ClickerExpo 2017 | Course Descriptions

Building Behavior: Shape the Future

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Related Learning Lab: 

Building Behavior: Shape the Future - In Action

Some of the most common questions about clicker training relate to getting a new desirable behavior to mark and reinforce. Luring, modeling, capturing, and prompting can take us only so far, and shaping seems like such a complex challenge. Let's talk about splitting a behavior into many tiny steps and progressing smoothly through a training plan to a goal behavior. In this way, animals discover their own creativity, power, and desire to work with a trainer. Shaping is fun for both trainer and learner. It builds a great relationship, but requires comprehension of the game by the animal, and both conceptual and mechanical fluency in the trainer. We will work on concepts in the Session first and then on mechanical and technical skills in the Learning Lab.

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill 

 

Building Behavior: Shape the Future - In Action

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Prerequisite: 

Building Behavior: Shape the Future - Session

Participant notes: 

We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session.

Some of the most common questions about clicker training relate to getting a new desirable behavior to mark and reinforce. Luring, modeling, capturing, and prompting can take us only so far, and shaping seems like such a complex challenge. Let's talk about splitting a behavior into many tiny steps and progressing smoothly through a training plan to a goal behavior. In this way, animals discover their own creativity, power, and desire to work with a trainer faster. Shaping is fun for both trainer and learner. It builds a great relationship, but requires comprehension of the game by the animal, and both conceptual and mechanical fluency in the trainer. We will work on concepts in the Session first and then on mechanical and technical skills in the Learning Lab.

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT
Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill 

 

Food for Thought: The New Research on Human Cognition & Links with Animal Learning

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Lots of fascinating new research has come out regarding the brain, particularly about how our emotions and perceptions are shaped by experience, situation, suggestion, and anticipation. Most of this work is being done with human brains, but there may be practical parallels for canine, equine, and other brains as well. In this hour we'll go over some of the new findings and talk about how they might influence our training with both humans and non-humans.

Location: Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Science, Skill

 

Train That Chain: Behavior Chains

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Related Learning Lab: 

Train That Chain: Behavior Chains - In Action

At some point, we realize that one click and one treat per behavior will be cumbersome to keep up forever; it’s simply impossible for certain important behaviors or 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 focus on:

Defining a behavior chain

Cues as reinforcers

Types of chains

Poisoned cues and their impact on chains

A closer look at back-chaining

Maintaining a chain

Finishing a chain

Varied uses of chains

Duration behaviors as chains

Breaking a chain

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: Intermediate

Topic: Skill 

 

Train That Chain: Behavior Chains - In Action

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Prerequisite: 

Train That Chain: Behavior Chains - Session

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. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. 

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 along with demonstrations by working teams.

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Learning Lab

Experience Level: Intermediate

Topic: Skill

 

Animals in Control: The Choice Is Theirs

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh, Peggy Hogan

Related Learning Lab: 

Animals in Control - In Action!

As positive reinforcement trainers, we work hard at building relationships and creating partnerships with our animals. But there can be a huge difference between simply gaining an animal’s cooperation and giving the animal true choice! Trainers Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson-Vegh, and Peggy Hogan have explored this concept in vastly different scenarios and are eager to share with ClickerExpo attendees.

This presentation, which combines lecture, personal examples, and videos, will introduce various techniques designed to help open the conversation with your learners. These techniques have been used successfully with dogs, horses, and many zoo animals in various contexts, including medical behaviors, challenging working scenarios, or any exercise that may give an animal pause. Teaching animals a way to “give you permission” to proceed or indicate that they are “ready” prevents inadvertent cueing behavior before an animal is prepared or committed to the activity. While all experienced trainers must become skilled at reading their learners’ body language, it is possible to take that skill a step further by teaching the animal to signal or “invite” the trainer to continue. Learn these techniques and you will be able to take another giant step toward the place where you and your animals are full and harmonious participants in a teaching and learning process.

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

Topic: Skill

 

Animals in Control - In Action

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh, Peggy Hogan

Prerequisite: 

Animals in Control: The Choice is Theirs - Session

Participant notes: 

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

We all strive to create a good relationship and true partnership with our animals.

This Learning Lab is designed for clicker trainers who want to take their level of communication with their animals one step further.

In this Lab you’ll experiment with creative ways to ask your animal’s opinion. We’ll play around with giving the animal control over pairing procedures, shaping start button behaviours, and learning how to respond consistently to the cues the animal gives you.

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Learning Lab

Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

Topic: Skill

 

The Fab Five: Concepts That Will Make Your Training Rock!

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

Visiting from Sweden, Emelie and Eva bring a unique training style to ClickerExpo. As readers of their book, Agility Right from the Start, already know, the ideas these two trainers present transfer extremely well to training venues other than agility just as well. In this Session, Emelie and Eva will connect the dots for you, condensing their principles and procedures into “five favorites”—five concepts that will bring your training to new heights.

Are you curious about what “Good Agility Practices” look like when applied to obedience training? Can you see the similarities between heel-work and weave-pole exercises? And, what’s up with those spontaneous starts, anyway?

Everyone committed to reward-based training will enjoy learning from this Swedish duo. If you are looking for a competitive edge or simply for more joy and confidence in your training, this Session is for you!

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: All Levels

Topic: Skill, Competition

 

Thinking Fast & Flow 

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

In this interactive Session, Emelie and Eva will teach you how to advance your training all the way through flow-charting your training sessions.

Flow charts help you prepare for all the possible outcomes in a session, make it easier for you to make decisions, and clarify what actions you should take—and when. Flow-charting will hone your training skills, make the training process cleaner and smoother, and keep you on track with the tools you use in your training.

Flow charts will also help you evaluate new training procedures and customize them to work for you. They are also great tools for clarifying instructions. Flow charts are simply an invaluable tool. Once you start using them, you will wonder how you ever trained without them.

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: All Levels

Topic: Skill, Teaching Others

 

Feel Good Selling: How to Make the Sale & Keep Your Soul

Veronica Boutelle & Gina Phairas

You’re a dog trainer, not a salesperson. If, like most trainers, selling your services is a confounding, nerve-wracking process, this Session is for you. Learn simple, comfortable strategies for turning an inquiry into an initial consult, and an initial consult into a full, pre-paid training package. Learn how to help potential clients take the step to hire you, and how to avoid common mistakes that leave you with unfilled appointments. Veronica and Gina of dog*tec will walk you through step-by-step processes for handling e-mail and phone conversations (including what to do when you can’t take the call live), and for tackling the sales moment during your initial consults. They will share sample sales language, including how to handle that most dreaded question gracefully: “What will it cost?”

Location: Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Course Level: All Levels
Topic: Business

 

Marketing 101 for Dog Trainers

Veronica Boutelle & Gina Phairas

To train dogs for a living you have to have clients. To get clients, you'll need a marketing plan. And if the thought of marketing sends you running for cover or finds you snoring, this Session is just the trick. Gina and Veronica will share innovative marketing approaches designed specifically for dog trainers. Learn creative projects to get vets referring to you without having to sell yourself to them, fun projects to increase your local exposure without spending a fortune, and easy ways to increase business by staying in touch with current and past clients. The best part? You’ll be educating your community about positive reinforcement and clicker training all along the way.

Location: Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Course Level: All Levels
Topic: Business

 

Set Yourself Apart

Veronica Boutelle & Gina Phairas

As a KPA CTP, you hold one of the most coveted, hard-won, and respected credentials a dog trainer can enjoy. Are you making the most of it? In this exclusive Session for CTPs, Veronica and Gina of dog*tec show you ways to package and price specialized training services that make use of your expertise to more fully serve your community’s dogs and dog lovers—and your business. Come ready to put on your creative thinking cap and be inspired! .

Location: Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Course Level: KPA CTP
Topic: Business

 

Step off the Treadmill: Effective Time Management for Dog Trainers

Veronica Boutelle & Gina Phairas

Need a few more hours in your day? Tired of running around like the proverbial chicken? Feeling frustrated about your growing to-do list, and guilty about not having more time for your own dog? If your business is running you instead of the other way around, it’s time for a time-management makeover. You can have two days off a week and a shorter to-do list, and still make a living as a dog trainer. Join Gina and Veronica to learn simple strategies, practices, and policies to increase your productivity, step off the treadmill, and get back in control.

Location: Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Course Level: All Levels
Topic: Business

 

Websites That Work: Keys to a Successful Trainer Website

Veronica Boutelle & Gina Phairas

Your website is your ultimate marketing and sales tool, and it’s a shame to have it firing on anything but full cylinders. A good site doesn’t just exist—it works for you. Your website should answer client questions and make sales, so you don’t have to. Imagine phone and e-mail inquiries from clients ready to hire you, instead of working to convince potential clients who are full of questions that you’re the right choice. Gina and Veronica will share examples of website “do’s and don’ts,” best and worst practices, and before-and-after case studies to show you what makes a website really work. They will provide inspiration and an action plan for building or improving your own most important marketing tool.

Location: Stamford, CT
Course Type: Session
Course Level: All Levels
Topic: Business

 

Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra-Dependability

Hannah Branigan

Related Learning Lab: 

Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra-Dependability  - In Action

For a winning (or even qualifying) performance in the ring, we need accurate, precise behaviors, but we also need those behaviors to be highly reliable. We can’t just train until the dog gets it right; we need to train until he can’t get it wrong!

In this Session, we will explore the process for building robust, reliable behaviors. This process goes beyond simple distraction-proofing. We need complete understanding, flawless communication, and core skills that are so strong as to be automatic. What we need for super-fluent, unstoppable behaviors will be discussed, as will when and how to add distractions without increasing the error rate and putting our precious competition behaviors at risk. 

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: Advanced

Topic: Competition

 

Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra-Dependability- In Action

Hannah Branigan

Prerequisite: 

Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra-Dependability - Session

Participant Notes:

This Lab will accommodate approximately 12 dog/handler teams. Teams should be clicker-savvy and have advanced experience with shaping. Dogs should have a minimum of 3 fluent behaviors under good stimulus control. The behaviors can be very simple (for example: target, sit, down, etc.) and need not be specific to competition obedience. Dogs must be comfortable working in a seminar-type setting, in close quarters with other working dogs, even when excited. 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, we will practice enhancing the fluency of behaviors by introducing challenges incrementally while striving for errorless learning. 

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Learning Lab

Experience Level: Advanced 

Topic: Competition

 

High Precision, High Scores

Hannah Branigan

Related Learning Lab: 

High Precision, High Scores - In Action!

The word precision has somehow become synonymous with “boring”, but this is a misconception! We can have our cake and eat it, too. Obedience is a precision game where our dogs' behaviors are judged down to the inch. Clicker training gives us the scalpel to shape behaviors to the exacting standards of the obedience ring by isolating specific muscle movements. While training for high levels of precision is meticulous and challenging, it can also be fun! We can train for performances that are super-precise, super-accurate, and super-enthusiastic! 

Prepare to dig deep and get geeky in this Session. This advanced presentation is designed for the serious behavior nerd. We will identify what a “perfect” behavior looks like for competitive obedience purposes. Using the magic of slow-motion video, we’ll break down that behavior into specific movements, and examine the physiological basis of those movements. When we understand movements result in the behavior, we can identify specific criteria and set up our session to create the effect we want. Learn to train your eye to see important nuances. We’ll look at shaping plans that give us the precision we need for high scores, while keeping the speed and enthusiasm we want. 

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: Advanced

Topic: Competition

 

High Precision, High Scores - In Action

Hannah Branigan

Prerequisite:

High Precision, High Scores - Session

Participant notes: 

This Lab will accommodate approximately 12 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) and nose and chin targeting, and be familiar with working on platforms. Dogs must be comfortable working in a seminar-type setting, in close quarters with other working dogs, even when excited. 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 we will isolate specific, relevant criteria for high-precision behaviors, such as The Perfect Fold Back Down and The Perfect Tucked Sit. We will isolate specific muscle movements so that we can reinforce exactly the mechanics needed for high-precision behavior. 

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Learning Lab

Experience Level: Advanced

Topic: Competition

 

Retrieve Reboot: Unfreeze Your Retrieve

Hannah Branigan

Clicker training the retrieve is the way to go, of course, whether for business or leisure. But what about when things don’t go as planned? Sometimes, despite best efforts and intentions, the dog just doesn't follow the recipe! Why is it not working, and how can we fix it? 

This Session will look at the common problems encountered training retrieve behaviors, such as: 

Reluctant dogs—“I only open my mouth for food.”

Dogs that actually avoid the dumbbell—“Oh no… not that thing again!”

Overly enthusiastic dogs that chomp and chew—“OMG! DUMBBELL! GIMME!”

Dogs that play “keep away” with the retrieve item—“Mine! Mine! Mine!”

