ClickerExpo Denmark 2017 | Course Descriptions

Animals in Control: The Choice Is Theirs

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

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 and Emelie Johnson Vegh 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 behaviours, 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 behaviour 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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill


Animals in Control - In Action

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill


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

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

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!

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Competition


Reward Ends, Then What?

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

A desired behaviour is followed by reinforcers, which strengthen the behaviour in the future. That's the bottom line of positive reinforcement training. But does it matter what happens right after each reward? You betcha. What happens right after the reward is a neglected part of the training loop that deserves more focus. Whether we intend it to or not, the end of the reward will function as a cue for some behaviour. The behaviour that regularly happens to appear and be reinforced after a reward ends will then be under stimulus control of that reward ending. By being aware of this process, one desired behaviour can be promoted and undesired behaviours nipped in the bud before they become built into the training experience.

This Session will discuss rewards both as consequences and as antecedents. Attendees will learn how to predict and develop specific behaviour so that what happens after each reward is beneficial for future training. Examples and video demonstrations will be included.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill


The Human Factor: Fluency for Trainers with TAGteach

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

This Lab is for people. No need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills and will be limited to participants only.

What is animal training all about? First you need to (1) set your goal and (2) plan your training for the animal. Then you need to (3) identify the trainer skills needed to execute this plan and (4) make a plan for how to acquire these skills. You then need to (5) practice those skills until fluency! Then, and only then, is it time to go (6) train the animal…

In this lab you will get TAGteach tools for the trainer part!

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance and is an approach for coaching yourself and others. TAGteach provides a framework for clear instructions and feedback.

In this lab, geared towards animal trainers, you will experience video examples, hands on practice and discussions. There will be no actual dog training in this lab, it is people training only! All participants in this lab will be active, so no distinction between working spot and observer spot.

You will get to practice task analysis, creating TAGpoints and experience tagging and being tagged.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others


Thinking Fast & Flow

Eva Bertilsson & Emelie Johnson Vegh

In this lab, Emelie and Eva will teach you how to advance your training all the way through flow-charting your training sessions. This lab will take the form of an interactive lecture. There will be no dogs working – instead, all attendees will be active with pen and paper.

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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, 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 behaviour 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!

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 behaviour.

If your dog had been making progress in a given training session, and you start noticing displacement behaviours 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 90-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.

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 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.

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 behaviour? If your dog had been making progress in a given training session, and you start noticing the behaviour deteriorating or your dog losing focus, there is probably a good reason.

In this continuation of the 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.

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 9:00!

Course Type: General Session
Experience Level: All Levels


Consuming Research Without Indigestion

Susan G. Friedman, PhD

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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Science


Consuming Research Without Indigestion - In Action

Susan G. Friedman, PhD

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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Science


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

Susan G. Friedman, PhD

The inertia that results from so-called conventional wisdom about how behaviour 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 behaviour change known as applied behaviour analysis (ABA). At the center of this problem is the deeply rooted belief that behaviour 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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic:


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

Kathy Sdao & Susan G. Friedman, PhD

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
Topic: Skill, Science


Off-Leash, But On Call

Lena Gunnarsson & Elsa Blomster

Do you want to give your dog more freedom off-leash? If so, then in addition to keeping an eye on you and having an invisible “contact” with you all the time, it is vital for your dog to know a fool-proof recall signal and a panic stop.

During this Session Elsa and Lena, authors of the book Retrieving for All Occasions, will show you the steps to train a dog to stop by default when a rabbit runs by, to stop when you ask for a stop, and to train a dog to come to you reliably when called. You will also learn how to train a dog to follow you and come back to you to check in during walks. The goal: a great training and walking companion.

