ClickerExpo 2018 Course Descriptions

ClickerExpo features the most learning choices through six simultaneous courses and multiple formats all day, every day. The 2018 program features more than 80 courses at each location.
 Courses marked with an * are new this year!


 

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 obtaining 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 awareness and 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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Building Behavior: Shape the Future - In Action!

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Prerequisite Session: 

  • Building Behavior: Shape the Future

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 12 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. To participate in this Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Some of the most common questions about clicker training relate to obtaining 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 awareness and 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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

How to Win Friends & Influence Puppies: Effective Socialization*

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Proper socialization is essential for a healthy, happy family dog, yet socialization is one of the most misunderstood and under-utilized concepts among American pet owners. Instead of solving problems, we could be preventing them. This Session will cover the science of socialization and the recommended techniques to use in puppy-socialization programs or with your own dog.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Aggression & Behavior Management, Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Tech Tools for Trainers*

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Are you frustrated with stacks of notes, receipts, and incomplete odometer readings that relate to your training business? Can you remember distance data achieved at your retrieve session last week—so that you don't waste valuable rented ring time in review or set up a scenario the dog isn't ready for, bruising his confidence in the ring? Do you wish your receipts would organize themselves magically in time for tax preparation? Let's talk about useful tools and technology for the busy trainer who doesn't want to lose any more time and money.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Business
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Train that Chain: Behavior Chains

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 12 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.

At some point, you 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. 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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Animals In Control - In Action!

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh & Peggy Hogan

Prerequisite Session: 

  • Animals In Control: The Choice is Theirs

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

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
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Progress Guaranteed: Never Get Stuck in Your Training Again*

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh

We have all experienced situations where our dogs stop making training progress. They do the wrong behavior, they freeze, or they just look at us, disinterested. Eva and Emelie call this, ”getting stuck.”  Getting stuck can take many forms, and it isn't fun or helpful for you or your dog. Can we do anything about it? Absolutely!

Eva and Emelie have created an innovative twist in the training process that can un-stick your dog. When incorporated from the start, this technique will prevent the dog from getting stuck altogether. What's the secret? Train so that behaviors can be both spontaneous and on cue. At first this may seem paradoxical (spontaneous AND on cue?), but it is not. This idea is the core of  training in Scandinavia, where training spontaneously offered behavior is part and parcel of a standard training plan.

This Session will cover:

  • How understanding spontaneous behaviors, prompts and cues helps you unstick your dog
  • How to use stimulus control, contextual cues, and repetition savviness to your advantage
  • Acknowledging cues and prompts as potent reinforcers
  • Going cueless how you can work with spontaneous behaviors for foundation training, refinement, and problem-solving (“the Scandinavian way”)
  • Training-session structures for spontaneous behaviors vs. cued or prompted behaviors
  • Transitioning a behavior from being prompted to being offered spontaneously, without the dog being left in limbo and waiting for help
  • Dealing with mistakes within the realm of spontaneous offered behavior
  • Teaching and retraining cues

This Session will include video, demos, and, hopefully, a lively discussion! Don't get stuck in that same old place. Join Eva and Emelie.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

 

Self-Help: How to Be Your Own Coach*

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh

Successful animal training is about you just as much as it is about your animal! Wait a minute—we are still talking about animal training, aren’t we? It might be your learner’s behavior you are focused on, but in order to change that behavior you first have to change your own behavior. Training never alters the animal’s behavior directly. Training means creating situations where the learner gets new experiences to learn from. To do that, you the teacher need to manage to do the right thing at the right time!

As animal trainers we’re always wearing at least two hats. We are both our own coaches and our learners' teachers. How can we get that combination to work optimally?

This Session is an eye-opener in regard to your role as your own coach. It will provide both ideas and actual tools to ensure that every training session reaches its potential! The Session will include examples and video, and one never knows when Eva and Emelie may feel the need for a demo.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Talk Less, Say More: Effective Teaching*

Theresa McKeon, Eva Bertilsson, & Emelie Johnson Vegh

Participant Notes: 

This Lab is for people; no need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills. We will have approximately 50 spots for participants. Participants are encouraged to bring their personal lesson plans to work on during this Learning Lab.

Teachers are passionate about transferring their knowledge to others. But it is a challenge to sift through an entire lifetime of acquired knowledge in order to serve it to a novice. Using TAGteach tools, you can create and deliver just the right amount of information to your students.

In this Lab, new and experienced teachers will get the chance to practice their current clicker training instructions (or create new ones) using TAGteach tools. TAGteach tools are now being used in the medical field, corporate training, classrooms, and factories to help instructors reduce confusion, improve skill-acquisition, and reduce teacher stress.

Relax in this friendly, constructive environment while we share ideas and practice creating and delivering streamlined instructions. We will incorporate demonstrations, TAG points, and short-phrase coaching. Bring to the Lab: current lesson descriptions

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Teaching Others
Location: St. Louis


Learn more or register now


 

Thinking Fast and Flow

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh

Participant Notes: 

This Lab is for people. No need to bring your dogs—let them rest! We will have approximately 100 spots for participants.

In this interactive presentation, 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 training session, simplify decision-making, and clarify the 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
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Designing Your Dog Business*

Veronica Boutelle

Are you a new trainer trying to decide what type of business to start? Or, are you a seasoned pro wondering if it’s time to open a facility or add a new service? In this Session, Veronica of dog*tec draws from her 15 years of experience helping dog trainers start and grow their businesses. She will discuss the pros, cons, and hidden challenges of various services and business models. She will also cover service options, from private training and classes to daycare and dog walking, and considerations like staffing, potential revenue, costs, and when a facility is the right choice. Stepping through a number of case studies, you’ll come away with a helpful framework for designing the business that’s just right for you.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: Southern California.  The same course will be taught by Gina Phairas in St. Louis.


 

It's All in the Packaging*

Veronica Boutelle

Any good marketer will tell you that the box is as critical to a sale as what comes in it. You’re an R+ clicker trainer dedicated to using your skill and expertise to help dogs. But is your packaging helping you make the sale? In this fun Session, Veronica of dog*tec shows you ways to package, price, and market services that better serve your clients and their dogs.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: Southern California.  The same course will be taught by Gina Phairas in St. Louis.


 

Say Yes to Success*

Veronica Boutelle

As positive reinforcement clicker trainers, we’ve excised the word “no” from our vocabularies, and with good reason. But when it comes to running your business, learning what to accept and what to decline is the key to saying yes to success. If you’re like most dog pros, you’re juggling far too much, finding it hard to catch your breath as you run from one obligation to another, and feeling guilty about never having enough time for your own dogs and family. If this sounds familiar, prioritize this Session with Veronica of dog*tec. You’ll get practical advice for managing your time and your business, including a formula for deciding when to decline work so you can say yes to the things that matter most. Veronica will also share specific scripts for letting people down easy. It’s time to stop wearing the busy badge in favor of better work/life balance!

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: Southern California.  The same course will be taught by Gina Phairas in St. Louis.


 

Websites that Work: Keys to a Successful Trainer Website

Veronica Boutelle

A good website doesn’t just exist—it works for you. Your website is your ultimate marketing and sales tool, and it’s a shame to have it firing on anything but full cylinders. 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. 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. The examples will provide inspiration and an action plan for building or improving your own most important marketing tool.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: Southern California.  The same course will be taught by Gina Phairas in St. Louis.


 

Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra-Dependability

Hannah Branigan

Related Learning Lab: 

  • Fail-Safe - In Action!

For a winning (or even qualifying) performance in the ring, you need accurate, precise behaviors, but you also need those behaviors to be highly reliable. You can’t just train until the dog gets it right; you 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. What you need is complete understanding, flawless communication, and core skills that are so strong as to be automatic. We will discuss what training steps produce super-fluent, unstoppable behaviors. We will also cover when and how to add distractions without increasing the error rate and putting precious competition behaviors at risk.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Fail-Safe – In Action!

Hannah Branigan

Prerequisite Session: 

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

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 12 dog/handler teams. Teams should be clicker-savvy and have advanced experience with shaping. Dogs should have a minimum of 3 fluent, offered behaviors under good stimulus control (without prompting or luring). The behaviors can be very simple (for example target, sit, down, etc.) and need not be specific to competition obedience, but must be performed without a prompt or lure. Dogs must be experienced working successfully in a busy group setting and 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.

