken Ramirez presents and evolves at ClickerExpo. It is designed to challenge experienced trainers and animals looking for new ideas to stretch and expand their abilities.

At previous ClickerExpo conferences, Ken has focused on various forms of concept training—first was modifier cues, then mimicry, and, most recently, adduction.

New for this year, Ken will look at several different types of concepts including matching to sample, “you do as I do,” repeat signals, and counting (including the concepts of more vs. less and same vs. different).

This Session will highlight the foundation skills needed to teach various concepts to your animal, and will examine the steps to train them and the possible challenges you may face.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Release Me!
The Back-Chained Release Cue
Participant notes:

This Lab will accommodate 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs-handler teams should have some basic clicker training experience. Dogs should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs around food and toys, have a strong sit or down behavior on cue, and be able to comfortably offer attention to their handlers around distractions. Go to mat and hand targeting are helpful but not required. You may participate with your dog, or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. There is no prerequisite Session for this Lab.

In this Lab we will be strengthening a variety of duration behaviors by teaching them backwards (back-chaining). Many dogs struggle with stays because the release is unclear. Back-chaining is a great fix because the endpoint becomes the strongest, most predictable piece of the behavior. From Doggie Zen to stimulus control, door manners to polite greetings, start-line stays to premacked “go sniff" cues, once your dog has a fluent vocabulary of release cues, the possibilities are endless!

Bring your training to a new level of clarity in this fun, skill-based Session. Depending on what the dog teams teach us in the moment, we will be focusing on four types of release cues:

  • High-energy release cues—good for play, games, and rock-star stays
  • Release to work cues—good to prevent frustration during free-shaping and training sessions
  • Everyday release cues—good for safety and self-control, such as exiting a car or polite greetings
  • Release to take a break cues—good for relieving pressure and premacking the environment

This will primarily be a hands-on, working Lab with video examples, demos, and group discussion. We will be working with food tossed on the ground, food delivered in a bowl, as well as toys. If your dog has any favorite tug toys, feel free to bring them.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Intermediate
The Joy of Training
Participant notes:

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 and establishing cues. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring dogs to the Lab.

Why does clicker training have such a joyous effect on learning? How does puzzle-solving become a joy in and of itself? This Learning Lab will help you set up your training sessions in order to build your dog’s personal sense of enjoyment through achievement—and yours, too! You will learn how to set up both your learner, and yourself for success.

Exercises in thoughtful training can happen even at the simplest level: targeting, finding locations, interacting with objects, or creating body awareness. We practice fine slicing, taking very small steps forward to make the learning actually progress faster, while avoiding confusion and frustration that taints the learning experience.

While the experience level for this Lab is rated Intermediate, it would be exciting and useful for advanced trainers and competition dogs as well.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Blind Trust
The Next Level of Partnership with Your Dog
Participant notes:

In this two-hour Learning Lab we will have approximately eight dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in close proximity to other dogs and distractions. Handlers and dogs should have previous clicker training experience. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. Our featured lab topic will be Training Targeting Behaviors as a Blind Handler.

Guide Dogs for the Blind expanded their adoption of clicker training to use for their blind clients in 2006, providing the blind handler with the independence to teach their own guide dog new targeting skills. These targeting skills teach the guide dog what destinations to precisely locate for their blind handler (i.e., mailbox, pedestrian crosswalk buttons, empty chairs, etc.).

In this Learning Lab, handlers will learn the challenging skill of clicker training without the use of their vision. Working handlers will be blindfolded during training sessions and learn how to use their senses of touch and sound to effectively clicker train their dog.

Sighted trainers can expand their own skills by learning the nuances of “training blind.” This Lab can enlighten you about several aspects in training, such as:

  • Avoiding body movements that block the power in the click
  • The challenges blind handlers face in clicker training their dogs
  • The tactical use of back-chaining for target training
  • The significance and efficacy of verbal directions for a blind handler-instructee
  • Building solid targeting behaviors through shaping, click withholding, and successive approximation
Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
Stranger Danger!
Dogs Who Are Reactive to People

Dogs who are reactive or aggressive to people can pose a serious risk, not only to family members, but to the public. Oftentimes these dogs are hidden in the home, never exercised for fear of a biting incident. If the dog is aggressive to specific family members, those “questionable” individuals tread carefully. It is not unusual for certain family members to disagree on how to proceed, and hence, change the formerly peaceful home into one of frustration and angst.

Emma Parsons’ Click to Calm rehabilitation program is designed to change this. The goals of the program are threefold:

  1. Acclimate the dog to the presence of humans in his immediate environment.
  2. Teach the dog to experiment by targeting/touching a particular person.
  3. Introduce the dog to a stranger if he is willing do so.

Each of these levels is contingent upon the success of the previous level. Safety is paramount! Teaching the dog to accept a muzzle will also be demonstrated.

It is also extremely important that the dog/handler relationship is built on love and trust, not fear and disdain. In the real world, it is the handler’s responsibility keep the dog safe. The handler must advocate for the dog by making quick decisions on his behalf, in many challenging environments. Concurrently, through various clicker trained foundation behaviors, the dog will learn to trust his handler and allow this communication to take place.

Although not every dog will be comfortable meeting strangers, using this particular methodology can greatly increase the quality of the dog’s life (as well as yours), and hence, can mean the difference between life and death.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
What a Concept!
New Frontiers in Concept Training - In Action
Prerequisite:

Participant notes:
Dogs and handlers should be very clicker savvy and fluent at working with any toy or object. Participating dogs must be able to indicate on cue any object or toy presented easily (the indication behavior can be a nose or paw target, or a retrieval). You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

This Learning Lab is an extension of the Learning Session What a Concept! New Frontiers in Concept Training, and is the latest in the concept training theme that Ken Ramirez continues to evolve at ClickerExpo. The Lab is designed to challenge experienced trainers and animals looking for new ideas to stretch and expand their abilities.

This Lab will focus on the initial steps and set-up needed to train matching to sample as well as the concept of counting. Participants with dogs will be able to start some of the basic training, uncover some possible challenges, and get feedback from Ken on how to initiate training for these and other concepts.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Super Friendly to Super Cool
Teaching Impulse Control

Participant notes:
In this two-hour Learning Lab we will have approximately six dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in the same room as other dogs. Handlers and dogs should have previous clicker training experience. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Does your "social butterfly" dog want to greet absolutely everybody? Is he overly friendly, jumping up on any human that looks at him, or running up to other dogs? Is he unable to contain his emotions when someone is talking to him or petting him?

There is help for you! Guide Dogs for the Blind Research & Development Director Michele Pouliot demonstrates cutting-edge techniques her organization is using to create happy, friendly dogs that are also in control.

Michele will teach participants effective setups for learning, criteria-raising, how to turn dogs' impulses into cues for desired behavior, and even how to use platform tools to help your dog with impulse control. Not only are these valuable techniques for developing good canine manners, but impulse control is a must for working dogs and for dogs that compete in sports.

This small-group Learning Lab has a maximum of six participants so you will get lots of hands-on instruction from Michele. Work with your dog or observe dogs learning impulse control via clicker training. Impulse behavior problems such as rushing toward people or dogs, jumping up, bolting through doors, and counter-surfing may be worked on.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Trick & Treat! Deconstructing Complex Behaviors
  • Trick and Treat! In Action

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” proclaimed the artistic genius and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. In this Session, trick training expert Emily Larlham will discuss the key to training eye-catching advanced and complex tricks: simplicity. Advanced tricks require a strong foundation of very basic behaviors, with an added touch of creativity.  

Emily will reveal how to deconstruct complex tricks into simple steps. Examples will include teaching a dog to draw a circle and tricks with multiple dogs. Emily will also show how to add that twist to an everyday trick to make it shine.


“Why train so many tricks?” you may ask. Because the benefits are endless! They include body awareness, fitness, coordination, balance, flexibility, and more. Tricks are also a great way to add variety to your training sessions and to sharpen you and your dog’s problem-solving and training skills. The more behaviors you teach your dog, the more you learn about one another. It’s a win-win! Once you get a taste of it, you can get hooked.

But, trick training must be done carefully. Emily will also cover the importance of safety when training tricks, and the importance of not letting our egos decide what is best for our dogs.