Elsa and Lena will show you how to make training joyful and easygoing. They will also show you how to use play with dogs to get the behaviours you want, by gradually shaping the offered behaviour to the final behaviour. Finally, Elsa and Lena will demonstrate both how to add distractions and how to split training into small parts that can be combined into a whole chain. Learning goals for this Session:

  • Understanding the ABCs that leads to the default stop
  • Understanding why and how to split training into smaller parts
  • Understanding how to train a dog to keep an eye on you off-leash
  • Understanding how to increase the difficulty of the distractions gradually to create a reliable recall signal and a stop signal

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All
Topic: Skill


Off-Leash, But On Call - In Action

Lena Gunnarsson & Elsa Blomster

Do you want to give your dog more freedom off-leash? If so, then in addition to keeping an eye on you and having an invisible “contact” with you all the time, it is vital for your dog to know a fool-proof recall signal and a panic stop.

During this Lab Elsa and Lena, authors of the book Retrieving for All Occasions, will show you the steps to train a dog to stop by default when a rabbit runs by, to stop when you ask for a stop, and to train a dog to come to you reliably when called. You will also learn how to train a dog to follow you and come back to you to check in during walks. The goal: a great training and walking companion.

Elsa and Lena will show you how to make training joyful and easygoing. They will also show you how to use play with dogs to get the behaviours you want, by gradually shaping the offered behaviour to the final behaviour. Finally, Elsa and Lena will demonstrate both how to add distractions and how to split training into small parts that can be combined into a whole chain. Learning Lab goals:

  • How to play to inspire foundation behaviours for recall and stop signal
  • How to teach the different parts of the recall and stop signal
  • How to train a dog to keep an eye on you when off-leash
  • How to add distractions to proof the recall and stop signal

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: All
Topic: Skill


“Improve-isation”: Theater Skills for Better Teaching

Lena Gunnarsson & Elsa Blomster

This Lab is for people. No need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills. There will be approximately 40 spots for participants.

Do you teach dog-training classes? Have you found that you sometimes have difficulties getting your students to understand what you mean and to follow your directions? Do you occasionally feel annoyed and irritated when your students don't do what you say? Bring your stories of students you find challenging to this Learning Lab and together we'll choose a few challenging situations to work with. In the Lab, you will practice your instructing skills in an interactive way to see what works and what doesn’t. You will also learn from the other participants and their instructing experiences. We promise you a class that combines serious training with humour to solve your challenges!

Elsa and Lena have more than 10 years experience training dog trainers and dog instructors. Lena also has 20 years experience working with both interactive group and individual learning processes; she has experience with organizational development as well. In this Learning Lab you will learn how to use a coaching approach and how to give instructions that shape the behaviour of the dog trainer using positive reinforcement principles.

Learning goals:

  • Discover new tools to handle students you find challenging
  • Learn how to use a coaching approach when teaching students
  • Find out how to create a secure and comfortable training environment
  • Learn how to believe in the student’s capabilities and deal with your own feelings

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: All
Topic: Skill


Reliability? Thy Name is Back-Chaining

Cecilie Køste

Related Lab:
Reliability? Thy Name is Back-chaining. In Action!

In a behaviour chain, each behaviour is reinforced by the cue for the following behaviour. The actual reinforcement is received at the end of the chain. Common chained behaviours in competition sports include retrieving, heeling patterns in obedience competition, agility courses and individual agility obstacles, and many kinds of hunting, tracking, and search and rescue challenges.

Back-chaining refers to building a chain backward from the end behaviour toward the beginning. This creates a powerful, complex behaviour in which each element remains strong and reliable. Norwegian presenter Cecilie Køste, who trains many top European competitors through clicker training, considers back-chaining to be the single most important tool in creating the high-scoring dog, allowing clicker training to be used at its full potential. With examples, videos, and audience participation, you'll learn the specifics of back-chaining in various dog sports, as well as all of the associated advantages, challenges, and pitfalls of back-chaining.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill


Reliability? Thy Name is Back-Chaining - In Action

Cecilie Køste

Prerequisite:
Reliability? Thy Name is Back-Chaining - Session

Participant notes:
In this advanced Learning Lab we will have 8 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should be able to work independently to click and give reinforcers. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

This Learning Lab is designed to practice and illustrate the back-chaining techniques discussed in the Learning session.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill


Doggie Zen for Obedience and Beyond

Cecilie Køste

Related Lab:
Doggie Zen for Obedience and Beyond - In Action

Join Cecilie Køste as she leads you and your dog down the path of canine enlightenment! The Western interpretation of the meaning of Zen corresponds to practices that lead to spiritual awakening and inner peace. Achieving "Doggie Zen" naturally refers to your dog's ability to demonstrate calm, patient behaviour even in the face of the most tempting of temptations!

