Dr. No: How Teaching an Animal to Say "No" Can Be the Right Prescription
Positive reinforcement trainers try to create a safe and nurturing learning environment for animals. When this is done properly, the learning process is fun, and the animal participates in sessions eagerly. Trainers often point out that their animals have the choice to participate, and that the lack 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. In recent years, trainers have explored how to provide more options in 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 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.