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Day 2

Sunday, May 24th

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Reducing Reinforcement for Dog Sports

As trainers that gravitate to reward based training, the reason it appeals to us is the LOVE of reinforcing our dogs... BUT one the biggest challenges for reinforcement based dog trainers is how to move beyond this in preparation for competition! This presentation will cover the strategic and easy to follow guide to fading reinforcement and how to prepare your dog for competition. Learn how to prepare your dog to work for extended periods of time without reinforcement and still maintain criteria and performance!

Enrichment for Geriatric Dogs and Cats: Discovering the Fountain of Youth

We know how enriching lives and environments helps captive animals of all ages in zoos, so why wouldn’t the same be true for dogs and cats of all ages? Dogs are used as a model for human aging, and it turns out that lifetime learning and movement may possibly delay (even prevent?) the onset of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Movement may also keep pets more limber, and enrichment may provide a “purpose” in life and offers cats an opportunity to activate their hard-wired prey drives throughout life. Even elderly cats maintain that drive to hunt and pounce. In some ways, enrichment in golden years may be most valuable, in part, so that an older pet isn’t ignored in a home that also has younger and more active pets. Various examples of creative methods to enrich older animals’ lives, even those with physical limitations, are offered. Steve authored a chapter on this topic in the book The Treatment and Care of the Veterinary Geriatric Patient.

But My Dog Isn’t Food Motivated

When a client says this during our initial consultation, my response is “He’s not food-motivated yet.” Eating is an operant behavior. We can often increase its probability and intensity and lessen its latency through structured training procedures. Developing fluent eating might seem laughable if you have a ravenous Rottweiler or always-hungry hound, And yet, situations requiring skilled intervention abound: a senior dog whose appetite is fading; a wary dog who has learned to distrust treats; a pampered dog fussy about meals. While various medical conditions may contribute to the creation of a finicky eater, so can unwise behavioral practices. We’ll review several common mistakes and provide alternatives.

“Come!” The Art and Science of Recall Training

What makes Chrissi’s recall training approach stand out is the strong focus on the dog/human relationship. Before even introducing a recall cue, her relationship games help dog and human connect on a new level, and turn boring walks into exciting adventures. The resulting dog/human connection becomes the foundation for a systematic training protocol. Once classically conditioned to mean “awesome stuff is about to happen,” the new recall cue will be plugged into movement-based games. Is the dog enthusiastically coming when called? A customizable distraction protocol ups the ante, and prepares your dog for the challenges you’ll encounter out and about. Finally, Chrissi’s “recall ladder” – a simple yet useful tool to transition from training games to real life – sets you and your dog up for success in the real world.

Anatomy of Attention: When VAN Ran Over DAN and Other Distracting Tales

In the dog training community, a great deal of effort goes into teaching dogs “attention.” But what does that mean? Staring into the handler’s eyes? Moving in an abnormal position gazing at a toy? Ignoring all distractions? Maintaining focus? Working for hours on end? Be willing to eat all the chicken and cheese we dole out? Is a dog’s attention span based on his age, sex, or breed? However we may define it, here’s the reality: We can get frustrated and confused when a dog doesn’t (can't?) focus, or won’t give us his attention no matter how much we know or how good our timing may be. We’re smart trainers, so we know it’s not dominance or being stubborn or blowing us off but sometimes, we’re left scratching our own heads and asking, “What’s really going on in that dog’s head?” Let’s take a deep dive into Attention, which is an awfully big, vague label for many complex interactions and networks in the mammalian brain. At any given moment, a dog’s brain (like yours!) is juggling: different types of attention alertness and arousal sensory sensitivities and deficits internal and external factors focus and distractions individual attention span Understanding what’s at work in that canine brain (and your own, and your clients!) helps you make good choices for the dogs in our hands. We’ll look at: the 4 main functions of conscious attention cognitive resources – expending a limited commodity how expectations and salience affect attention what captures attention? temperament and sensory awareness to Carnegie Hall and beyond (the value of practice) When you are clear what factors may be at work with any individual dog, it becomes easier to select appropriate techniques, use thinner slices, shift your expectations or simply help the handler see what the dog is saying and doing. Armed with an understanding of the anatomy of attention and the individual dog, we can align our goals and expectations with who that dog truly is. When we know how to engage the astonishing power of intrinsic motivation, we can ----- SQUIRREL! (Just kidding…unless you are really into squirrels?) --- make the most of every dog’s capacity for attention.

