Target Training: A Complex “Basic” Behavior

Click Play to Listen Now 

Episode 05 -  September 2019

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

Guest: Annette Pedersen: Animal Training Coordinator - Copenhagen Zoo

People often think of target training as a basic behavior. But a deeper dive often helps us see this basic behavior has many details to consider that take it from basic to complex very quickly.  This podcast will help you fine tune your target training skills. Get ideas on how to get targeting started with an animal showing a fear response. Learn what to do when animals interact in a way that is in appropriate such as grabbing or biting the target. Find out if you are making some common target training mistakes. And discover some creative ways to get sharks, rhinos and giraffes to engage with a target. Lots of real-life examples are discussed in this podcast.

Recommended Citation:

Heidenreich, B. (Producer/Writer). (2019, September). Target Training: A Complex “Basic” Behavior [Audio Podcast] Animal Training Fundamentals with Barbara Heidenreich.

Here are some videos related to the topic of this episode:

Crocodillians can easily learn to bite targets. This can be avoided by reinforcing for orienting towards the target. Avoiding triggering biting responses with limited movement of the target and making sure animals will take food but are not overly eager. Removing the target before contact also avoids reinforcing for biting. Adding contact and duration can be added later if desired once the animal understands the concept of targeting without biting.

Here is a clip of a shark targeting over the neodymium

Guest Bio:

Annette Pedersen started working in Copenhagen Zoo in 1989 as a part of the Danish keepers’ education. After finishing her education in 1992, she got hired for the marine mammal section (Harbor Seals and California Sea lions), which also housed other animals like penguins, Malayan tapirs, barbirusa, etc. Here she helped developing the marine mammal training program until 2008, where she moved to the Elephant section working on transferring the Elephants from free contact to protected contact (PC). Later that same year she got the position as Animal Training Coordinator of Copenhagen Zoo.

Since 2008 her job has been to develop/expand the training skills of the keepers at Copenhagen Zoo, as well as managing animal behavior and training within a variety of species and challenges.

Since 2009 she helped develop the Danish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (DAZA) animal training course, which is still held once a year in Denmark.

She serves the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) as Chair for the Animal Training Working Group and as member of the Animal Welfare Working group. She is also an instructor for the EAZA animal training courses under the EAZA Academy.

2014-2016 served on the board of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), and today serves as ABMA EU liaison helping planning another European ABMA conference in 2020 in Beekse Bergen, Holland!


Copenhagen Zoo

Copenhagen Zoo on Facebook

Copenhagen Zoo on Instagram




March 24-26, 2020 EAZA ANIMAL WELFARE FORUM Apenhuel, The Netherlands

ABMA Annual Conference 2020 in Holland

Subscribe to this podcast at these outlets and others.

Skip to content