Dive Deep explores and introduces trainers to key skills and aspects of various advanced applications.

Advanced animal training topics include working animal challenges, scent detection, non-food reinforcers, aggression-treatment protocols, research training, conservation training, an introduction to concept training, behavior chains, people skills, advanced training games, and more.

The course is ideal for the self-professed “training geek” who wants to understand the uniqueness, complexities, and differences of training in contexts and disciplines with which they are unfamiliar. 

Dive deep with us and reveal the intricacies in advanced animal training!

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September 13 - 17, 2021

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Course Focus

The Dive Deep course focuses on six themes: Core Concepts, Classical Conditioning, Aggression, The Right Tools, The People Factor, and Unique Environment & Unique Challenges. 

Over 5 days, we cover more than 15 topics including working animal challenges, scent detection, non-food reinforcers, research training protocols, conservation training, an introduction to concept training, behavior chains, people skills, advanced training games, and more.

This course teaches through lecture, video Q&A, exercises, and open discussions with colleagues. Daily sessions with The Ranch animals are also woven into the course to reinforce the concepts, help with visualization, and provide practice.

Over the week, Ken will use training and/or demonstration sessions in different ways—to demonstrate skills and steps, to have students work on a specific training goal for the week or practice a set of skills, and/or to allow students to experience an introduction to how certain advanced training is started.

We keep it real. Even working with the animals residents at The Ranch, this course won’t make you fluent in these topics. These advanced training skills require practice and a training relationship that is built over a period of time longer than five days at The Ranch.

What About COVID-19?

At The Ranch, we have ample outdoor space and always feature small class sizes that are conducive to learning. Please see our FAQs for the COVID-19 protocols we will be adhering to in order to deliver a safe AND enjoyable learning experience.


  • There are more than 15 topics covered in the five days including working animal challenges, scent detection, non-food reinforcers, research training protocols, conservation training, an introduction to concept training, behavior chains, people skills, advanced training games, and more.

    These topics group into these six themes:

    The Core

    Training at this level requires a strong understanding of many basic concepts. This course will take a deeper dive into two of those concepts: Behavior Chains and Non-Food Reinforcers. These concepts underpin the successful implementation of many advanced training projects—including training plans with multiple behavior components, training plans with long duration behaviors, and the many environments where food cannot or should not be the only reinforcer. It is expected that trainers in this course will be familiar with the meaning and application of these concepts. We will be spending focused time discussing why they are so important and how these skills become operational.

    The Classic

    We will also spend focused time on classical conditioning because as operant trainers, our education and practices often are not oriented in that direction. Many trainers tend to learn about operant and classical conditioning as separate and distinct learning mediums, but the skilled practitioner needs to recognize how intertwined the two actually are. Classical conditioning is part of all training situations. Trainers who aspire to have the skills to deal with complex training goals will be aided by understanding how operant and classical conditioning are interrelated.


    Our focus will be on understanding, appreciating, comparing, and contrasting the major protocols that are in place for treating aggressive behavior. The course will delve into the science behind the protocols and how they are applied. Too often, labels and language confuse the approaches and protocols associated with the process of changing aggressive behavior.

  • The Right Tools

    We’ll take a look at a range of tools, concepts and procedures that trainers often see practiced, hear about, or read about in demanding training environments. We’ll focus on defining these with crystal clarity, clearing up confusion, and making thoughtful decisions about their use in a range of contexts. These tools include: End-of-Session Signals, Keep-Going Signals, Jackpots, No-Reward Markers, Timeouts, and, Recalls.

    The People Factor

    Professional trainers depend on other people. Whether others are working with you, above you, for you, or learning from you, no training environment is a solo act. We’ll focus on honing your skills, giving you more tools to work with and practice it all.

    Unique Environments & Unique Challenges

    Every professional environment has one or more challenges that always “trip up” the staff. In scent detection work, for example, frequently the challenge is false alerts., In service dog work, it is impulse control; in show work, it’s working on a schedule. In expert witness work, it is proving effectiveness of training protocols, and in high-level canine competition, the challenge is new environments. The in-depth discussions during the course will be steered to the backgrounds and professional demands that participants have in their work with animals.

    Course Agenda »

Is Dive Deep the Right Course for You?

Ken Ramirez shares his thoughts on why this course appeals to the training geek in all of us.

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