In this Lab, you will practice enhancing the fluency of behaviors using a system that introduces challenges incrementally. As usual, keeping the dog in a confident emotional state is the top priority. The goals will be to strengthen the behavior without risking the emotional state, and to strive for errorless learning.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Spot-Remover: Clean Up “Not Quite Right” Behavior*

Hannah Branigan

Have you ever trained something into a behavior accidentally, and then wished you could go back in time and undo it? Me, too. But we can't go back.

Whether it’s a squeak as the dog moves into heel position, a foot shuffle on a stand stay—or maybe you’ve trained your dog to nose-then-paw on a paw target? Sometimes “junk” behaviors get reinforced accidentally as part of a goal behavior; often, this is not realized until after the fact. Are those little quirks permanent? What can you do to get rid of them? In this Session, we’ll talk about how those unwanted behavior creep into training sessions and we will discuss strategies and tips to remove them without losing that enthusiasm valued so highly in clicker-crazy dogs.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Competition, Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

The Orient Express: Get Your Training Sessions on the Fast Track*

Hannah Branigan

Related Learning Lab:

  • The Orient Express - In Action!

Hearing the click, many dogs will orient toward the source of the reinforcement—their handler. But this isn't always what we want. But this isn't always what you want. For example, if you are setting up a dog for the next iteration of a behavior, you may want the dog to get reinforcement away from you. The most common way to solve this type of issue is to deliver reinforcement elsewhere. Toss the treat over the dog's head or away to the side, or move your own position. These solutions get the job done, but there may be a price. Dogs can show signs of confusion or stress as they figure out what they need to do to find the reinforcement. These methods are also inefficient. Imagine that during your work day someone moved the coffee pot three times a day, each time to a different place. At the very least, you'd lose time hunting for the coffee, and you might get a bit cranky (if you did not lose your mind altogether). But, if I told you where to find the coffee pot as soon as you got up to get your cup, you'd be a happy camper and much faster getting back to work. The goal would be to orient you toward the reinforcement quickly in order to save time and reduce frustration.

You can achieve the same results with your training. Simply train cues to tell dogs where to expect their reinforcement. For example, start with a simple two-part distinction: one cue for "dog coming to the food source" and another cue for "food source coming to the dog." If you think "Room Service" and "Take Out," you start to get the idea. Join Hannah to learn the power of, and procedure for, adding cues for reinforcement orientation to your training practices. The journey to excellence is long. Get to where you are going faster with the "Orient Express."

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Competition, Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

The Orient Express - In Action!*

Hannah Branigan

Prerequisite Session: 

  • The Orient Express: Get Your Training Sessions on the Fast Track

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 12 dog/handler teams. Teams should be clicker-savvy and have advanced experience with shaping and behavior chains. Dogs should have a repertoire of fluent behaviors including stationary positions, targeting. They should be familiar with working on platforms (without a lure). Dogs must be comfortable working in a group setting, in close quarters with other working dogs, even when excited. To participate in this Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

In this Lab, we will isolate specific reinforcement procedures and practice putting them on separate cues. We will then use the cues to create mini-behavior chains.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Arousal: Science, Not Sex*

Lindsay Wood Brown

High arousal. Over arousal. Low arousal. Arousal as a behavior description is ever-present in our conversations about animals within shelter, performance, and working environments. Across training settings, we’ve attached the label readily without an agreed-upon definition of its meaning. What does arousal mean? What is the relationship between arousal and emotion? How does arousal relate to other descriptors we use (often interchangeably) like drive, frustration, aggression? Is there a functional component to arousal? Is use of the label beneficial for training conversation or does it muddy the waters? Let’s unravel the science of arousal and consider the applications within training practices and behavior-change plans. It's not sex, but for behavior nerds it's still sexy!

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Science, Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Choice, Control & Empowerment for Shelter Animals*

Lindsay Wood Brown

Empowering animals by providing opportunities for choices within their daily lives is a popular topic and an important welfare strategy in zoos, aquaria, and, more recently, professional dog-training settings. But in animal shelters, a focus on choice and environmental control is only gaining momentum slowly. Yet, it is in this environment that behavioral-welfare strategies are most essential; shelter animals lose control over their environment and experience significant reduction in choice from the moment they enter the shelter until the time they leave. Empowerment strategies can and should be in practice throughout an animal’s length of stay. However, it simply isn’t enough to say that we provide the opportunities; we need to also acknowledge and respond when an animal makes a choice. Let’s explore how we can support behavioral welfare from shelter admission to exit through the provision of daily choices and attention to responses. How can we give some control back to the animals in our care? How can we do so in a manner that is both practical to the setting and beneficial for the individual?

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Science, Shelter & Rescue Work
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

On Guard: Modifying Resource-Guarding

Lindsay Wood Brown

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 6 dog/handler teams. This Lab is designed to teach a protocol to behavior consultants, trainers, and shelter staff. It is not designed to modify guarding behavior during the Lab. For safety purposes, dogs that guard food or items from people or other dogs should not attend. 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 45 minutes as a learning Session to discuss behavior-change for dogs that demonstrate aggression to people in a resource-guarding context. After the Session, she will show participants how to practice the steps to modify food-guarding, based on a statistically successful protocol that she developed as a shelter director. The protocol applies force-free, scientific principles of desensitization, classical counter-conditioning, and operant 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, will learn to assess behavioral criteria for progressing through the treatment plan, and will learn troubleshoot complexities that may arise during treatment.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Shelter & Rescue Work, Aggression & Behavior Management, Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

The Great Divide: Is it Operant or Classical?

Lindsay Wood Brown

Behavior consultants navigate multiple pathways as they plan treatments. At the top of the list of considerations is paradigm approach: the choice between an operant or classical conditioning treatment method. A thoughtful approach and a clear behavior-change plan are essential for effective treatment. However, we often become fixed on our learning paradigm of choice, limiting perspective and hindering the ability to take advantage of both learning processes. This Session will explore the impact of classical and operant learning in training sessions, procedural selection for initiating a behavior plan, and how a robust understanding of the interplay between processes can power training choices. We will consider the role of emotions in changing behavior, the benefits and limitations of classical and operant conditioning, and how we can harness both processes most effectively for the greatest success for learners.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Inside the Mind of a Trainer: A Narrated Demo*

Lori Chamberland

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 8 demonstration dogs. If you would like to volunteer to have your dog featured during the Lab demonstration, please sign up for a spot. Handlers will not be working with their dogs independently. We cannot guarantee that all accepted volunteer dogs will be featured in class.

Ever wished you could get inside a trainer's head while he or she was training? What training choices do trainers make in the moment, and why?

In this real-time narrated demo, Karen Pryor Academy Director Lori Chamberland will work individually with several attendees' dogs and describe to the audience her training steps and observations as she trains.

Lori's training examples might include reinforcer choice and efficacy, body-language observations, when shaping isn't linear—when is it time to raise or lower criteria and why? Yes, there will probably be a few training mistakes in the course of 90 minutes as well! Lori will even identify mistakes "in the moment" and share her plan for correcting them.

There will be time for discussion and questions in between working with the dogs.

This Learning Lab promises to be unique, and it guarantees that the dogs will have a lot to teach us!

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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 fluency, using cues as reinforcers, and/or constructing solid behavior chains. Maybe you’re looking to grow your training business, or become part of a global network of certified trainers.

In addition to explaining the ins and outs of Karen Pryor Academy's (KPA) Dog Trainer Professional program in this Session, we will delve a bit into the six aspects of fluency.

Wherever you are in your training, this Session will show you how Karen Pryor Academy 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
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

 

Hunger Games: Sustainable Weight Loss Using Tools You Already Know*

Aaron Clayton

Preamble: This Session is one of several new Sessions at ClickerExpo 2018 focused on the application of behavior-change principles to human and societal challenges.

Aaron has gained a bit of weight since college—just over 1.5 pounds per year on average. But it has been 30 years (!) and that translated to 55 pounds! For the previous decade, Aaron tried to lose weight, unsuccessfully. He’s not alone. Sustainable weight loss is a long-term goal many people have, but few succeed in achieving.

