But at Karen Pryor Clicker Training there is no rest for the weary! Once ClickerExpo 2019 ended, we immediately dove into planning the next year’s ClickerExpo experience (we began the Monday after the Washington D.C. event ended)! Our goal is to make sure the conference is just as fresh and innovative as ever.
As we work to build your 2020 experience, it felt like a good time to reflect on ClickerExpo 2019 and to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how this event comes together. We want attendees to leave ClickerExpo re-energized and with new ideas to take home.
My opening talk at ClickerExpo 2019 was about teamwork, and ClickerExpo represents a massive team effort. Everyone from the instructors and speakers to the myriad of staff members and contractors who work behind the scenes makes sure everything runs smoothly. My big responsibility is content selection, a responsibility passed on to me by Karen Pryor that I take very seriously. One of the unique aspects of ClickerExpo is that it is a curated conference; we rely on a core group of skilled and devoted scientists, trainers, and teachers to provide the always-changing, always-science-based content that attendees look forward to year after year.
When we plan ClickerExpo, we also work hard to include fresh perspectives from new speakers who are doing exciting things in the world of positive reinforcement.
In 2019, we had three new guest speakers, Leslie McDevitt, Lori Stevens, and Chirag Patel. One of the conference highlights was Leslie unveiling her new book, Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed, and presenting the evolution of the Control Unleashed methodology over the last decade. Lori brought a new topic to ClickerExpo: Health and Wellness. She introduced many attendees to canine fitness, something critically important yet overlooked by many trainers. Chirag asked us to start “Questioning Common Training Ideas and Practices” and suggested rethinking the way we have always done things. For example, it is possible to come up with a more positive way to teach “leave it” by focusing on an alternative behavior instead. My hope is to introduce a new speaker or two at ClickerExpo every year!
Popular subject matter, reimagined
Something I like to build into the ClickerExpo program each year, and another highlight for me, is hearing an experienced speaker talk about a topic that is thought of as well-understood. These speakers always manage to shed new light on that subject. In Location, Location, Location Michele Pouliot examined the importance of reinforcement placement. She shared new ideas and new ways of using placement so that even the most seasoned trainers came away with new tools. Kathy Sdao led a popular new Lab on using a muzzle. Hannah Branigan presented on Duration without Frustration, another of those frequently discussed topics that people can’t seem to get enough of, especially when there is a fresh approach. And it seems that everyone has an opinion on animal emotions! Who better to sort out the varied scientific opinions on the topic than Dr. Susan Friedman in her new talk, Emotions: Inside Out?
Building on success
We usually ask speakers to repeat courses on the most popular new topics the next year, which allows returning attendees to see something they may have missed in previous years. I consider it a real sign of success that the number of attendees who make ClickerExpo an annual event seems to be growing each year.
It is a pleasure for me to work with such an outstanding group of people to put ClickerExpo together each year. We are at it again! We are almost ready to announce the 2020 program. Stay tuned... it may be our best season yet!