Animals in Control: The Choice is Theirs

ClickerExpo 2016 - Emelie Johnson-Vegh - Eva Bertilsson - Peggy Hogan - Clip -

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As positive reinforcement trainers, we work hard at building relationships and creating partnerships with our animals. But there can be a huge difference between simply gaining an animal’s cooperation and giving the animal true choice! Trainers Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson-Vegh, and Peggy Hogan have explored this concept in vastly different scenarios and are eager to share with ClickerExpoattendees.

This presentation, which combines lecture, personal examples, and videos, will introduce various techniques designed to help open the conversation with your learners. These techniques have been used successfully with dogs, horses, and many zoo animals in various contexts, including medical behaviors, challenging working scenarios, or any exercise that may give an animal pause. Teaching animals a way to “give you permission” to proceed or indicate that they are “ready” prevents inadvertent cueing behavior before an animal is prepared or committed to the activity.

While all experienced trainers must become skilled at reading their learners’ body language, it is possible to take that skill a step further by teaching the animal to signal or “invite” the trainer to continue. Learn these techniques and you will be able to take another giant step toward the place where you and your animals are full and harmonious participants in a teaching and learning process.