Wanted: Training Consultant (Those Good with Animals Need Not Apply!)

The title of this Session is, of course, somewhat facetious! To be a good animal trainer, one does need to understand training and be good with animals. However, sometimes the most important skills needed to solve behavioral problems are not animal-training skills. People skills, observational skills, and organizational skills can be key to finding solutions to behavioral problems. Before tackling a behavioral problem with the household pet or a large zoo animal, several factors need to be considered. This Session will focus on those other factors that need to be addressed while trying to solve animal-related problems. A review of various case studies will help reveal the right tools to start out with and why animal skills may not be the only talent required.

Ken Ramirez

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

Previously, Ken served as EVP of animal care and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, where 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 worked at Shedd Aquarium for more than 25 years and continues as a consultant to this day.

A 35+-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 has maintained a close affiliation with pet training throughout his career. Ken hosted two successful seasons of the pet-training television series Talk to the Animals that compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities. Recently, he has also recently worked closely with several search-and-rescue-dog organizations and service-dog groups, as well as with bomb and narcotic dogs.

Ken has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president. He has been actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoological settings. 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 teaches a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University.