ClickerExpo announces the 2009 season of its highly popular conference series for animal trainers at every level, from new dog owners to professional zookeepers. If you've ever wanted to know how trainers bond with orca whales, teach sea lions to play soccer, or train a dog to lie down quietly outside the local coffee shop while they sip a cup of java inside, then ClickerExpo is for you.
For six years I have been writing a monthly letter to you. In the beginning, back in 2002, "Karen's Letter" was usually about new products and events, but gradually I began using the letter to talk about the science of training, and about the impact of the new technology we are developing from that science.
Shaping is a concept that many pet owners find hard to grasp. We're used to making animals do things by leading them or pushing them into the behavior we want—and it is hard to believe that there is another way. Common sense tells us that there is no possible way to get an animal to do something it has never done before, doing nothing yourself but reinforcing spontaneous movements.
Laura VanArendonk Baugh won Grand Prize at the first-ever Canis Film Festival, a contest designed to showcase innovative animal-training videos. This unique festival focuses on short films of seven minutes or fewer that educate animal owners and professionals about the power of training based on the science of operant conditioning.
We're standing on a gently sloping foothill with Tucson's jagged volcanic peaks behind us, looking across the vast, flat Avra valley far below. The hills beyond that valley are in Mexico. The desert sky is a brilliant, piercing blue, filling the eyes with light. The mild warmth of the winter sun is welcome. This is Saguaro National Park.