Course Description

Positive Animal Training: The Science of Applied Behaviour Analysis, has been developed for the student with the desire to understand animal behaviour and use that knowledge while training.


This 12 week, ONLINE course, provides a one-on-one approach to help each student develop the necessary skills to train animals using positive reinforcement. This course offers a collaborative learning approach with students working through, lesson by lesson, at the same pace. As a student, you will be applying theory and scientific research to practice by documenting weekly progress through record keeping and videos. This course will help you become skilled at identifying wanted behaviours, goal setting, planning, training and understanding your animal.

The goal of this online course is to use the techniques and methods of training to teach an animal a three-link chain behaviour. You choose which species you would like to work with. The delivery will be online, lesson-by-lesson, that will provide you with a theoretical background to be able to practice hands on methods with your animal.  

Course Outline

Over the 12 weeks, students will complete 10 lessons.  Each lesson has a series of weekly practicums, readings, discussions, assignments, videos (including critiques), training charts, shaping plans, and self-tests.  

Lessons 1-10


  1. Introduction

Getting started, techniques of operant conditioning behaviour analysis, and the training game. 

  1. Principles of Learning and Shaping Plans

The process of OCBA, setting the environment for success, shaping plan use, head turns, and training the “come” behaviour

  1. Raising the Criteria and Training Chart

The four techniques, discrimination of the target, and training chart use

  1. Record Keeping & Adding Cues

Keeping records, training for treatment, basic care behaviours, training charts, adding cues and raising the criteria

  1. Schedules of Reinforcement & Fluency 

Training a new behaviour, extinguishing unwanted behaviours, and variable reinforcement

  1. Proofing Fluent Behaviour & Fear

Latency and generalization, fear and anxiety, Proofing a behaviour, planning on proofing, and proofed behaviour

  1. Chaining Behaviours and Mechanical Skills

Mechanical skills, chain behaviours and back chaining

  1. Back Chaining and Common Training Mistakes

Understanding the why, common training mistakes, back chaining (ring toss, getting the newspaper), and back chaining- where and when to start

  1. Refining Behaviour Chains

Innate behaviour and instinctive drift, replacement behaviours, and cleaning up your behaviours

  1. Communication

Review and reinforcement and moving forward

What You Will Learn

This course will help you become skilled at identifying wanted behaviours, goal setting, planning, training and understanding your animal. Students will also learn proper record keeping, how to evaluate your own training, proper mechanical skills, goal setting and training for success.

Required Reading: Karen Pryor, Reaching the Animal Mind. Clicking Training and What it Teaches Us about All Animals. 

Required Reading: Dr. Patricia Barlo-Irick, Ph.D, How to Train A --------- 

Recommended Reading: Karen Pryor, Don't Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training


The instructor for the course is Melanie Smith of Cross Road, Boarding, and Training & Behaviour Services

Participants are recommended to have high speed internet, as there will be several videos to stream within the course.

Recommended For

Anyone who might need to possess the skills to influence animal behaviour using training such as laboratory and research technicians, veterinary assistants, pre-vet students, farm and zoo workers, pet care business workers and sporting and working animals.

Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
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