THINK AGAIN: PERSPECTIVES & PRACTICES FOR THE EXPERIENCED TRAINER (An All-New 2023 Perspective)
In this seminar, Ken looks at training through lenses that provide new perspectives on topics that may sound familiar to experienced trainers. Ken challenges you to “Think Again” and examine familiar and less-familiar concepts with fresh eyes, gleaned from many years of practical experience. Join Ken for a weekend at The Ranch and turn new perspectives into powerful training practices for inspired dog or animal training.
Seminar Focus & Curriculum
Core Training Tools & Practices
Familiarity is sometimes mistaken for understanding; experience can sometimes lead to complacency. For example, most trainers know that target training is important, but few trainers utilize target training completely, in a way that creates a rock-solid foundation for learning. The Core Training part of the seminar will focus on exploring and strengthening the many practices of stellar training that are often appreciated and implemented incompletely, even in the most well-intentioned training environments. This segment will explore why Ken always says, “Advanced training is just the basics done really, really, really well.” Ken will look at basic tools from the perspective of an experienced trainer, demonstrating the evolution that comes with experience.
There is a list of training tools that are written and talked about consistently at conferences, on discussion boards, and in Ken’s consulting and teaching. In this part of the seminar, Ken will look at the group of training tools (including Keep-Going Signals, End-of-Session Signals, No-Reward Markers, Recall Signals, Jackpots, and Behavior Chains) through the dual lenses of science and practical application. Through these lenses, trainers will gain a clear and practical understanding of the tools and the scientific basis of each, as well as of Ken’s professional use (or non-use) of them. This information will help trainers inform their own training plans and practices.
Introducing New Animals to Each Other
Working with multiple animals is often a challenge that becomes all the more difficult when a new animal is introduced. Ken will share a strategy that he has used in zoological settings and in shelters to introduce reactive or aggressive animals to each other, with the ultimate goal of teaching them to live together peacefully. Instead of throwing the animals together and hoping for the best, Ken employs a systematic strategy that has proven successful with hundreds of animals. Ken will use several case studies to illustrate the technique.
A long-held belief, held even by some positive reinforcement trainers, is that the only way to teach a dog to avoid venomous snakes effectively is to use aversive tools, like a shock collar. Ken will challenge you to Think Again, sharing his techniques for training snake avoidance using positive reinforcement. Since 2016, Ken Ramirez has been working on a protocol for training snake avoidance using positive reinforcement. The technique relies on finding an alternative behavior (other than barking at, chasing, or biting the snake) for the dogs to exhibit when they encounter a snake. Ken’s protocol includes training a strong recall behavior. Despite the simplicity of the protocol, there were many challenges that had to be overcome to make the protocol successful. After developing the protocol, Ken embarked on a project to test it with a diverse group of dogs in southern Nevada. Twenty-two dogs were part of the study; 14 of the dogs, of varying breeds, genders, and pedigrees; were successfully trained using the protocol. Ken will share the training, the challenges, and the detailed results of the study.
The Trainer Road Map
Learning to be a great trainer means developing deep skills in a variety of areas: stimulus control, marker timing, observational skills, food delivery, shaping strategies, targeting, reinforcement, criteria adjustments, empathy, recordkeeping, dealing with incorrect responses, training plans, and more. These skills are generally taught as individual topics and skills. As a result, trainers may lack an understanding of the broader journey or of how certain paths intersect with and support one another. As with any other journey, you can create a route that works for you if you have a high-quality map. In this segment, Ken will help you see the full training map so that you can make your own way across the training landscape, confident of your navigation and sure of your destination.
Who Should Take This Seminar?
This seminar will assume a basic understanding of the concepts, tools, practices, and science of positive reinforcement. Trainers without that educational background may still enjoy the seminar, but the material is geared to trainers at a more advanced level.