In aggregate, published statistics about successful sustainable weight losses (which aren’t particularly reliable) still deliver a consistent message. Somewhere between 70% and 95% of people who try to lose weight and maintain it are not successful. But, success is still possible. Success requires changes in a few key behaviors, but most people fail to get over that behavior hurdle. When the old behaviors come back, so does the weight.

Aaron is one of the successes. In October 2015, he set out to lose 15% of his body weight. By October 2016, he had hit his goal—a loss of more than 30 pounds, which he has kept off and is confident that he will in the future. How was Aaron successful? He Integrated the science of weight loss with the science of behavior change.

In this Session, Aaron shares this integrated perspective, why it's critical, and, most importantly, how it can be applied to tackle the really big problems that trip up most efforts to lose and keep off weight. Interested attendees will be invited to join Aaron at lunch the day of this Session to make the discussion even more practical!

Join Aaron at 8:00 am. We think you’ll be hungry to get started. And then hungry for more. And, that's okay!

Note: This Session is not recommended for people whose weight gain was sudden and potentially triggered by trauma, or for people with eating disorders.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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 daily raffles, 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!

Course Type: Plenary Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: General
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Lunging in the Positive Paradigm*

Jen Digate

Lunging your horses can be a useful way to allow them to move, assess lameness, and teach emotional control in movement. But, without stealing from the flight response, it can be hard to know how to create movement and how to recreate traditional skills. Come to this Session to see real-life examples of creating movement, teaching a traditional skill set non-traditionally, and to learn responsible ways to use lunging in practice. In addition, this Session will describe how nuanced and fine-tuned lunging can become for distance work as confirmation is for riding.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic:
Equine, Skill
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

No Stress: Cooperative Care for Horses*

Jen Digate

Cooperative care has been the norm in zoos for decades, but the horse world has been slow to follow. Force and restraint have been the primary tools used to subject horses to care and to keep humans safe. But, teaching horses to participate in their own care is safer and more humane. However, there aren't many protocols detailing these training processes. Come to this Session to see real-life examples and detailed protocols of horses trained in the positive paradigm to collaborate with de-worming, hoof care, veterinary procedures, and more! Low-stress, low-fear is the wave of the future—and the future is here!

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic: 
Equine, Aggression & Behavior Management, Veterinary
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

Trail-Riding: More than a Walk in the Park*

Jen Digate

Trail riding is a pursuit that is often presented as "no big deal." Just saddle up and hit the trail! But in reality, taking a horse out on the trail demands many different skill sets, as well as an established level of emotional comfort. Sometimes teaching your horse the required skills for trail riding addresses relaxation, but not always. How can you tell these situations apart? What is the real hole in your horse's training? This Session will piece together this complicated puzzle and look at trail riding through a double lens of skills acquisition and behavior modification.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic: 
Equine, Skill
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

Ideas that Should Die: Outdated, Outmoded, and 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 opinions and political affiliations. One example of a conflict instigator is the intrinsic vs. extrinsic reinforcement debate. Due to many myths and misunderstandings, learners fail to benefit from the wellspring of information that comes from decades of applying 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 presentation, common myths and misunderstandings will be discussed so that participants are better able to address them.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 Intermediate
Topic:
Science, Teaching Others
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

 

Please Sir, May I Have Some Food, Water... and Control?*

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D

Ask any 3-year-old child what her eyes, ears, and legs are for and you will get a fast, accurate, gleeful answer: “To see, hear, and run!” But ask any adult, even one in the training field, what behavior is for, and you will get a deer-in-the-headlights look. The cultural fog that has us ignorant of the answer to this fundamental question accounts for many of the training failures we experience. Simply put, behavior is an evolved tool to control. Control what? Outcomes. In this presentation, control as a primary reinforcer and motivating operation will be discussed. By considering control in this light, we will better, and more confidently, provide animals with the opportunity to control their reinforcers, thereby improving their behavioral health.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic: 
Science, Skill
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

Ramirez & Friedman: Off the Cuff*

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D & Ken Ramirez

Susan and Ken team up to share their perspectives on the evolving and challenging state of our field. This Session offers an opportunity to listen to two colleagues and friends engage in a lively exchange on a wide range of contemporary topics, from procedures (jackpots) to consulting challenges (client “yeah, buts”) and future directions (certification standards). Join us as we go off the leash, off the perch, and off the cuff.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic: 
Science, Skill, Teaching Others
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

The Learning Planet*

Susan G. Friemdan, Ph.D

Earth is often called the blue planet because of its impressive oceans. However, at least as impressive, but less well-considered, is the extent to which earth’s inhabitants change their behavior based on experience, specifically consequences. This truth makes the blue planet truly the Learning Planet. And, we are not talking just behavior that changes due to experience. Consequences affect genes and change brains, too. In this Session, different aspects of the leaning planet will be discussed, the discussion guided by Susan Schneider’s book The Science of Consequences and several other seminal works. Key points will be illustrated with video examples.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic: 
Science, Skill, Teaching Others
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Animals In Control - In Action!

Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh & Peggy Hogan

Prerequisite Session: 

  • Animals In Control: The Choice is Theirs

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

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
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

No Problem! How Problems Create Great Horse Training*

Peggy Hogan

Is your horse a creative problem-solver?

Horses that are creative problem-solvers (search for a variety of potential responses to a learning situation) are more engaged in training and make it much easier for trainers to meet their goals. One way to increase a horse's creative problem-solving skill is through introduction of novel situations and the strategic use of obstacles. For example, once a horse learns how to negotiate backing onto and off of a platform, the act of loading onto and off of a trailer will get easier. Instead of a stumbling block to learning, artificially introduced obstacles accelerate learning in real-life. You can use obstacles in all kinds of ways, including preparing animals for the range of necessary behaviors needed for interactions with humans.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Equine
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Safety in Numbers: Working with Multiple Horses

Peggy Hogan

An environment with multiple horses (or people) is a safety concern for trainers who are using food to train their horses. When you begin to clicker train a horse, the recommendation is to distance yourself from the horse, using protected contact as basic skills are established. Protected contact keeps trainers safe in the initial phase of training.

One of the joys of clicker training is how the quality of the mutual bond with the horse can improve. Human trainers become VERY important to the horses. This relationship can open the door to a situation where the horse becomes animated and assertive; the horse may step into your space when another horse is present, or even when other humans are present. Not only can this be disconcerting to a beginning clicker trainer, but it can be dangerous. Feeding in a herd situation may even escalate the behavior.

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

Once you have some basic safety behaviors in place, working with multiples can be fun and rewarding. In this Session, you will also see some possibilities for fun behaviors with multiple horses!

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Equine, Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: St. Louis


 

Shape Your Way to Better Riding*

Peggy Hogan

Clicker training with horses, especially in groundwork, is making headway, as the use of positive reinforcement is becoming more widely accepted. However, for riding, positive, marker-based training practices and techniques are still relatively unknown—even for trainers who use a clicker to train behaviors not under saddle.

Conventional training under the saddle means teaching horses to respond to pressure from reins, legs, and weight by moving away from the pressure to remove discomfort. These techniques are so widespread that for most people they are considered the only choice. Even Liberty Training, seen in many YouTube videos, has as its basis techniques that are grounded in negative reinforcement.

Fundamental clicker training tools and techniques—like shaping, capturing, and targeting—are highly effective in teaching riding behaviors. This Session will apply positive tools and techniques to training riding behaviors and will help you get started under saddle. The Session will focus on several riding behaviors developed from ground to saddle, with plenty of video and training plans. This sort of training includes critical aspects of riding-—teaching horses to move forward, backward, toward us, away from us, and teaching them to move the front legs, the hind legs, and a combination of both.

If you are interested in learning how to create positively reinforced tactile and verbal cues in your riding, join us in the saddle (or, the seat in this case). This Session will include examples, demonstrations, videos, and audience participation.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Equine
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Advanced Rope-Handling*

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. We will have approximately 60 spots for participants. It would be helpful for partipants to bring a lead or a lead and a halter, but it is not required.