In this Session, you will learn the principles of Doggie Zen. The unifying principle of Doggie Zen is to use positive reinforcement to teach the dog impulse control. In particular, the goal is for your dog to learn the concept of delayed gratification — giving up what he wants now to get it later.

Join Cecilie and see how "Doggie Zen" can improve your regular training, competition performance, and everyday life.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Competition


Doggie Zen for Obedience and Beyond - In Action

Cecilie Køste

Prerequisite:
Doggie Zen for Obedience and Beyond

Participant notes:
We will have approximately 12 dog/handler teams. To participate in this Lab, dogs must be able to offer simple behaviours. Handlers should already have experience observing, capturing, and shaping behaviour, as well as be agile enough to put down a bowl and pick it up again quickly. If not, we recommend that handlers enlist an observer or friend to help with bowl placement and removal.

In this Learning Lab, you will practice the principles of Doggie Zen. Hands-on exercises will help you and your dog progress towards this goal. You'll also refine your shaping skills and practice setting appropriate criteria.

May you both reach enlightenment during the Lab!

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Competition


You’re In Great Shape! Understanding & Applying Shaping

Cecilie Køste

Related Lab:
You’re in Great Shape - In Action

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

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

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

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill


You’re In Great Shape! Understanding & Applying Shaping - In Action

Cecilie Køste

Prerequisite:
You’re in Great Shape! Understanding and Applying Shaping - Session

Participant notes:
All Levels welcome. In this Learning Lab we will have 6 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and should be able to work in close quarters with other dogs. Handlers should be able to work independently to click and give reinforcers. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. To participate in any Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Learning Session. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

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

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

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

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill


Cues and Cueing

Kay Laurence

Related Lab:
Cues & Cueing

For the learner, the real excitement in clicker training is not only the treat, but the opportunity to get you to click—power in the hands of your learner. This is a cue: an opportunity to earn reinforcement. Cues are not commands. A cue doesn’t make the behaviour happen; it gives the animal information about how to get good things to happen. Your learner is seeking cues from the environment (that may be you), that tell the learner how to get you to click and provide more good things.

Understanding cues impacts your training significantly, no matter what your application may be. In this Session, Kay will discuss the nuts and bolts of building sound, clean cues from the very first behaviour you teach. You will learn how to put a behaviour on cue, how to single out the relevant cue from every other stimulus in the environment, and how to add a performance cue when the behaviour is ready for prime time. Learn how to avoid careless and accidental movements that may confuse your animal or override your intended cue. Discover that cues can be powerful reinforcers in their own right, and learn how to make positive use of that fact instead of accidentally rewarding the very behaviours you are trying to avoid. Cues are just as important for good-quality pet training as they are for high-level competition training. Don’t be casual; be responsible with your cues!

This Session is followed by a Learning Lab about cueing to help bring the principles from concept to actual use in your hands. This Session is critical to setting a proper foundation for clicker training skills, but anyone working (or struggling!) with cues and cueing will benefit enormously from this Session.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill


Cues and Cueing - In Action

Kay Laurence

Prerequisite:
Cues and Cueing - 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 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.

In this Lab, Kay Laurence will demonstrate and share the principles involved in building clear cues. Exercises will include self observation and examining what the dog selects as the relevant cue. What is the dog really attending to—the wiggle of the eyebrows or the sound from your mouth?

Learn how to build a consistent cue and consistent response. Learning to deliver with reliability will build reliability in response. The more competent we are in these essential communication skills, the higher the chance of success for our dogs. This course is critical to setting a proper foundation for clicker training skills. Trainers who are already experienced with cueing also benefit enormously from practicing these skills from the ground up again.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill


Impulse “Recycling”

Kay Laurence

Impulse, or natural energy, was never intended to be loose or out of control. For each individual it has a purpose, usually survival, where energy can be called upon and channeled into very specific uses. Suppressing this function can leave dogs in a very frustrating state, and the bottled-up impulses can be misdirected.

