Fundamentals of Animal Behavior and Learning
"That there could be a science of behavior, of what we do, of who we are?
How could you resist that?"
– Donald M. Baer
Course begins: January 14, 2020
Instructors: Dr. Erica Feuerbacher & JoAnna Platzer, B.Sc.
About the Course
This course will help you:
- Think scientifically about animal training and behavior consulting for all species.
- Understand and break training into component principles.
- Understand environmental events that maintain behavior.
- Increase your ability to be humane and effective.
- Understand how labels such as "aggressive" or "submissive" cloud our thinking and our work.
- Consider what we are describing when we say an animal is "confident," "creative," "a problem solver," and how we should approach those learners.
- See the common principles at play in different animals & species.
- Become a more effective and humane trainer by cutting through the jargon and directly assessing behavior
Class Schedule: The class will run for four-weeks; the first three weeks will explore the scope of the course. There will be no new content in the fourth week which is reserved for completing final projects, discussion and synthesizing the course content.
- Carry out the reading assignments listed in the syllabus before class (this does not include the very first class)
- Complete assignments as designated
- Check your email and visit our learning site regularly (at least once a day) to check in on the discussion group.
Course Activities, Objectives, & Assessment
Online Lectures: Each week there will be several short videos (10-20 minutes each; typically 60-90 minutes total per week) that will discuss the topics for that week.
Online Readings with Reading Guides: Each week you will have a scientific reading with a guide to help you navigate the reading. The paper will exemplify the principles being discussed that week.
Online Assignments: During Weeks 1-3, you will have 1-2 short online assignments each week. Some of these will entail you giving an example and then giving feedback on examples provided by a few of your fellow students.
Online posts: During Weeks 2-4 you will post two questions, comments or reflections relevant to the material from the previous week to the discussion forum. You will also respond to at least two of your fellow students' posts from that week (= total of four posts per week). Your questions and responses will be graded based on their thoughtfulness and completeness.
Final Project: During Week 4, you will complete a final project/paper in which you will synthesize the topics covered to cohesively analyze and scientifically critique publicly available training videos and handouts.
The class operates on a one-week cycle. The typical week with deadlines is provided below.
||Start of week. Post two questions/comments to discussion forum based on prior week's material by 11:55 pm.
||Post responses to two questions/comments on discussion board by 11:55 pm.
||Complete assignments for current week.
Assignments and participation required – receive certificate of completion and CEUs
$199 for IAABC and KPA members; $260 for non-members.
No CEUs and certificate and no requirements
$80 for IAABC and KPA members; $100 for non-members
IAABC Members – log into your member account for the discount code
CCPDT, IAABC and KPA - Full Students: 8 CEUs
About the Presenters
Erica Feuerbacher, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CPDT-KA is an Assistant Professor of Anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, MT, where she leads the canine program in which students train foster dogs during the academic year. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Florida under the advisorship of Dr. Clive Wynne in the UF Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab (now part of the Canine Science Collaboratory) and her Masters in Behavior Analysis in the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies under the advisorship of Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz.
She has published a variety of scientific articles of her research on learning theory and the dog-human relationship. She has taught Principles of Behavior Analysis, Behaviorism in Contemporary Society, Learning and Cognition, Basic and Advanced Canine Training, Research Methods, and General Psychology at the college level. She has earned several awards for her behavior analytic research and her dedication to the theoretical foundations of behavior analysis. Her research interests center on dog-human social interactions, canine welfare, and enhancing humane, effective training techniques.
JoAnna Platzer, B.Sc., CPDT-KA, is a Doctoral Candidate in the Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare lab at Virginia Tech under Dr. Erica Feuerbacher. She attended the University of Florida where she majored in Zoology with an emphasis on animal behavior. After graduation, she participated in research on site fidelity of Mockingbirds with the University of Florida, social behavior of Fairy-wrens with Cornell University, and comparative cognition of canines with Yale University. She has worked as a professional dog trainer and has experience in zoos and conservancies, where she was involved in training exotic animal species for enrichment and low-stress husbandry. Her current research focuses on the impact of fostering programs on shelter dog welfare, reinforcer efficacy of different types of grain for horses, and behavioral synchronization between dogs and their owners.