We will peel away the layers of this complex behavior chain, identify complicating factors, and diagnose weak links. We will also explore strategies to problem-solve even the most challenging retrievers!

Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

Course Type: Session

Experience Level: Advanced 

Topic: Skill

 

Triple Planning: Enhance Your Teaching

Hannah Branigan & Laurie Luck

Is lesson-planning confusing and stressful for you? It doesn’t have to be!

Trainers usually know what they want to teach the dogs, but often get stuck accounting for the human portion of the equation. To be effective, all three pieces of the learning team must work together: dog, handler, and instructor. With that many variables and moving parts, planning ahead can mean the difference between a screaming success and a total disaster.

But writing lesson plans for class is about as unsexy as it gets. It’s difficult and boring, and nobody ever compliments you on your amazing lesson plans. (Are you sold yet?) But by applying solid clicker training techniques, we can break down the skills you need to build efficient, effective, and well-organized lesson plans. (And have fun!) What we call triple-planning helps you create lesson materials, as you map out what you, your students, and their dogs will be doing at every step.

This interactive Session will combine learning and practice to make your job easier and your clients more successful through the triple-planning method! You won't just listen, you will DO IT! Learn to organize your content efficiently and how to create a plan to get your client involved and participating effectively. Receive concrete tips you can take home and start using in your business Monday morning!

Attendees will leave this Session:

  • able to reach their clients’ “pain point” successfully
  • having experienced the triple-planning process as the learner
  • understanding how to apply the triple-planning method to their own group classes and private instruction
  • able to apply shaping principles to an improved triple-planning lesson of their own creation
  • Come plan with Laurie and Hannah and experience how satisfying—dare we say fun?—lesson-planning can be!

    Note: If you enjoyed Triple Planning at least year's Expo and want to learn more, the 2017 Session is a great opportunity to review the concepts and practice the implementation.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: Intermediate and Above
    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    Teaching & Training at the Next Level: Karen Pryor Academy 

    Lori Chamberland

    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 maybe 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 Chamberland will give you a taste of content from KPA’s courses and discuss the benefits of a KPA education. There will be plenty of time for you to ask questions as well!

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Teaching Others, Skill

     

    When Good Training Goes Badly: Troubleshooting Your Training Sessions

    Lori Chamberland

    Related Learning Lab: 

    When Good Training Goes Badly - In Action!

    We all have “off” days sometimes. We find ourselves noticing that a training session isn’t going as well as we had hoped. Perhaps the dog is distracted, unfocused, or simply wanders off. Perhaps he just stands there staring or barking at you instead of offering behavior. 

    If your dog had been making progress in a given training session, and you start noticing displacement behaviors such as yawning, lip licking, scratching, or sniffing the ground, he is probably stressed in some way. Aside from some of the non-training reasons why a dog might be stressed, including temperature, injury/illness, and fatigue, there are several reasons why training sessions tend to go “off the rails.” The good news is: there is help to get you back on track.

    In this 45-minute Session, Karen Pryor Academy Director Lori Chamberland takes a look at some of the most common factors that can derail training, and offers solutions to each one.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Foundation 

    Topic: Skill

     

    When Good Training Goes Badly - In Action

    Lori Chamberland

    Prerequisite: 

    When Good Training Goes Badly - Session

    Participant notes:

    We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should have some experience with shaping. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session.

    Have you noticed that sometimes your dog is distracted, unfocused, or simply wanders off? Does he occasionally stand there staring or barking at you instead of offering behavior? If your dog had been making progress in a given training session, and you start noticing the behavior deteriorating or your dog losing focus, there is probably a good reason. 

    In this continuation of the 45-minute Session When Good Training Goes Badly, Lori Chamberland helps you examine your own training with your dog and coaches you through it. In real time, she will work to help you identify what might be causing your dog to lose focus and will guide you toward solving training challenges.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Foundation 

    Topic: Skill

     

    Newcomer Orientation 

    Aaron Clayton

    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. He 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 45-minute introduction to ClickerExpo is a "must" for those experiencing the magic of ClickerExpo for the first time. The Session is a wonderful refresher for Expo veterans, too!

    Attend this Orientation and then follow up with the general Opening Session at 9:00am!

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: General Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

     


    Baby’s First Steps: Foal-Raising 

    Jen Digate 

    Raising a “clicker” foal? Jen Digate will share the things you need to know to raise a happy, healthy young horse. This will include a review of normal developmental stages and how to teach appropriate skills for the appropriate age. She will discuss when to switch from scratching to food reinforcers as well as how to include “mom” in the training scenario safely. Many foals are not handled at all until they are weaned and the process can be quite abrupt and stressful. We all know that it is hard to learn when stressed! 

    This Session will focus on how to train daily and gradually using short sessions so that your foal has the skills to thrive in a complex human world. 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Fear Factors: Understanding and Reducing Fear Across Species

    Jen Digate 

    Fear helps animals survive, but when fear becomes overwhelming or is triggered by everyday situations, learning and safety are both compromised. All animals feel fear, but the expression of that fear varies across species. In this multi-species Session, we will look at: how the function of fear is the same across all animal species, how different species vary in their expression of that fear and what the species-specific expressions look like, and basic training principles working with fearful animals. When those details are more clear, we will explore different animal-friendly techniques for reducing or modifying fear. We will examine target training, counter-conditioning, and teaching incompatible behaviors as ways to modify fear. Within each technique, we will review videos and brief case histories of individual dogs and horses, paying attention to what stays the same across species and what must be modified for skillful species-specific application. Join Jen Digate in this unique Session to delve into the finer print of using positive reinforcement to help animals learn to regulate their fear and regain quality of life. 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Into the Wild: Taming Mustangs Clicker-Style - Part 1

    Jen Digate 

    Jen Digate is passionate about working with mustangs. Traditionally, mustangs are “tamed” or “gentled” by the use of flooding, positive punishment, and “macro” negative reinforcement. These methods are hard both emotionally and physically on the horses and can be very dangerous for the human trainer. The fatigue and danger are relevant to the training of any wild horse.

    What if there was another way? Well there is! Learn how to approach this work clicker-style. What are the component skills for taming feral or wild horses? How do you teach your horse to approach and enjoy being touched before you have access to the traditional tools of a halter and lead rope? Can this be done without roping, round pens, and eliminating choice from the horse? A horse that we consider “tame” simply possesses a unique skill set. What is that skill set and how can we build it using clicker training? All of these questions and skills will be addressed in these two important Sessions. 

    Part 1 will focus on: 

    Taking apart traditional training: science and physiology 

    Using positive reinforcement to create proximity and offered "first touch"

    Teaching initial motor patterns for safety and space management

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Into the Wild: Taming Mustangs Clicker-Style - Part 2

    Jen Digate 

    Jen Digate is passionate about working with mustangs. Traditionally, mustangs are “tamed” or “gentled” by the use of flooding, positive punishment, and “macro” negative reinforcement. These methods are hard both emotionally and physically on the horses and can be very dangerous for the human trainer. The fatigue and danger are relevant to the training of any wild horse.

    What if there was another way? Well there is! Learn how to approach this work clicker-style. What are the component skills for taming feral or wild horses? How do you teach your horse to approach and enjoy being touched before you have access to the traditional tools of a halter and lead rope? Can this be done without roping, round pens, and eliminating choice from the horse? A horse that we consider “tame” simply possesses a unique skill set. What is that skill set and how can we build it using clicker training? All of these questions and skills will be addressed in these two important Sessions. 

    Part 2 will focus on: 

    The anatomy of tameness: working your way over your mustang's body with consent

    Introducing and using equipment in a clicker-compatible way

    Putting it all together as a recognizable and functional skill set 

    Where to go from there! 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Let’s Stay Together: Start Your Horses Under Saddle at Home

    Jen Digate 

    Starting young horses under saddle is a task often left to professionals, a job we "send our horses out" to have done. As more horse owners switch to the positive-reinforcement paradigm, they are finding that they no longer want to send their horses out to be started. “Boarding school” sounds less appealing and owners would rather their horses at home. But where to begin? 

    In this Session, we will look at the basic skill set needed BEFORE you get on your young horse, barometer behaviors for safety, equipment basics, and first rides. This Session will follow a video story of a young horse being started under saddle step-by-step, so that participants can observe all training principles and behaviors with a real horse. Join Jen Digate in this fun and informative Session to learn how to get your young horse ready for riding. 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Consuming Research Without Indigestion 

    Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.

    Related Lab: 

    Consuming Research Without Indigestion - In Action

    SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Swallowing Research Findings Without Chewing Can Cause Indigestion. Reading a research study without the necessary tools to evaluate the validity of the author’s findings can often feel like a bout of indigestion. Not everyone needs to read original research. Academic texts and other trusted sources are often enough. However, this presentation is for those trainers and consultants who want to judge for themselves the extent to which research claims can be considered credible. A systematic approach to evaluating research studies will help you make more informed decisions about how reported findings should impact what you do. In this Session, the logic behind two main research perspectives will be introduced—group designs and single subject designs—and a structured way to evaluate the validity of these designs will be explored.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Science

     

    Consuming Research Without Indigestion - In Action 

    Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.

    Prerequisite: 

    Consuming Research Without Indigestion - Session

    Participant Notes:

    This Lab is for people. No need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills and will have approximately 24 spots for participants.  Observers are welcome; however, only those who have attended the Session “Consuming Research Without Indigestion” are invited to participate.

    In this dog-less Lab, participants working in small groups will have the opportunity to learn how to review research vignettes and evaluate systematically the validity of the authors’ conclusions. The evaluation criteria, known as “threats to internal validity,” will help structure the critique process and subsequent discussion. At the end of the Lab, participants will be able to identify weaknesses commonly observed in research articles, posit rival hypotheses to account for the findings, and assess the extent to which the findings are useful.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Science

     

    Effectiveness Is Not Enough: The Ethical Intervention

    Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.

    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 by the concept "most positive, least intrusive" effective intervention, which has protected children in special education programs for more than 40 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.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: All Levels
    Topic: Skill, Science

     

    Ideas that Should Die: Outdated, Outmoded & Misunderstood Behavior Science

    Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.

    The inertia that results from so-called conventional wisdom about how behavior works is a big obstacle to the widespread adoption of positive reinforcement-based training. Discussions quickly devolve into rancorous debates based on little more than personal belief and political affiliations. One example is the intrinsic vs. extrinsic reinforcement debate. As a result of many myths and misunderstandings, learners fail to benefit from the wellspring of information that is the result of decades of application of the technology of behavior change known as applied behavior analysis (ABA). At the center of this problem is the deeply rooted belief that behavior exists inside individuals, independent of the conditions in which they behave. In this Session, common myths and misunderstandings will be discussed so that participants are better able to address them. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate

    Topic: Skill, Science

     

    The Rat Is Never Wrong: Training with an Errorless Learning Mindset

    Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.

    We all know the saying, “We learn from our mistakes.” But, mistakes resulting from poorly designed training can be costly: Learners practice errors, which can make correct responding less likely, and learners can become frustrated as a result of the low rate of reinforcement. These costs led researchers and practitioners to ask, “Are errors really necessary for learning to occur?” 

    Errorless learning is a term used to describe a teaching approach that reduces incorrect responses. In this presentation, the basic elements of designing an errorless learning environment, and considerations for using errors to improve your training plans, will be discussed.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Science

     

    We Just Have to Dish: Training, Science & Nerdy Stuff with Kathy & Susan 

    Kathy Sdao & Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.

    There’s never enough time to chat, right? You know, time to safely engage in meaningful conversation with colleagues about evolving topics in our field. In this Session, Kathy and Susan invite you to join them in an informal discussion of current practices they have been thinking a lot about lately, such as client compliance, animal consent, naturally occurring reinforcers, and separating negative punishment and negative reinforcement in the procedural hierarchy. Join us as we go off the leash, off the perch, and outside the box.

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Topic: Skill, Science

     

    All Aboard! Trailer-Loading Made Easy

    Peggy Hogan

    Trailer-loading is one of the horse husbandry skills that can be intimidating. When a horse is fearful of the trailer, the situation can be dangerous. Unfortunately, many horse owners avoid training this important skill. With clicker training you have the opportunity to work with a horse that is eager to participate. You also have the ability to train components that can accelerate the learning process.

    Using groundwork exercises, exploratory shaping games, and desensitization, it is possible to work through and practice the physical skills and components that are necessary for trailer loading, long before a horse is exposed to the actual trailer. Follow this accomplishment with a transition to the actual trailer.

    Can you imagine having a horse just walk into a trailer at liberty? Can you imagine the horse being that comfortable with a trailer?

