equine clicker training

using precision and positive reinforcement to teach horses and people

Teaching husbandry behaviors with clicker training: Tooth Inspection

Is your horse comfortable letting you look at his teeth? In the last few years, I’ve encountered a variety of teeth issues with my own horses and it has made me realize the importance of being able to check their teeth on a regular basis. Without special equipment, I can’t do a complete mouth exam, but I can check their incisors for uneven wear patterns or other signs that they […]

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Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): Choice

The idea of choice was one of the underlying themes of the conference and is always an important consideration for positive reinforcement based animal trainers. At some level, animal training is about teaching an animal to do the behaviors we want, and to do them when we want them, but there are many different ways to go about getting there. This conference has always been about exploring how we can […]

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Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz on “Conditioned Reinforcers are Worth Maintaining.”

In this short presentation, Jesús Rosales-Ruiz revisited the question: “Do I have to treat every time I click?” He said that this question constantly comes up and that different trainers have different answers. Before I share the details of his presentation, I want to mention that he said he chose to use the words “click” and “treat” because he was trying to avoid using too much scientific jargon.    But, as he […]

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Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): Dr. Paul Andronis – Adjunctive Behavior – So What Else Is Going On?

Dr. Paul Andronis is a professor at Northern Michigan University where he is an expert in the experimental and applied analysis of behavior.  In his presentation, he shared some information on “adjunctive” behavior both from an academic and a practical viewpoint. He discussed several varieties of adjunctive behavior, how it differs from other types of behavior, and the necessary conditions under which it occurs. He also talked about how it should […]

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Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): Barbara Heidenreich on “Maintaining Behavior the Natural Way.”

Barbara Heidenreich is a professional animal trainer who does extensive consulting with zoos and also works with individuals training many different species.  In her work as a consultant, she often finds herself in situations where she has cannot rely solely on food for reinforcement, so she has learned to identify and use non-food reinforcers of many different kinds. In her presentation, she shared some tips on finding and using non-food reinforcers.  This was a great follow-up […]

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Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): More on The Premack Principle

In the last article, I wrote about the Premack Principle which states that: • Behaviors are reinforcers, not stimuli • More probable behaviors reinforce less probable behaviors. • Less probable behaviors punish more probable behaviors. What can I do with information? First, the idea of behaviors as reinforcers opens up many new possibilities for ways to reinforce behavior. And second, it means I need to pay more attention to the […]

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Notes from The Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): Dr. Peter Killeen on “Skinner’s Rats, Pavlov’s Dogs, Premack’s Principles.”

Dr. Killeen is a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and has been a visiting scholar at the University of Texas, Cambridge University, and the Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo.  He gave the keynote address on Saturday morning.  Here’s the description from the conference website: “Reinforcement is a central concept in the enterprise of training, and yet it remains a controversial one. Much of the opinion about its nature is […]

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