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

Learn the practical application of desensitization and counterconditioning techniques to treat fearful behaviors. This presentation focuses on mechanical skills, navigating potential speed bumps, tracking progress, and troubleshooting. We’ll examine definitions (what desensitization and counterconditioning are, and what they aren’t); the recipe for success (a crucial ingredient list); how operant learning fits into the equation (are we just changing “feelings” or are we affecting behaviors too?); and answers to clients’ most pressing questions (“So how long is this gonna take?).

Zen and the Art of Impulse Control

Most people would agree that we’d like our dogs to have the ability to be zen; to chill out and relax when the situation calls for it. In addition, we’d like them to think before they act. Mindless reactivity can be difficult to live with and manage in our dogs. In this presentation Dr. Deb Jones is going to discuss her views on zen and the concept of impulse control. She will talk about the common usage of such terms as well as her working definitions, and issues with the terminology and application. She will talk about the advantages of teaching a dog to be zen and demonstrate specific exercises that can encourage thought before action. In particular, Deb will focus on both the art and the science of zen work. A clear understanding of the major underlying scientific principles will be very helpful to excellent application and execution of the techniques. Deb will discuss the importance of designated markers, introduce her foundation “bowl” games, and demonstrate the place/drop/toss technique to build fluency. She will talk about developing control around food and toys, and also consider broader generalization issues and applications.

Impulsivity and Hyperactivity

Can dogs have ADHD? A look at recent work on impulsivity and hyperactivity in dogs. As professionals, we often attribute hyperactive and impulsive behavior to age and lack of exercise, training, and/or enrichment. But is it possible that something else is going on in some dogs? Owners often joke that their dogs have ADHD. Could this be true? What do we actually know about impulsivity and hyperactivity in dogs? How can you use this information to more effectively address these behaviors in dogs?

The Principles & Practices of Operant Conditioning, or Animal Training

Skinner considered operant conditioning a science-based technology in the 1930s and 40s. In the 1940s and 50s, when Keller and Marian Breland brought Skinner's technology out of the laboratory and applied it commercially, they described what they did as well thought-out principles, practices, and procedures, and based on data gathered while training thousands of animals of many species. Bob and Marian Bailey continued this work in the 1960s into the 1990s, and Bob alone to this day. In this one hour I will attempt to present the principles, practices, and procedures the Breland/Baileys learned from others and discovered themselves over more than seventy years and taught their trainers (Animal Behavior Enterprises), and others. These principles are at the core of my perhaps well known "Chicken Workshops." I believe that applying basic principles to animal training can make training faster, more precise, and easier on both the animal and the trainer.

Canine Genetics – What Is This Mutt? The Answer May Surprise You!

In conjunction with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and as part of the Darwin’s Ark project, the team launched a “citizen science” study on how well we’re able to identify breeds, how mixed our U.S. dog population is, and how that might affect our lives with dogs. The answers may surprise you!

Working With Local Agencies: Expert Consulting for the Canine Professional

We’ve all seen news stories about serious bite cases in which an interview subject gets the behavior analysis part of the incident all wrong. It can be infuriating. What if qualified animal behavior consultants could help communicate the right information to the general public? Learn how you can develop working relationships with local law enforcement authorities and investigators as a behavior expert -- and communicate accurate and thoughtful information about dog behavior to the general public.

