Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

On-line learning

There is so much to learn on line now!

1.   A new course is now being offered by Dalhousie University on Operant Conditioning Behaviour Analysis.  Here's the link:http://nsac.ca/cde/courses/workshops/OperantConditioning.asp

This is being taught by two positive reinforcement trainers who have worked with numerous species of animals.  I was a "beta tester" for this course last year (first 4 lessons of 12) The great thing about it, is that they cover a lot of the science and theory about operant conditioning (they dislike the term "clicker" training, as they feel it focuses too much on the clicker itself and not on the science - and they have a point.)

During the course, you will be asked to video your training work and submit it for review - this is really helpful and good rigor. You also have to learn to write shaping plans and there are some quizzes to help you learn theory and terminology.

With all the excitement about clicker training, it's easy to skip the theory of behaviour analysis, but in my experience, the theory helps us to truly understand "why" what we are doing may or may not be working.  It helps us to problem-solve and to begin to "think" like the animal (if that's even possible!)  The very best trainers I have met are all very proficient in theory as well as technique.

2.  I've also signed on to the Horse Tricks Academy! http://www.horsetricks101.com/

This is a really fun site out of Australia.  Jain is clicker training several horses and takes you through a step-by-step process for learning through video examples and notes.  She is super enthusiastic and knowleadgeable.  You work through the nodules in a very clear process.  The first Introductory module was free and the next ones are very inexpensive.  Jain is extremely generous and even offers free e-books that you can download and print.

You may not be specifically interested in teaching "tricks" but I've found many other applications for them in terms of just plain husbandry and also trail walking and of course, anything we do with our animals builds relationship and trust.

3.  Last month, I discovered Clix College from the UK: http://www.hannahdawsonequine.co.uk/
Hannah Dawson and her team have come up with a terrific program where you pay a monthly fee
and then have access to the site which is chock-a-block with training videos and articles, book clubs and on-line seminars.  You can post in the forum and "meet" others students and you can submit videos for comments and advice.

The site is well laid out. I'm working my way through it and having a great time!  A few days ago, Forrest (10 years old) and I watched Hannah's video on "teaching a horse how to smile" and then we went out and tried it with 3 of the 4 donkeys.  It was great fun and wonderful for Forrest to see how other people apply this work, not just me!  Stay tuned for our video!

4.  There also are numerous YouTube videos that people have posted and other sites to check out, including a few that I have named at the bottom, under Blogs I Follow.

But the important thing, to my way of thinking, is to have a plan, get organized, set the environment for success and have fun!  As Hannah Dawson says:  Think it, Dream it, Train it!