Just back from Clicker Expo in Portland. It was absolutely fabulous and my head is spinning with information. I realized, that the faculty there are the pioneers of this approach to training. Since BF Skinner was working in the 1950's and then mostly with laboratory rats and pigeons, this reinforcement training, which emerged out of his work, really began in the 1960"s (have to check my facts to be absolutely sure.) The speakers at Expo are some of the originators of this work with marine mammals, wild animals in captivity, dogs and horses.
It was wonderful to be able to attend lectures by Karen Pryor, Ken Ramirez, Kathy Sdao and Jesus Ronsales-Ruiz, to name a few. I plan to spend time at each of their websites - there are so many resources on line!
I was very aware that Alexandra Kurland's work with clicker training for horses is also brand new for equines - without her, I doubt there would be an equine presence at Clicker Expo. The two sessions I attended with Alex were great and a reinforcement of everything I have learned so far in her clinics.
There were over 400 registrants and 5 concurrent sessions several times a day. Hard choices to make and some lectures that I missed that would have been fascinating. However all the trainers reinforced
virtually the same principles for me:
* create an achievable goal
* create a training plan to reach the goal
* split this down into tiny steps
* put each behaviour on cue using cues that are clean and crisp signals
* build clean behaviour loops, eliminating any confusion for the animal and thus any unwanted behaviour
* keep the lessons short
* keep the animals feeling successful and avoid frustration
more on this later!