Dr. No: How Teaching an Animal to Say "No" can be the Right Prescription with Ken Ramirez
I wish I could start every day with Ken Ramirez. He's almost better than coffee.
Ken was careful to start this presentation by pointing out that this isn't required training for most animals. It was a single case study, something that was an appropriate tool for this animal. At the Shed Aquarium, Ken and his staff began to notice that one of their beluga whales, Kayavak, was refusing to work with new or unskilled trainers and would swim away in frustration. Ken wanted to teach Kayavak a way to tell the trainer that she didn't understand or didn't want to do the requested behavior, so he taught her to touch a bouy when as an alternate to swimming away (okay, it was a really complex process, but I only have so much room on the blog). In essence, he taught her to say, "No, I'm not going to do that." With this new tool for control over her training, Kayavak was able to work with trainers of most skill levels, and her use of the "no" option slowly diminished. She continues to have the option to touch the bouy, but she does not use it very often. Ken finished this case study by mentioning again that most trainers will never need to use this tool; skilled trainers are able to realize when their animals are saying "no" without resorting to teaching a specific cue. In the bajillion years that Ken has been training, he's only needed this tool four times. But it worked well for all of those situations, and it was an interesting case study none the less.
Fail-Safe: Cracking the Code for Ultra-Dependability with Hannah Branigan
I adore Hannah. You may have noticed.
This lecture and the following lab worked on the topic of fluency - teaching a dog to perform a behavior with precision, stimulus control, and under a variety of conditions. Fluency training was traditionally called "proofing, but instead of setting up a dog to fail or overcome a difficult distraction, Hannah is a big proponent of "errorless learning." With errorless learning, antecedents are set up to make the behavior extremely likely to occur. Once a behavior is obtained on cue, fluency is taught so subtly that the learner doesn't even realize the behavior is getting "harder." Errorless learning reduces frustration, the risk of accidentally poisoning cues, the practicing of incorrect behaviors, and it improves emotional fluency (the ability to perform the behavior in a stressful environment - like, say, at a trial). In the lab, Hannah outlined her process for fluency training. She starts with a general "Are you okay?" behavior of attention and taking treats. Then she asks for an "easy," well-known and rehearsed behavior like a hand touch. When a dog easy performs that, she moves to a more complicated but still well-known behavior such as a favorite trick. Once she has these zeroed in, Hannah knows the dog is ready to work. She starts working on the target behavior, adding in distractions so slowly that the dog never loses his ability to perfectly perform the behavior.
|Another from Hannah because I luves her.|
In a totally platonic and not at all creepy way.
Passport to Joyful Training with Michelle Pouliot
There are a lot of reasons to be serious about dog training. It's a high frustration field that encourages perfectionism. Situations often feel life or death because many times, they are life or death. However, most of us got into the field because dog training brings us joy. We wanted to play with doggos all day. It's important for us to remember the joy we brought with us into our jobs. And then we watched funny dog videos for the rest of the presentation, which was perfect for the last day of Clicker Expo.
Spot Remover: Clean Up "Not Quite Right" Behavior with Hannah Branigan
In this presentation, Hannah talked about how to remove "junk" behaviors from our fancy competition behavior. Junk means thing like barking, foot shuffles during stays, or rolling the dumbbell during the retrieve. The first step is to identify how the junk behavior snuck in because this will help guide the plan for how to get rid of it. In order to remove the junk behavior, we need to find a way to get "clean" exercises - repetitions of the behavior we want without the junk in it. We may need to change the way we set up (antecedents), change the cue, add an incompatible behavior, increase the rate of reinforcement or change the method of delivering the reinforcement, or add a prop. Minor precision errors rarely require reshaping the entire behavior, which I think is the biggest fear for those of us who have trained junk behaviors (which I'm thinking is probably everyone who's reading this). However, for severe junk or poisoned cues, starting from scratch is always the best plan of action.
Our in Front: Preventative Behavior Services Trainers Can Offer Veterinary Services with Debbie Martin
And then more from the cooperative care movement! Vets and trainers rarely work together, and that's not how the world should operate. After all, we're both working with you on the health of your pet. Here, Debbie outlined several services trainers can offer through veterinary clinics including pet selection counselling, puppy and kitten socialization classes, private lessons, and grooming/medical care classes. Debbie also described "victory" visits for dogs that already have anxiety or aggression issues with vet care. These are structured, one-on-one visits to address specific goals. But as Debbie pointed out: prevention is a lot easier than treatment.
And that, my friends, brings us to the end.