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A New ClickerExpo Every Year: A Review of 2019

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In March, we wrapped up the 2019 ClickerExpo season—and what an exciting season it was! There were new speakers, new course formats, new topics, and so much more.

But at Karen Pryor Clicker Training there is no rest for the weary! Once ClickerExpo 2019 ended, we immediately dove into planning the next year’s ClickerExpo experience (we began the Monday after the Washington D.C. event ended)! Our goal is to make sure the conference is just as fresh and innovative as ever.

As we work to build your 2020 experience, it felt like a good time to reflect on ClickerExpo 2019 and to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how this event comes together. We want attendees to leave ClickerExpo re-energized and with new ideas to take home.


My opening talk at ClickerExpo 2019 was about teamwork, and ClickerExpo represents a massive team effort. Everyone from the instructors and speakers to the myriad of staff members and contractors who work behind the scenes makes sure everything runs smoothly. My big responsibility is content selection, a responsibility passed on to me by Karen Pryor that I take very seriously. One of the unique aspects of ClickerExpo is that it is a curated conference; we rely on a core group of skilled and devoted scientists, trainers, and teachers to provide the always-changing, always-science-based content that attendees look forward to year after year.

Many attendees shared their belief that the TeamTaught experience(s) will make them better trainers. That was exactly the reaction we hoped for!
In 2019, in addition to presenting individual Sessions and Learning Labs, our speakers presented a new type of group Session that we called “TeamTaught.” This year, we discussed The Elusive Skill of Shaping and Kenneling, Gating, and Trailering. Each TeamTaught Session was co-led by four or more speakers. This format let us present a topic from varied perspectives based on the speakers’ experiences, their work in different disciplines, and the applications for different species. These TeamTaught Sessions were very well received. Attendees were surprised by how much new information they learned, and they appreciated seeing seemingly simple topics from unexpected perspectives. Through post-conference feedback, many attendees shared their belief that the TeamTaught experience(s) will make them better trainers. That was exactly the reaction we hoped for!

Brand-new perspectives

When we plan ClickerExpo, we also work hard to include fresh perspectives from new speakers who are doing exciting things in the world of positive reinforcement.

In 2019, we had three new guest speakers, Leslie McDevitt, Lori Stevens, and Chirag Patel. One of the conference highlights was Leslie unveiling her new book, Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed, and presenting the evolution of the Control Unleashed methodology over the last decade. Lori brought a new topic to ClickerExpo: Health and Wellness. She introduced many attendees to canine fitness, something critically important yet overlooked by many trainers. Chirag asked us to start “Questioning Common Training Ideas and Practices” and suggested rethinking the way we have always done things. For example, it is possible to come up with a more positive way to teach “leave it” by focusing on an alternative behavior instead. My hope is to introduce a new speaker or two at ClickerExpo every year!

Innovative ideas

We rely heavily on our speakers to present new information or share ideas in new ways.
We rely heavily on our speakers to present new information or share ideas in new ways. In 2019, there were so many excellent new presentations that I cannot highlight all of them, but I will touch on just a few of my many favorites. In Failing the Marshmallow Test, Sarah Owings explored a different approach to the dilemma of impulse control, which she re-framed as a look at stimulus control. Kathy Sdao presented an impactful new Session titled Mark My Words, which explored her journey to understanding “non-violent communication” and the benefits of bringing those ideas into interactions with colleagues. Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz presented Goldiamond in the Rough, and treated us to a history lesson about the many things that Skinner and Goldiamond introduced that are still relevant and important to the work that we do today. Debbie Martin also shared great insights that will help trainers work better with clients whose dogs are being treated by a veterinarian in Psychopharmacology and the Trainer.

Popular subject matter, reimagined

Something I like to build into the ClickerExpo program each year, and another highlight for me, is hearing an experienced speaker talk about a topic that is thought of as well-understood. These speakers always manage to shed new light on that subject. In Location, Location, Location Michele Pouliot examined the importance of reinforcement placement. She shared new ideas and new ways of using placement so that even the most seasoned trainers came away with new tools. Kathy Sdao led a popular new Lab on using a muzzle. Hannah Branigan presented on Duration without Frustration, another of those frequently discussed topics that people can’t seem to get enough of, especially when there is a fresh approach. And it seems that everyone has an opinion on animal emotions! Who better to sort out the varied scientific opinions on the topic than Dr. Susan Friedman in her new talk, Emotions: Inside Out?

Building on success

I am always thrilled with the many new presentations and unique topics that speakers suggest and bring to ClickerExpo each year.
I am always thrilled with the many new presentations and unique topics that speakers suggest and bring to ClickerExpo each year. In 2019, we had 50 new courses for attendees to choose from!

We usually ask speakers to repeat courses on the most popular new topics the next year, which allows returning attendees to see something they may have missed in previous years. I consider it a real sign of success that the number of attendees who make ClickerExpo an annual event seems to be growing each year.

It is a pleasure for me to work with such an outstanding group of people to put ClickerExpo together each year. We are at it again! We are almost ready to announce the 2020 program. Stay tuned... it may be our best season yet!

To be the among the first to hear about all the new and exciting things we have in store for you at ClickerExpo Seattle and Louisville 2020, sign up for our events newsletter!

Happy Training,





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