A range of different activities that absorb impulse energy naturally can leave dogs in a calmer state and an undamaged environment. Minor adjustments to training style can make a significant difference, especially with adolescent dogs. We can include regular practice to develop the skills to pre-plan when energy can be used as well as contain it when inappropriate.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill


Lure, Shape and Target

Kay Laurence

We are often so focused on using the tools such as our markers, and the philosophy of positive reinforcement that we can overlook the subtleties of the process of initiating the behaviour that enables us to mark and reinforce.

We may have a prejudice for one teaching process over another. This is often aligned to our own skills, superstitions or perceived ease from our own perspective. It is always worth taking the time to explore the many varied ways we can enable learning and the benefits and disadvantages of any teaching strategy.

The reality is that we can blend the strategies: luring, shaping and targeting to facilitate learning without frustration and a high sense of achievement for both trainer and learner.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill


Lure, Shape, and Target - In Action

Kay Laurence

The dogs training in this practical session will have a chance to learn simple behaviours through different teaching strategies. We shall look in close detail at the skills the trainers need to become equally competent in all strategies. Recognising when to change strategies for the benefit of the learner and ensure the smoothest path for the foundations of any learner.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill


Understanding, Managing, & Modifying Problem Behaviour

Chirag Patel

Clients always call trainers when they are experiencing problem behaviours with their pets. In this Session Chirag Patel will focus on a practical and scientific approach to analysing and resolving problem behaviour. The Session will cover various management tools and techniques, as well as strategies for effecting behaviour change. Going beyond theory, the Session will emphasize how to use these skills as a consultant in areas of work, including taking case histories, working with clients, evaluating motivation, and other practical real-world situations.

As passionate and interested trainers, our approach is sometimes “too much” for a caregiver who just wants to have “this problem behaviour fixed.” Chirag will look at simple, yet ethical and effective, ways to work on various behaviour-management and change exercises.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Aggression & behaviour Management


Understanding, Managing, & Modifying Problem Behaviour - In Action

Chirag Patel

In this Learning Lab Chirag will work with 12 dog/handler teams to teach, demonstrate, and practice several management techniques for dealing with problem behaviour. He will also work with the handlers to demonstrate how to handle human-to-human interactions as well. In this Lab, participants will learn practical management and behaviour-change techniques, as well as coaching skills for the human animals.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Aggression & behaviour Management


Rethinking Puppy Socialisation

Chirag Patel

Great trainers are always questioning and making changes where needed, rather than accepting the obvious and sticking to what has always been done. In this Session, join Chirag in questioning the obvious when it comes to socialisation and puppy training.

From critical periods to bite inhibition, from introducing puppies to dogs and people to the benefits and detriments of the ever-popular puppy play time during puppy training classes, Chirag will explore each event and help attendees look at them from new perspectives.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Aggression & Behavior Management


Rethinking Puppy Socialisation - In Action

Chirag Patel

Participant notes:
Rethinking Puppy Socialisation - Session

Participant notes:
In this Learning Lab Chirag will work with six puppy/handler teams. Participants must have attended the prerequisite Session Rethinking Puppy Socialisation.

Great trainers are always questioning and making changes where needed, rather than accepting the obvious and sticking to what has always been done. In this Learning Lab, join Chirag in questioning the obvious when it comes to socialisation and puppy training.

From critical periods to bite inhibition, from introducing puppies to dogs and people to the benefits and detriments of the ever-popular puppy play time during puppy training classes, Chirag will explore each event and help attendees look at them from new perspectives.

During the Lab Chirag will work with puppies and their caregivers to put the new theory into practice.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Aggression & Behavior Management


Pace, Place & More: Strategic Reinforcement Delivery

Michele Pouliot

Effective clicker training is sometimes thought of as exclusively depending on the timing of the click and the value of the reinforcer. An often overlooked subject is reward delivery. How, where, and when rewards are delivered is often crucial to efficient and clear training because it is a key linchpin in the communication cycle you are creating. Implicit in "Click, then treat" is all of the activity that happens in "then." While most beginners know that beginning the process of reaching into the bait bag, say before the click is completed can weaken the power in the click, even experienced trainers don't always understand other critical effects of reward delivery on learning.

