The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know 3 DVD Set


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What’s It About?

“The 20 Principles…” is essential viewing for all trainers whether they train dogs, horses, cats or any other species. This DVD through lecture, PowerPoint and live demos, contains all the basic principles of animal learning. All professional animal trainers or serious hobby trainers can consult this video to check processes and definitions or to get inspiration for resolving problems.

Of course, animal learning implies much more than just these 20 principles but in practice, a trainer who understands these principles and is able to apply them correctly will undoubtedly experience success.

In his presentation, Roger describes what science has uncovered about animal learning. It is up to you to decide which processes you use, create your own “best practices”, resolve your ethical conflicts and develop your own personal style.

About the Presenter

 Roger Abrantes, PhD in Evolutionary Biology and Ethology is the scientific director of the Ethology Institute Cambridge, special advisor for the GNR, instructor at the CNCA (California Narcotics Canine Association) and the author of many books and articles on animal behavior and learning. Roger Abrantes gives talks and seminars all over the world. He instructed the trainers of the famous Hero Rats that detect landmines and tuberculosis in Africa.

Released- 2013 Tawzer Dog

Running time- 5 hours, 55 minutes


~~In order to better our training practices it is important to have an understanding of how animals learn. Equipped with this knowledge we are then able to make informed choices on which processes we use, helping us to develop our own personal style.

In this DVD Roger Abrantes, PhD in Evolutionary Biology and Ethology, scientific director of the Ethology Institute Cambridge, special advisor for the GNR and instructor at the CNCA (California Narcotics Canine Association), explains to us the basic principles of animal learning. Through the use of practical demonstrations along with detailed explanations Abrantes shows us just crucial it is to have a good understanding of the scientific principles of learning and changing behaviour, in order to be successful in even the most basic of training.

Suitable for trainers of dogs, horses, cats or any other animals, this is a fantastic and eye-opening resource providing something new for both professional and hobby trainers.

Abrantes begins by explaining that in pursuit of achieving the perfect relationship, he believes the majority spend too much time analysing studying and debating learning theories and relying on gizmos and artificial aids. Dog trainers have forgotten the fact that a relationship is a natural thing. As a founding father of the positive dog training movement, Abrantes believes that we have now gone too far in the other direction and training has become too mechanical.

Abrantes continues by looking at what learning is, defining it as changing behaviour. He explains that we can change a behaviour in two ways; either increasing the frequency, intensity and/or duration for behaviour we want, or decreasing the frequency, intensity and/or duration we don’t want.  Abrantes then demonstrates how he put this principle to use when training rats to detect landmines in Africa. He next considers consequences, explaining that everything we do has a consequence and behaviour occurs either as a response to a specific stimuli or as a result of its consequences, which we call operant conditioning.

Abrantes next provides us with tips to bear in mind when training, first pointing out that dogs learn new behaviours all the time, and not just when we are training. He also argues the importance of controlling yourself, explaining that we must work with the animal and within the environment so therefore the only factor we are in control of is ourselves. He then shares with us a formula to use when things go wrong.

Abrantes then moves on to the 20 principles, beginning with signals. He describes a signal as everything that intentionally causes a receiver to produce or maintain a behaviour. Abrantes also introduces us to two important consequences of this; one signal equals one behaviour, and one signal equasls one behaviour equals one consequence.

We then move on to practical sessions in which Abrantes coaches audience members and their dogs. He points out common ways in which we go wrong, showing us how the handler in question is reinforcing her dog to bark when she believes she is reinforcing her dog to be quiet. Abrantes also shows us how we often confuse our dogs with signals demonstrating how the demo dog’s sit signal is actually something quite different from the owner’s belief. He then shows us we can use our body language to reward the dog and asks the participants to try training their dogs using as little treats and words as possible. Abrantes continues by explaining the difference between good and bad signals and explains it is vital that both body and visual signals are very clear. Abrantes then explains how to classify signals in a scale from good to bad depending on their efficiency. He tells us that a good signal must be clear and unequivocal and in the right form and intensity to compete with other stimuli in the environment, perceived and easily interpreted by the receiver.  Abrantes subsequently defines cues and commands and discusses both their uses, and the difference between these and signals. He also considers how they can sometimes work against each other.

We next look at reinforcers, which Abrantes describes as everything that increases the frequency, duration and/or intensity of a certain behaviour when presented or removed immediately after that behaviour takes place. Abrantes then discusses both positive and negative reinforcers before moving on in more detail to reinforcer types. He explains that these can be either conditioned, unconditioned or semi-conditioned, providing us with a definition of each, as well as examples.

In the first half of part two we look at further practical demonstrations with a focus on changing behaviour. Abrantes then considers jackpot reinforcers which he defines as the manipulation of the reinforcement by increasing its magnitude within a session. He also looks at inhibitors that are described as everything that decreases the frequency, duration and/or intensity of a behaviour when presented or removed either simultaneously or immediately after that behaviour takes place, explaining the difference between punishments and inhibiting behaviour.

Abrantes moves on to looking at inhibitors in more depth considering positive inhibitors, negative inhibitors and inhibitor types. He then looks at changing behaviour and explains in detail the four ways to both increase and decrease behaviour as well as the effects of ignoring a behaviour.  He next considers reinforcers’ and inhibitors’ window of opportunity, explaining that it is crucial that these have the right quality, intensity and/or duration, and if not they will not work as intended. He also describes some of the dangers of failing to use inhibitors and reinforcers in the correct window of opportunity.

In part three we go back to more practical demonstrations, focusing on changing undesirable behaviour, and Abrantes shows participants how to progress with what they have learnt at home. He then provides us with a summary of reinforcers and inhibitors as well as a conclusion and a few important notes on all of the above. Finally, he addresses the last principle, which is never ever reinforce or inhibit an individual, only the behaviour.

In depth and yet easy to follow, Abrantes shares his vast and valuable scientific knowledge on animal learning, while never forgetting that a relationship is about establishing a bond of trust and love between you and your dog.

Running time- 5 hours, 55 minutes.


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