>This Session will include lecture and video presentations.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
You're in Great Shape
Understanding & Applying Shaping
Related Lab:

Shaping behavior by reinforcing small steps toward a future goal is one of the core processes of clicker training, and is the key to creative and limitless training. It is often hard for trainers to make the shift from luring, prompting, or leading animals through the desired movements to letting animals discover what works on their own. The benefits of this shift are enormous to both trainer and animal.

Shaping builds the trainer's observation and mechanical skills, and is the foundation of teaching complex behaviors. Shaping also makes training fun for the animal and strengthens the relationship between animal and trainer. Without an understanding of shaping, trainers will not experience the full power of clicker training.

Shaping depends on good observation and timely use of the clicker as a tool for communicating a movement as it is happening. You'll learn what shaping is — and isn't — and how it differs from other ways of "getting behavior." Eva and Emelie will demonstrate shaping techniques and discuss how to overcome common obstacles. If you've been frustrated in your attempts to try shaping, you'll be inspired to try again.

This Session will include PowerPoint slides and videos.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Effectiveness is Not Enough
The Ethical Intervention

Many forces conspire to make effectiveness the sole measure of a training program's success. Factors like clients' desperation, the animal's quality of life, and even the dynamics of a professional work-for-pay relationship create the pressure cooker that fosters an exclusive "eye on the prize" or "as long as it works" focus for many professionals.

In this Session, we will go beyond effectiveness by adding another measure to our success criteria: the process by which we achieve effectiveness. This second criterion is embraced in the concept "most positive, least intrusive" effective intervention, which has protected children in special education programs for almost 35 years, and is also referred to in law and medicine.

By implementing this standard, we will become more thoughtful about the path we take to effective training outcomes, increasing the likelihood that we will be maximally effective and humane.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Trick & Treat! In Action

Prerequisite:

  • Trick and Treat! Deconstructing Complex Behaviors (Learning Session)

Participant notes:

Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in the same room as other dogs. Handlers and dogs should have previous clicker training experience, multiple behaviors on cue, and at least one simple trick. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

In this Lab we will break down advanced tricks into simple, easy steps. Emily will show Lab attendees how to deconstruct complicated tricks, and also how to add a twist to a common trick to make it unique, and/or to add complexity. After a brainstorming session with Emily and the audience, the dog and handler teams will have the opportunity to add a twist to a trick their dog already knows during the session.

The tricks our dog and handler teams will work on are:

  • tricks involving backwards movements (such as backwards weaving)

  • tricks involving the dog to continue circling, (such as circling the handler and jumping over the handler’s arms)

This Lab will include lecture, working spots, and video presentations.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
You're in Great Shape
Understanding & Applying Shaping - In Action
Prerequisite: Participant notes:
All Levels welcome. In this Learning Lab we will have approximately 15 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should be able to work independently to click and give reinforcers. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

This Learning Lab is designed for those new to shaping or uncertain about whether they're on the right track with their shaping skills, including people who have trained dogs primarily with lure/reward techniques but want to transition from luring to shaping.

In this Lab, you'll learn basic shaping skills, such as how to structure individual shaping sessions. How to choose criteria to ensure success and how to maintain a high rate of reinforcement will be explained. We'll also work on improving observational skills. If needed, we'll explore exercises for "loosening up" dogs that are used to waiting for guidance from their handler rather than offering behaviors.

Training exercises include: establishing routines for the training session, shaping a movement (such as head drop or back up), and shaping an interaction with an object (like a chair, a box, or a mat).

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Helping Clients 1
The Focus Point Tool
Related Session:
  • Helping Clients Part 2: The Big Easy – Simple Solutions to Three Common Problems

TAGteach and the audible marker is the perfect technology to help you help your human clients. But when an audible marker is not practical, we have an alternative tool – the Focus Point. Learn to funnel broad teaching information into a crystal clear Focus Point—no “click” needed. Perfect for instructions before competitions, learning in public venues, and for improving client practice after class is over.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
Power of Choice Part 1
Locus of Control
Related Session:

Animals often have little or no choice about what happens in their daily lives. Humans select animals’ food, specify which objects are appropriate toys, decide when and where they can go outside, and more. This lack of choice can be associated with increased stress, and often results in a variety of undesirable behaviors. Fortunately, when animals are allowed – and even encouraged – to make more choices, this stress can be reduced, making everyone in the household happier!

This Session, the first of two parts, will focus on how choice works: the science behind choice, and the importance of choice in animal training. It will also address the fallout of taking choice away, as well as the many benefits of increasing choice for animals. The conscious application of choice will transform your training.

This Session will include videos, audience participation, and examples.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Train That Chain
Behavior Chains Part 1
Related Session: Related Lab:

At some point, we realize that one click and one treat per behavior will be cumbersome to keep up forever, or simply impossible for certain key tasks. At that point, we must develop and maintain chains of behaviors.

Behavior chains can be smooth and efficient packages of pristine behavior if handled well, or they can be frustrating and time-consuming if handled poorly. They can also be our worst behavioral nightmares, reinforcing bad behaviors, if they are not planned carefully!

This Session will cover methods of training and assembling chains, ways to repair a broken chain, identifying and fixing unhelpful chains, and even some uses for chains you might not have thought of.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Fluency
How to Get the Behavior You Want, When You Want It
Related Lab:

Ever wish your animal's behavior was crisper? Cleaner? Faster? Chances are, improving the fluency of those behaviors will get you exactly what you're looking for. You'll leave this Session with an understanding of the six aspects of fluency, how fluency works together with stimulus control (and how it's different from stimulus control), and ways to improve your animal's behaviors.

What is fluency?

  • How is it different from stimulus control?
  • How does it work together with stimulus control to create tight, solid behaviors?
  • Can you have one without the other?

The six aspects of fluency:

  1. Precision -- what the behavior looks like
  2. Latency -- how long it takes the learner to start doing the behavior after perceiving the cue
  3. Speed -- how quickly the learner does the behavior
  4. Distance -- proximity between the owner and learner
  5. Distraction -- environment in which the learner can perform behavior
  6. Duration -- length of time (or reps) learner can perform the behavior

You will learn how to shape for fluency for each aforementioned aspect. You decide which aspects of fluency are important for your situation. In this Learning Session, Laurie will teach you how to identify your baseline behavior and shape it toward improvement.

Additional topics include:

  • Strategic reinforcement
  • Increasing your own skills and training “cleanliness”
  • Record keeping and setting goals
Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
Power of Choice Part 2
Dealing with Problem Behavior
Related Session:

Allowing animals greater control over their environment, through methods such as clicker training, can reduce stress and improve training outcomes. As trainers often joke, the trick is to let the animal think he or she is in charge of the training! One excellent way to do that is to increase the number of choices available to the animal.

This second part of a two-part Session on the topic of choice will highlight a variety of training techniques that offer greater choice for animals. It will address why choice is especially critical when dealing with undesired behavior. It will also explore how to create choice-rich environments, as well as provide tips on how to teach animals to make choices that work both for them and for their humans.

This Session will include videos, audience participation, and examples.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
So You Want to Train a Horse?

One of the reasons for ClickerExpo's continued success is the cross-species networking that it creates. Dog trainers get to talk to dolphin trainers who are chatting with parrot trainers who are meeting up with horse trainers. The principles are the same, but the practical problems may be different. We learn from one another.

Has this ever happened to you? You clicker train dogs, and now someone asks you to help them with a horse. Where do you begin? Horses are not dogs; for a start, they're bigger. Eager enthusiasm for the first clicker games can be charming in a dog, but it can quickly become overwhelming in a horse. Adjustments need to be made, such as starting out with a fence or a stall door between you so the horse can express joy without knocking you over by mistake.

This Session examines what you need to create a safe "clicker classroom." It takes you step-by-step through your first clicker lessons with a horse. It highlights the similarities between clicking with dogs, dolphins, and other species and it also looks at the clicker needs that are specific to horses.

If you are thinking of branching out and training a species that is new to you, this Session will help identify some of the things you will want to consider before starting that first clicker lesson. This Session will include lecture, videos, and Q&A.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Train That Chain
Behavior Chains Part 2
Prerequisites:

Related Lab:

At some point, we realize that one click and one treat per behavior will be cumbersome to keep up forever, or simply impossible for certain key tasks. At that point, we must develop and maintain chains of behaviors.

Behavior chains can be smooth and efficient packages of pristine behavior if handled well, or they can be frustrating and time-consuming if handled poorly. They can also be our worst behavioral nightmares, reinforcing bad behaviors, if they are not planned carefully!

