Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Hands-on Intensive For Shaping Behavior

Join us to learn how to shape behaviors without having to use modeling, physical guidance, or hand-over-hand prompting and create a task analysis for them. After practicing with other participants you’ll have the opportunity to try out your skills with a variety of animals at Lemon’s Hope Sanctuary in Brattleboro Vermont including mini-horses, sheep, goat, guinea pigs, birds, dogs and cats. Get started or continue to practice using a clicker as a conditioned reinforcer (marker or bridge) for training and shaping.

Participants will be introduced to PORTL (Portable Operant Teaching Lab). PORTL is a tabletop game that provides an interactive environment for learning about behavior principles and investigating behavioral phenomena. PORTL had its beginnings in another game, called GENABACAB, which was developed by English dog trainer Kay Laurence. This was Debbie’s first introduction to the process, and she completed 2 levels of Kay’s Competency Assessment Programme (CAP). About a decade ago, Laurence taught this game to Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz and his graduate students.

Participants will be introduced to

  • Operant conditioning principles and contingency analysis
  • Developing criteria and building incremental teaching plans
  • Using conditioned and primary reinforcement
  • Reinforcement delivery, rate and timing
  • Adding and changing Sds
  • Creating and managing the instructional setting

This event has been designed for BCBAs and RBTs along with animal trainers to expand on their understanding of operant conditioning, and work on the skills of identifying and deconstructing behavior in order to build training plans, create criteria for reinforcement, and improve the timing and rate of reinforcement. Professional animal trainers have been working with non-verbal learners for decades and have been assessing the risks and potential fallout for using force or coercion when training.

Your instructors, Sara Matters, MA, and Debbie Jacobs, RBT, CPDT, specialize in working with animals who have experienced trauma events in their lives and struggle to live as pets. Both have trained and been mentored by master animal trainers including Bob Bailey and Jean Donaldson. They have also done additional training at Natural Encounters Inc. in Florida training parrots and other birds. Sara has also participated in Mustang Camp in NM.

Clinics that are interested in scheduling this learning opportunity for their staff can contact Sara for details.

You can read more about PORTL in the Fourth Quarter 2016 article in Operants.

Contact us with any questions.

Dates: October 28, 2023 9am-4pm EST

Cost: $90

Location: Lemon’s Hope Sanctuary, 1104 Ames Hill, Brattleboro VT

Sara Matters

Sara is former zookeeper who worked with species spanning the entire zoo collection. Sara is a certified dog trainer and animal behavior consultant with 25 years’ experience handling everything from llamas to Labradors. She holds a Master’s degree – Animal Behavior & Conservation and has completed a post master's certification in ABA.

Debbie Jacobs

Debbie Jacobs is the creator of the website that has been providing evidence-based and ethical information for owners and handlers of dogs struggling with behavior challenges since 2007. She is the author of the highly recommended, A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Registered Behavior Technician.

Behavior is Lawful.

These words changed the world of dog training for me. 
Find out how these three simple words can change everything for you too.