Many years ago I was watching Linda Tellington-Jones (the founder of TTEAM training) work with a 12-year-old miniature horse. His “day job” was entertaining children at birthday parties, something he was good at. He was a well mannered, polite little thing—until you tried to give him a shot. Then, he turned into an eighteen-hand, fire-breathing dragon. When I met him, his owners were trying to give him a shot, so he was giving us a demonstration of his dragon imitation. As Linda struggled with him, she made the comment that so many ponies are never taught what to do. They are small enough to push around, and that’s what people do. You need to get something done. No problem. It’s the old situation where three men and a boy, wrestle the pony into compliance. It gets the job done, but with consequences you don’t always like. Linda said that this is why so many ponies get the reputation of being stubborn, difficult little things. Linda’s words stayed with me.

Here are some words of wisdom from another horse trainer, John Lyons: You can’t ask for something and expect to get it on a consistent basis without going through a teaching process to teach it to your horse.

We put leads on lots of animals and expect them to walk beside us. Dogs, cats, goats, cows for the county fair—and, especially, horses. As the animals get bigger, so too does the difficulty of gaining cooperation. It’s easy with small animals to push, shove, and drag them around, but is that what you really want to be doing? In command-based training, larger animals learn to follow a lead—or else. None of this is clicker-compatible. So what is the teaching process that transforms leading from a struggle into a pleasure?

In this Lab, we will look at leading. We’ll be focusing on techniques that were developed specifically for horses but that can be applied to many other species. Come along for the ride! We will look at both ends of the lead. What is the experience like for the horses (or whatever species you lead)? When you handle a lead, what does it feel like to your horse? How can you turn the lead into a clicker-compatible communication tool?

The best way to develop good lead-handling skills is first to learn without your animal attached to the other end of the lead. In this Lab we will explore what it means to shape on a point of contact. We’ll turn the lead into a tactile target and look at subtle changes you can make in your balance that will strongly influence the animal’s ability to respond.

Please note: These techniques were developed specifically for horses, the species that I work with. Does that mean this Lab is only for horse people? Absolutely not. Through the years I have had many dog trainers come to my workshops to learn the rope handling techniques that I teach. They see the value of the techniques for dogs, and they report back to me how useful they find them, even for little dogs. But keep in mind that when you attend this Lab I’ll be talking about horses. If you are a dog trainer, it will be up to you to translate the work so that it fits the size animal you are handling.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Equine, Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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

Alexandra Kurland

You’ve decided 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 presentation on introducing your horse to clicker training:

"I’ve given this talk at the Expo 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 lead 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 program will outline a training progression that takes you from clicker basics to clicker superstars.

Who is this program for? Obviously, 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 successfully clicker training horses? 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; super star performance; a magical relationship - you can have all this and more with a great start.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Equine
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Rhythm Is the Heartbeat of Training*

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. We will have approximately 60 spots for participants.

Listen to your training. What do you hear? Is there a rhythm to it? Or do you have dropped notes?

That may seem like an odd statement and set of questions. We are so visually oriented. When we think about improving observation skills, the emphasis is normally skewed toward what we see. We look for tiny shifts in balance, a head turn, an ear flick, a change in muscle tension. We become very good at seeing these changes, but you can hear them as well. Tension and relaxation are reflected in the breath. Balance is heard in the lightness of the footfalls.

Riders learn to tune in to these changes. You hear the cadence of the footfalls as you ride. You listen to the rhythm. A change in rhythm, a dropped note, may signal that something is wrong. A moment of tension can mean many things. It can signal a miscommunication, a worry over a distraction, a change of footing, a loss of focus, lameness. When things are going right, the footfalls are even, the breath is synchronized. There is a cadence you can follow. It is predictable. It is reinforcing.

In this Lab we will be listening to training. What do you hear when a learner is beginning to struggle, to feel uncertain about what to do? What do you hear when things are going well?

How can you use this auditory information to improve training skills? We’ll begin by listening to training. What do the breaks in rhythm signal? What do they mean? What should you do in those moments? Do those moments signal a problem? Are you being unclear? Is the learner becoming tired or confused? What do you need to change? Or, does the break in rhythm signal a thinking moment where the learner is putting together pieces of the puzzle? Noticing the change comes first. Recognizing what it means is next.

We’ll be using table games and other training simulations to observe and analyze the rhythm of training. Suppose that in these learning games you notice that someone's rhythm sounds like a beginner learning to play the violin. Ouch! What can be done to bring a little rhythm into this handler's training? Questions like those are the main emphasis of this Lab. How can you put the concepts of loopy training (I’ll explain what that means in the Lab) to work for you so that your training develops a rhythm that signals a happy learner and a successful training session?

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Equine
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Riding with Clicker Training

Alexandra Kurland

For many riding 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 our lessons down into small steps. Every time you click the clicker you are creating a step in the training. On the ground those steps are often easy to understand. 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 him before you ever take him near a mounting block. It’s easy to click and hand him a treat. But now you’ve taught that lesson well, and you’re ready to put your foot in the stirrup and climb aboard. You want to take clicker training along for the ride. How do you do that?

This program will look at the universals of riding and how to teach them using the clicker. This 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 back country trails, there are basics we need ALL of our horses 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.

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. So in this program we’re going to tease apart the universals of riding. We’ll see how to introduce them to a horse and how to develop them into performance excellence. Again, this is independent of riding discipline. We’ll be looking at the overall structure of using clicker training to build performance under saddle.

(Does this mean this program 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 program is for you even if you never intend to put your foot in a stirrup.)

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Equine
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Behind the Scenes of a Successful Group Class*

Laurie Luck

At first glance, teaching group classes may seem fairly easy, not needing much preparation. Just get a group of dog owners together and teach some lessons, right? Not so fast! If you want people (and their dogs) to love your class, and you want to love teaching it, there are some important elements that successful group classes have in common.

This introductory-level Session will cover two important considerations that instructors should know about before teaching group classes. While a great group class is comprised of many factors, these two can make an instant difference to your clients (and to your bottom line). This Session will look at safety (people and dog safety), as well as policies you may want to implement to make the people aspect of teaching group classes a little easier.

Safety is an important aspect of group classes, one that is often pushed to the side because class goes well almost all the time. Almost. What about that time when it doesn’t go well and there is a loose dog? Or a dog bite? Or a dog fight? Or an owner-owner altercation? Do you know what to do if there’s an incident? Have you thought about how to prevent an incident from occurring? Come to this Session and discover the safety considerations you might not be addressing. Attendees will leave with a safety checklist of things to consider when teaching group classes.

What are your policies? Policies for payment, attendance, inclement weather, dismissal from class, refunds, etc. If you create policies—and ensure that potential clients understand them—you can save yourself a lot of time and serious headaches. Attendees will leave with a list of different policies to consider and implement, along with examples of policies suitable for modification and use in your own business.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Teaching Others, Business
Location: Southern California 


 

Client-Centric Teaching*

Lauire Luck

Do you spend most of your time teaching the dog? Or the owner? Are your learning goals set up for the dog? Or the owner? Do your clients seem to “get it,” and can they use what you taught in class out in the real world? Or, do you more often see clients “forget” everything you just taught in class as soon as they walk out the door and let the dog pull them across the lot to the car?

Most dog-obedience instruction (group and individual training) focuses on what the dog will learn. To be effective, however, focusing on what the human will learn is even more important. Even more crucial for success is taking a step back and looking at what dog owners need in real life. Life isn’t a dog-obedience classroom. Life is messy! Because dog owners need information that will help them right away, and because they live in the real world, teaching should give them what they need instead of an idealized version of the “textbook” execution of dog-training exercises.