This Session will cover methods of training and assembling chains, ways to repair a broken chain, identifying and fixing unhelpful chains, and even some uses for chains you might not have thought of.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Using Resurgence to Your Advantage

Resurgence is commonly defined as the reappearance of previously reinforced behavior during extinction. This reappearance is governed by the animal's training history. If the target behavior is no longer reinforced, a previously reinforced alternative behavior will appear. If that alternative is not reinforced, a behavior from earlier in the animal's training history will appear.

Extinction is usually thought of as a procedure to reduce behavior. But, extinction is also a part of the process of differential reinforcement, which is at the core of shaping. Because trainers often misunderstand extinction, they dismiss it or misuse it during training. However, extinction, like reinforcement, is an orderly and predictable process.

Several types of phenomena are associated with extinction, such as extinction-induced variability, spontaneous recovery, and resurgence. If extinction is continued for too long, an animal can become frustrated or just give up. Knowledge of this process can be used to increase the efficiency of your shaping plan and can also suggest what to do to decrease the likelihood that unwanted behavior will reappear in the future. An understanding of how extinction works also helps trainers deal effectively with mistakes during training and prevents guessing on the part of the animal. Because of extinction, letting the animal offer lots of extra behavior (figuring it out on his own) during shaping can lead to accidental chaining and undesirable resurgence in the future.

This Session will describe the process of extinction and will focus on resurgence and how trainers can use resurgence to their advantage while shaping and capturing behavior.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Advanced
Conference Review and Close
Don't Miss This!

“It was so hard to choose what to see!”… we know!

Our closing Session focuses on providing you with glimpses of what you couldn’t see, as the faculty get up and present highlights from some of their courses, the outtakes that never made it to the main stage, and sneak peeks of what could be coming in the future. Don’t miss this!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Rally-FrEe
An Introduction to the Newest Performance Sport

Do you enjoy teaching new tricks and novel behaviors? Do you also strive for precision and accuracy? Rally-FrEe is a unique sport combining the trick behaviors of Canine Musical Freestyle with the structure and format of Rally Obedience. It emphasizes the precise execution of fundamental freestyle and obedience skills while encouraging creative and novel behaviors on a Rally-Obedience style course.

This Session will cover some of the similarities to and differences from other dog sport venues, our unique way of training the Rally-FrEe sign behaviors, the foundation skills and behaviors you will need to be successful in Rally-FrEe (and Freestyle!), and lots of video! If you are looking for an enjoyable and supportive competitor experience, come see why clicker trainers are choosing Rally-FrEe!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Links Between Diet & Behavior

In this session, BRAVO! founder Bette Schubert discusses the links between diet and behavior. She will explain how the relationship between the two can help to vastly improve the quality of life for your pet.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
At Your Service!
Teaching Service Dog Behaviors
Related Lab:

The road to becoming a service dog is arduous. Training starts at 8 weeks and continues for at least 18 months—even after the dog is matched with a partner. The expectations for a service dog are high; a strong work ethic, reliable and fluent behaviors, exceptional health, and a gentle but persistent personality are required. Dogs in training have at least three homes throughout their career: the puppy raiser, the service dog agency, and, finally, their permanent home with their partner. What's the common thread in all of this? The clicker!

Learn what it takes and what it's like to be a service dog raised in a clicker trained environment. This Session will show you how a service dog organization clicker trains everyone (from volunteer dog walkers to puppy raisers to recipients) and every service dog (from wheelchair assistance to diabetic alert to balance assistance).

This Session will discuss the service dog training process from acquisition of puppies, through their training in the puppy raiser's home, the formal training process (including goals, milestones, etc. for each dog), the matching of dog to client, and the transfer camp where the disabled person learns how to work with his or her canine helper. Examples and video demonstrations will be included.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Teaching & Training at the Next Level
Karen Pryor Academy

No matter how long you've been training, there is always room to improve!

Perhaps you're an experienced trainer who is looking to "kick it up a notch" by becoming an expert in concepts such as fluency, using cues as reinforcers, and constructing solid behavior chains. Maybe you're looking to grow your training business, or become part of a global network of certified trainers.

Maybe you want to add or improve puppy socialization classes using a top-notch curriculum, learn the sport of Canine Freestyle with ClickerExpo's own Michele Pouliot, or improve the training and enrichment program in your local shelter. Or perhaps you're rather new to clicker training and would like to find an online course that brings all the basics together for you in one place.

Wherever you are in your training, this Session will show you how Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) can help. KPA Director Lori Gwyr will give you a taste of content from KPA's five courses and discuss the benefits of a KPA education. There will be plenty of time for you to ask questions as well!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Helping Clients 2
The Big Easy; Simple Solutions to Three Common Problems
Related Session:
  • Helping Clients Part 1: The Focus Point Tool

Using the TAGteach approach, learn to tackle your clients’ bad habits and replace them with good habits. Your clients will love these solutions as they change the focus from what not to do to what to do. We’ll start with three of the most common issues and provide inspiration so that you can create simple solutions to all of your training challenges.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
Training for the Easily Frustrated Dog

Whining, growling, barking, mouthiness, jumping up, as well as inaccurate and incorrect responses are just some examples of what can happen if a dog becomes over-aroused or frustrated during training. Every trainer dreams of working with a dog at the perfect level of arousal. When is that? When a dog is highly motivated but also able to execute behaviors with accuracy, enthusiasm, and pizzazz, and doesn't panic when we make mistakes in our training. However, in the real world, there are many dogs that can become over-aroused easily and frustrated simply by the criteria being raised. Some dogs become over-aroused by just the sight of the clicker and bait bag, leaving their trainer feeling overwhelmed.

In this Session, we will investigate the use of reinforcement deliveries, reinforcement placements, handling, calming exercises, and secondary reinforcers to tackle the problem of over-excitement or frustration. We will also cover how to look deeper into a training scenario, rather than just focusing on the cue, the marker, the reinforcement, and the desired behavior. Noting what the dog is doing after the click and before receiving the primary reinforcement, or while you are getting ready to train, can help you manage the actual training session and reduce over-arousal.

This Session will include lecture and video presentations.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Training in Balance

Here's the scenario: You're a first-time clicker trainer who is discovering how SMART your horse is. When your friends ask their horses to back up, the horses look as though they are prying their feet out of cement. But after just a session or two, your brilliant horse is backing up twenty feet to the back of his paddock—all for just a click and a treat. You can hardly wait to show your friends!

You invite them over for a trail ride, but first head out to the barn to show them what you've taught your horse with the clicker. You're sure they will love it! Your horse obliges by backing up as soon as he sees you. Your friends start out impressed, until you try to saddle the horse. He's backing up every time you look at him—oh, no! Have you ruined your horse with all this clicker training? That's what your friends are saying as they smugly saddle their horses and leave you behind, still trying to get the saddle on.

Don't worry. You haven't broken your horse or ruined his training. You have simply let one behavior get out of balance with all the rest. For every behavior you teach, there is an opposite behavior you must teach to keep things in balance.

This talk will look at how that training mantra can be used not only to solve this problem, but also to bring all the behaviors you’ve taught your animal into balance. Whether you're working with a horse, a dog, or some other species, the concepts covered will apply.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Play, Toys & More

In this Session, Mark Hines, Canine Behavior & Training Specialist at KONG, discusses the links between toys and play. He will explain how understanding the relationship between the two can help to vastly improve the quality of life for your pet.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Sponsored Session
Coming Soon

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Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Q&A with Ken

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Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
I Love My Vet
How Dogs Can Love Handling and Restraint
Participant notes:
To participate, the handler must be able to demonstrate good clicker mechanics and be skilled at recognizing stress signals in dogs. Participating dogs should already be clicker savvy and should NOT have a history of growling or snapping with handling or restraint. This Learning Lab is intended to demonstrate preventive measures, and is not intended as treatment for existing handling issues.

We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling and 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 Learning Session.

Dogs learn quickly that going to the vet or the groomer is really no fun at all. Why not prepare your dog for routine care at the veterinary hospital, groomer, and at home? With a few preventive exercises, we can teach dogs to not only tolerate these procedures, but to enjoy them!

The handling exercises that will be covered in this Learning Lab involve teaching dogs to enjoy having particular areas of the body touched and manipulated, including feet, ears, muzzle, tail, or collar. Restraint exercises include teaching dogs to enjoy being held still by an unfamiliar person. To drive the message home, these exercises will incorporate the use of common veterinary and grooming tools such as brushes, clippers, stethoscopes, basket muzzles, and ear cleaners.