    In this lecture you will view different videos and techniques that can be applied to both the horse that has had previous (and possibly negative) experiences with the trailer and the horse that is being introduced to a trailer for the first time.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Animals in Control: The Choice Is Theirs

    Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh, Peggy Hogan

    As positive reinforcement trainers, we work hard at building relationships and creating partnerships with our animals. But there can be a huge difference between simply gaining an animal’s cooperation and giving the animal true choice! Trainers Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson-Vegh, and Peggy Hogan have explored this concept in vastly different scenarios and are eager to share with ClickerExpo attendees.

    This presentation, which combines lecture, personal examples, and videos, will introduce various techniques designed to help open the conversation with your learners. These techniques have been used successfully with dogs, horses, and many zoo animals in various contexts, including medical behaviors, challenging working scenarios, or any exercise that may give an animal pause. Teaching animals a way to “give you permission” to proceed or indicate that they are “ready” prevents inadvertent cueing behavior before an animal is prepared or committed to the activity. While all experienced trainers must become skilled at reading their learners’ body language, it is possible to take that skill a step further by teaching the animal to signal or “invite” the trainer to continue. Learn these techniques and you will be able to take another giant step toward the place where you and your animals are full and harmonious participants in a teaching and learning process.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Skill

     

    Animals in Control - In Action

    Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh, Peggy Hogan

    Prerequisite: 

    Animals in Control: The Choice is Theirs - Session

    Participant notes: 

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

    We all strive to create a good relationship and true partnership with our animals.

    This Learning Lab is designed for clicker trainers who want to take their level of communication with their animals one step further.

    In this Lab you’ll experiment with creative ways to ask your animal’s opinion. We’ll play around with giving the animal control over pairing procedures, shaping start button behaviours, and learning how to respond consistently to the cues the animal gives you.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Skill

     

    From Fear to Near: Behaviors that Change Horse Husbandry - Part 1

    Peggy Hogan

    Many of today's modern horse owners are faced with a unique situation. While some have boarded their horses at a barn that's complete with turnout, blanketing, training, cleaning, and other care needs provided by someone else, there are increasing numbers of horse owners who have chosen to care for their horses on their own.

    Whether your horse is at home or under your care at a different location, if you are committed to the process of caring for a horse, there is a huge training responsibility that sits on your shoulders. Horses need to have a large repertoire of learned husbandry behaviors in several overall categories.

    Training these care behaviors can be very manageable for the horse owner who is using clicker training. With the tools and techniques you will learn in this Session and in Part 2, you can break the training into components that will make training those husbandry behaviors joyful daily events.

    PART 1 will a focus on shaping, capturing, and targeting as tools for teaching husbandry behaviors. You will see how these tools can become the foundation upon which a trainer can continually build and refine a horse’s skills and repertoire of behaviors. Video will be used to demonstrate many behaviors in the categories of safe ground manners, stationing, haltering, leading, grooming, saddling, and safe feeding rituals.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    From Fear to Near: Behaviors that Change Horse Husbandry - Part 2

    Peggy Hogan

    Many of today's modern horse owners are faced with a unique situation. While some have boarded their horses at a barn that's complete with turnout, blanketing, training, cleaning, and other care needs provided by someone else, there are increasing numbers of horse owners who have chosen to care for their horses on their own.

    Whether your horse is at home or under your care at a different location, if you are committed to the process of caring for a horse, there is a huge training responsibility that sits on your shoulders. Horses need to have a large repertoire of learned husbandry behaviors in several overall categories.

    Training these care behaviors can be very manageable for the horse owner who is using clicker training. With the tools and techniques you learned in Part 1 and will learn in this Session, you can break the training into components that will make training those husbandry behaviors joyful daily events.

    PART 2 will continue to show how shaping, capturing, and targeting can be used for training husbandry behaviors. Included are descriptions and video of the at-home care the horse might require, including preparation for the vet, as well as medical procedures performed by the owner including eye care, worming, foot soaking, minor wound care, hoof care, and preparing a horse for farrier visits.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Safety in Numbers: Working with Multiple Horses

    Peggy Hogan

    An environment with multiple horses (or people) is a growing safety concern for trainers who are using food to train their horses. When someone begins to clicker train a horse, the recommendation is to distance himself or herself from the horse using protected contact as basic skills are established. Examples of beginning horse behaviors include training hand feeding safely, keeping the head forward out of the treat pouch and may include some targeting behaviors. These vital behaviors help establish the purpose of a click. At the same time, the protected contact keeps trainers safe in the initial phase.

    When we move beyond some of the basic behaviors, there may be a situation where the horse becomes animated and assertive—and steps into our space when another horse or even other humans are present. Not only can this be disconcerting to a beginning clicker trainer, it can be dangerous. The behavior may even escalate when more than one horse is present.

    In this Session you will learn how to shape several behaviors that are designed to allow the horse a choice of offered behaviors considered safe for a handler with food. Video and lecture material will help you identify expanded herd dynamics, feeding protocols, general management techniques, and training a variety of behaviors that can make your daily work with multiples safe and comfortable for all.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Do It Again: The Use of Patterns in Training

    Alexandra Kurland

    Patterns are great for learners. Imagine that your horse has just spooked as he came past the arena gate. You’re unprepared for this sudden jump into your space. What do you do? As a clicker trainer, you don’t want to punish him for crowding into you, and the good news is you don’t have to. You’re working in a patterned exercise. You’re walking your horse around a circle of cones. What’s done is done. The jump is in the past, but you will get get a “do-over.” As you walk on around the circle, you will be encountering that scary spot again. This time you’ll be better prepared for it. The repeating pattern gives you time to plan a strategy that will take your horse past the arena gate successfully the next time.

    Handlers are often warned against falling into patterns. Dressage riders are told not to ride their tests for fear their horses will anticipate their cues. What this advice overlooks is the usefulness of patterns. We’re after repeatability. We want strong, clean behavior, each and every time we ask for it. That behavior is built out of the systematic use of patterned exercises.

    Patterned exercises give you the opportunity for “do-overs” and “do-agains.” They provide predictability, something both learners and handlers really thrive on. If you walk once around the circle and then head off in a different direction, your horse or dog doesn’t know what’s coming next. But if you head back around the circle, the dog or horse knows where you’re going, and knows what you’ll be asking for next. You’re going to walk a few steps forward to a cone. You’ll have them stop at the cone, click then treat. They’ll get more treats for standing still, then you’ll ask them to walk forward to the next cone on the circle. Easy!

    The familiar pattern is a predictor of high rates of reinforcement. Your animals will be successful because they know what to do. If you spot a part of the pattern that is too challenging, you can make adjustments. You can break that part down into simpler elements and then work back to the higher level of difficulty systematically. 

    A well-designed pattern contains behaviors that provide balance in your training. If you have an energetic foot-mover, you can reward standing still at a cone with an opportunity to move. If you have an energy conserver, you can flip things around and reward requests for moving with the opportunity to stand still.

    In this Session we’ll be looking at patterned exercises—the benefits of patterns for both the learner and the handler; how to build and use patterns; and how to keep expanding patterns so you don’t get stuck in a pattern rut. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All

    Topic: Equine


    Dr. Dolittle, I Presume

    Alexandra Kurland

    Participant Notes:

    This Lab is for people; no need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills, and there will be approximately 60 spots for participants. Although Alex will use her experiences with horses, the exercises will apply to body awareness for all trainers, no matter what species you work with. If you have attended Alex’s Body Language Lab at ClickerExpo, this Lab will allow you to build and expand on the skills you have already learned. 

    I’m sure many of us who are drawn to clicker training wish we could truly talk to our animals. In many ways, clicker training lets us carry on a conversation. But how clear are we? We give a hand signal with the intention of getting our animal to stop and back up. Instead he swings wide and ends up facing us instead. What has gone wrong? Often the source of the confusion lies in all the conflicting signals we are giving to our animals. We mean back up, but our shoulders are telling our animal to go forward. Which signal should he listen to? Often the signals that win are the ones we aren’t even aware that we’re giving.

    Horses and dogs are geniuses when it comes to reading people. That means that we need to become more aware of the clues/cues we are giving. Watch good trainers, and you will see an economy of movement. They try not to say too many things with their bodies at once. Their cues are clear and consistent. Their animals have no problem reading the cues. When a handler's body language sends meaningless messages, or messages that contradict other cues, animals can become confused, frustrated, upset, and unsuccessful. 

    In this Lab, we will explore some simple exercises that will help you become more aware of the cues, both intended and otherwise, that your animal is reading. 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 nudge and pester, and she is not? You’ll discover the difference that makes a difference in this Lab! Find out what it means to be grounded, and to give clear body language signals so you are communicating exactly what you intend and nothing else. The result will be a clarity of connection that takes you one step closer to truly being able to talk to your animals.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill

     

    Let’s Get Started! Introducing Your Horse to Clicker Training 

    Alexandra Kurland

    You’ve decided that you are going to clicker train your horse. Where do you begin? Even if you are already familiar with clicker training through your dogs, there are some major differences. For a start, horses are 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. This Session 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 initial lessons that are specific to horses.

    Alexandra Kurland writes about this year’s Session on introducing your horse to clicker training:

    “I’ve given this talk at ClickerExpo for several years now, and each time I focus on a different aspect of introducing a horse to the clicker. So if you’re a regular Expo attendee and you’re thinking you’ll skip this talk because you’ve already seen it, think again. You haven’t. This year I’ll be turning the spotlight on yet another aspect of clicker basics that leads to training success with horses.” 

    These lessons are more than a starting point. They create the core building blocks that lead to performance excellence. This Session will outline a training progression that takes you from clicker basics to clicker superstars.” 

    Who is this Session for? If you are new to clicker training horses, this is a must-attend session. It will provide you with a step-by-step structure for getting off to a great start. But what if you are already clicker training horses successfully? This talk is also for you. Whether it’s for problem-solving or advancing a horse’s training, a review of the basics is an important part of every training plan. Focusing on the details of these early lessons and finding the perfection within them creates a straight path to training excellence. 

    So whatever your training goals are—great stable manners, a safe and reliable companion, a confident riding horse, superstar performance, a magical relationship—you can have all this and more with a great start. 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Loopy Training

    Alexandra Kurland

    How quickly can you change criteria? What tells you that your learner is ready for you to move on? Not sure? It’s a question many trainers have. Suppose you are introducing a horse or a dog to a target. After the first touch or two, it’s tempting to begin moving the target around. Both horses and dogs are attracted to movement, so they can usually follow these changes. They are reinforcing you for lumping, making big leaps in your training, instead of breaking the process down into small steps. 

    What’s wrong with that, especially if your animal is tracking the target successfully and getting clicked and treated? When your focus is just on the outcome, touching the target, you often miss important details that are also occurring, details that may get in your way later.

    Alex wants handlers to notice potential problems while they are still little things. That's when they are easiest to deal with—not after the molehill has grown into a mountain. The loopy training teaching strategy helps you notice details, both good things you want to reinforce, and unwanted behaviors you'd like to clean up. Loopy training is going to slow you down so you can progress faster. If that sounds like a paradox, it's not. Loopy training helps you be more systematic so you aren't glossing over issues that will slow you down in the long run. Loopy training gives you clear guidelines for knowing when to increase your criterion and when to linger just a little longer at a particular step. When a loop is clean, you get to move on. Not only do you get to move on, you should move on. 

    Loopy training helps you get it just right! For those who have heard Alex speak on this topic previously, this Session will review those concepts and add in the developments and learning that she has discovered from teaching this concept for many years.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Mat Training: A Power Tool for Trainers

    Alexandra Kurland

    This Session shows you how to transform mats into power tools for your training. You’ll discover the connection between mats, airplane runways, and fine needlepoint. You’ll learn how to apply the Premack Principle to create a self-balancing pattern that will bring your horse onto the mat confidently. And that’s just for starters.

    Once you have good mat manners—meaning your horse will walk on a slack lead to a mat, stop on it squarely with little prompting from you, engage with you in any stationary exercises you may have chosen, and then leave the mat when asked—you can begin to use mats as a power tool. If one mat is good, then lots of mats are even better. 

    Once your horse will stand still on a mat, you can use a mat to teach him to stand quietly for grooming, for veterinary procedures, for saddling and bridling, for mounting. Multiple mats can help a horse load on a trailer, cross bridges, open gates. If you can send your horse to a distant mat, you can send him over jumps, or through an obstacle course. 

    Are you starting or restarting a horse under saddle? Use the mats to give him a safe first ride. Do you need to build your own confidence under saddle? Riding from mat to mat gives you the predictability you need. Is your horse reluctant to go? Or do you have the opposite problem? Is he hard to stop? Mats can help teach both. 

    Under saddle, does your horse crowd the horse in front of him? Does he worry when a horse comes up beside him, or passes too close? Mats can help. This program will show you how.

