Do I know how to vacation or what?
For a training geek like me, it was an amazing experience. We covered a wide variety of topics. Some of it (like the section on basic operant conditioning) was review for me. Some of it (like the section on problem solving) was stuff I'd seen Ken present on before. And some of it (like the information on husbandry training) was new to me. But all of it was fascinating, partly because Ken's just such a dynamic speaker, and partly because it was awesome to see the concepts demonstrated with some pretty exotic animals.
One of my favorite parts of the seminar was watching Ken's daily sessions with two different sea lions. Tyler has been at Shedd for around a decade. Ken and Ty have a long history together, and their relationship is easy and relaxed. Throughout the course of the week, we watched Ken work on Ty's voluntary blood draw behavior, and it was fascinating to watch how and when Ken would increase his criteria (which Ken called approximations). Tanner, on the other hand, is new to Shedd. He had just come out of quarantine the week before, having been rescued from the Bonneville Dam in the Pacific Northwest. We saw Ken's first session with Tanner, and watched as they both got acquainted with one another. Ken had to purposefully slow himself down several times to ensure that Tanner's foundation behaviors (“swim” and “deck”) were strong.
|"My" beluga whale, Miki.|
Anyway, in the coming weeks, I will do my best to share some of what I learned while at the Shedd with you all. If you find the material interesting but can't swing the cost or time to go to the seminar, I'd highly recommend Ken's book; the course followed it quite closely. And of course, if you can make it to the seminar, animal encounter or no, it promises to be an amazing experience!