NEXT LEVEL TRAINING
Animal trainers are often looking to bring their skills to new levels. In this seminar, you will explore four training areas that, when mastered, elevate a positive trainer’s game and open up new possibilities of interaction, skill development and joy with animals.
The two-day seminar will focus on these four areas: training with non-food reinforcers, training scent discrimination, training that provides choice and control to animals, and training of concepts. Thought-provoking, useful, challenging, and inspiring, we know you will leave The Ranch saying, “fantastic!”
Seminar Focus & Curriculum
This part of the seminar will focus on using non-food reinforcers effectively. Most experienced trainers recognize the value of finding reinforcers other than food or treats. However, not every trainer knows how to establish new reinforcers or how to evaluate their effectiveness. Ken will share his perspectives and experience with non-food reinforcers and explain his approach to implementing them into a good training program.
Dogs are uniquely qualified for and talented at using their noses. Ken will explore training of scent discrimination in a variety of disciplines. He will examine the differences and evaluate the many techniques being used to train dogs to use their noses, taking what he calls “an outsider’s look at the inner workings of scent discrimination training.”
Ken began working as a consultant in a variety of scent discrimination programs more than 15 years ago—precisely because he had little to no experience with scent training. He was asked to take a fresh look at scent discrimination programs with several search-and-rescue teams (including disaster, avalanche, and cadaver dogs), as well as several law enforcement programs (including explosive and narcotic detection dogs).
This seminar will look at all of these types of scent detection work, plus some of the newer uses in sport and competition. Ken will evaluate the many techniques advocated by the various scent discrimination disciplines and examine what the science indicates about each, ultimately looking for the most positive and effective approaches
Choice and Control
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. Ken will outline the specifics of one case as well as a history and evolution of the topic.
There are many conceptual ideas that require a more focused approach to training. Most of Day 2 will be about the foundational tools needed for training broad concepts like modifier cues, mimicry, adduction, matching to sample, and counting.
The presentation will include the detailed steps needed to train each of these concepts. This topic is designed for experienced trainers and their animals. .
- Matching to Sample
A key concept that Ken uses frequently as the first step in teaching conceptual learning
- Modifier Cues
Teaching an animal the idea of right vs. left, small vs. large, up vs. down, etc., and teaching the animal to apply these modifiers in new situations with new behaviors
The process of combining two or more cues to instruct an animal to combine them into a new behavior or new sequence of behaviors
- Mimicry (Imitation as a behavior)
Ken will report on his work teaching a dog to copy the behavior of another dog and the journey that led to a soon-to-be-published research project.
- Counting (Quantity Recognition)
Ken’s most recent foray into cognitive research: teaching an animal to recognize and identify numerical quantities. Ken will share the full journey from simple training project to groundbreaking research study.
Who Should Take This Seminar?
This course will assume a solid understanding of the concepts, tools, practices and science of positive reinforcement. Those without that educational background may still enjoy the seminar, but the material is geared to trainers at a more advanced level.