    There’s nothing magical about these mats. They are really ordinary, that is until you learn how to put the magic in them. 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Riding with Clicker Training

    Alexandra Kurland

    For many people, riding a horse with the clicker seems mysterious. How do you deliver treats? What do you click? Doesn’t your horse have to stop to get his treat? How is that going to work? You click when he’s cantering, and suddenly he’s slamming on the brakes. How can that be right?

    Clicker training is all about breaking down lessons into small steps. Every time you click the clicker you are creating a step in the training. On the ground those steps are easier to understand. If you want to teach your foot-mover of a horse to stand still next to a mounting block, you can see all the preliminary lessons you need to teach before you ever take him near a mounting block. It’s easy to click and hand him a treat. Once you've taught that lesson well, you’ll be ready to put your foot in the stirrup.  When you climb aboard, you’re going to want to take clicker training along for the ride. How do you do that?

    This Session will look at the universals of riding and how to teach them using the clicker. The information crosses all riding disciplines. It doesn’t matter if you ride English or western, if your dream is to ride in a dressage arena or on backcountry trails, there are basics ALL horses need to understand. Remember the very first lessons a beginning rider is taught? This is how you ask your horse to go. This is how you stop him, and this is how you turn. It was often a simple set of instructions.

    Stopping, starting, turning, moving in balance: those are the universals. What separates a novice horse from an advanced performer is how well he responds to those basic requests. In this Session we will tease apart the universals of riding. We’ll see how to introduce the universals to a horse and how to develop those universals into performance excellence. Again, these lessons are independent of riding discipline. We’ll be looking at the overall structure of using clicker training to build performance under saddle.

    (Is this Session is only for riders? Not at all. If you are interested in how to break a complex behavior into its component parts, and then how to teach those parts separately so you can recombine them to create performance excellence, this Session is for you—even if you never intend to put your foot in a stirrup.)

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Get (Buy-) In or Get Out! How to Convince Clients to Adopt Your Training Plan

    Laurie Luck

    Getting clients to buy in to your training plan can make the difference between success and failure. Client buy-in can also be good for your business bottom line—repeat business and referrals depend on it. While we all agree buy-in is a good thing, it's hard to know exactly how to get from “I don't know if this is going to work” to “It worked! You're amazing!”

    Attendees will leave the Session knowing:

  • Why buy-in is important
  • What buy-in looks like
  • The steps necessary to achieve buy-in
  • How to troubleshoot roadblocks to buy-in
  • Which words and phrases will help you build buy-in

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    Help Me Now! Effective Management for Desperate Clients

    Laurie Luck

    Dog trainers get called when a dog's behavior has become a problem. They are often expected to bring immediate relief at that first session with the clients. In response, and too often, we offer the client the same tired phrase: “The problem didn't develop overnight, and we can't solve it one session.”

    Owners need immediate relief from a problem that is causing stress within the family, costing money (or their sanity), and creating potential liability for damage or injury. Gaining client commitment quickly and easily—which ultimately makes our job easier and produces a better outcome—is as easy as setting up a management plan for the client. Management is often overlooked by trainers who want to “fix” the problem and who don't understand the level of “pain” the client is experiencing.

    This Session will provide a framework in which management fits into almost every training plan. It will also explain how to describe and integrate management into your comprehensive training plan, and how sometimes management is all the client was really after (and why that's 100% ok!).

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    Scratch Your Niche: Get the Clients You Want

    Laurie Luck

    Are you tired of selling people on using the clicker for training? Do you wish you could hand-pick your clients? You need a niche. For small business owners, having a well-defined niche is more important than ever. No one can afford to work with everyone who has a dog. Many dog trainers say they target "anyone who has a dog." Some say they target dog owners interested in clicker training, owners in a specific city, or owners who work from home. Each one of those niches is too broad.

    This Session will make a case for every clicker trainer to develop a niche—a specialty—that can set him or her apart from every other dog trainer in the town or service area. You'll learn the benefits of creating a niche (more money, more customers you love, just to name a few), how to create your own niche with a step-by-step plan, and you'll even leave the Session with a worksheet to help you create and build your niche.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    Triple Planning: Enhance Your Teaching

    Hannah Branigan & Laurie Luck

    Is lesson-planning confusing and stressful for you? It doesn’t have to be!

    Trainers usually know what they want to teach the dogs, but often get stuck accounting for the human portion of the equation. To be effective, all three pieces of the learning team must work together: dog, handler, and instructor. With that many variables and moving parts, planning ahead can mean the difference between a screaming success and a total disaster.

    But writing lesson plans for class is about as unsexy as it gets. It’s difficult and boring, and nobody ever compliments you on your amazing lesson plans. (Are you sold yet?) But by applying solid clicker training techniques, we can break down the skills you need to build efficient, effective, and well-organized lesson plans. (And have fun!) What we call triple-planning helps you create lesson materials, as you map out what you, your students, and their dogs will be doing at every step.

    This interactive Session will combine learning and practice to make your job easier and your clients more successful through the triple-planning method! You won't just listen, you will DO IT! Learn to organize your content efficiently and how to create a plan to get your client involved and participating effectively. Receive concrete tips you can take home and start using in your business Monday morning!

    Attendees will leave this Session:

  • able to reach their clients’ “pain point” successfully
  • having experienced the triple-planning process as the learner
  • understanding how to apply the triple-planning method to their own group classes and private instruction
  • able to apply shaping principles to an improved triple-planning lesson of their own creation
  • Come plan with Laurie and Hannah and experience how satisfying—dare we say fun?—lesson-planning can be!

    Note: If you enjoyed Triple Planning at least year's Expo and want to learn more, the 2017 Session is a great opportunity to review the concepts and practice the implementation.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: Intermediate and Above
    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    Your Target Market: How to Have Better Clients, More Success & Way More Fun

    Laurie Luck

    Have you ever wondered “Just what is a target market? And how on earth do I figure out mine?” Perhaps you're wondering exactly what a target market can do for your business? This Session will introduce you to target markets.

    You'll learn:

  • What a target market is
  • How developing a target market can help you find clients and make more money
  • Tools to define a target market for your own business
  • Tools to research your own business geographical area to help you define your target market more accurately
  • Still not sure you need a target market? Here are five benefits to having a target market. Come to the Session to learn how to create your own!

  • You’ll be working with people who value what you offer
  • You’ll have more effective marketing spending—and may not have to spend any $ at all!
  • You'll focus your messaging on your ideal customer's needs, not the needs of every dog owner
  • You'll make better use of your time—you can spend more time with your best customers and less time dealing with low-value prospects
  • You’ll be easier to refer to!
  • Once you get into your target market and educate potential clients on the value of working with you, referrals will be easier to earn.

    This Session is targeted to small-business owners who haven't thought too much about a target market, but know that it's important, and who want to learn more.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    The Animal Behavior Healthcare Team: Real-World Trainer & Veterinary Collaboration Models 

    Debbie Martin

    Veterinarians and professional modern trainers have the same goals: to improve the human-animal bond, relieve pain and suffering (physical and emotional), and to do so without doing harm to the patient. A collaboration between these fields creates a complete animal behavior healthcare team and benefits all parties: the trainers, veterinary professionals, the clients, and the pets! This Session will explore the possible roles of trainers within the veterinary field, including assisting with patient behavior evaluations and with behavior modification implementation. Debbie will also explain how to triage behavioral concerns, to help you identify when a veterinarian should be involved in a case. Case examples will be used to facilitate the learning process.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management, Veterinary

     

    Crossing Chasms: Understanding Trainer & Veterinary Perspectives on Animal Care 

    Debbie Martin & Ken Ramirez

    Trainers and veterinarians have so many things in common. They all:

    Are passionate about animals

    Have a desire to provide the animals they work with the best care possible

    Work with individual clients 

    Are professionals with unique knowledge and skills

    Despite these common goals, the tension and difficulties these professionals sometimes face when working together can create serious problems that get in the way of serving the clients and their animals successfully. In this Session, Debbie and Ken will share their experiences, each having worked extensively on both the training and veterinary sides of animal care. The goal is to share the unique perspectives of both professions and suggest steps that will aid in improved cooperation.

    Debbie will focus on the medical model for behavior classification, the challenge of communication between professionals who are often the authority figures in their fields, the perspective of the trainer and the perspective of the veterinarian (common concerns each has about each other).

    Ken will focus on a model that has been successful when veterinarians and trainers are working for the same organization, and how that model might transfer to those working with individual clients. He will also share his perspectives on communication challenges, individual perspectives, and solutions for working together. 

    Ken and Debbie will then open the Session to questions and discussion from attendees, looking for additional perspectives and questions that can help all of us move toward a more cohesive approach to accomplishing animal health care goals.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All levels

    Topic: Veterinary

     

    Elimination Happens!

     

    Debbie Martin

    A top behavioral reason why dogs and cats are relinquished is inappropriate elimination. Pet owners do not care if Fido can do a 3-minute down stay on his bed as an adolescent if he is still urinating and defecating on their family room carpet. Acquire some quick tips for helping pet owners be successful with teaching appropriate elimination habits for dogs and cats. Find out what questions to ask to determine if the behavior is possibly related to a medical condition or lack of training, or due to stress or anxiety.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Foundation

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    Help Your Teacher Help You

    Theresa McKeon

    As a student, you appreciate a knowledgeable teacher—but sometimes the abundance of information from a teacher can be overwhelming. Maybe you are an instructor who has seen your students glaze over, but you’re not sure where you lost them. Clear communication with students is the most important ingredient in any educational setting, and is something that is rarely established.

    In this Session, we’ll talk about effective student-teacher communications so that you can make the most of each session together.

    We’ll use TAGteach WOOF principles:

    What you want

    One thing

    Observable

    Five words or fewer

    The Session will also provide other techniques to encourage concise instructions, timely feedback, and positive reinforcement from your teachers. And, just in case you encounter a stubborn case of over-coaching, we’ll discuss how to reduce incoming information quickly and create your own focus points. You’ll be amazed at the amount of success you can have when you know how to “Help your teacher help you.”

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Teaching Trainers

     

     

    Look Away from the Dog

    Theresa McKeon

    Why look away from the dog? Because if you’re going teach a person to handle, train, or compete with a dog, you’ll eventually have to look at the person.

    Don’t worry, this Session will demonstrate how trainers can switch their focus from the dog, to the human, and back again efficiently and without missing a beat. Through videos, lecture, and audience participation, we’ll work through the details of human training when the human is in partnership with an animal (dog, horse, llama, bird, etc.)

    Included in the discussion:

    Finding motivation to focus on the human

    Human or animal partner—Who should learn which skill first?

    Developing a dedicated curriculum for the human client

    Describing to clients the benefits of training first without their animal partners

    Detecting clients’ hidden fears of training without their animal partners

    The logistics of separating the humans from their animal partners in a class scenario

    Identifying human behavior that can influence learning, including displacement behaviors and calming signals

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    Practice Makes Perfect - with Locum! 

    Theresa McKeon

    Participant Notes: 

    This Lab is for people; no need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills and will have approximately 50 spots for participants. 

    Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means “temporary substitute.” 

    In this Lab, stuffed animals, mirrors, video, magnetic boards, and helpful humans will be the substitutes for live animals while you build your skill set and confidence. You can relax while practicing with a partner that never gets confused or stressed out. We’ll have stations for stress-free practice of clicker mechanics, agility and freestyle movements, and even delivering cleaner cues. You’ll take away great ideas on how to create “Locum” training at home with family, friends, and clients. Don’t worry; no animal will be harmed when you practice with Locum!

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill

     

     

    Control Is an Illusion: Stimulus Control without Frustration 

    Sarah Owings

    Related Learning Lab: 

    Control Is an Illusion - In Action!

    “Good stimulus control is nothing more than true communication—honest, fair communication. It is the most complex, difficult, and elegant aspect of training with positive reinforcement.” - Karen Pryor

    Stimulus control is not about how much control you have over your animal, but about how precisely you are able to communicate when reinforcement is available for a behavior and when it’s not. Stimulus control is also a reflection of overall dog and handler fluency at the moment the cues are learned. We’ve all seen or worked with dogs that fidget, pant, bark, and throw every behavior they’ve ever been clicked for when they are not quite sure what you want. These responses are not caused by over-arousal or the use of food in training, but by unclear criteria, unclear context cues, unhelpful defaults accidentally reinforced in past training sessions, and the resurgence of incomplete behaviors that were never fully put on cue to start. 

