Zoomility: Keeper Tales of Training with Positive Reinforcement
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What do elephants, killer whales and your family dog all have in common? Training with Zoomility! It has been working for animals in zoos and aquariums for years. And now, you can use it for your own training, with help from Dr. Grey Stafford. As the book's foreword written by Jungle Jack Hanna explains, training should be about helping animals succeed, not boosting our egos. That idea is at the core of Zoomility, a combination of humility and Dr. Stafford's years of experience training animals at zoos and other facilities. Using only positive reinforcement, never punishment, Zoomility outlines steps you can follow to teach your animal calm, cooperative, and complex behaviors that will hold up in any situation.
Using Zoomility's 3R's (Request, Response, Reinforce) you'll be able to train any animal, regardless of age or past behavior issues. Dr. Stafford includes dozens of "recipes" to guide you through helpful behaviors like sit, stay, and so much more. And using the techniques you'll learn in Zoomility, you'll be able to create your own recipes to successfully shape any behavior.
What is Zoomility? In accredited zoos and aquariums everywhere, keepers are using the behavior tools that marine mammal trainers have honed for decades to positively reinforce all sorts of useful, complex, and cooperative behaviors with birds, mammals, reptiles, and even fish! The great news is, the tools described here are easy to learn and will work with your animals too, regardless of species or breed.
When you train using only positive reinforcement, the richer life you and your animal will experience together far outweighs any initial investment in time, patience, and energy used to modify your own behavior. Plus, using positive reinforcement is fun! As you begin to see your animal succeed, you too will get plenty of reinforcement of your own. Working in a zoo has revealed a simple truth: good training decisions usually start with leaving one's ego at the door. Each chapter of Zoomility begins with some personal tales of zookeeper humility or zoomility. Done properly, training is as much about having fun as it is about helping animals succeed in the world in which we ve placed them, whether it be a zoo, a kennel, a wildlife preserve, a stable, or our own home. So this book was written to provide readers useful training tips as well as a glimpse at the humorous side of working around animals with positive reinforcement.
day's challenges when we aren’t around. For a trainer; learning to remain calm, motionless, and silent, and to suppress knee-jerk reactions immediately after requesting a behavior is one of the most valuable skills that can be learned. Not only is it useful when the animal responds correctly, but as we’ll discuss later, it’s also extremely helpful when the animal responds incorrectly! How does it work? Get into the habit of offering a request and waiting for your animal’s response. As you
animal that is fearful of new things and new situations, and one that is confident and responds calmly in the face of sudden changes in its environment. Variable Reinforcement Even reinforcement has its limits. For example, if you always use the same items or actions to reward your animals, they’ll eventually become bored. They may even try to find their own reinforcement in ways you won’t appreciate, such as digging up your garden, chewing your leather couch, barking at the neighbor’s
there is no benefit to the response—no more treats, toys, or praise—it will gradually stop offering the response. Eventually, the response may fade out all together. But deliberately extinguishing a well known, unwanted behavior takes patience. Any accidental reinforcement of the response can set the extinction process way back and even make the unwanted behavior stronger than when you started! In fact, one of the most common mistakes people make in training is to react prematurely to a behavior
to mention an annoyed houseguest. _______________________ Differential Reinforcement allows you to diffuse a powder keg. Punishment lights the match! ______________________ Using DRI assumes that the incompatible behavior you’ve selected has a strong reinforcement history. In other words, the incompatible behaviors you request must be highly reliable all the time, not something you hope will work when your life is at risk. If the animal is unfamiliar with your behavior request or if
the end of a short pole as his target This prevented us from accidentally reacting to his aggression, in the event he became frustrated and swiped with his mouth, by keeping our hands out of his way. If we had reacted by quickly withdrawing our hands, as any sane person would, we would have negatively reinforced his aggressive behavior. The buoy target was used extensively anytime we were conditioning around Joe’s face and for shaping longer stationing behaviors like maintaining contact with the