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Title: Bridging The Gap - What Makes Training "Click"
Presented by Ken McCort
CEUs: PPAB 2, IAABC 2, CCPDT 2
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If you missed the PPG Summit then you are in for a treat. Ken McCort is a fabulous speaker and was extremely well received by Summit attendees!
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Many animal trainers use an auditory or visual “marker” to let an animal know his behavior is going to be rewarded. These markers are often clickers or whistles, but there are also a number of other markers used successfully by trainers, including special words and sounds. Markers are paired with the reward to give them relevance, and thus they become a conditioned reinforcer. To teach an animal a behavior, trainers often break it down into small segments, a process known as successive approximation. Sometimes learned behaviors are linked together with other learned behaviors in a process called chaining. More difficult behavior can be trained in a reverse order, a process known as back chaining. But what is really going on from the animal’s perspective? Understanding the elements of the process from the animal’s point of view can make it easier for both parties to adjust the process if and when it is not going quite as well as the trainer was hoping it would! This session will give trainers a review of the learning process and some insight into what is going on in an animal’s nervous system that facilitates all the work being done by both trainer and animal.
- A breakdown of the learning process with emphasis on the operant approach.
- To define some of the elements of how animals learn.
- A different way the animal may be perceiving the marker than is traditionally understood by trainers.
- Some of the neurochemistry involve in learning to perform behaviors.
Ken McCort owns and operates Four Paws training center in Doylestown, Ohio. He has been training animals full time since 1986 and works primarily with pet dogs. He has also trained over 40 different species of animals for zoological and theme parks worldwide. McCort is a licensed elevator with the Pet Partner animal assisted activity and therapy program, whereby he evaluates and certifies animal/handler teams to visit hospitals, nursing homes and many other areas. In addition, he helped develop the Pet Partner Skills and Aptitude Test which he has taught both nationally and internationally.
Wolf Park, a research facility in Battleground, Indiana that studies wild canid behavior, utilizes McCort for many of its presentations and research projects, and has been allowing him to train with their wolves, coyotes and foxes for over 25 years.