    The goal of this Session is to highlight the importance of stimulus control by looking at ways to refine how to teach it. Happily, the use of extinction is not necessary. There are far less frustrating methods to get behaviors on cue efficiently, as well as to make it clear exactly when we want our animals to offer behavior, and when we want them to wait. If you’ve ever struggled with a “frantic dog,” have a dog that frequently goes off course because fun obstacles keep trumping your directional cues, or have a dog that has a start on lots of behaviors that you now want to get on cue more reliably, this is the Session for you! 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All

    Topic: Skill

     

    Control Is an Illusion - In Action!

     

    Sarah Owings

    Prerequisite: 

    Control Is an Illusion: Stimulus Control without Frustration - Learning Session

    Participant Notes:

    This Lab will accommodate 10 dog/handler teams. Dog/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 comfortably. You may participate with your dog, or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. Participants that attend the pre-requisite Session for this Lab will get the most out of the exercises. (Please refer to Session description.)

    Bring your training to a new level of clarity in this practical, skill-based Lab. Depending on what each dog team teaches us in the moment, using some of the techniques listed below we will focus on how to attach cues to new behaviors cleanly. Another focus will be how to make it clear when you want dogs to stop offering behavior and wait for cues instead. 

    Teaching for Fluency—Shaping a simple interaction with an object (which we will then put on verbal cue), we will review practical ways to eliminate confusion and unhelpful default behaviors from the learning process right from the start. 

    Cue Slides—How to begin the process of attaching cues with the lowest chance of error 

    Anchoring—A simple feeding technique to hold the dog in position and establish a default wait

    Yes Stop/Yes Go—Using the clicker to pinpoint when NOT offering behavior is the correct choice

    Cue Roulette—Using known behaviors to scaffold your dog’s understanding of new cues 

    Troubleshooting Tips—What to do if the dog makes a mistake or begins to get frustrated 

    This will be a highly focused, working Lab with demos and some group discussion, if there is time. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Intermediate

    Topic: Skill

     

    Inside Out: How Understanding Emotions Makes for Complete Training 

    Sarah Owings

    From “capturing calmness,” to “building drive,” the training goals we set for our dogs often have a strong emotional component attached. We want relaxation at home, and focus in the ring. We hope to raise confident puppies, and strive for joyful engagement when we train. But what does “teaching for emotional fluency” look like in practice? Is it even accurate to say that we can “capture” an emotion, or “build" it with reinforcement? When we achieve fluent behavior, such as a consistently flashy finish, or a solid relax on a mat, do emotions come along for the ride, or are they, in fact, driving the bus? When an emotional response appears to change, what is really being learned? And does drool equal happiness anyway? 

    Come explore these questions, and many others, as we refine our understanding of how emotions affect both what and how we train. Learn to swap vague emotional labels for observable criteria, how crucial cues are as conduits of emotion, how to elicit the emotions that will best support your goals effectively, and how to use the power of operantly shaped behavior to change emotions from the outside in. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill

     

    Play it Forward: Using Cues to Make Play Fun Again 

    Sarah Owings

    Participant Notes: 

    This Lab will accommodate 6 dog/handler teams. It will be especially appropriate for dogs that lack motivation to play, and for dogs that tend to struggle with self-control around toys. Please do not bring any fearful dogs or dogs that have resource-guarding issues! Dogs should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs around food and toys, and be able to comfortably offer attention to their handlers around other dogs playing. 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. 

    We will be working with food tossed on the ground, as well as a variety of toys. Some toys and balls will be provided, but if your dog has any favorite tug or fetch toys, or you have toys you wish your dog would enjoy playing with more, feel free to bring them. 

    The only thing more exhilarating than playing with your dog is knowing how to play skillfully. In this special two-hour, Lab-only Session, we will focus on teaching and handling strategies that can transform run-of-the-mill fetch and tug games into a fluent vocabulary of play-related cues. Although each exercise will be adapted to meet the needs of participants, we will have two specific types of players in mind: 1) the so-called “hard to motivate” dog that seems too inhibited to fully enjoy play with humans, or shuts down when asked to play in new environments; and 2) the more “over-the-top” or “toy-crazy” dog that plays with such abandon, it can sometimes be difficult to use toy reinforcers in training sessions effectively or safely. 

    For the more play-inhibited dogs, patterns of reinforcement that build anticipation, and shaping for enthusiasm incrementally, can work wonders. For dogs already over the top about toys, instead of “impulse control,” our goal will be to clarify the exact meaning of each play-related cue via consistent handler communication, improved trust, and better stimulus control. 

    NOTE: The exercises covered in the Lab may change depending on what each dog/handler team teaches us in the moment, but here are a few examples we may draw from. 

    CUES FOR PLAY-INHIBITED DOGS:

    1. “Touch!”—using a fun, fast nose touch to a toy in place of tugging or fetch 

    2. “Love that Glove”—meatballs in a glove (plus targeting) to inspire fast runs to a tossed toy (credit: Helix Fairweather) 

    3. “Kill it!” —shaping for enthusiasm while tugging 

    4. “Whoo hoo!”— a conditioned Jackpot signal, great for dialing up excitement while playing

    5. “Get-it!”—a fun movement cue taught with food tosses

    CUES FOR TOY-CRAZY DOGS:

    1. “Drop” / “Out” / “Give”—improving latency on toy release to hand

    2. “Go!”—conditioned fetch cue that means you are throwing long

    3. “Tug!”—improving stimulus control on your dog’s strike to a tug

    4. “Catch it!”—conditioned movement cue that means you are throwing high

    5. RELEASE—to toy on floor or Zen bowl 

    6. “Trade!”—accepting food for a toy without conflict

    7. “All done”—how to end the game without punishing desirable responses (such as giving you the toy back when you ask for it)

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill

     

    What a Cue Can Do - In Action!

    Sarah Owings

    Prerequisite: 

    What a Cue Can Do: Developing Cueing Skills - Session

    Participant notes:

    We will have approximately 10 dog/handler teams. To participate, your dog should already be fluent at performing a simple targeting behavior to an object or to someone’s fingertips or palm (i.e., be able to do at least 5 repetitions in 30 seconds of “touch nose or paw to target — hear click — eat treat — return immediately to touch target again”). Handlers should 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.

    We will add a cue to a simple targeting behavior, and then begin the process of teaching the dogs to wait for that cue. We will add a different type of cue to a previously known behavior (e.g. physical for verbal) and, if time allows, may also spend time problem-solving individual cueing-related issues handlers may be having with their dogs.

    Lab participants will get a chance to refine their understanding of how to add cues to newly shaped behaviors. Skills covered will be:

    1. How to know when a behavior is ready for a cue

    2. How to present cues cleanly and consistently, so what you are signaling makes sense to your animal 

    3. How observation and great timing help minimize cuing errors 

    4. How to respond if your animal makes a mistake 

    5. How to begin teaching your animal to wait for cues, without the use of extinction

    6. How to replace ineffective or poisoned cues with new ones 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Lab

    Experience Level: Foundation

    Topic: Skill 

     

    The Anatomy of an Aggressive-Dog Training Plan

    Emma Parsons

    Now that you have decided to see clients whose dogs have aggression issues, what should be included in that type of lesson? Are you going to focus directly on the behavioral issue that the client is calling about or will you provide enough additional information to help the client stabilize this dog’s life? Will you give all of this information in one visit or will you spread it over the course of three? And how will you check up on the dog and client? Will you charge for this service? All of these questions will be answered in this Session.

    When I treat dogs that have aggressive tendencies with both people and other dogs, I see the solution as a big puzzle where pieces such as dog parenting, diet, clicker training foundation behaviors, and management fit together perfectly. Although I am not going to teach the Click to Calm method per se, I am going to give you some training plans that have been used successfully to help treat dogs that have these issues.

    In this Session, I will take you through my thought processes as I deal with aggressive dogs. We will walk along the continuum: everything from the first date of contact to the training session itself to the follow-up. Real-world, current case histories will be used as models to learn from.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    At Long Last! Creating Longer-Duration Behaviors

    Emma Parsons

    Related Learning Lab:

    At Long Last! Creating Longer Duration Behavior - In Action!

    One of the biggest challenges in animal training is to create a behavior, put it on cue, and have it demonstrated until completion is signaled. The behavior can be in the form of a moving behavior like heeling or backing up, or a stationary behavior like a sit, down, or stand stay. To accomplish all three parts of the challenge, the behavior must be reliable so that it can be replicated, or in the case of a static behavior, the dog must be able to maintain a certain position for a long period of time. The timing of the click has to be exquisite in order for it to mark the correct behavior, especially teaching a dog to hold an object. 

    Through the use of a PowerPoint Presentation and video, we will explore these training principles and how to implement them in your training plan.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill 

     

    At Long Last! Creating Longer-Duration Behaviors - In Action

    Emma Parsons

    Prerequisite:

    At Long Last! Creating Longer Duration Behavior - Session

    Participant notes:

    We will have approximately 8 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should have some experience with shaping. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session.

    In this Lab, we will work on extending the duration of several moving and stationary behaviors. Moving behaviors include heeling and backing up while, stationary behaviors include sits/downs, holding an object and chin targets.

    Since this Lab focuses on maintaining the duration of a behavior, and not the creation, participants’ dogs need to know these behaviors reliably beforehand. In that way we can work specifically on extending the duration of that previously learned behavior.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    Reactive-Dog Games 

    Emma Parsons

    These games are used in my advanced-level reactive-dog classes to teach students how to juggle both a real task, such as carrying a bowl of water, while heeling their reactive dogs in a classroom situation. 

    Games such as Red Rover, Musical Chairs, Tag, and Soccer will be played and discussed. Please note that all of the games, although made challenging, will never put a student and a dog at unnecessary risk. The game that I choose for each class is based on the advanced skill set that each dog/handler team has. Not every student will play every game.

    Not only are these games a blast, but they are also very effective in teaching the reactive-dog handler to deal with challenging, real-world situations in a safe environment.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: KPA CTP

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    Ready or Not…? Working With Reactive Dogs

     

    Emma Parsons

    If you are a dog trainer and are considering adding reactive/aggressive dogs to your list of services, then this Learning Session is for you!  No doubt you have been asked to work with dogs that may be outside your comfort zone.  Maybe you have found yourself in a situation that was more complex than you imagined. From the outside it can look like it’s easy to make a distinction about which behavior problems are in your comfort zone and which ones are not, but it’s not uncommon for the behavior waters to be look much less clear than that once you’ve waded in. In this Session, Emma will help you figure out if you are ready to work with reactive dogs and in what capacity. 

    Emma will explore the skills you need, the expectations you must have, and the planning and infrastructure necessary to decide intelligently whether you are ready and willing to see this type of problem dog. Topics include: safety in the home, skill and experience needed to make effective training recommendations, constructing a detailed training plan, and tactfully handling the emotional responses of the client while always keeping the animals interests front and center.

    Dealing with behavior issues of this magnitude, it is extremely important to be able to communicate your views to the client without getting flustered and passing judgment. Many of these clients have worked with trainers in the past who may have punished their dogs severely. Now it is up to you to try and get the dog on a safe and successful track. Or not. The best thing about knowing what’s involved is that you can opt-out or opt-in based on whether you are, in all aspects, ready...or not

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    Collar Cues: Communicating through Touch

    Michele Pouliot

    Related Learning Lab: 

    Collar Cues - In Action

    Collar cues are valuable communication and training tools that are applicable for any service-dog work or dog-sport training. Clicker training your dog how to move via directional collar cues opens a gateway to faster, more efficient training, and provides an additional communication tool when training new behaviors or improving existing behaviors. Training young puppies how to respond to collar cues can provide a powerful foundation skill that supports many other goals.

    Join internationally renowned guide-dog trainer and multi-time world champion freestyler Michele Pouliot as she shows you how clicker trained collar cue behaviors can become powerfully positive training tools to add to your toolbox.

    This Session is recommended for anyone starting to train a new puppy, training service dogs of any type, competing in canine sports, or simply desiring an easily managed dog on leash.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Skill

     

    Collar Cues - In Action!

    Michele Pouliot

    Prerequisite: 

    Collar Cues: Communicating through Touch

    Participant notes: 

    We will have approximately 6 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.

    Collar cues are valuable communication and training tools applicable for general dog training, service-dog work, or dog-sport training.

    This Learning Lab will demonstrate how to clicker train dogs to move with directional collar cues. Collar cue behavior provides an additional communication tool for training new behaviors or improving existing behaviors. Join top guide-dog trainer and multi-time world champion freestyler Michele Pouliot as she shows you how collar cues, trained via the clicker, can give you just the right touch.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Skill

     

    The Sound of Silence: Assessing the Power of a Withheld Click

    Michele Pouliot

    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 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. Another training preparation topic is when “not to click”.

    This Learning Session will show how thoughtful decisions regarding when to “not click” result in a powerful communication tool with your dog or any animal. Michele will also discuss the prerequisites that the learner needs before the trainer can effectively apply intentional withheld clicks.

