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Wolf Park's seminars provide unique opportunities for professionals in the animal industry to advance their knowledge about animal training, welfare, and ethology from some of the top experts in the field. Our seminars are primarily lecture-based but often integrate training demonstrations and presentations from Wolf Park staff.

Behavior Buzz: Special Topics (Virtual Seminar) co-presented by Dr. Susan Friedman & Khaz Brooks, CPDT-KA, with Dr. Andrew Bulla, BCBA

June 12-13, 2021


Join Dr. Susan Friedman, world-renowned animal behaviorist, for a series of special topic presentations (listed below). You will dive in-depth into subjects like errorless learning and emotions. Lectures will be complemented by interpretive behavioral observations and training demonstrations by professional animal trainer Khaz Brooks, CPDT-KA, and Wolf Park’s ambassador wolves, foxes, and bison. The latest research at Wolf Park, concept formation in wolves using errorless learning training methodology, will be shared by Dr. Andrew Bulla.

Special Topics:

Why Animals Need Trainers Who Adhere to the Least Intrusive Principle: Improving Animal Welfare and Honing Trainers’ Skills

Negative reinforcement is a bit like a train wreck: You know you should maintain speed and drive past, but you just can’t help slowing down to satisfy your curiosity. Recent interest in basic research on negative reinforcement sets the occasion to check our understanding of why animals need trainers who support the least intrusive principle for selecting behavior-change procedures. In this presentation we will 1) examine the rational for a hierarchy of behavior-change procedures according to the least intrusive principle, 2) consider its impact on animal welfare and trainers’ skills, and 3) address concerns with the adoption of this ethical guideline as it applies to the animal training profession.

The Rat is Never Wrong: Getting It Right Without Getting It Wrong

We all know the saying, “We learn from our mistakes.” But too many mistakes can be punishing for animals and their trainers. And low rates of reinforcement can quickly produce frustration and aggression. Practicing errors can make correct responding even less likely. This presentation will provide strategies for arranging training sessions up front to reduce learner error and pave the way to positive reinforcement.

Emotions Inside Out

What does joy feel like to you? Is it the same for the person sitting next to you? Is it the same for the animals in your care? Are emotions pre-wired in the brain or are they learned? Is the topic of emotions even relevant to training animals? These are just a few of the interesting and important questions that surround the topic of emotions. In this session, we will focus on contemporary approaches to understanding emotions with action potential.

Changing Behavior the ABA Way: WTF?

In this case, WTF stands for “What’s the function?” This simple question is key to understanding, predicting, and changing behavior. “Function” refers to the outcomes or consequences that behavior produces. The circumstances, or antecedent conditions, signal what behavior is most likely to produce successful outcomes. Combined, the antecedents, behavior, and consequences, describe the smallest meaningful unit of behavior analysis, the ABCs.

Two related tools help us leverage the ABCs to design effective, humane behavior-change interventions. The first is functional assessment that we use to generate hypotheses about behavior-environment relations. The second is functional analysis, an experimental approach to testing our ABC hypotheses. In this presentation, these tools will be discussed with cross-species examples of how these tools have helped interventionists help animals.

Susan Friedman, PhD, is a psychology professor at Utah State University, world-renowned animal behaviorist, and pioneer of the behavior change technology known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). With expertise in human learning, behavior disorders, and ethical practices, Dr. Friedman provides an interdisciplinary approach to animal behavior. Friedman’s online courses, Living and Learning with Animals for Professionals and Living and Learning with Parrots for Caregivers, have attracted students from 22 countries. Friedman has written chapters in three veterinary texts (Behavior of Exotic Pets, Clinical Avian Medicine, and Manual of Parrot Behavior) and her work has appeared in magazines around the world. She has presented seminars globally for organizations such as Association of Avian Veterinarians, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Moorpark College Exotic Animal Training and Management program, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Khaz Brooks, CPDT-KA, is a species curator at Wolf Park and a Dual-Certified Professional Dog Trainer through AKC and CCPDT currently pursuing advanced certification in Canine Behavior Consulting. Khaz has a background in Ecological Anthropology and over 10 years of experience in animal husbandry and behavior management.

Andrew Bulla, PhD, BCBA, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Georgia Southern University. He has worked at a variety of organizations over the course of his career including the Kinney Center, The Center for Autism Research, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health, Summit Pointe, The Envision Center, and Van Buren Intermediate School District. Dr. Bulla also currently assists with Morningside Academy’s Summer School Institute, a summer program that trains teachers, school administrators, scholars, and students from all over the world on how to implement the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction. Dr. Bulla has also applied the principles of behavior analysis to non-human animals to increase the animals overall wellbeing. This included working with a local aquarium to assess preferences in loggerhead sea turtles to aid in the development of individualized enrichment devices to increase species-specific behavior and decrease non-adaptive behaviors in managed-care facilities.

Continuing Education Units

This seminar has been approved for 2 CEUs for trainers and 12 CEUs for behavior consultants through CCPDT and 12 CEUs through IAABC.

Date, Cost, Dietary Information

The seminar will be held June 12-13 from 11am – 7pm (EST). The price is $225.

A recording of this seminar will be available for 2 weeks after the seminar concludes.

Refund Policy
Cancellations occurring greater than 10 days prior to the seminar can apply 75% of the registration fee to another seminar. Arrangements for transfer must occur by the end of the calendar year. If arrangements do not occur; your fee will be considered a tax-deductible donation. No refunds if cancellation occurs less than 10 days prior to the seminar. Only if the seminar is canceled by Wolf Park will the fee be refunded.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]