Lab attendees will learn how to recognize canine body language, specifically language indicating signs of stress, and how to respond appropriately. These mediating strategies include adapting training plans to the dog's responses, making things easier for the dog (not harder), and best practices for setting up successful training sessions, thereby ensuring that the dog is relaxed, learning, and having fun.

This Lab is uses a combination of lecture slides, videos, exercises, and demonstrations. Debbie Martin will select specific participating dog/handler teams for demonstrations, but all dog/handler teams will have an opportunity to participate in the exercises. Observers may be selected to participate in some exercises as well.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
Thoughtful Play
Participant notes:
Dogs should be comfortable playing in a Learning Lab setting, and should be familiar with the use of toy/play reinforcers for a click. Dogs will play one at a time. You may want to make arrangements for your dog to be temporarily excused if the dog is not used to being a spectator without participating.

Play can be so much more than just fun and games. It fosters friendship, it strengthens connections, and it is enjoyed by all participants. This Lab will focus on tailoring a range of games to the play styles of individual dogs. These games will serve to develop your dogs' motor skills, eye-to-mouth coordination, drive, and speed (without crashing).

Play serves as a workout that does not exhaust, but rather fine-tunes and stretches the abilities and learning skills of both players. Games do not have to be rough, over-arousing, or focused on strength. The play strategies you will learn in this Lab are both subtle and full of nuance; never forget that learning is always happening.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Train That Chain!
Behavior Chains - In Action
Prerequisites: Participant notes:
This Lab will accommodate 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should have at least five fluent and reliable behaviors. Dogs should 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. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Chaining together behaviors is essential to efficient and useful training, and it's not nearly as hard as some fear!

This Lab will walk dog/handler teams through forward chaining and back-chaining, the importance of testing cues for use in chains, and how to recover from mistakes and fix broken chains.

Observers may be asked to assist working teams with data collection or other aids. Video examples will be used as well as demos with working teams.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
What a Cue Can Do
Developing Cueing Skills
Related Lab(s):

Effective cueing is essential for achieving reliable responses. The process of adding cues in clicker training is different than in other training methods. Getting behaviors on cue is often the most difficult concept for new clicker trainers to understand, because the process is somewhat counterintuitive.

This Learning Session is about choosing and maintaining effective cues for operant behaviors as well as understanding how cues are integral to more advanced training applications. Kathy Sdao will show you how to use cues to gain control of operant behaviors. You'll learn what a cue is — and isn't — and how cues differ from commands. We'll discuss how to choose cues to maximize clarity, how to transfer a known cue to a novel cue, and how cues function in behavior chains. You'll also learn how cues can be transferred and combined to produce complex and flexible behaviors, and how to avoid the "good enough" syndrome.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Curtain Up!
Unlock The Secrets to Top Ring Performance
Related Lab:
  • Curtain Up! Unlock the Secrets to Top Ring Performance - In Action

Performance day is here. You are excited and nervous. Your dog seems a bit distracted, making you even more nervous. You enter the ring with your dog. It's time to start and yet... it feels like you have a different dog by your side, one that is not looking ready to perform. Oh my—what to do?

In this Session, Michele Pouliot, Emelie Johnson-Vegh, and Eva Bertilsson join forces to share their secrets to top ring performance. They will discuss and demonstrate the art of preparing your dog to start each ring performance with enthusiasm and with readiness to take the first cue.

These experienced instructors will give you tools to take your ring performance to a higher level than you've ever experienced before. Most of the examples in this Session will be from the sports of canine freestyle and agility. Included in the Session is information about identifying environmental cues that affect performance and training so that those cues help performance instead of hinder it. You'll get tools to structure your competition-day performance, with a road map for getting in and out of the ring.

Don't miss the opportunity to see the US and Scandinavia join forces to tackle this very interesting dog-sport topic. Entering the ring will take on a whole new meaning for you and your dog.

This Session will include a PowerPoint presentation, video demos, and live demos from faculty members.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
The Brain, The Bear, & Behavior

Please check back soon!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
On Target!
Tip-top Targeting
Participant notes:

Handlers and dogs should be able to work in a distracting environment. Both handlers and dogs should be experienced in clicker training. To get the most out of this Learning Lab, working dogs should be able to touch a target on the ground with their nose on a verbal cue, have a basic stay behavior, and know how to give a paw on a verbal cue. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Targets are a versatile training aid. In this Lab, it is Emily’s goal to inspire you to begin investigating and using the multitude of targeting possibilities with your own dog!

Emily will discuss the different parts of the body that can be used in targeting. She will also explain the different types of targeting possibilities. For example, the dog could touch the target once, touch it repeatedly a given number of times, touch repeatedly until given a release, hold the body part on the target until given a release, or touch multiple targets in a specific order.

Dog and handler teams will have the opportunity to work on a combination of different targeting skills, resulting in some very awe-inspiring tricks. These include:

  • head nodding
  • facing away from the handler
  • raising a paw and keeping it up

This Session will include lecture, working lab and video presentations.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
What a Cue Can Do
In Action (Part 2, Cue Comprehension)
Participant notes:

Dogs should already have a repertoire of at least four behaviors, each at least partially on cue. Handlers should come prepared with a written list of:

  • Each behavior the dog knows fluently
  • The exact cue or cues for each behavior (words, sounds, gestures, prop cues, etc.)

You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab

.

Creating and maintaining a comprehensive “dictionary” of cues for each animal you train is a key element of training; so too, is an awareness of how consistent and precise your cues should be. It is essential to have a strong sense of empathy for why our animals often respond incorrectly to our cues.

This Learning Lab is focused on cue comprehension. We’ll examine how frequently our dogs perceive our cues differently than we intended. We’ll also explore how animals confuse similar cues and what we can do to make cue discrimination easier. Hands-on exercises include a cue discrimination test, a game for cleaning up cues to make them more precise, and combining known cues to create new behaviors.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Wallflowers
Reaching the Shy Dog

Learned helplessness is one of the most challenging behavioral patterns for the modern trainer to

address. How do you reach a dog that has learned that the safest option is to do nothing at all, or a dog that finds the relief of avoidance or shut down more reinforcing than food, toys, or play? Where do you begin with a learner that finds the training game itself—and all cues associated with that game including treats, clicker, leash, trainer tone of voice, and so on—aversive?

In this Session, attendees will learn:

  • How to recognize the "wallflowers" of the dog world, as well as the unhelpful human patterns, labels, traditional training beliefs, and sacred cows that tend to keep these dogs helpless--even among positive reinforcement trainers.
  • How to invite a "wallflower" to take the first steps toward greater emotional resiliency and behavioral empowerment, without the added inhibiting pressure to perform.
  • How inspiring and courageous "wallflowers" can be once they do indeed begin to thrive, not only as family pets, but as training partners and teachers as well.
  • Practical games, ideas, and exercises that reframe or repair cues associated with the training game, empower the dog, and ultimately, activate the SEEKING system—the part of the brain incompatible with fear.

This Session will include a PowerPoint presentation and plenty of inspiring video clips of "wallflower" training in action.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
Puppy Einsteins
Teaching Cued Behaviors to Young Puppies

What's a fast, positive, and fun way to teach a young puppy to lie down, sit, stand, or stay? Can luring be a part of a clicker trainer's toolbox? Learn a few of the positive reinforcement methods being used with puppies to prepare them to be future guide dogs!

In this Session, Michele Pouliot shares some of the techniques that she and Guide Dogs for the Blind use to teach foundation behaviors to young puppies. You will see how platforms can help you teach introductory behaviors and concepts like sit, down, stand, and impulse control to puppies 8 to 16 weeks old.

Michele will also cover how to use luring to your advantage when your puppy handlers are not skilled shapers. Find out how to transition from a food lure to hand signal to verbal cue in short order, long before the puppy becomes reliant on a food lure.

This Session will include a PowerPoint presentation and video demonstrations.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
It's a Good Fit!
Operant & Classical Conditioning

Some trainers rely heavily on classical conditioning, especially when trying to overcome behavioral difficulties such as fearfulness and fear-caused aggression. Techniques based on classical conditioning can include desensitization, habituation, and counter-conditioning, creating a classically conditioned association between primary reinforcers and the triggers for unwanted behavior.