This talk will introduce client-centric ideas you might want to consider working with dog owners. We will discuss the importance of empathy and building rapport with clients. In addition, we’ll look into the importance of formulating a management plan the owner can implement immediately, as well as the importance of setting realistic expectations and helping the owner develop accountability for implementing the training and management plan(s) you provide.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California 


 

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

Lauire 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

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California


 

Elimination Happens! Canine and Feline House Soiling

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 the family room carpet. Acquire some quick tips for helping pet owners be successful teaching appropriate elimination habits for dogs and cats. Find out what questions to ask to determine if the behavior is related to a medical condition, to lack of training, or is due to stress or anxiety. Attendees will work through case examples to apply their new knowledge and history-taking skills.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill, Veterinary
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Out in Front: Preventive Behavior Services Trainers Can Offer Veterinary Hospitals*

Debbie Martin

The adage is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This certainly is true with canine and feline behavioral concerns. With behavior issues being the number-one reason pets are relinquished, it is imperative that veterinary hospitals provide preventive behavioral services for their clients/patients. In this Session, an overview of several preventive behavior services that can and should be offered in veterinary hospitals will be discussed.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others, Business
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Veterinary Transformation: Fear Free Initiative

Debbie Martin

The Fear Free veterinary initiative is spreading in the veterinary community. Within the first year of launching, more than 10,000 individuals had enrolled. The Fear Free mission is to alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets and to educate and inspire the people who care for pets. Fear Free is transforming how veterinary professionals practice medicine; the program teaches the veterinary team how to attend to not only the physical well-being of pets, but also the emotional well-being. Debbie Martin represents veterinary nurses and animal trainers on the Fear Free Executive Council. She has been involved with the development of the Fear Free courses and many of their projects. She will share with you some of the key concepts of Fear Free, such as considerate approach, gentle control, and touch gradient-—and how modern animal trainers can become involved.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Veterinary
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Help Your Teacher Help You - Part I & Part II

Theresa McKeon

As a student, you appreciate a knowledgeable teacher—but sometimes teachers come with an abundance of information. On the other side of things, maybe you are a teacher who has seen your students glaze over—and then scrambled to determine where you lost them and how to get them back up to speed. Add another species to the mix (dog, cat, bird, horse) and the potential for students and teachers be overwhelmed is, well, overwhelming. With the right tools, students and teachers can regulate information, reduce stress, and have more fun while learning to train and compete with animals.

In Part 1 of her presentation, Theresa will focus on “Super Teacher Syndrome.” We will discuss how and why overload occurs, and take a closer look at “Super Teacher Syndrome” and the challenge of editing years of education and experience into beginner-friendly bites.

In Part 2, Theresa will cover the 10 practical ways to help your teacher deliver information at an optimal pace for you. And, just in case you encounter a stubborn case of over-coaching, she will discuss how to take on the task of parsing incoming information and creating your own focus points.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Teaching Others
Location: St. Louis


 

Look Away from the Dog

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. We will have approximately 50 spots for participants.

You know the challenge. If you teach people to handle, train, or compete with their dogs (or horses), it’s only natural to focus on the furry, four-legged half of the team. Of course, you have studied their behaviors and know when they are ready for action or need a break. You plan carefully for their learning with successive approximations and plenty of reinforcement. But what about the human?

Do you know that humans display displacement behaviors and calming signals? Do you know that they learn best with brief instructions, repetition to fluency, and positive reinforcement? How can you develop a well-educated, confident human that will ensure the success of the human/animal team? First, you have to look away from the dog.

During this working Lab/lecture, we will discuss how to observe and acknowledge human behavior; we will practice using that information to provide a fun and efficient learning environment for everyone.

  • Find motivation to focus on the human
  • Identify human behavior that can influence learning, including displacement behaviors and calming signals
  • Discover reinforcement for the human student
  • Create effective 1-minute, human-only training sessions
  • Human or animal partner—who should learn which skill first?
  • Practice the logistics of separating the humans from their animal partners in a class scenario

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Teaching Others
Location: St. Louis


 

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. We 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 and basic training skills such as: cueing, clicker timing, treat delivery, and targeting. You can even practice defining just the right moment to click behaviors including: sit, target, eye contact, leave it, take it, and come. There will be space for advanced trainers to use our stuffed and rolling Locums to design and practice techniques to take home to your students.

Don’t worry; no animal will be harmed when you practice with Locum!

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: St. Louis


 

Talk Less, Say More: Effective Teaching*

Theresa McKeon, Eva Bertilsson, & Emelie Johnson Vegh

Participant Notes: 

This Lab is for people; no need to bring your dogs—let them rest! The focus will be on trainer skills. We will have approximately 50 spots for participants. Participants are encouraged to bring their personal lesson plans to work on during this Learning Lab.

Teachers are passionate about transferring their knowledge to others. But it is a challenge to sift through an entire lifetime of acquired knowledge in order to serve it to a novice. Using TAGteach tools, you can create and deliver just the right amount of information to your students.

In this Lab, new and experienced teachers will get the chance to practice their current clicker training instructions (or create new ones) using TAGteach tools. TAGteach tools are now being used in the medical field, corporate training, classrooms, and factories to help instructors reduce confusion, improve skill-acquisition, and reduce teacher stress.

Relax in this friendly, constructive environment while we share ideas and practice creating and delivering streamlined instructions. We will incorporate demonstrations, TAG points, and short-phrase coaching. Bring to the Lab: current lesson descriptions

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Teaching Others
Location: St. Louis


Learn more or register now


 

Control Is an Illusion: Stimulus Control without Frustration

Sarah Owings

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 10 dog/handler teams. Dog/handler teams should have some basic clicker training experience. Dogs should be able to work in close quarters and comfortably with other dogs around food and toys. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

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. 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 (that 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).

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Free Cookies? Non-Contingent Reinforcement for Frustration*

Sarah Owings

Demand-related and frustration-related behaviors are often hard to live with, and can damage the human-animal bond. Barking, pawing, jumping up, vocalizing, destructiveness—even aggression—are loud expressions of need. When ignored, the behaviors often just get louder. Common fixes such as “ignore what you don’t like/reinforce what you do,” can backfire, resulting in even more resilient versions of the original problem behaviors.

When applied systematically, non-contingent reinforcement provides a powerful answer to many of these issues. By meeting the underlying needs of the learner or family member up front in such a way that “attention-seeking” or demand behaviors become unnecessary, new and healthier communication patterns have a chance to emerge. For trainers looking beyond NILIF, status-reduction, and “Learn to Earn” protocols, non-contingent reinforcement is an eye-opening approach that invites increased understanding between humans and animals.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Science, Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Right On Source: Clicker Training and the Nosework Team*

Sarah Owings

Related Learning Lab: 

  • Right On Source - In Action!

Nosework is one of the fastest growing dog-related sports in the U.S. This exciting, wonderfully inclusive pastime provides dogs of all shapes and sizes, ages, and breeds, the opportunity to shine at what they do best. Teamwork, suspense, total engagement in a task—if you are someone who enjoys puzzles, treasure hunts, and hours of minute examination of dog behavior, this is definitely the sport for you!

Clicker trainers entering the world of Nosework are sometimes told that operant learning principles don’t apply, and can even be harmful to a dog’s natural desire to hunt. In this Session we will look at these ideas objectively, with the goal of building bridges between the different schools of thought. The reality is that in order to succeed in the upper levels of K-9 Nosework, or any other scent-detection venue, competitors will benefit from all points of view. Regardless of your chosen training methodology, it is extremely helpful to, at least, be able to recognize when the laws of learning are working for you or against you. False-alerts, frustration, and slow progression through the levels are often signs that communication between dog and handler is unclear or the dog’s motivation is too low.

Clicker training brings great tools to the Nosework team, such as: clear criteria-setting, the power of high rates of reinforcement, the ability to apply back-chaining effectively, and knowledge of how to build specific skills in a targeted way. Above all, clicker training's strong focus on clean mechanical skills allows handlers to clarify what exactly is being reinforced, making it that much easier in the long run for trainers to be able to trust their dogs, and for their dogs to be able to trust their humans.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Right On Source - In Action!*

Sarah Owings

Prerequisite Session: 

  • Right On Source: Clicker Training and the Nosework Team

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 6 dog/handler teams. Teams will get the most from this Lab if they have some basic clicker training experience and are currently on at least one odor. Teams at all levels of competition will benefit from the exercises, ORT-Elite. Dogs should be able to work and relax in close quarters with other dogs nearby. Any dogs that appear overly stressed or are disruptive may be invited to work outside the room. 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, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session.

In this Lab we will explore the many ways clicker training, and operant learning principles, can bring a new level of clarity, enthusiasm, and precision to teaching scent-detection.

