21 Dec

Training Orangutans for Conservation

One of our Art and Science of Animal Training Conference speakers, Barbara Heidenreich, recently returned from a trip to Indonesia. Barbara has been partnering with Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and the Oregon Zoo to work on training and conservation projects with young orangutans.

We were thrilled when Barbara sent us a short report and some photos from her recent trip. You can hear even more about this fascinating project during Barbara’s lecture at our 2019 Art and Science of Animal Training Conference. We still have some tickets available for the conference. read more

26 Apr

Looking back: Our 9th annual conference

On February 25 – 26, 2017, we held the 9th annual Art and Science of Animal Training Conference in Irving, Texas (near Dallas). Here are some of our favorite highlights and pictures from the event.

2017 ASAT ORCA conference group photo

Attendees came from far and wide

This year’s conference sold out in six weeks, the fastest ever in our nine-year history. We also had a more diverse audience than ever before.

Our 180 conference attendees came from 28 US states and eight foreign countries, including Canada, Mexico, England, Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Japan. Slightly more than half of the attendees were first-time attendees. read more

03 Mar

Bob Bailey and Marian Breland Bailey receive the 2016 Edward L. Anderson Jr. Award

2016 ASAT ORCA conference bannerAt the 2016 Art and Science of Animal Training Conference, we were thrilled to honor the first recipients of a new award, the Edward L. Anderson Jr. Award. The ceremony took place at our Saturday night banquet dinner.

If you’ve been part of the animal training community for any amount of time (or even if you’re not an animal trainer), you are probably aware that animal training has evolved A LOT over the past century. We have a much greater knowledge of basic behavior principles and also a much better understanding of the behavior of both domesticated and wild animals. Modern trainers regard animals as intelligent, emotional creatures that are able to learn all sorts of complex behaviors and concepts! read more

18 Jan

Something wicked this way comes: A brief history of the “Wicked Minds” Conference

The ORCA conference…

The Art and Science of Animal Training Conference…

The Wicked Minds Conference…

Over the years, our conference has been known by a few different names. In this post, we’ll share a bit more about the history of our conference and why it truly is a “wicked” event.

The six wicked minds of the Wicked Minds Conference

The ORCA Conference

The first Art and Science of Animal Training Conference was organized in 2009 by ORCA, the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals. The conference has two main purposes. Its first goal is to increase our understanding of animal training and of the science of animal behavior. Its other main objective is to create a conference that will be useful and inspiring for both experts and beginners. read more

18 Dec

An introduction to PORTL: The Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab

By Mary Hunter and Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz

Have you heard about PORTL?

The Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab (PORTL) is a tabletop shaping game that teaches individuals about behavior and shaping. Through playing the game, individuals get to see the principles of behavior in action and practice applying those principles to change behavior.

Three individuals, deep in conversation, during a PORTL game at a shaping workshop in Germany

Where did PORTL come from?

PORTL had its beginnings in another tabletop shaping game, called GENABACAB, which was developed by English dog trainer Kay Laurence. Kay developed GENABACAB and a series of GENABACAB exercises as a way to teach her students about the basics of shaping and to improve their timing and observation skills. read more

03 Dec

Movement versus outcome: Where is your focus during shaping?

The Messe in StuttgartI recently spent a week in Germany at the Scientific Symposium of The BHV, a German dog training association. I was privileged to get to give a lecture about errorless learning at the symposium. Then, after the symposium, Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz and I gave a two day workshop about shaping to a wonderful group of about two dozen trainers.

During part of one of his lectures at the workshop, Dr. Rosales-Ruiz discussed the concept of shaping movements versus shaping outcomes. This is not a topic often discussed by animal trainers, but it is a really important one. I know that when I first heard about it, it changed the way I think about shaping and clicker training. read more