Strategic reward delivery includes how reward delivery can be used to either lower or increase a dog's energy, how the makeup of the physical reward itself can enhance or hinder the reward process, whether the placement of reinforcement should support the goal behaviour or be used to reset the dog for another repetition, and how teaching a dog to tolerate occasional longer reward sequences can allow for flexibility without dampening the reinforcement process. Finally, strategic reward delivery means being conscious of the choices you are making and how they impact your dog's learning.

This is a PowerPoint presentation with video demonstrations and examples.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Competition


Puppy Einsteins: Teaching Cued behaviours to Young Puppies

Michele Pouliot

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

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

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

This Session will include a PowerPoint presentation and video demonstrations.

Course Type: Session
Experience 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 behaviours and for solving training problems. Learn how to use raised platforms in more advanced arrangements and scenarios to take your training to new heights.

Advanced Platform Lab Working Spot Requirements

  • Dog immediately approaches and mounts a platform (precise position size) with all 4 feet
  • Default position upon mount may be a stand or a sit
  • Upon 4th foot mounting platform, dog gives attention to handler
  • Immediately mounts without any handler assistance cues (handler is still)
  • Dog performs the above from any angle of approach

Course Type: 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 behaviours, 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 behaviour.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Intermediate
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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Teaching Others


Competition Obedience: Winning is FUNdametal

Catja Borchard Pedersen

Obedience is often a big part of many competition programs. It tends to be the boring part, as many of the other exercises can feel more fun and exciting. But there are a lot of points in obedience that can make the difference between winning or not.

Competing in obedience can be as much fun as everything else. It all depends on how you set up your training, so that your dog thinks of it as the most fun part of your training. By using all your clicker training tools, both you and your dog will come to love obedience and look like a perfect match in the ring. Nothing beats the feeling of working obedience with a dog that really shows his happiness!

To give your best performance with your dog at competitions, you need to prepare the dog properly. This includes solid and highly reliable cues and behaviors, dealing with distractions, reliable behavior chains, and working long periods of time without a primary reinforcer. But most of all it is about FUN and ATTITUDE!

In this session we will explore what can be done to make sure, that your dog knows, exactly what kind of game you are about to play together. They key is to make him feel comfortable and safe, and most important, make sure it is worth his while, even though you are not able to click and reinforce while being judged.

Additionally, the session will explore how distraction can be your best friend – the more distractions there are at a competition, the better. Instead of fearing sudden noises, people, kids etc., make them a reinforcer for the dog. When learned, the dog will be more focused and very unlikely to lose focus, no matter what. It will be a well-known game for the dog, where their perception will be “no matter what you use to distract me, I won’t fall for it”. We will use video examples of how distractions can go from being an annoyance to a great help.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill


Competition Obedience - In Action

Catja Borchard Pedersen

We will have approximately 8 dog/handler teams. Dogs should 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.

Dog/handler teams will practice defining the smallest little behavior that can have the greatest impact on the final exercise. Clicking outside the box and not only keep focus on verbally signaled competition behaviors is a great part of having the most fun. Capturing the right tail-level, front leg lift etc. is a big part of making the final behavior chain perfect.

Participants will be shown how to look closely at behaviors to see how to fine-tune behaviors that look perfect, by clicking correct muscle tension. There is no better feeling than heeling into the obedience ring towards the judge, with a dog that clearly shows that he LOVES his job!

Attitude is all!>/p>

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill


Aggression Treatment & Context

Ken Ramirez

Dealing with reactive dogs, handling aggression, and working through problems with highly sensitive animals can be a challenge for even the very best clicker trainers. Over the years, many creative trainers have presented various alternatives to handling aggression and reactivity problems. The explosion in the number of approaches, combined with an array of new nomenclature, is often confusing for trainers seeking to choose an approach for themselves or to recommend to others.