Depending on what each dog team teaches us in the moment, we will focus initially on building strong commitment to odor using a special classical conditioning “device.” Other exercises may include rapid-fire sourcing games, motivation-building games involving a much higher rate of reinforcement than many Nosework dogs are used to, and exercises designed to help handlers become more aware of how their body language can influence a dog’s behavior while searching, potentially proofing against handler-induced false-alerts.

If time and space allow, we will end either the Lab with individual problem-solving and/or a mini-search where each team puts some of their newly honed skills to work.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

What a Cue Can Do - In Action!

Sarah Owings

Prerequisite Session: 

  • What a Cue Can Do: Developing Cueing Skills - Kathy Sdao

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

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

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Anatomy of an Aggressive Dog Training Plan

Emma Parsons

If you have decided to see clients whose dogs have aggression issues, what should you include in your Training Plan? Are you going to focus directly on the original behavior problem or are you going to offer additional information in order to help dogs live a much more peaceful life? Detailed training plans such as these take time to write up and need to be done in a cost-effective way.

When I treat dogs that have aggression and reactivity issues, I e-mail the client a thorough Training Plan two to three days after the initial visit. The plan includes sections such as: Home Management, Specific Notations (specific behavior information that is unique to that client/dog model), Clicker Training Foundation Behaviors, and a detailed description of how to implement the Click to Calm methodology. This detailed document helps owners shape the emotion of their dogs from one of fear and/or extreme excitability to one of contentment in previously challenging situations. New to my training plan are videos of myself demonstrating the specific exercises correctly. (Links are included in the Training Plan.) This information covers both types of learners: people who need to read the instructions as well as people who need to see it done.

In this presentation, we will create one or two training plans that will be based on actual case histories. Please note: Although it will be mentioned, this Session will not be a discussion about how or when to use the Click to Calm methodology. (Please see “Click to Calm: New and Improved”)

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Drama at the Door!*

Emma Parsons

Dogs love to run to the door to greet visitors! Some want to launch themselves at the newcomer with an abundance of joy, while others recoil and go into full attack mode. Some other dogs might be in conflict: they come forward in order to investigate, but if the person moves or speaks, they back up and burst into a frenzy of barking.

Regardless of the reaction you are used to, in this Session you will learn several ways to teach dogs how to greet and relax when new people come to visit. A combination of home management, proper body language, and clicker trained foundation behaviors is what makes these plans viable. This methodology comes from my many years helping clients solve this particular behavior issue with many different types of dogs.

Some dogs can be taught to carry items to the door; others can be taught to greet the newcomer outdoors first and then enter together through a back door; still others can interact with the visitor if the visitor takes the initiative and cues certain behaviors that the dog already knows. You will also learn how to build an “Emergency” cue and how to teach the dog to go to a certain location when the doorbell rings.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Keep Calm and Click On: Evidence & Improvement in the Click to Calm Method*

Emma Parsons

The Click to Calm methodology was first published in 2005. Its main goal has always been to teach reactive and aggressive dogs how to calm themselves in situations that were formerly challenging and, sometimes, dangerous. This method works well for fearful dogs, and with exuberant, enthusiastic dogs! It is also successful with dogs that are involved in a dog sport where the handler needs extreme focus despite the heavy distractions in the environment.

Through years of working with clients like these, Emma has made several changes to the Click to Calm methodology. For example, she has found that moving with these dogs, instead of remaining stationary, works much better while she is exposing the dogs to the questionable stimuli. The ratio of reinforcement has also changed: looking at the stimulus versus looking at the handler. Emma has added more default behaviors that directly prepare the handler in case the dog explodes in a given situation.

Join Emma for a brief review of her successful Click to Clam methodology, a look at the many improvements made over the years, and a discussion of a few case studies.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management, Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Reactive-Dog Games*

Emma Parsons

These games have been developed to challenge the most advanced reactive student/dog teams. All of the skills that I have taught in my reactive dog classes (“Click to Calm” or Leslie McDevitt's “Control Unleashed”) are tested here.

The goal is to re-create safely some of the situations that pet owners and dog-sport enthusiasts face in ordinary life. Activities like standing in a line at the training facility to pay for dog treats, or waiting in the queue before an agility run, pose special problems if your dog has not been taught to wait calmly amid lots of people and dogs in a noisy environment. The waiting patiently skill is taught separately from all others.

In general, when people play games, they learn the rules first and then begin to strategize about the manner in which they will complete the tasks. The same process is followed in class. My students learn the rules of the game and then weigh the decisions: whether or not the dog can even participate, and, if so, how to make that dog’s experience more pleasurable. Safety and comfort are always the goals.

Through video, games such as Soccer, Dodge Ball, and Relay Races will be introduced and observed. Rules on how to play each game will be included in your Session materials.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Streetwise: Polite Greetings on the Street*

Emma Parsons

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 8 dog/handler teams. It is recommended that teams have a working knowledge of the click to calm methodology. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

Do you have a dog that simply cannot control himself or herself meeting a stranger on the street? Does the dog start propelling his/herself in the air, and start barking if he or she can’t meet the person fast enough? Do all of your attempts to try to make the dog sit (the most popular solution) end in despair? If so, come to this Session!

We will use the Click to Calm method to explore ways in which a dog is first shaped to see the person and settle, and then shaped to meet the person courteously, keeping all four paws on the ground. This behavior is put on the verbal cue “Go Say Hi.” After the dog greets the person gently, he bounces back to his handler to receive the next cue: remain with his handler or spend more time with the visitor. This process creates a much more versatile learning environment for the all involved.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Designing Your Dog Business*

Gina Phairas 

Are you a new trainer trying to decide what type of business to start? Or, are you a seasoned pro wondering if it’s time to open a facility or add a new service? In this Session, Gina of dog*tec draws from her 15 years of experience helping dog trainers start and grow their businesses. She will discuss the pros, cons, and hidden challenges of various services and business models. She will also cover service options, from private training and classes to daycare and dog walking, and considerations like staffing, potential revenue, costs, and when a facility is the right choice. Stepping through a number of case studies, you’ll come away with a helpful framework for designing the business that’s just right for you.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: St. Louis. The same course will be taught by Veronica Boutelle in Southern California.


 

It's All in the Packaging*

Gina Phairas 

Any good marketer will tell you that the box is as critical to a sale as what comes in it. You’re an R+ clicker trainer dedicated to using your skill and expertise to help dogs. But is your packaging helping you make the sale? In this fun Session, Gina of dog*tec shows you ways to package, price, and market services that better serve your clients and their dogs.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: St. Louis.  The same course will be taught by Veronica Boutelle in Southern California.


 

Say Yes to Success*

Gina Phairas

As positive reinforcement clicker trainers, we’ve excised the word “no” from our vocabularies, and with good reason. But when it comes to running your business, learning what to accept and what to decline is the key to saying yes to success. If you’re like most dog pros, you’re juggling far too much, finding it hard to catch your breath as you run from one obligation to another, and feeling guilty about never having enough time for your own dogs and family. If this sounds familiar, prioritize this Session with Gina of dog*tec. You’ll get practical advice for managing your time and your business, including a formula for deciding when to decline work so you can say yes to the things that matter most. Gina will also share specific scripts for letting people down easy. It’s time to stop wearing the busy badge in favor of better work/life balance!

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: St. Louis.  The same course will be taught by Veronica Boutelle in Southern California.


 

Websites that Work: Keys to a Successful Trainer Website

Gina Phairas

A good website doesn’t just exist—it works for you. Your website is your ultimate marketing and sales tool, and it’s a shame to have it firing on anything but full cylinders. 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 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. The examples will provide inspiration and an action plan for building or improving your own most important marketing tool.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Business
Location: St. Louis.  The same course will be taught by Veronica Boutelle in Southern California.


 

Passport to Joyful Training*

Michele Pouliot

Positive reinforcement training is fun for both the learner and the teacher. Every clicker trainer has experienced the joy of the moments when the learner “gets it” and behavior appears. The same feeling is true teaching humans how to train their own learners. We all feel delight at witnessing a trainer having a “light-bulb moment.” Clicker training can surely be considered “Joyful Training.”

