Nicholas Bishop

Keep your Seeker Seeking: Involving Animals in their own Welfare Outcomes

Animal welfare in captive animals is not only about the environment but what happens within it; the complexity and variability afforded to the animal in its daily life. Enhanced wellbeing requires that animals have choices and control in their lives and that they are behaviourally competent and empowered to act on their own behalf. This means providing all that is required for them to prosper in a captive environment while maintaining as much of their natural behaviour repertoire as possible.

It is in meeting these imperatives that true welfare goals can be reached. We ask the question – what doing do I want?  We also need to observe: What doing does the animal want? Our job is to work with an animal’s seeking system, keeping its world rich with opportunity and discovery. Environmental enrichment plays an important role in developing behavioural flexibility, but, perhaps more importantly, positive reinforcement training (PRT) is critical to world leading welfare programs in zoos.

There are proven biochemical benefits – PRT enables keepers and veterinarians to reduce tension directly associated with potentially stressful procedures and situations. In social animals, training provides the means to mitigate social problems, enhance introductions, improve affiliative behaviours, reduce aggression, and increase the safety of carers.

But PRT goes a lot further than just the biochemical benefits or the facilitation of veterinary or husbandry needs. It is in itself enriching, requiring problem solving, plasticity and exercise for the mind as the animal demonstrates skills and indicates activities that provide optimal stimulation and enrichment – it works out what behaviour is most rewarding. Using examples from Zoos SA Training Programs for mammals, birds and reptiles, Nicholas will present the real challenges and successes of PRT and the enhanced welfare outcomes that can be achieved through such programs.

Baby Steps for Young Animals: Training Tips for Raising Robust Learners

Bringing people close to nature is central to many zoo ideals. There’s nothing like intimate contact with an animal to enhance connections, strengthen conservation commitment and even change perceptions. At Zoos SA’s Nature Theatre unit, much goes into the rearing of young animals to prepare them as animal ambassadors. Just as there are effective principles for the rearing of puppies, we have guidelines for the successful development of zoo animals in all their species diversity.  We will share the simple but crucial steps we take to train robust behaviour in everything from chameleons to quokkas for a life in the animal encounter spotlight.

Veronica Boutelle

Newsletter Marketing: Help Dogs While Growing Your Business

Wish your community was better educated about dog behavior, humane training methods, puppy socialization, and other important canine topics? Also need a way to boost business? Done right, a professional business newsletter can help your business grow while advancing the dog IQ of your community. This session will cover both print and email newsletters and their very different uses, audiences, and goals. Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz will share best practices around content, design, and delivery, and time-saving techniques to help you take easy advantage of one of the most powerful forms of marketing available to dog professionals. Whether you love writing or will do anything to avoid it, you’ll learn ways to make this marketing and educational tool work for you. Marketing and community service all rolled into one—now that’s a business practice you can feel good about.

Beating the Big Boys

Small, ethical dog training businesses often struggle to gain market share in competitive areas full of box stores, franchises, and other larger businesses with more substantial marketing budgets (and often less humane training methods). What they overlook are the unique advantages small businesses hold over these bigger companies—they can more easily make and execute decisions, often have far more training expertise, and can approach customer service and client relationships in a much more personal way. In this presentation Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz seeks to teach small business dog trainers to recognize and use these advantages in several specific ways to enhance their marketing and word of mouth. Small training businesses can utilize their expertise to execute tremendously effective marketing plans on very small budgets. They can arrange their schedules to allow for customer service far beyond anything a client might hope to receive from a larger company. And they can learn to watch for and jump on opportunities that larger companies can’t help but be too slow to respond to.

Dog Trainers: It’s Time to Train Dogs!

It seems like a given, that dog trainers would train dogs. So why do we spend so little time doing it? The idea that handing the leash to clients is the only way to train is harmful to dogs as well as to dog training businesses. Telling dog owners they must become novice dog trainers in order to live with their dogs is a tough sell. Getting them to practice, even tougher. And asking non-dog trainers to fix difficult behavior problems with a few short training sessions leads to un-resolved cases and trainer burnout.

It’s time to take back the leash. You can make a living doing what you love: training dogs. It’s what you want, what dogs need, and what clients want to pay for. In this eye-opening talk, Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz shares a powerful business and training model for improving the relationship between clients and their dogs more quickly and effectively. You’ll learn how to do more for clients and their dogs while also increasing your ability to make a living.

Train Smarter, Not Harder 

Dog training can be a challenging way to make a living—but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re stressed by low income and burned out from poor client compliance and case outcomes, join Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz to learn how to train smarter. Veronica will share tips for packaging your services to better serve yourself, your clients, and their dogs. And she’ll show you powerful ways to set shared expectations and goals with clients to create buy-in for their part of the training equation. You’ll be surprised: A few simple adjustments can make a world of difference.

Coaching for Real-Life Success

There’s no point in classes and privates where the dog performs well, only to revert back to business-as-usual once the trainer has gone home or class is over. The biggest gift a dog trainer can give a class student or private client is the ability to think like a dog trainer. Not necessarily to be a trainer—that takes years of dedicated study and practice—but the ability to stand on their own two feet with their dogs: To assess the environment, work at their dog’s level (i.e., set reasonable criteria), and make unprompted adjustments to set their dog up for success. Teaching these skill sets is very different than imparting the basic mechanical skills of installing behavior. In this session, Veronica Boutelle of dog*biz shares the power of scaffolding—an elegant teaching technique—for helping your students and clients learn the situational awareness and problem solving skills they need to elevate themselves to first-class dog owners. You can’t be out there in real life with them every day, but when you coach for real-life success, you don’t need to. That’s good for dogs, students, and clients—and your business, too.

Alexis Davison

Un-Chase!® Snakes!

Close to 6,500 pets are bitten by snakes each year in Australia according to the Animal Emergency Centre. From October onwards we hear the familiar media warnings about snake and pet encounters, and in states like SA, where shock collars are banned, calls are made to legalise them for snake avoidance training. Worried about this development, Alexis Davison of Scholars in Collars developed a positive reinforcement snake avoidance program based on her popular and successful Un-Chase!® program.

In this presentation, Alexis will share her Un-Chase!® Snakes! program in a practical, hands-on presentation augmented with videos demonstrating Un-Chase!® Snakes! techniques, as well as footage from training sessions and workshops. You’ll learn how to incorporate her techniques, which include management strategies, impulse control exercises, and training alternative behaviours, into your own training programs to help clients in your community avoid the tragedy of snake bites to their beloved pets.

The Next Big Thing: Calmer Vet & Grooming Visits

The topic of reducing the stress of vet and grooming visits has been simmering since Dr. Sophia Yin’s book Low Stress Handling Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats was first published in 2009. More recently the Fear Free Initiative, developed by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, has garnered increasing attention. A certification program for veterinarians and other animal professionals, the Fear Free Initiative aims to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified’” for veterinary visits. Dr. Becker’s Fear Free Practice certification program is anticipated to launch in 2018.

Alexis will discuss ways dog trainers can work collaboratively with veterinarians and groomers to assist training clients in reducing their dogs’ stress during visits. You’ll learn a series of training exercises to incorporate into existing training programs or develop into a stand-alone workshop for your clients. The presentation will include footage from vet visits and grooming and handling sessions so you can see these techniques in action. Lastly, you’ll receive tips on how to market The Next Big Thing in your community.