World’s top animal trainers to speak at UNT conference

Jaak Panksepp
Jaak Panksepp, professor and Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science at Washington State University, will be the keynote speaker at the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference at UNT. Photo by Dr. Guenther Bernatzky, University of Salzburg.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 09:53

What: The Art and Science of Animal Training Conference at the University of North Texas, featuring keynote speaker Jaak Panksepp, professor and Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science at Washington State University, and other leading animal trainers and behavior analysts discussing the science of animal training and developments in the field

When: 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. March 22 (Saturday)

Where: Gateway Center at UNT, 801 North Texas Blvd.

Cost: On-site registration required. $190 general; $75 student (must show student ID on day of conference)

Contact: Jesús Rosales-Ruiz; 940-565-2559

DENTON (UNT), Texas — What can horses teach humans about emotional intelligence, and how might that knowledge affect training approaches? What are good strategies for training more than one dog at a time? Top animal trainers of horses, birds, dogs, dolphins and other animals will convene March 22 (Saturday) at the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference at the University of North Texas to share knowledge and new developments in animal behavioral research and training. Pet owners, beginning trainers and professional attendees alike will learn a spectrum of practical and fascinating topics, from reinforcement techniques designed to improve pet behavior to cutting-edge theories guiding the field.

The annual event and day-long forum takes place 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. March 22 (Saturday) at the Gateway Center on the campus of UNT at 801 North Texas Blvd. On-site registration is required.

The conference is hosted by ORCA, the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals, a not-for-profit student organization founded in 2000 and based in the Department of Behavior Analysis at UNT. ORCA’s mission is to improve the well-being of animals and their guardians through behavior analytic research and to make these discoveries available to the public. The ORCA conference is nationally recognized as one of the leading forums in animal training.

Notable neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp is the keynote speaker. Known as the rat tickler for his pioneering research examining laughter and joy in rats, the professor and endowed chair of animal well-being science at Washington State University will lecture on "The Scientific Case for Emotional Feelings in Other Animals: SEEKING New 'Laws of Affect' that Control Animal Learning/Training." Panksepp is the author of The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions, which examines the brain’s function in governing primal emotions.

Additional speakers are among the world’s leading experts in clicker training, behavior analysis and positive reinforcement training and include Bob Bailey, Alexandra Kurland, Kay Laurence, Phung Luu, Ken Ramirez and Steve White. Whether working with household pets, search and rescue dogs or exotic animals, these experts will introduce a host of useful strategies to improve animal-human communication and interactions.

After the public conference, guest speakers will meet for two additional days in closed sessions to learn from each other and discuss specific research concepts, challenges and successes within their respected areas of expertise. ORCA students will have a chance to share their research projects and get feedback.

"What makes ORCA unique and also so successful for its work in animal training and with the conference is that it bridges community service with academic research," said Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, ORCA faculty advisor and UNT professor of behavior analysis. "Conference attendees at this year's event will come away inspired and equipped with compelling new insights for training."

This news release was written by Julie West.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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