Dr. No: How Teaching an Animal to Say "No" Can be the Right Prescripti - Karen Pryor Clicker Training
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Dr. No: How Teaching an Animal to Say "No" Can be the Right Prescription

Ken Ramirez - Portland 2017

Positive reinforcement trainers try to create a safe and nurturing learning environment for animals. When done properly, this makes the learning process fun, and the animal will participate in sessions eagerly. It is common for trainers to point out that their animals have the choice to participate, and that the lack of the use of punishment creates a stress-free working environment. Ken believes these statements to be true when everything is done correctly. 

Choice and control have been proven to be powerful reinforcers for most learners. Trainers in recent years have explored how to provide more options in their training. Over the course of Ken’s career as a consultant and problem-solver, he has encountered situations where the relationship and trust between trainer and animal appears to have become strained for various reasons. In a few of the more extreme situations, Ken initiated a protocol in which the animal was taught how to indicate that it did not want to do a particular behavior. In essence, this was teaching the animal to say “no!” In all four cases where this protocol was used, it resolved the problem behavior and moved the animal and trainer back to a good working relationship.

In this Session, Ken will explore these case studies, describe the training process involved, and discuss the broader significance of this protocol. The Session will also compare and contrast the protocol to other types of training that are about teaching the concept of “no.” These other types of training will include intelligent disobedience work with guide dogs and “the all clear” signal in scent-detection work. These latter examples are very different protocols, and the differences will be discussed.

Ken will conclude the Session with a broader discussion of whether his “say no” protocol should be implemented with all learners. It is a unique protocol that is not widely used in the training community. After Ken shares the details of this protocol and his opinions about its use, there will be some time to engage in a discussion with the attendees.

Total run time: 1:56