Animal Training and Behavior
We are a non-species specific training and behavior team, comprised of a veterinarian and an animal trainer. Collaboration is an effective tool for problem solving. By looking at behavior from more than one discipline and viewpoint, a broader and more detailed picture emerges of the behavior, the antecedents for the behavior, and the consequences maintaining the behavior. We strive for humane and ethical practices in our training strategies based on current, ongoing scientific research into the subject. We believe that the key component of training is a strong relationship built on trust. Trust is developed through meeting the needs of the learner physically, mentally and emotionally.
"Every behavior we train has an emotion attached, the emotion is in the contingency." Jesus Rosales Ruiz
When a behavior is established with an association to fear and intimidation, the emotion gets wrapped up in with the behavior and may lead to avoidance and mistrust. When the behavior is trained using a reinforcement strategy that provides positive feedback, the behavior gains value to the animal, and the likelihood of the trained behavior occurring again increases. For example: If an animal is rewarded as it slows in an approach of a threshold (door, gate, ramp, etc), and again once it has passed the threshold, there is a much better chance that the animal will pause at both sides of the threshold in the future.
Recent projects have included:
- Wild Dog Project: Enclosure usage by the African wild dogs at the Woodland Park Zoo in collaboration with Dr. Eduardo Fernandez
- Guide Dog Project: Collaboration between Guide Dogs For The Blind and a small group of Karen Pryor Certified Training Partners to produce training video footage of puppy rearing for service dog work. Guide Dogs For The Blind used the footage in order to update and re-establish puppy-raising protocols. Collaboration with Michele Pouliot January 2014 - April 2015
- Puppy Project: Ongoing research project looking at early social exposures in litters and effects on sound sensitivity and reactivity rates in adults. 2010-ongoing
- Swedish Brown Bear Stereotypy Study: An ethogram study of stereotypic pacing behavior in a female Swedish brown bear in shared space with an adolescent male Kodiak bear at ORSA Bjornpark, Sweden. May-June 2013
- Chicken Project: Associate participant in a study using chickens to evaluate the effects of extinction as a training tool. Under the direction of Lisbeth Plant June 2012
- Polar Bear Project: An ethogram study looking at area usage and enrichment effects on stereotypic pacing behavior in a female polar bear at ORSA Bjornpark, Sweden May-June 2013
"I’ve known Scotti for many years. A confirmed continuing education junkie, she has been a student in several workshops I’ve taught or hosted. She’s TA’ed for me in many more and we’ve cooperated in numerous training-related projects throughout our friendship. Scotti is a natural born shaper and has experience training different species, from chickens to polar bears. As a dog breeder and trainer she excels, pioneering many innovative strategies for early puppyhood socialization."