Striving to be an excellent trainer requires intense concentration and includes many disappointing training moments along the way. Frustration is a part of any trainer's experience, whether it be directed at his/her own mistakes or at the learners’ mistakes.

In this presentation, Michele Pouliot will explore every trainer's ability to preserve and cherish the joyful moments in training animals and people. Through video clips and storytelling, this presentation will feel familiar to any trainer and bring a smile to all faces.

Some mistakes in training should be taken very seriously, while other mistakes need not feel like the end of the world. Training a working-dog response that is crucial to a person's safety (even survival) can be stressful. Those errors must be taken seriously, while other mistakes or “learner antics” provide regular opportunities for laughter and appreciation of individual learners.

“To Have Fun” is a common reason people begin to train their dogs. But, learning and improving technical skills can create stress over time and can seem to take all that “fun” out of the training process. Reminding ourselves that we do have access to the original joy experienced in the first clicker training “light-bulb moments” is a healthy part of the training process. Preserving “Joyful Training” makes someone a better trainer and teacher. Let this presentation place a stamp in your joy passport.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Competition, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

The Puzzle Master: Training the Whole Picture in Small Pieces*

Michele Pouliot

A challenging part of being an efficient clicker trainer is splitting behaviors into smaller pieces to reach a final goal behavior more effectively. A person's ability to train smaller behavior pieces proficiently before linking those pieces together is a key skill for any advanced clicker trainer.

Throughout 10 years of teaching others to clicker train, Michele Pouliot often struggled to teach others this skill successfully. Michele tried several analogies over the years in her attempt to teach the skill more effectively—unfortunately without much-improved results. More recently, she experimented with another tactic to teach the skill of breaking a behavior into smaller pieces.

The new exercise appears to work very well with the many individuals who had problems understanding and/or applying the “just break it down” concept. This learning Session will present the method of teaching this skill that has been successful for presenter Michele Pouliot.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Competition, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

To Lure and Not To Lure: Effective Use and Omission of Lures in Training*

Michele Pouliot

Participant Notes:

We will have approximately 5 dog/handler teams. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be comfortable with and able to work in close quarters with other dogs (no reactive dogs please). Handlers should have experience with shaping via marker training. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

This is a combination Learning Lab and Learning Session, mixing lecture with hands-on training for approximately 5 working participants. The Session will include PowerPoint presentation, video demos, and hands-on training exercises with working teams. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

The use of lures to prompt behavior in clicker training has been a controversial topic for several years. Many clicker trainers claim that lures are problematic in advancing behavior, as the lure becomes a required cue for response, and/or that the Lure prevents dogs from thinking about what behavior they are doing actively. Other clicker trainers claim that lures allow them to prompt the behavior they desire quickly, making the training process much faster.

In this 2-hour working Lab, Michele Pouliot will strive to validate the conclusion that both opinions are very much correct. The Lab will focus on how to use lures effectively as training tools while preventing a reliance on them and not distracting the learner from awareness of the behavior in process.

Approximately 5 handler/dog teams will train several new behaviors. The first training sessions will use thoughtfully planned and applied lures to initiate desired behavior. Within 2 training sessions, these lures will be omitted thoughtfully and replaced with desired behavior cues to further progress those behaviors.

Working dog/handler team prerequisites: Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship and be comfortable with and able to work in close quarters with other dogs (no reactive dogs please). Handlers should have experience with shaping via marker training.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Tricky Motivators: Using Trick Behaviors as Reinforcement

Michele Pouliot

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 6 dog/handler teams. Dogs must be comfortable in a crowded workshop environment. Dogs should already understand the click/treat relationship, be very comfortable with normal handling, and be able to work in close quarters with other dogs (no reactive dogs please). Handlers should have experience with shaping via marker training. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

This is a combination Learning Session and Learning Lab, mixing lecture with hands-on training for approximately 6 working participants. The Session will include PowerPoint presentation, video demos, and hands-on training exercises with working teams. The 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's technique and abilities in shaping behavior.

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

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Competition
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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

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? Experienced positive reinforcement trainers can feel impatient with organizations or individuals they see as reluctant, or simply very slow, to adopt modern training methods.

Are you new to clicker training and at Expo to learn more about these reward-based techniques? Do you feel overwhelmed with how much there is to learn, and possibly feel judged by others due to your history with traditional methods? Experienced traditional trainers can feel besieged with information and challenged to alter their ingrained habits.

Transforming an experienced trainer's skill set over to a very different training skill set is not an easy journey. Many individuals and programs face the challenges of learning and trusting in a new and different way of training.

This Session will help you understand the process of changing for oneself, for an organization, or for individuals you witness using punishment-based training methods. Michele Pouliot has effectively impacted the entire international guide-dog training world, shifting historical beliefs in successful traditional methods to the adoption of clicker training among a majority of guide- and service-dog programs. Michele has become an expert at motivating and assisting traditional programs and individuals in change, In this Session, she will share what she has learned over her now 17-year journey as a changemaker.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Competition, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

 Closing Session: Hidden Treasures*

Ken Ramirez

There are cool training stories and breakthroughs that may not warrant a full Session at Expo, but they are ones you don't want to miss. Ken will wrap up the ClickerExpo weekend with a series stories featuring the inspired trainers and good training that he has encountered in the past year.

Join is for this last awesome Session before we say goodbye!

Course Type: Plenary Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: General
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Conservation & The Creative Trainer*

Ken Ramirez

Creative trainers are always finding new ways to apply their skills and knowledge. In the last several decades, trainers have used advanced training skills to give back to nature and contribute to a wide range of conservation initiatives.

Conservation training is an exciting and expanding area where experienced trainers can put their skills to use. Key applications include the expanded use of husbandry behaviors for conservation research, remote training projects, introduction of species to the wild, and other uses of behavior knowledge that aid in managing and studying animals in order to contribute to conservation. These applications have been used to assist with conservation efforts with condors, wolves, sea otters, dolphins, sea lions, polar bears, sea turtles, chimpanzees, elephants, and many others. The use of remote training in these projects has great possibilities for application in the pet-training world.

Ken will share his training experiences with several of his unique conservation projects as well as projects initiated by other skilled trainers. See if this work appeals to you! You may find ideas and inspiration for your creative training at home.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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 this is done properly, the learning process is fun, and the animal participates in sessions eagerly. Trainers often point out that their animals have the choice to participate, and that the lack 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. In recent years, trainers have explored how to provide more options in 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 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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill, Aggression & Behavior Management
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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 a 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 to 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 basic exercises that are 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. The Lab will focus on these 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 animals a way to make choices
  • 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 emphasize the tools needed for advanced conceptual learning. Because of the advanced nature of the tasks, 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 they are the essence of successful concept training.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill, Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Love it! Effective Non-Food Reinforcement

Ken Ramirez

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 8 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. 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
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill
Location: St. Louis


 

Opening Session: Inspiration from A to Zambia*

Ken Ramirez

The past provides inspiration for the present and the future. Ken will kick off this15th year of ClickerExpo with a Session that covers highlights from the past and challenges of the future.

How do we maintain enthusiasm for our profession when we have done it for so long or we find obstacles around every corner? Progress toward full adoption of effective positive-training practices continues. Interest in learning is up! At times, though, any trainer can feel that the obstacles are too big or progress is made too slowly. These are challenges that many trainers face.

This year, Ken faced obstacles as well. The most challenging of these were relocation to a new home and ranch in the Pacific Northwest and a conflict with poachers quite opposed to his and others' efforts to implement a conservation project in Zambia.

Ken will share his challenges and how they reinforced the truth of the perspective that all change can help. It can allow us to reinvent ourselves, inspire us to do new things, grow as professionals and renew our commitment to positive change.

Course Type: Plenary Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: General
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Say What? The Terminology Challenge*

Ken Ramirez

Training is a unique combination of science and practice. When the two are integrated into efforts to teach the public about training, we can run into a terminology conundrum. At times, the science vocabulary is too complex for the average pet owner. Often, the public’s understanding or use of a term does not match the way it is used in the scientific community. How do we as trainers handle those challenges? Do we understand fully the meaning of these terms? Ken will try to untangle the confusion and suggest some solutions.