    This Session will include a PowerPoint presentation and video demonstrations.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Course Level: All Levels
    Topic: Skill

     

    Taking Platform Training to New Heights 

    Michele Pouliot

    Participant notes: 

    We will have approximately 4 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should have advanced experience with platforms. Platform equipment will be provided; working participants are welcome to bring their own platforms. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. 

    Raised platforms of all sizes and shapes have become globally popular tools for all kinds of training. In 2010, Michele Pouliot broadened the use of platform training techniques with her DVD Step Up to Platform Training. Since then, the use of raised platforms in training has expanded worldwide.

    This Session and Learning Lab will include both training demonstrations and direct work with dog/handler teams. The Learning Lab will focus on expanding the application of platforms in training, providing creative ideas for training new behaviors and for solving training problems. Learn how to use raised platforms in more advanced arrangements and scenarios to take your training to new heights. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session and Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Competition


    Tricky Motivators

    Michele Pouliot

    Participant notes: 

    We will have approximately 5 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should have some experience with shaping. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session.

    This is a combination Learning Session and Learning Lab, mixing lecture with-hands on training for working participants. This Session will include PowerPoint presentation, video demos, and hands-on training exercises with working teams. 

    This Lab will focus on clicker training a variety of trick behaviors, with a goal of discovering new and useful motivators for your dog. Tricks are entertaining and fun to train, but they can also be applied as rewards and motivators for performance. In addition, trick training can continue to expand the handler and dog’s abilities in shaping behavior.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session and Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Skill

     

    Turn Me On… (or Not): Inspiring Others to Choose Positive Reinforcement Training 

    Michele Pouliot

    Are you critical of traditional training and individuals who continue to defend punishment-based methods of training? Do you want those trainers and training programs to change to positive reinforcement training? Are you new to clicker training and are at Expo to learn more about these reward-based techniques? Feeling overwhelmed with how much there is to learn?

    Changing an experienced trainer skillset over to a very different trainer skillset is not an easy journey. Many individuals are facing the challenges of learning and trusting in a new way of training. Experienced positive reinforcement trainers can feel impatience with organizations or individuals they see being reluctant or simply very slow to adopt modern training methods.

    This Session will help you understand the process of changing for yourself, your own organization, or with others in your life. Michele Pouliot has impacted the international guide dog training world effectively, shifting the historical beliefs in successful traditional methods to the adoption of clicker training among a majority of programs. Michele has become an expert on motivating and assisting programs and individuals in change, and will share what she has learned over her now 16-year journey as a changemaker.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels 

    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    Are You as Smart as a Dog?

    Ken Ramirez

    For more than a decade, Ken has been sharing his approach to conceptual training at ClickerExpo! These Sessions have helped attendees advance their training by approaching advanced concepts [remove this word very] systematically (modifier cues, adduction, matching to sample, mimicry, and many more!). But the Sessions have also led to some interesting research opportunities for Ken.

    Most recently Ken demonstrated how to teach dogs to count! But what started as a basic conceptual project continued to get bigger and more complicated. Various scientists convinced Ken to take the project further and turn it into real research. Ken was blessed to have an enthusiastic dog that seemed to enjoy the process of learning, so he continued the project to new levels. To the best of Ken’s knowledge, he has taken this project further than has been attempted with any dog previously. His research also revealed contradictions and controversy within the child cognitive psychological community. These developments prompted additional questions about what the new information might indicate about a seldom-studied cognitive ability in dogs. 

    In this Session, Ken will share the various phases of the project, including teaching the concept, the challenges of turning it into research, and how the project evolved over time. In addition, he will reveal some of the data from this project and discuss the implications as he compares that data with research performed with children.

    Location: Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Science, Skill

     

    Closing Session: Have You Seen That? 

    Ken Ramirez

    Positive reinforcement training has been used in unique ways to problem-solve and accomplish amazing things in all corners of the world. Take this opportunity to view the power of clicker training in environments and applications that will delight, surprise, and inspire before you head home. A “don’t-miss” Session with Ken.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Plenary Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

     

    Crossing Chasms: Understanding Trainer & Veterinary Perspectives on Animal Care 

    Debbie Martin & Ken Ramirez

    Trainers and veterinarians have so many things in common. They all:

    Are passionate about animals

    Have a desire to provide the animals they work with the best care possible

    Work with individual clients 

    Are professionals with unique knowledge and skills

    Despite these common goals, the tension and difficulties these professionals sometimes face when working together can create serious problems that get in the way of serving the clients and their animals successfully. In this Session, Debbie and Ken will share their experiences, each having worked extensively on both the training and veterinary sides of animal care. The goal is to share the unique perspectives of both professions and suggest steps that will aid in improved cooperation.

    Debbie will focus on the medical model for behavior classification, the challenge of communication between professionals who are often the authority figures in their fields, the perspective of the trainer and the perspective of the veterinarian (common concerns each has about each other).

    Ken will focus on a model that has been successful when veterinarians and trainers are working for the same organization, and how that model might transfer to those working with individual clients. He will also share his perspectives on communication challenges, individual perspectives, and solutions for working together. 

    Ken and Debbie will then open the Session to questions and discussion from attendees, looking for additional perspectives and questions that can help all of us move toward a more cohesive approach to accomplishing animal health care goals.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All levels

    Topic: Veterinary

     

    Dr. No: How Teaching an Animal to Say “No” Can Be the Right Prescription

    Ken Ramirez

    Positive reinforcement trainers try to create a safe and nurturing learning environment for animals. When done properly, this makes the learning process fun, and the animal will participate in sessions eagerly. It is common for trainers to point out that their animals have the choice to participate, and that the lack of the use of punishment creates a stress-free working environment. Ken believes these statements to be true when everything is done correctly. 

    Choice and control have been proven to be powerful reinforcers for most learners. Trainers in recent years have explored how to provide more options in their training. Over the course of Ken’s career as a consultant and problem-solver, he has encountered situations where the relationship and trust between trainer and animal appears to have become strained for various reasons. In a few of the more extreme situations, Ken initiated a protocol in which the animal was taught how to indicate that it did not want to do a particular behavior. In essence, this was teaching the animal to say “no!” In all four cases where this protocol was used, it resolved the problem behavior and moved the animal and trainer back to a good working relationship.

    In this Session, Ken will explore these case studies, describe the training process involved, and discuss the broader significance of this protocol. The Session will also compare and contrast the protocol to other types of training that are about teaching the concept of “no.” These other types of training will include intelligent disobedience work with guide dogs and “the all clear” signal in scent-detection work. These latter examples are very different protocols, and the differences will be discussed.

    Ken will conclude the Session with a broader discussion of whether his “say no” protocol should be implemented with all learners. It is a unique protocol that is not widely used in the training community. After Ken shares the details of this protocol and his opinions about its use, there will be some time to engage in a discussion with the attendees.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Skill, Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    Full House? Working & Living with Multiple Animals

    Ken Ramirez

    Often we teach training by focusing on working one-on-one. But how do we train and work with multiple animals at the same time? In this Session Ken will share techniques and knowledge he gained from working in the zoological community, where working with groups of animals was the daily norm. He will translate that knowledge to working with animals of any type.

    Some of the key concepts that Ken will focus on include stationing, fairness, clicker use, and new-animal introductions (a new puppy, shelter dog, a cat to a dog, or any species of animal). The first half of this Session will include helpful information for trainers at all levels, but the Session will progress to an advanced case study during the second half.

    From 2013 through 2015, Ken was involved in a project where he and his team adopted several very aggressive and reactive dogs. The goal was to use the same techniques Ken has taught to his students for introducing animals (techniques that will be covered during the first half of this Session) with the problematic dogs rescued from a shelter. Ken will share the step-by-step process in a detailed case study of this special project! 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course type: Session

    Experience level: Advanced

    Topic: Skill, Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    How to Get Started with Concept Training

    Ken Ramirez

    Participant notes:

    In this unique Lab, approximately 6 dog/handler teams will learn the first steps of teaching your dog to participate in concept training exercises. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Dogs should be fluent in cueing, be comfortable staying on a mat, and know how to touch/target a variety of objects with their noses when cued. 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 this Lab it would be helpful if you have attended one of Ken’s previous Sessions on concept training, although this is not mandatory.

    In this Lab Ken will guide dog/handler teams through various basic exercises required to teach more advanced concepts such as Matching to Sample, Modifier Cues, Imitation, and Counting. Although the exercises are basic, the Lab is designed for experienced dogs and advanced handlers who want to get started teaching conceptual learning. The Lab will focus on how to set up your dog for success when you are training matching concepts. There will be four primary exercises:

    Targeting – Use of multiple targets; teaching the dog to make selections and indicate choices through varied types of targeting

    Pairing, Choices, and Repetition – So much of concept training is teaching multiple options at the same time, repeating trials over and over again, and teaching the animals a way to make choices

    Release cues – This concept may go by different names depending on you and your dog’s training history. For many types of conceptual learning it is important to teach the animal a way to receive multiple cues and wait to carry out the instructions until released.

    Cue transference (fading) – Most concepts are about teaching the learner a new or different type of cue. Learning how to fade to a new cue is a necessary skill for most concept training.

    This Lab will focus on the tools needed for advanced conceptual learning. Because of the advanced nature of the task, participants will only be able to participate in the first steps of each exercise, which will set them up to continue the work and succeed when they return home. All exercises are basic, but are the essence to successful concept training.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course type: Learning Lab

    Experience level: Advanced

    Topic: Skill

     

    Love It!: Effective Non-Food Reinforcement 

    Ken Ramirez

    Participant notes: 

    We will have approximately 16 dog/handler teams. Dogs should be clicker-savvy, have a robust behavioral repertoire, and regularly and effectively use toys or play as a reinforcer already.

    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 about 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!"

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Learning Lab 

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill

     

    Opening Session: The X-perience Factor

    Ken Ramirez

    We talk about trainer experience levels frequently, and use the terms novice, intermediate, and advanced. But what do those labels really mean? There is no universal agreement on the difference between each of these levels, and they are used for very different purposes. Levels can sometimes be beneficial in guiding learners toward appropriate level courses, but they can also become divisive categories that make trainers feel uncomfortable with such vague, generalized groupings. However, we all agree that experience is important in becoming a great trainer. So how do we define experience, and how should experienced be evaluated and used?

    Ken will explore this common question and give his own perspective on the topic of experience. While this discussion may aid some attendees in selecting the right level of courses for this ClickerExpo, the Session will go beyond Expo and talk about the role of experience in the larger training community. Ken will also share some thoughts about why experience is important and why it has relevance to improved training and better animal care. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Plenary Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

     

    Wanted: Training Consultant (Those Good with Animals Need Not Apply!)

    Ken Ramirez

    The title of this Session is, of course, somewhat facetious! To be a good animal trainer, one does need to understand training and be good with animals. However, sometimes the most important skills needed to solve behavioral problems are not animal-training skills. People skills, observational skills, and organizational skills can be key to finding solutions to behavioral problems. Before tackling a behavioral problem with the household pet or a large zoo animal, several factors need to be considered. This Session will focus on those other factors that need to be addressed while trying to solve animal-related problems. A review of various case studies will help reveal the right tools to start out with and why animal skills may not be the only talent required.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session 

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Business, Teaching Others

     

    Effective Affection: How to Get it Right 

    Jesús Rosales-Ruiz 

    Pet owners often reinforce unwanted and annoying behaviors inadvertently (such as petting a dog when he jumps up) by giving attention and affection for these behaviors. When trainers are shaping new behaviors, they often default to food as a reward, and find it difficult to use petting, scratching, or other forms of affection effectively in order to reinforce behavior. Yet, if the problem behavior is maintained by affection, using affection is often the fastest and most effective way to solve the problem. The pieces that are often missing in this kind of problem-solving are teaching the animal how to receive affection and teaching the human how to use affection correctly to shape behavior. In this Session, I will describe in detail a powerful procedure that can be used to teach animals how to request and receive affection. Then we will discuss how to use affection to shape new behavior effectively, with plenty of video examples from a variety of different species. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Science

     

    Game On! Train or Be Trained - Part 1 

    Jesús Rosales-Ruiz & Mary Hunter

    Participant Notes: 

    This Lab is for people; no need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills and will have approximately 60 spots for participants.  

    Great clicker training relies on effective communication between teacher and learner. A well-timed click, effective delivery of reinforcement, and a well-thought-out plan go a long way to make the experience a joyful one for both human and animal. Although we all know this, nothing compares to actually experiencing it. 

