Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clicker Expo!

I finally got to attend Clicker Expo. I've wanted to attend several times and last year even made plans to before life got in the way. You'd think nothing could actually meet the expectations I had built up over all that time but Clicker Expo did. One of my anticipations was actually meeting people face to face that I had befriended via The Click That Teaches yahoo group list and on Facebook. It was great fun and as someone else said, just like seeing old friends.

I also got to see The Great Minds of Clicker Training, hear some of them speak, and even ask a question or two. An added bonus was that a surprise birthday celebration was given for Karen Pryor who will turn 80 in May. I truly hope I am as physically, mentally and emotionally active at that age as she is. What an inspirational woman.

Now I can see the Herculean task that people like Katie Bartlett, Mary Hunter and Amanda Martin take on when reporting back to others about the talks and labs at Expo. Neither Katie nor Mary were at Expo this year (they both attended the ORCA conference - the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies- this year and wrote reports). So I still have meeting them to look forward to at a future Expo. Amanda Martin did attend, however, and I had the great pleasure of rooming with her. Katie, Mary and Amanda all have websites and/or blogs that are well worth looking at to find reports of past Expos, ORCA and other helpful information.

Since they do such a fabulous job of reporting back, and since this blog is really about my experiences with Clicker Training, I thought my approach should be one of sharing tales of putting what I've learned into use. Hopefully that will allow me to stretch my shared experiences over time and encourage me to continue going back to my notes for inspiration. For now I will tease you with the names of the lectures and labs I attended. A lecture is just that, and they were an hour and a half each. The labs were opportunities for those who brought their dogs to get direct instruction from The Greats on the topic just presented and for the rest of us to see the reality of attempting to put skills into action. They were also an hour and a half in length and I really admire those who shipped dogs long distance and were willing to get up in front of a large group AND a great mind, to try their hands.

Friday I attended:
Hang in There! Duration in moving and static behaviors with Kay Laurence (a very entertaining woman in addition to being brilliant)
Generalization- scientifically explored with Jesus Rosales Ruiz. (the man actually put generalization into an algebraic formula!)
Positively Solved, a complete approach to common behavior problems with Debbie Martin and Tia Guest (this was a very practical lecture and a relief after the former head spinning talks)

Saturday:
Theresa McKeon presented a great talk on TAGteach. Theresa is one of my heroes and is a teacher of people that we should all aspire to be like. This talk was for Academy graduates and students only so it was an extra that I felt very fortunate to attend.
1+1=3 Adduction & Combining Cues- Ken Ramirez is a fabulous speaker, teacher and trainer whose day job is the VP of animal collections and training at the famous Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. He showed videos of amazing training of sea animals....and some of his adorable pet dog :)
1+1=3 in action- this was a lab where he helped individuals with the challenge of taking two different behaviors and adding them together to get a novel behavior. What follows is a brief video of one of the attendees whose dog quickly caught on to adding "spin" and picking up his leash, to spinning with his leash.

video

I topped off a full day with Ken when I attended his Aggression Treatment and Context lecture at the end of the day.
From 4:- 5: there was a panel discussion with Kathy Sdao, Karen Pryor, Jesus Rosales Ruiz, Alexandra Kurland, Aaron Clayton, Ken Ramirez, Julie Shaw and Michelle Pouliot.

The guest speaker that night was Clive Wynne, canine cognition expert from the University of Florida

Sunday:
First off was a presentation from Helix Fairweather on utilizing the module format for designing dog training courses. On the flight home, I scribbled it into a translation for horses and look forward to giving it a try very soon!
The AL-Lure of Luring lab with Kay Laurence- an interesting concept to compare to work with horses.
Smart Reinforcement lab with Ken Ramirez- the use of various reinforcers (play, or tactile reinforcers for instance) and how to be sure that they are truly giving you the reinforcement you desire
Seeing the Future with Alexandra Kurland- a lecture where she showed the advantages of utilizing video and replaying it at various speeds in order to see "what happens before" so that you can predict it the next time.

That will keep me busy for a while, don't you think????

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