Other trainers rely heavily on operant conditioning when trying to combat unwanted behaviors or emotional states. Techniques based on operant conditioning include training an incompatible behavior, bringing an unwanted behavior under stimulus control, extinction by removal of reinforcing events maintaining the unwanted behavior, and use of the LRS (“least-reinforcing stimulus”).

In fact, both classical conditioning and operant conditioning are involved in almost all learning situations. While operant conditioning may be uppermost in the trainer’s mind, classically conditioned stimuli from the environment, internal states, and previous learning may all impact the learning. The trainer working solely with classical conditioning may be unnecessarily prolonging a process that could be hastened by the addition of conditioned reinforcers as markers of desirable behavior.

Kathy Sdao will discuss ways of blending both kinds of conditioning to simplify and speed up both the acquisition of new responses and the repair or modification of existing undesirable behavior or emotional states.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Critical Client Conversation Skills

Please check back soon!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
What a Cue Can Do
In Action (Part 1, Cue Control)
Prerequisite: Related Lab(s):

Participant notes:
To participate, your dog should already be able to do a simple targeting behavior to an object or to someone’s fingertips or hand. Handlers should already be able to use a food lure to elicit simple movements, and have basic clicker training mechanical skills (the treat follows the click, the click overlaps the desired behavior, etc.). You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Stimulus control is the foundation of fluent, reliable, real-life behavior. With a solid mastery of how to add cues to operant behaviors, you’ll maximize correct responses — resulting in better compliance and less frustration for dogs and owners.

In this Learning Lab, you’ll learn two different ways to add a cue to a behavior, how to extinguish off-cue behavior, and how to give a new cue to an old behavior. In-class exercises include adding a cue by fading a lure and adding a cue by using temporal conditioning. We’ll use the science of classical conditioning to improve cue training, and contrast older methods of adding cues with a more clicker-based method.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Foundation
Curtain Up!
Unlock the Secrets to Top Ring Performance - In Action
Prerequisite:
  • Curtain Up! Unlock the Secrets to Top Ring Performance (Learning Session)
Participant notes:

We will have approximately 5 dog/handler teams. Participant dogs should be ready to compete, meaning that the dog skills for their sport are trained. Dogs should also 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 Learning Session.

In this Lab, Michele Pouliot, Emelie Johnson-Vegh, and Eva Bertilsson join forces to share their secrets to top ring performance. Handlers will work on preparing their dogs for starting ring performance with enthusiasm and readiness to take the first cue.

Included in the Lab are instructions for using environmental cues in a way that enhances performance instead of hindering it, and tools and suggestions for structure that will benefit your time in the ring as well as your training.

Don't miss the opportunity to see the US and Scandinavia join forces to tackle this very interesting dog-sport topic. Entering the ring will take on a whole new meaning for you and your dog.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Do You See What I See?
The Benefits of Keen Behavioral Observation

“Be a good student of behavior.”
-- Ken Ramirez

Scientist George Schaller says that to understand behavior, you need “thousand-hour eyeballs.” Trainers can have 10,000-hour eyeballs and still never really know what an animal is experiencing.

The scientific position of attributing human emotional states to animals (anthropomorphism) as being inaccurate, is steadily becoming obsolete. Ethology has taught us that animals are designed to convey their internal states of affect by all kinds of non-verbal movements and gestures, from hunched shoulders and raised hackles, to relaxed body posture and bright, alert eyes. Reading behavioral signals accurately requires giving up assumptions. One must pay attention to objective observations without immediately attributing subjective judgment.

Individual dogs differ; study your own dog. Can you recognize the tension lines in the sides of the face when stress levels get serious? How about respiration rate? Are you aware if your dog sighs? Do you notice that widening of the eye?

Clicker training demands that you develop exquisite observation skills so that you can anticipate when to click. Behavioral observation is a fascinating area of study that is likely to enlighten, and open your eyes wide. Kay will explain how and where to focus your tactical behavioral observations.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Teaching Reactive Dog Class

Have you ever wanted to teach a class for difficult dogs but weren’t sure how or where to begin? What location would be adequate? What equipment is needed? How many assistants are required to teach the class safely?

This 90-minute Session will present a safe and effective class format for dogs who are over-reactive or aggressive toward people and dogs. Through clicker training, it is possible to shape a dog’s emotional state from one of fear and uncertainty to one of courage and confidence.

Emma will give a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation with several videos, and provide students with a week-by-week curriculum and all the information they will need to start teaching either on an individual, or group-class basis.

She will discuss topics such as class rules, how to pick assistants, and how to determine levels of exposure. Foundation behaviors and what to do in case of an emergency are also vital parts of the plan. We will also discuss creativity and the crucial role it plays in rehabilitating the over-reactive/aggressive dog.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Click Your Heels! Heeling for Performance

Please check back soon!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Competing Interests
In Action

Please check back soon!

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Advanced
Ready, Set for Groomer & Vet - In Action
Prerequisite:
  • Ready, Set for Groomer and Vet (Learning Session)
Participant notes:

Handlers should have intermediate or advanced training skills and be able to work their dogs effectively in a distracting environment, with other dogs nearby. Dogs should be familiar and comfortable with general body handling (head, torso, legs, tail), and with a second person approaching, interacting with, and touching them. The dogs should also be familiar and comfortable with a variety of grooming and veterinary props (e.g., grooming brush, nail trimmer, dremel, hair clippers, stethoscope, muzzle, gauze, toothbrush, etc.).

Every dog’s daily training should include grooming and veterinary care. This Learning Lab provides the opportunity to practice the skills and techniques discussed in the prerequisite Session. You'll learn how to effectively weave general husbandry behaviors into other training games and activities that you and your dog already know, as well as insightful ways to keep both the dog and the human learner engaged with husbandry training.

Participants will learn how to set and quickly adjust criteria for husbandry behaviors, as well as how to use canine communication to gauge the dog’s comfort level and readiness for a next step. Behaviors and situations covered may include, but are not limited to:

  • paw handling
  • eye and ear tactile
  • muzzle introduction
  • voluntary injection positions
  • voluntary weight-taking
  • coat care
  • oral care

This Lab will include lecture, video presentations, demonstrations, and working-dog participation.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
At Your Service
Teaching Service Dog Behaviors - In Action
Prerequisite: Participant notes:
Dogs should be clicker-savvy and have a robust behavioral repertoire. Handlers should have a solid grasp of cues and chaining, including back-chaining. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Behaviors commonly used for service work are often simple behaviors trained to fluency and stimulus control, and then chained together to become valuable behaviors that provide crucial assistance to disabled handlers.

Dog/handler teams will have the opportunity to begin chaining some common simple behaviors together to create typical service dog behaviors. These may include "get it/give," "tug/push," and targeting (paw and/or nose). We will discuss and practice chaining, as well as training behaviors to fluency.

Observers and dog/handler teams will learn valuable tips and strategies for teaching chained behaviors that can come in handy around the house, even if you aren't training a service dog.

The Lab will include some brief video examples and step-by-step demonstrations of how to chain and back-chain behaviors, as well as test for fluency.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
The Future is Now
Creating Powerful Trainer/Vet Client Teams

The ideal veterinary model is evolving into one focused on client and patient care. At the same time, veterinary medicine is starting to recognize the importance of animal behavior and welfare. Now is the time for trainers to develop a relationship with their local veterinarians, to assist them with clients’ training and behavioral needs, as well as staff education. Working together as a behavior team, we can have a significant positive effect on pet retention rates and welfare.

This Session will explore practical tips on how to approach veterinary hospitals. This sometimes means stepping outside your comfort zone. Debbie will also address how to triage behavioral concerns, to help you better identify when a veterinarian should be involved in a case. She will also provide case examples.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
Obedience Competition
Break It Down ...To Build It Up!
Related Lab:

Obedience competition exercises are complex tasks. The very word "utility" strikes fear into the hearts of many handlers. But even the most complex exercises are made up of simpler behaviors. We can break these exercises down into small, achievable chunks, to make it fun and easy for both dog and trainer.

In this Session, you'll learn how splitting obedience exercises into the smallest component behaviors and criteria makes training faster and easier, and increases precision and reliability. By watching video examples, you'll learn how to break down advanced exercises and how to save time by identifying basic skills that apply to multiple exercises.

