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Our Greatest Teachers

By Lara Joseph

Photo © Lara Joseph

In my opinion, as trainers, our best teachers are the animals we struggle to find opportunities to effectively communicate with. Animals such as these often come to us with reinforcement histories that incorporate a variety of approaches, interactions, and consequences to behavior, meaning a lot of counterconditioning will be required. As a result, we find ourselves having to think outside the box and be creative in where we begin…I began training [Willoughby the turkey vulture] from outside her enclosure because she wouldn’t let me inside. As soon as she saw me approaching from about 200 feet, it was her cue to fly to the ground, stand in front of the door and start ripping pieces of wood from the door. For those who don’t know, a vulture on the ground is one of the most dangerous positions for an encounter. Read article

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