The Art & Science of Animal Training

Border collie dog
February 23, 2019
Hurts, United States

The Art & Science of Animal Training


Two days of lectures and conversations about the science of animal training and “what’s new” in the field of animal training.

The conference is a way to share information and ideas related to the science of behavior analysis, the application of behavior principles to animal training, and new innovations and technologies being developed by professional trainers in the field. The conference is unique, in that it facilitates conversations and the exchange of ideas between professional animal trainers, behavior analysts, zoo and aquarium professionals, and pet owners.

The Art and Science of Animal Training is a non-profit organization that exists to improve relationships between humans and other animals through educational programs that increase the understanding and use of behavior analytic principles as they apply to human-animal interactions and through supporting research initiatives that investigate new, improved training practices.

The registration price includes the Friday evening reception, the two-day conference, lunch on Saturday, lunch on Sunday, and a conference t-shirt.

animal behavior
February 23, 2019
09:00 - 17:00
February 24, 2019
09:00 - 17:00

Hurst Conference Center
Hurts, TX 76054
United States

Dog trainers

Barbara Heidenreich

Barbara is an animal training and behavior consultant specializing in avian, exotics and zoo animal training. She lectures and consults worldwide working with zoos, universities, veterinary professionals, pet owners and conservation projects.

Alliston Reid

Alliston Reid received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1981 under the supervision of Dr. John Staddon. After 15 years of teaching and research at Duke University, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (in Mexico City), and Eastern Oregon University, Dr.

Alexandra Kurland

Alexandra Kurland began her instructional career as a dressage rider and teacher and as an accredited TTouch Practitioner. In 1998 she launched the rapidly growing field of clicker training for horses with the publication of her first book, Clicker Training for Your Horse.

Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz

Jesús Rosales-Ruiz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. He obtained his Ph.D from the University of Kansas in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Donald M. Baer.

T. V. (Joe) Layng Ph.D

T. V. (Joe) Layng received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of Israel Goldiamond. Dr. Layng is the co-founder of Headsprout and was its senior scientist. At Headsprout, Dr.

Steve White

In his 43rd year of a K9-centered law enforcement career Steve White is the only person to have served as a handler, trainer, training-sergeant, and supervisor for the Seattle Police Canine Unit.

Ken Ramirez

Ken Ramirez, the Executive Vice-President of animal care and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, develops and supervises animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for the entire animal collection of more than 32,000 ani

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
From behavior chains to behavioral skills: Animals learn more than previously expected
Do humans and non-human animals learn skills differently, or do they share the same general principles? Cognitive psychologists have discovered a counter-intuitive feature of human skill learning: Factors that degrade performance during acquisition often enhance performance in a subsequent retention condition, and vice versa. Our procedures with rats and pigeons have produced the same counter-intuitive feature as that of human skill learning. Thus, perhaps rats and humans learn behavioral skills in similar ways.
Sequences of behavior: They are not always chains
Panel discussion – The science of behavior chains
Cues in context
In this presentation, we’ll look at what it means to slow down and become a good listener.
* What does it give you when you remember to build in deliberate pauses?
* How can base behaviors help you?
* When you are working with a physically fast learner – how do you slow down your training without creating confusion?
* What are some strategies you can use to control the pace of the lesson?
* What role do cues play in this?
* How does this help you build chains?
* How do you develop the focus and body awareness to slow yourself down so you can slow a super quick, super eager learner down enough for you both to truly listen to one another?

In other words, how do you become a truly great listener? And how does that translate into becoming a much better trainer?
Common trainer errors: How to avoid them and why we make them
In this presentation, Ken will focus on some of the most common mistakes and shortcuts trainers take and the reasons we are often tempted to go in the “wrong direction.” More than a dozen common mistakes and solutions will be discussed from “looking for the quick fix” to a problem to a trainer’s desire to ask for a behavior “just one more time” or “use a behavior before its training is complete.” Additionally, Ken will examine some of the myths and other common beliefs or misunderstandings about training – exploring where those beliefs or sayings developed and how they can cause our training to get off track. Ken’s goal is to help attendees learn from the mistakes he himself has made as well as get his perspectives on why we are so tempted to go down that ill-fated road or believe that famous quote. Ken’s presentation will help keep you from making these errors yourself.
LOOK OUT! It’s a runaway chain! The how and why of problem chains
More than any other single cause, problem chains drive business to dog trainers. Join Steve as we look at stimulus chains and behavior chains and whether or not there really is a meaningful difference between them. We will use a simple matrix to help build complex behaviors or disassemble problematic ones. We’ll learn the three main things that keep chains going and how to control them. We’ll see how life gets better when we disrupt a runaway chain’s momentum . . . while conversely keeping complex trained behavior chains robust and reliable.
Close the loop: Training reinforcement as behavior
In this session, we will explore the use and benefits of training specific reinforcement behaviors to fluency and stimulus control to effectively and efficiently reinforce the desired behavior and reset for the next repetition.
Training to improve welfare of orangutans in Borneo
Releasing displaced or rehabilitated orangutans back into the wild is the primary goal of most orangutan conservation projects. But the reality is that unsustainable palm oil farming has led to hundreds of animals living in sanctuary situations in Indonesia. Some of these animals can be released with proper medical care. Others can experience improved welfare if they can learn to cooperate in day to day care and medical care.

In 2018, our team of three trainers visited two sites in Borneo to introduce staff members and approximately 400 resident orangutans to the benefits of training. We had many naïve animals to train, which meant we saw tremendous transformation. We also had to overcome fear responses, aggressive behavior, the challenges of working with limited resources, safety issues, and very limited time to produce results. This presentation will share the details of this training initiative in Borneo and how animal trainers are making an impact on the welfare and conservation of one of the rarest species on the planet.