Hannah Branigan, who has titled her dogs in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, agility, and rally, will show you how to maximize your pup's potential and build a partnership that will last for a lifetime. Hannah’s own dogs have multiple class wins; AKC, UKC, and CDSP High in Trial awards; and scores that qualify for several Front & Finish Awards of Excellence (FFX).

The material presented will be aimed at advanced clicker trainers who already have a solid grasp of learning theory, clicker training principles, and shaping techniques.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Who Nose? Scent Discrimination

Dogs are uniquely qualified for, and talented at, using their noses. But, what’s the best way to train dogs to search out and alert on a particular scent or scents?

Ken will explore the training of scent discrimination in a variety of disciplines. He will evaluate the many techniques used for training dogs to use their noses, examining the differences among the techniques. Ken will take what he calls “an outsider’s look at the inner workings of scent discrimination training.”

Ken began working as a consultant in a variety of scent discrimination programs more than 15 years ago—precisely because he had little to no experience with scent training. He was asked to take a fresh look at scent discrimination programs with several search-and-rescue teams (including disaster, avalanche, and cadaver dogs), as well as several law enforcement programs (including explosive and narcotic detection dogs).

This Session will look at all of these types of scent detection work plus some of the newer uses in sport and competition. Ken will evaluate the many techniques advocated by various scent discrimination disciplines and explain what the science indicates about each, ultimately looking for the most positive and effective approaches.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
The Sound of Silence
Accessing the Power of a Withheld Click

Some important characteristics of effective clicker training include high rates of reinforcement, well-timed clicks, and valuable reinforcement delivered strategically.

What about the space of time when there are no clicks? Is the trainer waiting for a desired behavior or is the absence of a click a deliberate tool to change the dog’s present behavior?

In this Session, Michele Pouliot will address how to most effectively use the absence, or withholding, of the click. Trainers make decisions constantly in every training session. The focus in planning a training session is often about the timing of when to administer clicks.

This Learning Session will show how thoughtful decisions regarding when to “not click” result in powerful communication to the dog. Michele will also discuss the prerequisites that the dog must know before the trainer can expand the intentional use of withheld clicks.

This Session will include a PowerPoint presentation and video demonstrations.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Click Your Heels
In Action
Related Lab:

A fluent heeling team is a thing of beauty. A dog and handler moving in sync, appearing to read each other’s minds, is like a dance. The performance may look magical, but there is nothing mystical about it. Heeling is a complex behavior chain that follows the same Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence contingency of any other learned behavior.

In this Session, we will demystify heeling, and in the process, find out why it’s just like any other trick. We will break down the necessary skills and behaviors into achievable components. We will examine thoughtful selection and delivery of reinforcement to teach each of these component skills efficiently.

Depending on the sport, our cues are often limited by the rules. We will learn to use our cues “legally” and creatively; strategic cueing of this nature, as you will learn, allows us subsequently fade the cues for a seamless performance.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Love It!
Effective Non-Food Reinforcement
Participant notes:
Dog should be clicker-savvy, have a robust behavioral repertoire, and already regularly and effectively use toys or play as a reinforcer.

The effective use of non-food reinforcers is a critical skill that all trainers will likely use or need at some point in their training career. Being able to use non-food reinforcers is extremely useful, but requires an understanding of their role in training and a well-thought-out training approach. This stand-alone Lab focuses on two main practical aspects of using non-food reinforcers: how novel stimuli, like clapping and verbal praise, become reinforcers and how to maximize the use of play and toys.

Dog/handler teams will have the opportunity to start training novel stimuli as reinforcers and gain valuable insight from Ken as to how to maintain the strength of these unique reinforcers. In the latter half of the Lab, the focus will be on using play and toys as reinforcers — demonstrating their use with participating dogs as well as maintaining and evaluating their effectiveness.

Observers and dog/handler teams will all get valuable tips and strategies for making non-food reinforcers more effective. The Lab will include some brief video examples and a step-by-step demonstration of how to teach new reinforcers to an animal.

Join Ken Ramirez for this important Lab. You'll "Love It!"

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Competing Interests
Reactive Dogs and the Ring
Prerequisite:
  • Competing Interests: Reactive Dogs and the Ring (Learning Session)
Participant notes:

We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs in this Lab should be emotionally stable and the handlers should be experienced with clicker training. The dogs should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. 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 Learning Session.

Whether in obedience, agility, or some other canine sport, reactive dogs feel the pressure of stress much more acutely than confident and well-seasoned competition dogs. How can we help set up these dogs for success in a highly distracting environment?

When showing your dog in agility or obedience, can your dog wait patiently in the queue while another dog/handler is playing tug right beside you? What if another dog bumps him while walking through the narrow aisles lined with crates? Can your dog watch strange dogs walk past his crate? Can your dog go through the same door that a couple of hundred other dogs have to go through at various times throughout the day?

This Learning Lab will demonstrate strategies and specific exercises that KPA Faculty member and author Emma Parsons uses in her Click to Calm and Control Unleashed classes.

Exercises that will be taught include:

  • teaching the dog how to watch another dog play in close proximity
  • teaching the dog how to accept “hip and butt checks” as other dogs pass by
  • teaching the dog to move behind the handler on cue
Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
Count on Me
Building Trust with Antecedents

When we try to teach an animal that icky things like nail trims, putting on a harness, or scary men in hats predict good things like yummy treats, it can be an uphill battle. This is because the antecedents in those situations often elicit conflicted emotions and set the stage for unhelpful anxieties, causing a kind of “poison cue” effect.

In this 45-minute Session, we will explore a simple yet powerful way to jump-start counter conditioning programs. By turning non-aversive stimuli such as verbal cues, hand gestures, mats, or targets, into OH-BOY!-elicitors, we can create predictable rituals that the animal learners can count on.

We will talk briefly about the two different types of antecedents and look at video examples of this technique applied to common issues: handling desensitization, resource guarding, and reactivity. We will also highlight some pitfalls of using “informational” cues too soon in your training set-ups.

When patterns are clear and consistent, trust grows. Perhaps the best reason of all to use ritualized antecedents is that they sets the stage for handlers and pet owners alike to interact in ways that feel safer and more predictable.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Foundation
Ready, Set for Groomer & Vet
Related Lab:
  • Ready, Set for Groomer and Vet - In Action

Nowadays we know that training is about much more than just “obedience” or “manners” — it’s an essential component of animal care. In fact, in the exotic animal world (where Laura Monaco Torelli began her career), the main focus of training is cooperative husbandry. Good medical health underpins good behavioral health, but many pets, and their owners alike, dread a visit to the groomer or vet. It is problem that can be turned around with a simple proactive approach involving training games and activities.

In this Session, you’ll learn:
  • How to safely and proactively integrate husbandry training into group and private sessions, including how to plan for, practice, demonstrate, and follow up on a variety of behaviors to ease grooming and veterinary care.
  • How to build a great team around each pet’s care, gaining essential buy-in from both clients and their veterinary and grooming professionals.
  • How incorporating training for husbandry can create variety and interest in course content for both owners and trainers.

Join Laura to learn how she successfully integrates her Ready, Set for Groomer & Vet program into group and private sessions at Animal Behavior Training Concepts in Chicago. It has translated into increased referrals from veterinarians, both for everyday training, and for work with dogs (and owners!) who are stressed during routine care.

Whether you teach private or group sessions, work as a groomer or veterinary professional, or just want to improve the veterinary or grooming experience for own dog, you’ll walk away with a new perspective on how training can enhance the relationships between dogs and the people who care for them. Come and get ready… set… for the groomer and vet!

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
The Volunteering Horse
Training Without Pressure

There are so many ways we need to ask a horse to move its body, both on the ground and in the saddle. We want to teach the horses to move forward, backward, toward us, away from us, and to move the front legs, the hind legs, and a combination of both.

Traditionally, these behaviors are taught using pressure. Peggy Hogan will demonstrate techniques for teaching movement using shaping, capturing, and targeting. Even complex movements can be shaped and trained without pressure. Once learned, movements established on the the ground can be cued visually or verbally, or transferred to tactile cues, such as hand touches and lead-rope directions.

Conventional training under saddle involves teaching horses to respond to pressure from reins, legs, and weight by moving away from the pressure to remove discomfort. In training without pressure, the transfer to working under saddle is accomplished by transferring the ground cues to contact cues from legs, weight, and reins—cues that will carry the same information as the conventional signals.

Instead of increasing pressure to produce movement from avoidance while riding, you can simply indicate how to move verbally or through learned contact cues. You have a willing horse, offering behavior instead of resisting.