Location and Arousal Specific Marker Cues

Reinforcement drives behavior, right? What if your dog cares what type of reinforcement they get and likes some more than others? What if specific types of reinforcement carry different arousal/excitement and you can take advantage of that in your training, whether sports skills or for general behaviors? And in the meantime, how about adding clarity to where and how to collect the reinforcement, something that highly motivated toy dogs could definitely benefit from. We’ve all been using a clicker or a verbal word like Yes to mean “collect reinforcement” to our dog. Now let’s think about slicing up that clicker and making it more concise and clear to your learner dog. Having verbal cues that tell your dog where to collect reinforcement and what exactly that reinforcement is can be so mind blowing and complicated for the handler, but it clears things up and makes things so much simpler for the dog! The dog can devote their entire concentration to listening to you and performing the behavior skills instead of watching your physical motions as predictors of where and when the reward is coming. A side benefit of teaching and using this concept is that it incorporates “switching reinforcement” and also teaches “no”. If yes means “food from the hand”, it also means not food on the ground, or the ball on the chair, or that other dog over there, extending all the way up to “Not that deer”! Teaching your dog this concept with reinforcement you control can only benefit your training in sport and real life skills that often bring about interactions with reinforcement you cannot control.

Anxiety: The Whole Story

So you have a shy dog - one who's easily frightened of strange people or places, or maybe even one who sits at home IMAGINING what horrible thing might happen next. Is this because of genetics? Or did you mess up somehow? Jessica will talk about the biology behind anxiety: the roles of genetics, early environment (as early as in mom's uterus!), and socialization. Spoiler alert: you didn't mess up. But this talk will help you understand better where your dog is coming from and help you think through the many different puzzle pieces that made her who she is.

Concept Training: An Introduction and Overview

Ken Ramirez has been involved in teaching concept training to animals and trainers for more than 30 years. Conceptual learning takes the trainer’s skills to a new level and can provide an animal new learning opportunities. In this session Ken will define what he means by concept training, discuss the basics needed for all types of conceptual learning, and give examples of concept training, including intelligent disobedience, match to sample, imitation, adduction, modifiers, and quantity recognition.

Feline Behavior Modification for Dog Trainers

Think you're ready to tackle a new species for your behavior modification business? It can absolutely be done! But, effective behavior modification for cats requires a few key adjustments to give you the results that you're looking for. This presentation will include key factors to consider, key body language signals that are specific to cats, case examples of how specific behavior modification exercises are implemented, and video examples of feline behavior modification in action.

Stressed Out Shelter Cats

When it comes to companion animal rescue and sheltering, cats are far too often marginalized. These stoic little beings tolerate so much and demand so little, which can make it very easy to put their behavioral needs on the back burner. "We'll do that when we have more [time, money, staffing, space, etc.]." As we all know, in rescue that time will never come. I firmly believe that no pet - regardless of behavior or species - should have to wait for what the Five Freedoms outlines as the minimum standard of care. But where do you begin? In this session, learn about feline stress, enrichment, and immediately applicable, affordable and creative ways to ensure your cats are getting all they need. Content is aimed at shelter and rescue cats, but is also applicable to any cat in any environment.

Tricks With a Purpose

Tricks aren’t just for fun anymore! Through trick training, we can teach our dogs important concepts that will not only benefit future sport behaviors but will also help our dogs be happy and healthy! In this lecture, we will discuss how to train four different tricks including “Hike it!”, sit pretty, wall handstand and “Thing in a Thing”. These behaviors will have mental and physical benefits for your dog as well help you learn more about your dog during the training process. We will break these tricks down and utilize free-shaping as well as luring.

