The Art & Science of Animal Training Conference

Mark your calendar!

February 22 – 23, 2020

ORCA presents

The 12th Annual

Art and Science of Animal Training Conference

Hurst Conference Center

Hurst, Texas (near the Dallas airport)

Join us for two days of lectures and conversations about the science of animal training and “what’s new” in the field of animal training.


Registration is open! Please click here to access the registration form.

Early-bird registration: $420 (90 tickets available)

Regular registration: $460 (90 tickets available)

Saturday banquet dinner: $40

Registration includes two full days of conference presentations, lunch on Saturday, lunch on Sunday, the Friday night reception, and a conference t-shirt.

Conference CEUs: In the past, CEUs have been available for the following organizations: CCPDT, IAABC, KPA, IATCB.


2020 Keynote speaker: Dr. Philip Hineline (bio)

What The Textbooks Don’t Tell You About Negative Reinforcement

Most people dislike the idea of negative reinforcement, despite the fact that it is fundamental to an organism’s wellbeing. “Negative” is commonly understood as “bad” – thus, “bad reinforcement.” Furthermore, both textbooks and the general public persistently characterize negative reinforcement in terms of a simplistic story that was shown to be untenable more than a half-century ago. That simplistic story says, in essence, that organisms do not avoid rain; they merely escape from clouds, which they must be afraid of. This account insults the intelligence of the laboratory rat, let alone the human.

Experiments that gave the lie to this were accomplished in the 1950’s and 1960’s, with systematic follow-up work continuing into the 1970’s. Some of the early, key experiments need to be replicated so as to reinsert them into the literature. We shall examine a few of these, seeing that, together, their procedures distinguish discriminative from motivational stimulus functions. This will enable a coherent account of negative reinforcement that reveals ordered complexity in some phenomena of major concern.

More info about our other speakers and talks will be available soon.