This Session will include examples, demonstrations, videos, and audience participation.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
"Corrections" & Clicker Training?

The path of clicker training is strewn with questions about interruptions, corrections, and punishment. What's the difference, or are they really the same? What's "legal" in clicker training? What about in an emergency?

This Session will explore concepts from interruptions to no-reward-markers, identifying both good practices to clarify a learner's options and where well-intentioned intervention can inadvertently become punishment. The Session will also cover definitions of commonly used terms and ambiguous or misleading language. You will leave with a new understanding of where unintentional punishment might be creeping into a training program and a new confidence in interrupting unwanted behavior without risking fallout.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Obedience Competition - In Action
Prerequisite: Participant notes:
This Lab will accommodate approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Teams should be clicker savvy and have advanced experience with shaping. Dogs should have a repertoire of fluent behaviors including positions (sit/down/stand), recall, retrieve, and nose and paw targeting. Dogs must be comfortable working in a seminar-type setting, in close quarters with other working dogs. 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 Learning Session.

In this Learning Lab, Hannah Branigan, who has titled her dogs in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, agility, and rally, helps you work with your dog to maximize his potential and build a partnership that will last for a lifetime. Hannah's own dogs have multiple class wins. AKC, UKC, and CDSP High in Trial awards, and scores that qualify for several Front & Finish Awards of Excellence (FFX).

This Learning Lab focuses on building competition obedience behaviors through splitting and then combining criteria. You'll practice shaping the component skills needed for an obedience exercise (such as Drop on Recall) and developing these skills into the fluent behaviors needed in obedience competitions.

The more skilled you are as a dog/handler team when you enter the Lab, the farther we can go!

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
In the Game
Creative Ways to Motivate Distracted Dogs

Participant notes:
We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling and 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.

Is your dog sometimes lacking in focus or enthusiasm? Does it seem like he's just not in the game? Whether he's an exuberant social butterfly who would sometimes rather "go visiting" other people/dogs or a quiet, reserved pooch who's often found sniffing the ground, this Lab is for you!

This Learning Lab will demonstrate some creative ideas to transform a less-than-focused dog into a happy working dog who is engaged and attentive. It's all in figuring out what motivates your dog. Hint: It's not always food!

This Lab, which will include a short PowerPoint presentation, will provide you with a plethora of clever ways to motivate your dog, and get him/her up and working in a whole new way! We will play fun games that are designed to energize your dog and get him "in the game."

What we'll cover:

  • Discovering WHY your dog isn't "in the game"
  • Finding creative new ways to motivate your dog
  • Revealing and learning how to use your dog's likes and dislikes to your advantage
  • Reading your dog's body language accurately
  • Examining your own training habits to see how they might be affecting your dog's desire to "play the game"
Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Perfect Exposure
Getting Socialization Right

Socialization is not just about exposure to novel stimuli. It is about providing positive experiences. Over the years, the importance of early experiences has been recognized by professionals. This is a huge first step.

It is perhaps even more important, though, to recognize that socialization needs to be a pleasant experience for the dog. One must also be able to coach others on how to achieve this. Negative experiences can have a profound detrimental effect on the psychological well-being of the dog.

In this Session, you will learn how to interpret canine body language, how to make exposure fun and rewarding for puppies (as well as adult dogs), and how to avoid some common pitfalls of socialization.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
Fast Learner
The Interplay Between Reinforcement Rate & Criteria

A high rate of reinforcement is often recommended for optimal learning. Although this is a good recommendation, the bigger picture is more complicated. Increasing the rate of reinforcement does not guarantee that optimal learning will take place.

A high rate of reinforcement describes an outcome and leaves unspecified what the trainer does to raise the rate of reinforcement. High rates of reinforcement are a product of well-designed shaping sessions and depend on the criteria for reinforcement, the probability of the correct response, and the trainer’s mechanics. Different strategies for increasing the rate of reinforcement may or may not lead to faster learning. For example, arbitrarily raising the rate of reinforcement can sometimes produce a “stuck” learner or reinforce extra superstitious behavior.

Other ways of increasing the rate of reinforcement, such as periodically asking for easy, well-known behaviors while shaping a difficult behavior, may not improve the acquisition of behavior but may help the shaping process by keeping the animal engaged. Optimal learning happens when high rates of reinforcement are achieved by balancing the criteria for reinforcement with the existing repertoire of the animal. This Session will explore various ways to achieve high rates of reinforcement and their subsequent effects on the acquisition of behavior.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
You Will Love Him Again, One Day
Adolescent Dogs

You have carefully nurtured your puppy through the minefields of social adaptation, and laboriously taught him many, many behaviors that fostered a peaceful coexistence between pup and family. He was a well-mannered pup you were proud of.

Then your very belief in training falls apart. All those great behaviors no longer exist and your call, “Let’s go!” is met with a succinct answer, “Why?” that is received with a view of the back of your dog’s head as he resumes his digging activities.

Adolescence is the age of objection. Objecting that he is still being regarded as a puppy, your dog wants to go hunting as an adult. He does not want to be left behind but, at the same time, wants to enjoy all the richness that life and environment can offer. He’s conflicted. Adolescent bodies undergo massive changes. Hormones seem to dictate outlook, and the obedient legs that once kept your pup close by your side now seem to belong to another body altogether.

With very careful navigating, you can use constructive learning to negotiate a route that protects your well-built relationships with these teenaged souls. By looking into a range of activities and skills that support the developing body through a transition from adolescence to young adulthood, you do not risk jeopardizing your carefully nurtured connection.

One day you will love him again, but for the moment you may well have to rely on patience and constructive learning.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
When the Floor is Food
Training through Distractions

Horse owners have a unique distraction facing them when they leave an arena with their horses and set out to ride. The very ground they walk on can be a valuable resource to the horse!

One of the bigger training dilemmas for a horse owner is working or riding the horse around grass or other potential edibles without having to constantly guard against the horse's desire to snatch a mouthful here and there. But horses can learn, without being reprimanded or physically coerced, that there is a time to graze and a time to focus on the human companion instead.

This Session will include instructions, exercises, video demonstrations, and audience participation, all designed to build skills for training your horse to work willingly on and around grass. Peggy will also discuss gentle treat-taking, "leave it," and the location of treat delivery.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Parameters of Premack
Part 1
Related Sessions:
  • Parameters of Premack: Part 2 (Learning Session)

To use clicker training effectively, we must thoroughly understand what reinforcement means. Too often, we equate positive reinforcement with a piece of food. This works in many cases, but is useless when an animal is too full, frightened, or aroused to eat.

Many trainers talk about “life rewards,” those everyday goodies (e.g., the opportunity to go outside, sniff a tree or greet an approaching person) that can be used to reinforce desired behaviors. This approach is similar to the Premack Principle, named after researcher David Premack, but doesn’t fully take advantage of this important and under-utilized concept.

Kathy Sdao will explain how this laboratory-derived theory can help you expand your motivational menu for training new behaviors and for managing behavioral problems. Discover novel techniques you can use to tap into the full power of clicker training, while being careful to avoid situations when the Premack Principle might create problems.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
The Quadrant Quandry
Clarity & Perspective on an Icon

The quadrants of operant conditioning have been both a help and a hindrance for animal trainers who want to understand more about behavioral processes. When used effectively, the quadrants provide a convenient framework for explaining the defining properties of positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. Sometimes, however, the quadrants are explained in a way that has created confusion about certain behavioral processes, and has invited uses of the quadrants beyond their intended purpose.

Phrases used to describe parts of the quadrants, such as “add good stuff,” “take away something bad,” etc., introduce ambiguity with respect to the procedures, and lead to characterizing certain quadrants as inherently good or bad. This presentation will illustrate problems that arise when we talk about the quadrants in certain ways, and suggest a way to describe the quadrants that minimizes ambiguity and debate.

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
Food for Thought
Tactical Treat Delivery for Fearful Dogs

Overreactions among our pets, as well as aggressive and fearful behavior, seem to become more common with each passing year. There are a variety of techniques for addressing these kinds of behavior, and fortunately, many of these techniques use food in one way or another. Unfortunately, errors in how the food is presented can greatly reduce the effectiveness of these techniques. This Session will explore how to optimize the effectiveness of several common training techniques by improving treat timing and delivery.