In this presentation, Ken will explore the challenges of discussing punishment in a positive reinforcement community. He will describe the uses of the terms and the practical aspects of using punishment, including a look at deprivation, negative reinforcement, and timeouts. Similar confusion arises from differences in what Ken refers to as "technical chains and common chains;" he will explore this challenge, also. Ken will look at the trend to improve perceptions and create more comfortable and modern language around training concepts, and how this trend sometimes conflicts with the science. Examples of these conflicts will be included in his discussions about punishment, as will topics such as aggression and dominance.

Finally, Ken will delve in to how some popular techniques such as the Keep-Going Signal, Jackpots, and End-of-Session Signals have become popularized without clear scientific definitions or descriptions—and how that has created challenges for the training community. This presentation will encourage trainers to embrace and understand the science that already exists, while encouraging everyone to find the right balance between accuracy and practical applications. At first glance, the use of accurate science and the practice of teaching clients may seem at odds, but they don’t have to be. Join Ken for what should prove to be an interesting and enlightening discussion.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Advanced
Topic: Skill, Science, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Ramirez & Friedman: Off the Cuff*

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D & Ken Ramirez

Susan and Ken team up to share their perspectives on the evolving and challenging state of our field. This Session offers an opportunity to listen to two colleagues and friends engage in a lively exchange on a wide range of contemporary topics, from procedures (jackpots) to consulting challenges (client “yeah, buts”) and future directions (certification standards). Join us as we go off the leash, off the perch, and off the cuff.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level:
 All Levels
Topic: 
Science, Skill, Teaching Others
Location: 
Southern California & St. Louis


 

Effective Affection: How to Get it Right

Dr. Jesus 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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Game On! Train or Be Trained

Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz

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.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Poisoned Cues: Diagnosis, Analysis & Repair

Dr. Jesus 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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Reinforcement Schedules: Theory and Application*

Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz

Schedules of reinforcement are rules for when to deliver reinforcers. For example, a reinforcer can be given for every correct response, for every five correct responses, or for a correct response every 30 seconds. Schedules of reinforcement are usually part of the discussion about how to maintain a behavior effectively once it has been trained. Trainers are interested in finding ways to produce strong and consistent behavior. This presentation will give a general introduction to schedules of reinforcement. In particular, we will focus on what recent research has to say about two schedules of reinforcement that are popular in the training community: variable-ratio schedules and differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) schedules. You will learn the pros and cons of certain schedules of reinforcement during training.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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 have together in a group setting. Training classes, club meetings, 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 the concentration (somewhat wrongly) seems to be 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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California 


 

Gamification - In Action!

Terry Ryan

Prerequisite Session: 

  • Gamification: Engaging Training Games for Groups

Participant Notes: 

We will have approximately 8 dog/handler teams. Participating dogs need to be confidently attentive to their handlers and comfortable working in very close quarters with other dogs. Please do not guess at your dog’s ability to cope with a noisy, highly distracting environment. The dogs need to be able to perform the core behaviors of attention, sit, down, and loose-leash walking in a somewhat challenging situation. Handlers should be able to work independently to reinforce behaviors appropriately. To participate in this Lab, you are expected to attend the prerequisite Session. Observers are welcome and could possibly learn more without their dogs present!

Terry will demonstrate how she gives feedback during games, and how she chooses games to match the skills and needs of her learners. Time will be taken on the spot to observe canine body language and to identify application of skills to everyday, good-citizen manners. Strategies for helping dogs be confident and successful in the different situations presented in the Lab as games will be discussed, as, eventually, these “games” will be encountered in the real world.

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California 


 

A Moment of Science: Clicker Training 101

Kathy Sdao

Maybe you’re new to clicker training. Or maybe you’ve been using it but are confused by the terminology or uncertain why we do things the way we do. Here's an introductory course on learning theory and the key 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.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Science
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

But My Dog Is Not Food-Motivated*

Kathy Sdao

When clients say “But my dog is not food-motivated” in an initial interview, my response is “not yet.” Eating is an operant behavior. Therefore, we can increase its probability and intensity and lower its latency through structured training procedures. While this might seem laughable if you have a ravenous Rottweiler or always-hungry hound, situations that require skilled intervention abound: a senior dog whose appetite is fading; a wary dog that has learned to distrust treats; a little dog that is fussy about meals; or a dog whose health is threatened by conditioned anorexia. While various medical conditions (requiring veterinary expertise) may create finicky eaters, so can unwise behavioral practices. We’ll review several common mistakes and provide alternatives.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: All Levels
Topic: Skill, Veternary
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

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 they’ve intervened in ways that, unwittingly, made the problem 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 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.

How can we keep doing our work with both skill and joy? You already know how to teach a long-duration behavior to a dog. The variables that lead to success in teaching an enthusiastic down-stay also apply to our own behaviors as training professionals. We will examine these variables as they pertain to humans. In addition, we’ll look at peer counseling as one beneficial, yet underutilized, resource.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management, Business, Shelter & Rescue, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

The Seductiveness of Shock*

Kathy Sdao

Though you may refuse to use shock as a dog-training tool, some of your potential clients have used it (especially in the United States). Some clients will want to continue using it, in lieu of your suggestions of positive-reinforcement alternatives, or, possibly, in addition to them. Each dog-care professional must decide how to respond to this dilemma. In deciding, it’s helpful to understand the unique power shock has to damage the psychological well-being of animals in our care and the power to deceive its users regarding its efficacy. We’ll examine a few of the complexities of this emotional and crucial issue.

Course Type: Session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Aggression & Behavior Management, Business, Shelter & Rescue, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

What a Cue Can Do: Developing Cueing Skills

Kathy Sdao

Related Learning Lab: 

  • What a Cue Can Do - In Action! - 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 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: Session
Skill Level: Foundation
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California & St. Louis


 

Bring it Home! Help Clients Transfer Classroom Learning to the Real World*

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. Dogs should be comfortable being supervised by another Lab participant while working on people-only exercises at a short distance away from their owners. You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

It’s our job as professional trainers to showcase how quickly positive training and care can work. The laws of learning are on our side as we navigate an hour-long group or private session. This is when our skill set should shine! However, sometimes we hear feedback from a client that he/she couldn’t recall the management and training exercises we taught, or that the dog does not do well in the home environment. These situations increase owner and animal stress, result in a lack of practice in between scheduled appointments, and can lead to a cycle that impedes learning.

Can we solve this problem? Yes. In this Lab, you’ll learn and practice methods that will help your clients bridge this learning gap and reduce animal and handler frustration. These include Contiguity, Fluency Activities, Precision instructions with Tag Teach, and Cue Variety. So Join Laura and bring the learning home!

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

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others
Location: Southern California


Deep Impact II: More 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, people, and props nearby. Dogs should be familiar and comfortable with basic targeting, general body tactile (head, ears, eyes, mouth, torso, paws, legs, tail), and, with a second person in proximity, 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, resting a body part on an elevated surface, capped needles, nail trimmer, presence of and sound of a dremel, scent of ear cleaning solution, basket muzzle, gauze, nail scratch boards, etc.) You may participate with your dog or you may attend as an observer. Observers should not bring their dogs to the Lab.

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. Some owners may also be reluctant to carry out treatment procedures with their animals in the home environment. This problem can be turned around with a simple approach that involves fun training games and engaging activities. It is 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.

In 2017, Laura presented a Session entitled Deep Impact to a packed house. This year, in Deep Impact 2, Laura takes life-changing animal-care behaviors to a new level. Participants will learn how to set and quickly adjust criteria for husbandry behaviors, as well as how to observe canine and handler communication to gauge the dog team’s comfort level and readiness for the next step.

Behaviors and situations covered may include, but are not limited to:

  • Resting body on various surfaces
  • Integration of a second person
  • Benefits of capturing behavior
  • Chin rest onto a target
  • Body presentation positions
  • General body handling
  • Eye and ear tactile
  • Nailfile boards
  • Voluntary injection positions
  • Basket-muzzle training

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill, Teaching Others, Veterinary
Location: Southern California


Learn more or register now


 

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

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

Course Type: Learning Lab
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Skill
Location: Southern California

 

 

 

*new course in 2018

 

 

 

Subject to change.