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Making a Difference in Animal Welfare at ClickerExpo 2017

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The number of animals landing in welfare organizations grows at a rapid rate. In 2015 alone, the American Humane Society reported an 8% increase in surrendered animals. At that rate, the number of animals in their system would double in less than a decade. The American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Dog month has my full support: Go, go!

No one has to tell people who are in the field that the enormity, complexity, and stress of animal welfare work are often underappreciated. Still, if you do this great work you feel the enormous satisfaction of making a difference each day. Our goal at ClickerExpo is to help you experience even more success. After all, success is very reinforcing! All of us need you in the animal welfare world to succeed.

I’ve pulled together my top picks of courses that provide insights, innovations, and practical advice for making a difference in the work of animal welfare.

An ounce of prevention...

Preventing animal surrender is the target. Owner surrender is the largest source of animals in animal welfare. For example, 47% of the American Humane Society’s 23,000+ intakes in 2015 were from owner surrenders. And, 34% were from partner animal welfare agencies (including many animals that had been surrendered)—contrasted with 18% from strays. (source: AHS 2015 annual report)

If we make surrender less likely, than we are solving a root problem. These three reveal a root structure to help you understand how everyday pet behaviors transform into enormous challenges for their owners—and what can be done about it.

Lightning v. lightning bug

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lighting and the lightning bug.”— Mark Twain

Language is a powerful force for change. What’s the right language of the modern humane society, shelter, or rescue organization? Traditionally, the vocabulary used in those environments is, often unintentionally, unhelpful to the shelter’s mission and the interests of its stakeholders.

What if we had a vocabulary rich with language that is both accurate and neutral, rooted in descriptions of observable characteristics of behavior? The goal is not to create “politically correct” vocabulary in the shelter, but to use words that are accurate scientifically and accessible to consultants, shelter staff, and volunteers, and owners. Come learn a new vocabulary… in a language you already know!

Words Matter: The Impact of Language Choice

Rehab protocols

We all like simple solutions, but recognize that complex problems defy simply fixes. Simple problems, on the other hand, often have simple solutions. The trick is to recognize what you are facing and to be prepared. ClickerExpo faculty members have done that work for you with these five courses that can make your work work better.

On Guard! Resource-Guarding Lab - Lindsay Wood teaches her successful protocol to reduce a very focused and pervasive problem: resource guarding.

Full House? Working & Living with Multiple Animals - Ken Ramirez walks you through an intensive case study of a rehabilitation process with multiple animals simultaneously.

Make the Transfer: Problem-Solving through Cue Transfer - Laura Monaco Torelli shows you how to take the beginner skill of transferring a cue and use it to help clients solve common problems with their pets.

Ugly Duckling to Swan! Transforming the Shut-Down Horse - Natalie Zielinski shows you a video diary of the transformation of a complex, shut-down horse.

Keep Your Candle Burning: Avoiding Professional Burnout
Finally, Kathy Sdao has advice to keep you centered and productive in environments that challenge even the strongest and most committed.

You are just a few months away from ClickerExpo 2017! See you there! Please continue to make a difference in the work of animal welfare. Register Now.

About the author
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Aaron Clayton is President of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and TAGteach International, and a member of the ClickerExpo Faculty.