Topics covered in this presentation include:

  • food delivery position
  • proper order of events
  • preventing aversive stimuli from “mixing in” with the food
  • how to maximize choices offered to an animal, even when food is present
  • the use of food as an emergency distraction

Attendees will leave this session with a more thoughtful approach to the presentation of food, both in the context of undesired behavior and in more “ordinary” training contexts.

This Session will include videos and examples.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Advanced
Getting Along Famously!
Winning Strategies for Multi-Dog Households

<p>What should you do about bullying in multi-dog households? Can household rules be different for each dog in the household? Emily will answer these thought-provoking questions, and more!</p> <p>One wouldn’t let a toddler and dog decide how to interact with one another. In the same way, one shouldn’t let household dogs choose how to interact with each other without proper guidance.</p>  <p>Emily will discuss how desirable interactions may be achieved: building a connection with each dog in the household, reinforcing appropriate social behaviors, and teaching new behaviors.This Session will include lecture and video presentations.</p>

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Old Dogs, New Clicks
Teaching, Loving & Living with Your Older Dog

Senior dogs are special. They capture our hearts and because of age-related changes to their bodies and their brains, they often challenge our skills as caretakers and trainers. Kathy Sdao will draw material from her recent workshop “The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs” (co-taught with Senior Tellington TTouch® practitioner Lori Stevens).

Topics include:

  • Tips for dealing with lowered appetite
  • Training accommodations for sensory losses
  • Strategies for minimizing age-related anxiety
  • Suggestions for keeping mind & body engaged
Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Click Your Heels - In Action
Prerequisite:

Participant notes:
We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling and 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 Learning Session.

This Learning Lab focuses on splitting competition heeling into component behaviors and putting those behaviors on cue.

We will practice shaping the individual skills to fluency and chaining them together. We will also practice using cues that are allowed in the performance ring, and refining those cues for a smooth performance.

The more skilled you are as a dog/handler team when you enter the Lab, the farther we can go!

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: Advanced
The More Advanced I Get, The Fewer "Advanced" Tools I Need

Many techniques are described as "advanced tools," from variable schedules of reinforcement to no-reward markers. They are more complex tools, certainly, but are they "advanced" and will they advance your training?

This Session will discuss several advanced tools and explore why they're considered advanced, whether and how advanced trainers use them, and when these tools should be used.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
The Power of Habit
Use Operant Conditioning to Become a Better Trainer

When you consider all of the crossover trainers out there, most of us didn't start out with clicker training. Before we learned how to click and treat, we first learned how to correct. Those old habits can be hard to change. Sure, it's easy to stay positive when things are going well, but what about those times when things aren't quite going according to plan?

You trust your new clicker skills in the security of your home, but out in the real world, when distractions are high and others are watching you, do old habits get in the way of good training? What are your emotional patterns? Is it your habit to stay positive, or do you let the stresses of the day get the better of you? How do you develop the habit of being a positively focused trainer so your training matches your good intentions consistently?

As clicker trainers, we're used to thinking about shaping our animals' behavior. In this talk, we're going to look at how you can shape your own behavior in order to change old habits and develop new ones. We'll look at what habits are, and how they are maintained. Session attendees will come to realize how habits help us get through the day without being overwhelmed by decisions, and how habits can creep in unnoticed to impact not just what we do, but how we feel.

We'll look at one habit in particular that can make a huge impact on your training: keeping a journal.  Journaling seems to be one of those "world divides" activities. Are you a good record keeper, with stacks of diaries sitting on your bookshelf? Or maybe you have one notebook, with half a page filled out, the rest serving as a blank testament to good intentions gone astray. You've heard over and over again how important it is to keep good records, but you just can't seem to manage it...

So how do you develop the habit of record keeping? We'll look at several elements you can put into place to create that good habit for yourself. For those of you who are already great record keepers, you'll be able to take these concepts and use them to build any new habit you wish to create for yourself.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Parameters of Premack
Part 2
Related Sessions:
  • Parameters of Premack: Part 1 (Learning Session)

To use clicker training effectively, we must thoroughly understand what reinforcement means. Too often, we equate positive reinforcement with a piece of food. This works in many cases, but is useless when an animal is too full, frightened, or aroused to eat.

Many trainers talk about “life rewards,” those everyday goodies (e.g., the opportunity to go outside, sniff a tree or greet an approaching person) that can be used to reinforce desired behaviors. This approach is similar to the Premack Principle, named after researcher David Premack, but doesn’t fully take advantage of this important and under-utilized concept.

Kathy Sdao will explain how this laboratory-derived theory can help you expand your motivational menu for training new behaviors and for managing behavioral problems. Discover novel techniques you can use to tap into the full power of clicker training, while being careful to avoid situations when the Premack Principle might create problems.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate
Find It!
Activating the SEEKING system

Please check back soon!

Course Type:
Location:
 Portland, OR
Experience Level: All Levels
What Our Body Language Says to Animals

Clever Hans was a famous horse that toured all over Germany in the early 1900s, astounding audiences with his ability to answer complex math questions. Even when his owner was removed from sight, Clever Hans still got the answer right. How could this be? Could a horse really be doing advanced mathematics? Horses were considered to be stupid animals. You couldn't have a horse doing math! So Clever Hans was tested, and it was discovered that as long as he could see someone who knew the right answer, Clever Hans would guess right. Clever Hans may not have been able to do math, but he was brilliant at reading human body language.

We need to keep that in mind when we are training not just horses, but dogs as well. They are all geniuses at reading people. That means that we need to become more aware of the clues/cues we are giving off. Watch good trainers and you will see an economy of movement. They try not to say too many things at once with their bodies. Their cues are clear and consistent. Their animals have no problem reading them. When a handler's body language sends meaningless messages, or messages that contradict verbal or other cues, animals can become confused, frustrated, and upset. Your dog is sniffing the ground, moving away, quitting on you—and you can't imagine why.

In this Lab, we will explore some simple exercises that will help you become more grounded and more aware of the cues, both intended and otherwise, that your animal is picking up on. For example, is your horse a pest when you stand next to him? Does he keep bumping into you and pushing you off your feet? And even more maddening, does he stand perfectly well for your friend? Why are you someone to play with or beg from and she is not? Find out what it means to be grounded, to communicate just what you intend and nothing else, and learn about the effects that has on your animal partner.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Fluency
How to Get the Behavior You Want, When You Want It - In Action
Prerequisite:

Participant notes:
All Levels welcome. In this Learning Lab we will have approximately 15 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should be able to work independently to click and give reinforcers. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Bring your dog to the Learning Lab and improve aspects of fluency on the spot! You will choose 2-3 behaviors and work (with your peers) on an aspect of fluency for each. Or, if just one behavior is vexing you, you may work toward multiple aspects of fluency within a single behavior.

Course Type:
Location:
 Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
On My Mind
Interview with Karen Pryor

Karen Pryor has spent a lifetime teaching, training and working with animals and people. When she started training, marker-based positive reinforcement training existed only on paper. She breathed life into it.

How did clicker training get started? Where does she see her legacy? How has her life changed through clicker training? What has been her most rewarding training challenge? Are we making progress? What enables change on this scale?

Come join us for a first-ever, live-on-stage interview with Karen Pryor. Ken Ramirez looks back and forward with Karen on a purposeful life spent changing the world one click at a time.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels
Friendly Take Over
The Growing Influence of All of Us

People often proclaim that clicker trainers are changing the world of dog training, and indeed we see new evidence of that fact every day. Judging by the number of new books, DVDs, and YouTube videos, the clicker community is also changing the world of horses, cats, zoo animals, and even fish.

Do you realize that we are changing a lot more than that? Every time you help a pet owner catch on to the concepts, every time you share a clicker story with your neighbor, your veterinarian, or your in-laws, and every time you put a clicker video on your Facebook page—you are widening the circle of awareness. The outcome? More and more people who don’t work with animals at all are reaching out to us for help.

In her special Saturday night talk, Karen Pryor will share some of the current projects and personalities she is working with, including: a conductor who wants to make rehearsals more efficient and music education less punitive, doctors bringing shaping and reinforcement (instead of yelling) into the training of interns and residents in hospitals, psychiatrists using our tools to manage extremely challenging mental disorders, and a clicker-savvy mom making life more bearable for the parents of children with autism. Our wonderful technology is going viral at last! What is making that happen is you.

Course Type:
Location:
 
Portland, OR
Dearborn, MI
Experience Level: All Levels