Today, some of the most discussed approaches include, but are not limited to, Counter Conditioning, Constructional Aggression Treatment (CAT), Click to Calm, behavioural Adjustment Training (BAT), the “Look at That” game (LAT), and a host of others. How do these varied treatment approaches compare? What common or distinct scientific principles are being employed? Are certain plans better for certain situations than others?

This Session is designed to help you sort out the choices. It will explore the science underlying the approaches, look at their known efficacy, and help you see what these approaches share, as well as their differences, so that you can make informed choices. Attendees at this Session will also learn to ask the right questions and listen/look for thoughtful answers to be well-prepared when the next approach makes its way forward.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Aggression & Behaviour Management, Science


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.

Course Type: Plenary Session
Experience Level: All Levels


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 behaviour. In essence, this was teaching the animal to say “no!” In all four cases where this protocol was used, it resolved the problem behaviour 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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill, Aggression & behaviour 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.

Course type: Learning Lab
Experience level: Advanced
Topic: Skill


Love It!: Effective Non-Food Reinforcement

Ken Ramirez

Participant notes:
We will have approximately 12 dog/handler teams. Dogs should be clicker-savvy, have a robust behavioural repertoire, and regularly and effectively use toys or play as a reinforcer already. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

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!"

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.

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 behavioural problems are not animal-training skills. People skills, observational skills, and organizational skills can be key to finding solutions to behavioural problems. Before tackling a behavioural 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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Business, Teaching Others


Effective Affection: How to Get it Right

Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, PhD

Pet owners often reinforce unwanted and annoying behaviours inadvertently (such as petting a dog when he jumps up) by giving attention and affection for these behaviours. When trainers are shaping new behaviours, 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 behaviour. Yet, if the problem behaviour 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 behaviour. 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 behaviour effectively, with plenty of video examples from a variety of different species.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Science


Poisoned Cues: Diagnosis, Analysis & Repair

Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, PhD

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.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Science


Using Resurgence to Your Advantage

Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, PhD

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

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

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

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

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Science


The Veterinary - Trainer Connection

Linda Ryan

This session will discuss the importance of trainers, veterinary staff & owners working together to embrace the concepts of patient-friendly veterinary practice and techniques. Linda will discuss her experiences, and the insights having “a foot in both camps” has given her.

A team approach to patient-friendly practice is not just about being respectful of our pets, and providing the best care possible, it’s about working together with an evidence-based approach too. We now have knowledge of dogs’ and cats’ emotion, cognition, intelligence and social needs, and it is no longer acceptable not to consider this in our day-to-day work with animals. We need to work together, in an integrated & collaborative way to ensure we are providing the best care, education, & high welfare standards for pets at the vet. Not only is patient-friendly practice better for patients, it makes life easier and safer for vet staff, builds great team relationships across the disciplines of veterinary & behaviour practice, saves time and makes everyone’s work more fulfilling!

An animal’s behavioural health and emotional welfare is dependent on its physical health, and vice versa. So really, EVERYTHING is about behaviour - and not just the aspects of it that are obvious, i.e. that which is problematic for the humans and veterinary professionals that live/work with dogs and cats! From feeding our patients, to handling and medicating them, to how we educate owners, we need to understand our patient’s needs, how we should fulfil them in order to enhance the human-animal bond, and the quality of life of people and pets together - the trainer-owner-veterinary team is the perfect triad to make this happen. It builds mutual trust in each profession, which enhances everyone’s reputation, and allows us all to more successfully help more pets stay well and happy!

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill


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 behaviourist, 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.

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 6 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 behaviour 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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Experience Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill


It’s a Good Fit! Operant and Classical Conditioning

Kathy Sdao

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

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

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

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

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Advanced
Topic: Science


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 behaviour, 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 behaviour, 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 behaviours as training professionals. In addition, we will look at the topic of peer-counseling as one beneficial yet underutilized, resource.

Course Type: Session
Experience Level: Intermediate
Topic: Shelter & Rescue Work, Teaching Others, Aggression & Behaviour Management


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

Kathy Sdao & Susan G. Friedman, PhD

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
Topic: Skill, Science