    In this Lab, you will be introduced to PORTL (the Portable Operant Teaching and Research Lab) and introduced to how it can be used to gain insight into the training process. PORTL is a game played with a collection of small objects and a clicker. The teacher communicates with the learner entirely through reinforcement. No instructions, prompts, or models are used during the game to direct the learner. PORTL can be used to improve mechanical skills, model training concepts and behavioral principles, and gain insight in developing and modifying a shaping plan

    This Lab will introduce you to PORTL and the basics of how to set up and play PORTL. 

    We will practice the fundamentals of PORTL mechanics and play one exercise where you will get to be the teacher or the learner. After the exercise, we will discuss what you experienced while playing the game, including your emotions as the learner or teacher. Through these activities, you will experience how PORTL can be an effective teaching tool for helping people understand clicker training and[text deleted here] improve their shaping skills. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Skill, Teaching Others

     

    Game On! Train or Be Trained - Part 2 

    Jesús Rosales-Ruiz & Mary Hunter

    Prerequisite:

    Participants must have attended the Part 1 PORTL Lab this year (or last year at Expo, or have participated in a PORTL workshop). Participants will be expected to understand the fundamentals of PORTL to be able to get the most out of this Lab. 

    Participant Notes: 

    This Lab is for people; no need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills and will have approximately 60 spots for participants.  

    In this Lab, we will explore several familiar training procedures through the lens of PORTL. We will examine each procedure in depth to see if it really works the way we think it does. We will also observe the experience of the student during the learning process. What is the student actually learning? How does the student feel during the learning process? You will leave this Lab with more knowledge of these particular training procedures, as well as a better understanding of how PORTL can be used to teach and explore different training concepts. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Skill, Teaching Others

     

    Poisoned Cues: Diagnosis, Analysis & Repair

    Jesús Rosales-Ruiz

    Much is known about cues that are established using positive reinforcement and cues that are established using aversive events. However, much less is known about the effects when cues are established using a combination of positive reinforcement and aversive events (such as corrections or punishment). This phenomenon has been termed “the poisoned cue” by Karen Pryor, and Dr. Rosales-Ruiz presented lectures on the subject at early ClickerExpo conferences. Understanding the poisoned cue is very important for animal trainers, especially working with cross-over animals that have been trained previously using traditional or balanced methods. 

    For those familiar with the concept of a poisoned cue, the beginning of the Session will be a review. Then there will be new material demonstrating what has been learned about the poisoned cue in recent years. We will review some experiments demonstrating the effects of the poisoned cue with both animals and children. We will also discuss ways to identify if a cue has been poisoned. Sometimes, trainers blame poor performance on distractions or lack of motivation, when the culprit is actually a poisoned cue. Finally, we will discuss ways to overcome a poisoned cue if you discover that you have one. 

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Science

     

    Gamification: Engaging Training Games for Groups

    Terry Ryan

    Related Learning Lab:

    Gamification - In Action!

    Both humans and dogs are social animals. We enjoy each other’s company. Games can be a natural extension of the good times dogs and people can have together in a group setting. Training classes, neighborhood barbecues, and doggy playdates are all good excuses for people and dogs to play games.

    Gamification is the buzzword for a popular trend in adult education. Dog training classes fall under adult education, even though we seem to be (somewhat wrongly) concentrating on the dogs. Terry has almost fifty continuous years of experience as a dog-training class instructor. Her classes have included carefully conducted games to increase the reliability of core behavioral skills amid distractions. Each game has an application to everyday life situations. The games stress education rather than competition, and fun rather than chaos. Not interested in “games?” Replace the word “game” with the phrase “fluency exercise” and we’ll still be on the same page.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels
    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    Gamification - In Action!

    Terry Ryan

    Prerequisite:

    Gamification: Engaging Training Games for Groups- Session

    Participant notes:

    We will have 8 dog/handler teams demonstrating the instructional format Terry described in the prerequisite Session. Dogs should be attentive to owners, and should be able to work in very close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should be able to work independently to mark and reinforce behaviors appropriately. Observers are welcome and may actually learn more without a dog!

    Terry will work with dog/handler teams to demonstrate many of the games discussed in the prerequisite Learning Session.

    Terry will also demonstrate how she gives feedback during the games and how she chooses games to match the skills and needs of her learners. Time is taken on the spot to observe canine body language and to identify application of skills to everyday, good citizen manners. Strategies are discussed for helping your dog be confident and successful in different situations, situations that are presented here as games, and then later in the real world.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Learning Lab
    Experience Level: All Levels
    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    The Global Trainer: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

    Terry Ryan

    Traveling around the world teaching dog training to ESL (English as a Second Language) students sounds romantic, but it’s actually scary. The responsibility, the challenge, is being sure they “really got it.” Teaching dog training to non-English speakers through an interpreter presents similar, but somewhat different challenges.

    So, what? Never plan to teach these populations? Hold on, before you leave, consider this: As instructors, we are often at risk of not being understood, even in the best of situations. As trainers, we are always in the position of teaching “ESL” learners: the dogs. Are you beginning to see the similarities? The relevance? Dog training is pretty hands-on and lends itself nicely to demonstrations, but what about the terms we use to explain the science of training? When an explanation of counter-conditioning conducted through an interpreter resulted in the reply “but he doesn’t steal from the counter any more,” I got to work. The resulting practical exercises made me a much better instructor to all audiences, including my hometown pet-dog manners students.

    Join us for 45 minutes of alternative ways to get your point across.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Experience Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    When Nothing Is Working: Lateral Thinking for Dog Trainers

    Terry Ryan

    This interactive Session will jump-start people to come up with new ideas about the same old thing. Training dogs or coaching people to train their dogs, your toolbox will benefit from alternatives.. A variety of drills and demonstrations specifically designed to help you think outside of the box will be presented. We’ll help you develop a “set no limitations” mindset, but with realistic checks and balances

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Experience Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    A Moment of Science: Clicker Training 101

    Kathy Sdao

    If you have been using a clicker but are not fully familiar with the science behind it, you will find this Session to be highly worthwhile.

    Are you new to clicker training? Or are you using it, but are confused by the terminology and the reasons behind what we do? Here's an introductory course on learning theory and the important scientific principles that govern clicker training. The information you'll learn here will inform the many choices you must make as a trainer and will improve your application of clicker training techniques.

    Kathy Sdao, applied animal behaviorist, former marine-mammal trainer, and dog professional, is a gifted teacher who enjoys sparking her students’ interest in the science of animal training. Start your ClickerExpo experience on Friday with this Session and you will have the foundation and vocabulary to help you understand, enjoy, and benefit from the rest of the program.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Experience Level: Foundation
    Topic: Science

     

    If You Build It, They Will Come: Training a Reliable Recall

    Kathy Sdao

    Participant notes: 

    We will have approximately 8 dog/handler teams. This Lab will have handlers and their dogs work on beginner, intermediate, and advanced recall exercises. All dogs must be comfortable working near and around other dogs that may be running near them. All dogs will be able to participate in the beginner exercises and probably the intermediate exercises, but only a few dog/handler teams will be able to participate in the more advanced exercises.

    Many people struggle with teaching dogs to run to them on cue. Though a relatively simple movement, the recall is also a crucial behavior with several key criteria. This means trainers can easily make mistakes! Yet the power of clicker training is perfectly suited to this task. In this Lab, we’ll practice three specific training exercises (beginning, intermediate, and advanced). As a bonus, we’ll provide a list of 10 practical training tips for your use and to share with your students, if desired.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Lab

    Experience Level: All Levels

     

    Keep Your Candle Burning: Avoiding Professional Burnout 

    Kathy Sdao

    You’re a professional dog trainer. You may be self-employed, or you may work at a training school or shelter. You’ve completed many classes and attended several conferences to gain a better understanding of the science of learning. If you’re lucky, you’ve had one or more excellent mentors teach you the physical skills—the “chops”—of training. You’re working in your dream job. And yet… why do you sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a barista instead?

    Our work as trainers can be relentless, exhausting, and heartbreaking. Often, clients hire us to “fix” a pet’s destructive or dangerous behavior, after intervening in ways that, unwittingly, made the problem much worse. We need to empathize with our clients’ disappointment and frustration while teaching them new habits, all while knowing the pet’s life may be at risk.

    Because dog training is such an unregulated profession in much of the world, we may work among other trainers who lack a solid foundation in education, experience, or ethics. We can find ourselves vacillating between wanting to “out” them and feeling demoralized by their slick, successful marketing efforts.

    Given this, how can we keep doing our work, with both skill and joy? You already know how to teach a long-duration behavior, such as a down-stay, to a dog. We’ll examine these same concepts (e.g., frequent, varied, well-timed reinforcement; minimization of pain and pressure; agency) as they apply to our own behaviors as training professionals. In addition, we will look at the topic of peer-counseling as one beneficial yet underutilized, resource.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above

    Topic: Shelter & Rescue Work, Teaching Others, Aggression & Behavior Management

     

    We Just Have to Dish: Training, Science & Nerdy Stuff with Kathy & Susan

    Kathy Sdao & Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D

    There’s never enough time to chat, right? You know, time to safely engage in meaningful conversation with colleagues about evolving topics in our field. In this Session, Kathy and Susan invite you to join them in an informal discussion of current practices they have been thinking a lot about lately, such as client compliance, animal consent, naturally occurring reinforcers, and separating negative punishment and negative reinforcement in the procedural hierarchy. Join us as we go off the leash, off the perch, and outside the box.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: Intermediate 

    Topic: Skill, Science

     

    What a Cue Can Do: Developing Cueing Skills

    Kathy Sdao

    Related Lab:

    What a Cue Can Do - In Action with Sarah Owings

    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 about 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 and how cues function in behavior chains. You'll also learn how to avoid the “good enough” syndrome.

    Course Type: Learning Session 

    Experience Level: Foundation

    Topic: Skill

     

    What a Pithy: Making Classes Memorable 

    Kathy Sdao

    “Pithy” means “concisely cogent.” It describes an essential skill of the best training instructors. We work in challenging conditions: teaching two species simultaneously a series of precise physical skills, often in less-than-ideal environments. We must communicate unfamiliar concepts to our human students quickly. Explore creative ways to present this information concisely (i.e., in few words) and cogently (i.e., in a powerfully convincing way). 

    Summary of Presentation

    Part of the job of a pet-dog instructor is to communicate basic learning principles—about reinforcement, timing, criteria, cues, generalization, and more—to novice students. But we are limited in the amount of verbal explanations we can provide. Extended lectures lead to bored and noisy dogs. If we challenge ourselves to be creative, we can devise teaching approaches that are brief, memorable, and effective. Metaphors, analogies, parables, and anecdotes can convey broad or advanced concepts meaningfully. Cartoons can also express ideas succinctly; just think how much impact a political cartoon can have.

    This presentation will be an exercise in generative thinking. It will attempt to spark your own ingenuity and give you fresh ideas for classes that may have become stale after years of repetition. Come prepared to learn innovative instructional tools that can bring life to your teaching.

    Learning objectives:

    1. To learn to use language in creative ways to convey jargon and complex training concepts to students

    2. To become familiar with several forms of narrative devices instructors can use to simplify and clarify their information

    This Session will focus on: 

    Teaching as performance art

    How to be “sticky” 

    Metaphors and analogies 

    Stories and parables

    Perspective shifts

    Humor 

    Avoiding clichés 

    A few examples of concepts we can use as practice

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Teaching Others

     

    Camera-Ready: TV, Radio & the Trainer

    Laura Monaco Torelli

    There is nothing like the wonderful benefits that media collaboration can bring to the positive reinforcement animal-care and training community. With social media so prevalent, the media world can be a powerful ally and partner. But, like any relationship, our professionalism and the manner in which we convey important information is critical to our success. We represent ourselves as an individual, and as a representative for the animal-care community.

    Television and radio have many dynamic and exciting variables. One thing is for sure, though: expect the unexpected! If you are prepared, and apply the top tips shared in this Session, you will tip the scales of success in your favor. Better yet, you will make new friends in the media community who are as enthusiastic and passionate about animals as we are.

    In this Session you will learn:

  • How to make contact with various media professionals
  • The logistics of navigating live or recorded in-studio appearances and radio interviews
  • How to identify relevant animal events that can be featured topics
  • How to work closely with producers to plan for and convey concise, easy-to-follow, key points with the help of a booking sheet, call sheet, and pre-appearance guidelines
  • How to prepare live animals and handlers
  • How to maximize your message in a short amount of time
  • How to use social media outlets to share your media appearances
  • Join Laura to learn more about her own exciting media experiences throughout her animal training career. Hear more about her collaborative opportunities with media professionals for NBC5 Weekend News, WGN Midday News, WCIU-You & Me This Morning News, The Chicago Tribune, The Bark Magazine, Steve Dale’s Pet World/WGN Radio, Karen Pryor Clicker Training, Clean Run Magazine, The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), dog*tec’s Monthly Minute e-newsletter, and about her media-training experiences working in the exotic-animal training community.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Session
    Experience Level: All Levels
    Topic: Business

     

    Deep Impact: 7 Behaviors that Profoundly Change the Vet & Groomer Experience

    Laura Monaco Torelli

    Participant notes:

    We will have approximately 14 dog/handler teams. Handlers should have intermediate or advanced training skills and be able to work their dogs effectively in a distracting environment with other dogs and people nearby. Dogs should be familiar and comfortable with basic targeting, general body tactile (head, mouth, torso, legs, tail), and with a second person approaching, interacting with, and potentially touching them. The dogs should also be familiar and comfortable with a variety of grooming and veterinary props (e.g., scale, capped needles, nail trimmer, scent of ear cleaning solution, muzzle, gauze, etc.)

