Missteps, Myths & Mantras: Keeping Your Training On Track

Training is straightforward — at least when reading about it in a book! After all, isn't it as simple as remembering and applying pithy training guidelines like "Reinforce desired behavior and ignore unwanted behavior?" Despite a plethora of training mantras, established practices, and surefire recipes, many trainers find themselves heading unwittingly down one unproductive path or another, confused about their true choices and why their application of the training rules failed to produce the hoped-for result.

This Session will focus on avoiding some of the most common mistakes and ill-advised shortcuts trainers take, and explore the reasons we are often tempted to go in the wrong direction. More than a dozen common mistakes and solutions will be discussed, from looking for the quick fix for a problem behavior, to a trainer's desire to ask for a behavior "just one more time" or to use a behavior before its training is complete. Additionally, Ken will examine the myths and mantras that often misguide trainers – exploring where those beliefs or sayings developed, what they really mean, and how they can cause our training to go off plan. Examples range from the more serious belief that a dog is just a "domesticated wolf" to such commonly misunderstood sayings as "the click ends the behavior."

So, if you've gone down a training road to nowhere, don't worry, you are not alone. Ken Ramirez has made his fair share of mistakes and he's eager to share them with you! Join Ken, learn from his mistakes, and be better equipped to keep your training on track.

Ken Ramirez

Ken Ramirez is the Executive Vice-President (EVP) and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT). There he helps to oversee the vision, development, and implementation of training education programs for the organization.

A 40+-year veteran of animal care and training, Ken is a biologist and animal behaviorist who has overseen or consulted on training projects for many zoological organizations throughout the world. He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and continues to work with organizations training dogs for service work, search-and-rescue, bomb detection, and narcotic detection. Ken has also maintained a close affiliation with pet training throughout his career.

Prior to his work with KPCT, Ken served as EVP of Animal Care and Animal Training at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium for more than 25 years. There he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development, and public presentation programs for more than 32,000 animals. Ken has written for numerous scientific publications and authored countless popular articles. He authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement, published in 1999.

Ken taught a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University for 20 years and has been active in several professional organizations, including as a past president of the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA). He is actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoological settings. Currently, Ken is developing courses and programming at The Ranch, the Karen Pryor National Training Center in the state of Washington.