Success With Sensitive Dogs

Do you have a sensitive dog? One who shuts down, quits, goes sniffing, gets the zoomies, reacts to everything and anything, or just plain wilts like an unwatered plant at the slightest perceived pressure? Does your sensitive dog’s behaviour slow down your training? Prevent you from doing the things you want to do together? Or maybe is so extreme that it affects her ability to fully enjoy life? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then you definitely have a sensitive dog. I have a house full of sensitive dogs and know all too well how tricky they can be to work with sometimes. But don’t despair! While challenging, sensitive dogs can also be some of the most wonderful and exciting to both train and live with. You just have to understand how to adjust your approach to bring out their best. And, perhaps most importantly, how to open yourself up to what they have to offer. Join me in this discussion as I share my five-pronged approach to working with sensitive dogs. Specifically, in our hour together, we will be exploring: Arousal issues and the sensitive dog The critical importance of handler mindset when working with these dogs Identifying and curing poisoned cues Building consent and control into your dog’s training, and life in general Management strategies for those times when training isn’t possible In this talk, I will give you key strategies and tools you can implement right away that will give you immediate results. Practiced regularly, you’ll continue to see improvement over the weeks, months, and years to come. Even better, as you learn how to more effectively work with your sensitive dog, you’ll discover that these dogs can be some of the most delightful to work with. They are the most amazing teachers, and offer us the opportunity to grow, learn, and dramatically improve our skills as trainers. Your sensitive dog can even become the partner of your dreams! I hope you’ll join me and learn how to bring out the best in your sensitive dog, and grow that partnership with her that you’ve always hoped was possible.

4 Steps to a Training and Behavior Modification Plan

Learn how to create a successful training and behavior change program for problem behavior situations. Follow this systematic 4-step plan that adheres to LIMA (least intrusive, minimally aversive) practices to identify replacement behaviors for any challenging situation and structure an organized training plan using the science of behavior. You’ll get practical information that can be used whenever you are assisting owners, or working with your own pet, in managing and modifying problem behaviors using plans that strengthen the relationships between human and animal.

Building Endurance

You’ve taught some excellent dog sport skills and have mastered foundations such as engagement and even working through distractions. You are starting to think about how you will connect these concepts to build a strong performance that you will be excited to show off! So, what do I mean by building endurance? We should think about endurance as durability: stable, resilient, robust, reliable. All characteristics we would want to use to describe our performance before we enter a competition. So how do we get there? We are going to discuss simple changes to the structure of your training – from planning to application – to make sure you are systematically and efficiently working towards this trajectory.

Seeking Therapy – What’s so Therapeutic About Nose Work?

If you haven’t heard that “nose work is therapeutic for dogs”, you must be living under a rock. No, even then I am sure some dogs would have come up and sniffed at your rock with the owner in tow, who waited patiently while her dog gathered all the information from your hiding spot. On seeing you, she would startle (what are you doing under the rock, anyway?), and on composing herself she would tell you, “I let him sniff as long as he wants now on walks because it’s good for him to use his nose”. And there you have it, the latest dog owner belief. Thankfully, this belief has a bit more substance to it than common owner beliefs from the past, and even more importantly there is no harm in it for their dogs. As more and more pet dogs are given opportunities to use their nose, the anecdotal evidence builds that a dog that uses their olfactory system regularly will often show a reduction in the behaviors we all link with negative emotional states - anxiety, reactivity, and aggression. It really does sound too good to be true. But not sniffing is "therapeutic". Especially when we look at class situations, instructors offering these classes have to be very, very good at reading the animals (both dogs and humans) in their classes and being able to quickly modify the antecedents and consequences to give each an experience that builds confidence. In this session, I will share with you some of the learning experiences both myself and my close nose work pals have had and the incredible learning opportunities we have been blessed with on the way.

The Play Way: Therapeutic Help for Fear, Anxiety, and Stress

All dogs can experience stress at times, and some struggle with stress, anxiety, or reactivity routinely. Play is one of the best stress relievers there is in general, but it can also be used therapeutically to help a dog reframe its experiences and learn new responses to them. Additionally, a social play habit increases our sensitivity to our dogs' early signals of stress, and can allow you to more reliably identify "threshold" so you can make good therapeutic choices. Help your dog dismiss her fears while supporting her through social play!