We Belong Together. How Behavior Analysts and Animal Care Professionals Can Help Each Other Improve Welfare

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About the presentation: 

Contemporary animal training, especially in the zoological community, focuses on improving welfare by teaching animals to cooperate in medical care, to participate in daily care, and by addressing undesired behavior. Training desired responses is also a part of improving welfare of animals involved in conservation education programs, scientific studies, and conservation initiatives. There has been a heavy emphasis on practical application which has often led to excellent mechanics as well as creative applications. This can include exquisite shaping skills, quick fading of prompts, communication with organisms with which there is no shared verbal language, and the development of innovative shaping plans. Animal caregivers also successfully establish behaviors through protective barriers and without physical contact when working with potentially dangerous animals. Additionally, these are all applied with a wide variety of learners (from rabbits to rhinos). However, this has often been accomplished without the benefit of literature review or without input from those with expertise in the field of behavior analysis. Recently, as more collaborations and communications have transpired between behavior analysts and animal care professionals, inspiring developments have occurred in the animal training industry. These include improved interventions to address undesired behaviors, better understanding of behavior-change procedures, clarifications of the learning processes, and introductions to programs (such as the constructional approach) that can lead to improved practices. These are leading to significant changes in the animal training community. Animal trainers’ expertise in practical application and behavior analysts’ scientific rigor are informing each other in inspiring new ways that have the potential to advance welfare for many learners.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to identify specific behavior change practices implemented by those working with animals that can potentially improve learner welfare.
  • Participants will be able to identify specific resources and/or developments in the field of behavior analysis that can potentially improve learner welfare, especially for those working with animals.
  • Participants will be able to choose at least one practice, resource, and/or development to further study, implement, or disseminate to facilitate the objective of advancing learner welfare.

About the presenters:

Barbara Heidenreich is an animal training consultant specializing in exotic animals. She consults worldwide working with zoos, universities, veterinary professionals, and conservation projects. She has worked onsite with over 80 facilities in 27 countries. She is an adjunct instructor at Texas A & M University. She has authored two books and contributed to four veterinary textbooks. She is a co-author of two Fear Free® Avian Certification Courses. Much of her work focuses on training exotic species to cooperate in medical care. She operates the online education program www.AnimalTrainingFundamentals.com. This virtual learning program features award winning courses, tracks to guide professional development, verifiable badges to share and prove course completion, community, and more. Barbara is an advisor for the Animal Training Working Group and the Parrot Taxon Advisory Group for the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She has provided her expertise to conservation projects The Kakapo Recovery Program and The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology and has begun the journey towards a Master of Science in applied behavior analysis. Her goal is to leave behind a legacy of kindness to animals by sharing her expertise.

You can find her complete credentials at https://animaltrainingfundamentals.com