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  • Who Controls the Training Session - You or the Animal? Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund

Who Controls the Training Session - You or the Animal? Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund

  • 18 Oct 2021
  • 1:00 PM
  • 22 Sep 2023
  • 2:00 PM
  • Recorded Webinar


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Many animal trainers, veterinarians and pet owners highlight the importance of controlling animals. Controlling them, as in restricting the animals’ movement, their choices and their opportunities to control their environment through their behavior.

Sometimes you have to, for safety reasons. But often you don’t – and more often than you might think. Actually, the trend in modern animal training is to deliberately and strategically shift control from the handler to the animal, while still staying safe. Giving control to animals enables us to better understand their quirks and preferences, not to mention reducing fear and improving welfare. In this session, the presenter will walk through a formal training session and discuss all the possible ways of handing control to the animal during training. For instance:

  • Does the animal have control when, where and with whom a training session starts?
  • When ending it?
  • When individual trials within a session start (so called start buttons).
  • Which behavior to work on?
  • Can he say, “No, actually, I changed my mind?”
  • Can he choose his reinforcer?

These questions and more will be discussed. Some might say it’s preposterous to allow the animal to dictate the training session. But that’s not what the presenter is saying you should do. After all, you have options, too, and one of them is to choose when to hand over control to the animal – and when not to.

    About Your Presenter


    Dr. Karolina Westlund

    Prof. Karolina Westlund helps pet parents and animal professionals attain happier animals that thrive in the care of humans. She grew up pining for a kitten and pestered her parents until they finally gave in. The resulting black, green-eyed, half-Siamese cat she got for her seventh birthday became a true friend who lived to be 21 years old but was an easily startled cat who often went into hiding when there were visitors. She had grand ideas about becoming a field biologist, but instead she majored in ethology and developed a passionate interest in animal welfare as seen through a multidisciplinary lens, including behaviour analysis and affective neuroscience. She is now an associate professor of ethology at the University of Stockholm, Sweden where she mainly teaches about how behavior management can be used to improve animal welfare. She also conducts live seminars, free online webinars and masterclasses in addition to more extensive courses, as well as the occasional scientific publication on the topic of enrichment, animal training and well-being.

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