Maintaining behavior the natural way

Barbara Heidenreich
Presentation given at the 2017 Conference

Consulting in the field of zoo animal training can present an interesting set of challenges. There is a great diversity of species. There can be many decision makers involved in the day to day care of the animal which may limit what changes can be implemented to facilitate training. And results are often expected fast. Instead of impeding training, these obstacles can become the impetus for developing an insightful and creative trainer, especially when it comes to reinforcer selection. Successful trainers quickly realize ANYTHING an animal seeks to acquire/engage with/have access to and that can be delivered contingently has the potential to reinforce behavior. This presentation will discuss how to identify potential non-food reinforcers, assess interest in those reinforcers, and how to effectively use different reinforcer types in procedures such as shaping versus maintaining behaviors. Practical application of the effective use of non-food reinforcers will be illustrated with inspiring video examples that will have you thinking beyond the treat pouch.

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