Manage the Environment to Get Behavior

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Episode - 19  August 2020

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

In this episode I get into one of my favorite subjects. It's not so much about knowing scientific terminology, but it does require some specialized skill sets. I do think every trainer needs to be a little bit of an engineer, a physicist, an artist and most definitely an ethologist. All these skills combine to help trainers see ways in which we can manipulate the environment to make it more likely animals will easily give us behavior that we can reinforce. The environment can include objects with which we need the animal to engage. The environment can also include the space we are going to utilize to train the behavior. This may need to be modified to increase comfort and/or to facilitate creating desired actions. All of this requires a lot of creative thinking and attention to detail. Check out the podcast to learn more and get lots of real-life examples. Visit the episode webpage for photos, links, and video examples. - Barbara Heidenreich


Links to Resources:


Videos and Media Mentioned in the Podcast:

Hoofstock scale flush with floor with rubber substrate on both floor and scale in veterinary hospital at a university. This is the photo mentioned in the podcast.


Three-legged fox learning to enter a crate. Notice the difference adding a rubber mat to the bottom of the crate makes. The training sessions were one day apart. This is the example mentioned in the podcast.


This was the first time this giraffe had placed her hoof on the block. We had not intended on working on curling, however she was presenting this behavior which was a nice opportunity to reinforce. Unfortunately the block was not ideal and it took effort for her to keep her foot in position. It would be easier to get the behavior if she could easily rest her foot in place.


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