Wednesday, October 23, 2013

APDT 2013: Wednesday

Stuff I Learned Today That Didn't Happen in a Workshop
  • Running on a treadmill is really boring. Boredom is an excellent motivator to run faster. Hotels in Spokane keep their exercise rooms really warm. Don't pass out.
  • Spokane really doesn't want me to be properly caffeinated. I'm hoping Seattle is better since they invented caffeine or something.
  • Sara Reuche knows everyone ever. Everyone ever thinks I look just like Sara Reuche.
We got stickers to indicate what each of us does as a dog trainer.
I apparently do a lot.

And then workshop stuff!

Tales from the Field: The Diverse Faces of a Professional Animal Trainer
                         Keynote Speaker: Ken Ramirez
I've heard Ken Ramirez speak several times, and if you ever gets the chance, you should too. Ken's background is in exotic animal care, and I always love hearing from exotic animal trainers because they have such a different perspective from people who "grew up" in the dog training profession. After all, you can't man handle a 1,200lb beluga whale very effectively. Unfortunately, because I'd already heard Ken speak, at least half of his talk was review for me. He did talk for quite a bit about the importance of having a personal philosophy. Having a personal philosophy is important because it sets a clear standard and helps focus your decision making. Ken's personal philosophy is that "The end goal of training should be animal welfare. Therefore, training decisions should be based on positive reinforcement." We train to help animals live in our care successfully. Training is an integral cornerstone of any animal care plan, along with medical care, good nutrition, and a proper environment that meets the animal's social needs. When you put the animals' needs first, they become happier and healthier, more willing to be trained, and better ambassadors for their species.

Developing Alternative Motivators: Personal Play
                        Speaker: Denise Fenzi
Denise defines relationship as what is left between you and your dog when all the cookies and toys are gone. As such, she emphasizes personal play as an important part of bonding with your dog. Unfortunately, many people don't know how to play with their dogs,or they play inappropriately. There is no "one size fits all" method of playing with your dog; different dogs will want to play in different ways. In order to understand how to play with our dogs, we should look at how our dogs play with each other. If you watch dogs play, you will see a great deal of taking turns in different positions, little frontal pressure (dogs rarely face each other directly), a lot of circling and side body contact, and the dogs taking regular breaks, often mimicking each other's behavior during the break. For a softer, shyer dog, Denise recommends rarely facing the dog while playing, including lots of verbal encouragement, adding “open” postures and backwards movement to invite dog into your space, and clapping. For a stronger, bolder dog, Denise recommends keep dog more focused on your hands to give their energy an appropriate target, more moving into the dog’s space, more pressure/thumping/pushing, and less petting. The important part, though, is that you match your dog's enthusiasm and pay attention to what they're telling you. More energy, roughness, movement, and noise is not necessarily better. In Denise's experience, the most common mistake people make is to overwhelm their dog. 

The Rex Sessions: Resources, Education, and Excellence
                        These were short, twenty minute presentations on various topics based on the famous TED Talks. First up was . . .

The Best Marketing You Never Paid For
         Speaker: Lauren Fox
Lauren spent her twenty minutes talking about how dog trainers could collaborate with local rescues and shelters. I didn't really learn anything new on this one. Lauren had a nice presentation, though, and was a good speaker. 

"I'm a puppy. This is my new human. I just adopted him from the shelter I was at.
His life is gonna be great now that I rescued him."

Be a Blabbermouth, Not a Know-It-All
         Speaker: Colleen Pelar
I am not entirely sure what the title of Collen's lecture had to do with her subject, and I sort of suspect it might have been a typo, because she was talking about bite prevention. Colleen feels that it is not enough to teach "bite prevention." An interaction between a dog and a human was not necessarily good just because no one got bitten. Instead, we should teach people how to read their dogs and to tell when the dog is uncomfortable. We need to learn to ask our dogs, "Was it good for you?"

Stimulus Control 
          Speaker: Virginia Dare
Virginia had a very interesting talk on stimulus control. A behavior is said to have stimulus control when it is preformed reliably when cued, only offered when cued, and not offered on a different cue. While she was talking,it occurred to me how great stimulus control is for impulse control! In order to get stimulus control on a cue, we must first define exactly what the behavior should look like. Once we do that, we need to put it on cue. Third, we address the errors and clean the behavior up so that when we give the cue, we get the exact behavior we are looking for. Fourth, we strength and fluency so that the dog will offer the cued behavior when the handler is in any position, when in new environments, in novel contexts, and at novel times. Next, we mix new cue in with established ones. We need to be careful not to pattern train the dog, though - we don't want the cue for the behavior to be the execution of the previous behavior. 

Stimulus control poetry. Dog nerds are my favorite.

When Grammar Attacks! 
          Speaker: Teoti Anderson
As dog trainers, we communicate for a living, and it's important for our communication to be clear, professional, and accurate. Grammar is important because it helps (or hinders) our clients' perceptions of us. We got to listen to Conjunction Junction by Schoolhouse Rock. Sara wants to be Teoti when she grows up. I would agree, but I'm pretty sure I would have to proofread my blog better, so that's just not going to happen. 

What I’ve Learned from Talking to Dog Trainers All Day
          Speaker: Veronica Boutelle
Veronica is the founder of dog*tec, a company that helps dog trainers market their business. Since I don't have my own business and hopefully never will, this was less applicable to me. But Veronica was an excellent speaker and I was highly entertained. She said that the most important difference between dog trainers who get to do what they love full time and those who struggle is confidence. The don't believe they're good business people, and this causes them to fail at business. Veronica said, 

     “It’s not who you think you are that holds you back, 
                                               it’s who you think you aren't.”

1 comment:

  1. 1) You DO do a lot of things! ALL THE THINGS!
    2) Way to represent SPP.
    3) Thanks for sharing all this info with us! Can't wait to read more.
    4) Don't pass out on the treadmill.