    These days we know that training is about much more than “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 dread a visit to the groomer or vet. This problem can be turned around with a simple approach involving training games and activities. It is also important to recognize that some procedures (injections, suture removal, ointment or solution application to a sensitive or infected area, consuming medication) may result in aversive or punishing consequences.

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

  • Chin rest onto a target
  • Introduction to a second person
  • General body handling
  • Eye and ear tactile
  • Muzzle introduction
  • Voluntary injection positions
  • Voluntary weights
  • Voluntary oral medication
  • Every dog’s daily training should include grooming and veterinary care. This combined Session and Learning Lab provides the opportunity to practice various advanced skills and techniques. You'll learn how to 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.

    This Lab will include lecture, video presentations, demonstrations, working-dog participation, and assistance from another team member attending the Lab.

    In this Lab, you’ll learn:

  • How to use creative reinforcement strategies
  • How to support the animal-care team while shaping for resilient learners
  • How to teach a chin rest behavior with various targeting techniques
  • 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 grooming and veterinary care behaviors
  • How to build a great team around each pet’s care, gaining essential buy-in from both clients and veterinary and grooming professionals
  • How to create concise follow-up reports that support collaboration
  • Join Laura to learn how she integrates essential animal-care behaviors into group and private sessions successfully at Animal Behavior Training Concepts in Chicago. Hear how this success 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 from this Lab with a new perspective on how training can enhance the relationships between dogs and the people who care for them.

    Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Learning Lab
    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
    Topic: Veterinary, Skill

     

    Make the Transfer: Problem-Solving through Cue Transfer

    Laura Monaco Torelli

    Participant notes:

    We will have approximately 14 dog/handler teams. Handlers should have intermediate or advanced training skills and be able to work their dogs effectively in a distracting environment with other dogs and people nearby. Dogs should be able to settle comfortably on a mat, and be comfortable with sounds being played over a microphone and sound system speaker.

    Cue Transfer, a foundation behavior for active trainers , is too often overlooked as a tool to help clients address problems easily. When we teach the skill of cue transfer to clients, we can make a huge contribution to their harmonious relationships with their animals.

    As professional trainers, we receive numerous inquiries from puppy or dog owners reaching out with common concerns. These concerns might be common for us as teachers, but are quite frustrating for the owners. As we advocate for their canine companions and relationships, we should also advocate for how easy it is to incorporate foundation behaviors into the problem-solving model. Does the dog bark when the doorbell rings? Does the enthusiastic puppy jump on the counter while a delicious meal is being prepared? Is an older dog aging into his/her Golden Years while demonstrating diminished visual or auditory acuity? Is your client not sure what to do? Teach these pet owners to transfer a cue!

    Participants will learn how to set and quickly adjust criteria while transferring cues with a variety of basic behaviors.

    This Lab will include lecture, video presentations, demonstrations, working-dog participation, and assistance from another team member attending the Lab.

    In this Lab, you’ll learn:

  • The process of transferring a cue
  • Effective fading techniques
  • How to incorporate practical applications into your teaching curriculum
  • The value of foundation behaviors
  • Cue variety: verbal, visual, non-verbal auditory, and scent
  • Engaging exercises to utilize in your personal training or course curriculum
  • Location: Stamford, CT
    Course Type: Learning Lab
    Experience Level: Intermediate and Above
    Topic: Skill

     

    The Great Divide: Is it Operant or Classical? 

    Lindsay Wood

    Behavior consultants navigate multiple pathways in the course of planning treatments. At the top of our list of considerations is paradigm approach: the choice between an operant or classical conditioning treatment method. A thoughtful approach and clear behavior modification plan are essential for effective treatment. However, we often become fixed on our learning paradigm of choice, hindering our perspective and ability to harness both types of learning occurring simultaneously. This Session will explore both classical and operant treatment options when initiating a behavior modification plan. It will consider the role of emotions in changing behavior, the benefits and weaknesses of classical and operant conditioning, and how we can most effectively harness both types of learning for greatest success for our learners.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Session

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management, Skill

     

    On Guard! Resource-Guarding Lab

    Lindsay Wood

    Participant notes:

    This Session/Lab will accommodate approximately 12 dog/handler teams. Teams should have advanced clicker training experience. Dogs must be comfortable working 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. 

    In this Learning Lab and Session combination, Lindsay will use the first 30 minutes as a learning session to explain her resource-guarding protocol. After that, she will show participants how to practice the steps to modify food-guarding, based on a statistically successful protocol that she developed. The protocol applies force-free, scientific principles of desensitization and counter-conditioning to modify a dog's existing negative association with food-bowl interference and removal.

    Lab participants will develop their treatment skills by practicing the steps within the protocol, learning to assess behavioral criteria for progressing through the treatment plan, and troubleshooting complexities that may arise as dogs move through the protocol.

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Learning Session/Learning Lab

    Experience Level: Advanced

    Topic: Shelter & Rescue, Aggression & Behavior Management, Skill

     

    Words Matter: The Impact of Language Choice

    Lindsay Wood

    As a social species, we recognize and acknowledge that thoughtful word choice is important within our interactions with others. Words can exacerbate a difficult circumstance, or bring peace to a situation if handled with care. Words have power. In a shelter environment, the words we use can have a significant impact on staff, animals, and adopters. Traditionally, the vocabulary used in a shelter environment is, often quite unintentionally, unhelpful to the shelter’s mission and the interests of its stakeholders.

    In this Session, Lindsay will be proposing and discussing a vocabulary rich with language that is both accurate and neutral, and that is rooted in descriptions of observable characteristics of behavior. For example, using “barrier frustration” as opposed to “barrier aggression” for an expression of behaviors often observed in shelters and addressed in behavior consultations promotes a fuller understanding of the behavioral condition, and does not imply a personality trait or flaw of the animal.

    Discussion of language impact will focus on behavioral examples within the shelter environment. The behaviors described and the language applied are drawn from Lindsay’s experience as a certified applied animal behaviorist as well as a shelter director. The behavior and language are applicable for both arenas. 

    The goal is not to create “politically correct” vocabulary in the shelter, but to use words that are scientifically accurate and accessible to consultants, shelter staff, and owners. Accurate is not “soft” or “harsh.” It’s simply accurate! Come learn a new vocabulary… in a language you already know!

    Location: Portland, OR & Stamford, CT

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Shelter & Rescue

     

    The Clickable Moment, Part 1: Creating Energy

    Natalie Zielinski

    This Session is divided into two 45-minute parts with a 15-minute break between halves. Attendees interested in this topic are encouraged to attend both halves of the Session.

    What is the clickable moment? This is a question that often puzzles horse trainers new to clicker training. In the world of horse training you may be looking for a single ounce of weight to shift or the full extension of a foreleg in Spanish walk. Where do you start? Before giving up on a particular exercise or strategy, consider revisiting these questions: What part of the movement cycle are you looking to highlight? Is this an energy-increasing or energy-decreasing behavior? Where is the initiation of your movement cycle? In order to answer these questions, you will need excellent observational skills. 

    Natalie Zielinski will explore these questions and many more while deconstructing exercises that show a variety of horses at different stages of their education. When you are teaching your horse to lift a front hoof, where does the behavior begin? Not in the front hoof! Widening your lens to include the whole horse and shifting your focus to a new point in the movement cycle often clears up confusion and frustration for both the learner and the trainer. 

    Anyone who has found her/himself stagnant in a movement cycle or in an out-of-control loop will enjoy this Session. Natalie Zielinski sheds light on common mistakes and solutions to help improve criteria-selection and create a happy and engaged horse.

    Part 1 will focus on:

     

    •         Improving your observational skills

    •         Identifying the initiation of movement

    •         Building energy and movement

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    The Clickable Moment, Part 2: Shaping Stillness

    Natalie Zielinski

    This Session is divided into two 45-minute parts with a 15-minute break between halves. Attendees interested in this topic are encouraged to attend both halves of the Session.

    What is the clickable moment? This is a question that often puzzles horse trainers new to clicker training. In the world of horse training you may be looking for a single ounce of weight to shift or the full extension of a foreleg in Spanish walk. Where do you start? Before giving up on a particular exercise or strategy, consider revisiting these questions: What part of the movement cycle are you looking to highlight? Is this an energy-increasing or energy-decreasing behavior? Where is the initiation of your movement cycle? In order to answer these questions, you will need excellent observational skills. 

    Natalie Zielinski will explore these questions and many more while deconstructing exercises that show a variety of horses at different stages of their education. When you are teaching your horse to lift a front hoof, where does the behavior begin? Not in the front hoof! Widening your lens to include the whole horse and shifting your focus to a new point in the movement cycle often clears up confusion and frustration for both the learner and the trainer. 

    Anyone who has found her/himself stagnant in a movement cycle or in an out-of-control loop will enjoy this Session. Natalie Zielinski sheds light on common mistakes and solutions to help improve criteria-selection and create a happy and engaged horse.

     

    Part 2 of this Session will build off of Part 1, focusing on:

     

    •         Redirecting and reducing energy and movement

    •         Remaining flexible throughout the training session

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Ugly Duckling to Swan! Transforming the Shut-Down Horse 

    Natalie Zielinski 

    You have been all over the internet looking at “clicker trained” horses and seeing amazing work and heartwarming stories. You are following the lessons to a T—high-value treats, great mechanics, quiet workspace—and yet you are not seeing the same pizzazz or level of motivation. Sometimes your horse just stops paying attention and drifts away emotionally, physically, or both. You want your lessons to be fun, more like play than a training session, but your horse is going deeper and deeper into himself. 

    Horses can shut down and stop showing behaviors for a variety of reasons. Previous training paradigms may have limited choices or punished creativity or questions. A horse may find it safest to be non-responsive unless prompted. Even horses coming from low-stress training methods may shut down when they are confused or frustrated. It is easy to label these horses lazy or stubborn when the simple truth is that you have not broken the lesson into small enough pieces for success. 

    Natalie Zielinski will take you through a video diary detailing the initial warning signs of frustration and confusion at the start of clicker training. She will also describe the essential component skills that are necessary to restore emotional balance and engagement, which in turn leads to physical balance and beautiful transformation. See how a basic lesson in leading grew into body awareness, lightness, and deep connection under saddle. Anyone restarting a horse that seems disinterested, lackluster, and/or generally disengaged will find this Session inspiring and filled with small nuances and subtlety that will help put the sparkle in your horse’s eye.

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

     

    Where Am I? Restarting in a Crossover World 

    Natalie Zielinski 

    You have made the leap! You are ready to embrace clicker training with your horse and cross over into an exciting world of positive reinforcement training. Great! Now all you have to do is share the good news with your horse, right? But wait, he doesn’t seem to like the new work. He is showing signs of frustration, pinning his ears and wringing his tail. Ouch, he just bit you! What’s wrong? Doesn’t he like the treats? Now you are both lost and confused. Maybe your riding buddies and barn manager were right—this isn’t going to work. 

    Crossing over can have its challenges. Clicker training is not new; however, it is most likely new to your horse. While you may have some experience clicker training other species, there are logistical and behavioral differences to consider before heading out to the barn. Don’t forget about previous training histories as well; you may have some poisoned cues to work through. In this Session we will explore the challenges of clicker training for both horse and owner including:

    What to throw away and what to take with on your new journey

    How to be an advocate for your horse as you explain to your barn manager and friends your approach

    How to separate out the emotional baggage that comes with some of your older cues

    How to stay safe. The importance of protective contact is just as important to your horse as it is to you!

    Dealing with doubt as you hit speed bumps

    Having a strong support group

    Natalie Zielinski will take you through her journey of crossing over to clicker training in the horse world and will answer some of the toughest questions new crossover trainers share. Take advantage of her humbling experience and enhance your preparation as you cross over into the magical world of clicker training with your equine friend. 

    Location: Portland, OR

    Course Type: Session

    Experience Level: All Levels

    Topic: Equine

    Courses are subject to change.