Last year I had a fantastic time when I attended ClickerExpo. If you’re not familiar with ClickerExpo, it is the world’s largest gathering of positive animal trainers. The event is hosted by Karen Pryor Clicker Training and features 3 days jam packed full of fascinating lectures, hands-on learning labs and countless opportunities to interact with other animal trainers.
If you’ve never been, I definitely recommend it! The 2011 ClickerExpos will be held in January in Newport Beach, CA and in March in Chicago, IL.
Here are the 10 Reasons Why You Should Attend ClickerExpo:
1. You’ll Learn from a Phenomenal Faculty
The trainers who present at ClickerExpo are the best of the best. Literally. Karen Pryor brought clicker training to the dog world. Ken Ramirez is head trainer at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Alexandra Kurland is one of the best and most well respected horse clicker trainers. Kay Laurence is one of the most innovative, creative dog trainers that I’ve ever met. Plus about a dozen more top-notch trainers, all willing to share their knowledge. (See the complete list here: ClickerExpo Faculty)
2. You’ll Learn Something New (I promise!)
During the three days of ClickerExpo, over 50 lectures, presentations and demonstrations are offered. There’s so many that you’ll have trouble picking and choosing the ones you want to go to! The program has a little bit of everything. So, you’ll find something to whet your appetite whether you just started clicker training or whether you are a professional animal trainer.
3. You’ll Connect With “Old” Friends
This was probably my favorite part about ClickerExpo. Most of my clicker training friends are people I “know” online through blogs, discussion lists, forums, and facebook. I got to meet many of my horse clicker training friends at ClickerExpo. It was awesome to put names to faces and get to have some conversations face to face about our horses.
4. You’ll Make New Friends and New Connections
At sessions and between sessions I had an awesome time interacting with the other attendees. It was great to get to discuss the sessions and what I was learning with trainers who shared similar interests. I came home from clickerExpo with a list of e-mail addresses and a stack of business cards from interesting, thoughtful, positive-thinking trainers. Although many of the attendees are dog trainers, I also met horse trainers, bird trainers, a primate trainer and others.
5. You’ll Definitely Get Your Money’s Worth!
ClickerExpo is pricey. However, when you consider the number of lectures and presentations you’ll get to see by top trainers, it’s an amazing deal. Days at ClickerExpo start at 9am and go until 5pm. However, for the early birds, there are some 8am sessions. Round table discussions are held at lunch and in the evenings there are dinners and more presentations. (See the full schedule HERE.)
6. You’ll Improve Your Training Skills
One of the best parts about ClickerExpo is the learning labs. These are more than just lectures–they are actual demonstrations that involve participants and their dogs. (Did you know that you can bring your dog to ClickerExpo?) The ClickerExpo faculty members demonstrate key concepts, share tips and secrets and offer valuable feedback. Although I didn’t bring my own dog, I learned a ton from watching participants interact with their dogs at the learning labs.
7. You’ll Have Access to a Bookstore that Can’t be Beat
There’s an awesome bookstore at ClickerExpo with dozens and dozens of books, DVDs, training toys and more for sale. I buy most of my training books and DVDs online. So, it was really nice to be able to flip through and look at many of the books up close. I bought a few things and also made a nice wish list of several things I wouldn’t mind having in the future.
8. You’ll Get Better at Helping Others
Even if you’re not a professional trainer, you probably have found yourself giving advice or trying to help someone out who is learning about clicker training. Some of the sessions are aimed specifically at improving our teaching skills. ClickerExpo sessions cover everything from TagTeach, to games to improve your observations skills, to how to teach a puppy training class. Sessions are also offered that highlight business and professional skills, as well as learning how to use social networking sites.
9. You’ll Learn About the Science of Training
ClickerExpo isn’t just about being better at dog agility, dog obedience or riding your horse. Many of the sessions explore the hows and whys of training. Can we teach dogs to copy each other? What’s the best way to address problems with aggression? How does generalization actually work? At ClickerExpo, you’ll learn about things that you didn’t even know existed!
10. You’ll Have Three Days of Non-Stop Fun!
I had a great time at ClickerExpo in Lexington, Ky last year. And from the smilies all weekend on the faces around me, I think everyone else did too. ClickerExpo is a great opportunity to learn from the experts while improve your skills and connecting with other like-minded trainers.
Click on any of the links in this post to learn more about ClickeExpo. As well, I am more than happy to answer any questions you have about ClickerExpo. Just leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail! I’d also love to hear comments from those who have enjoyed attending ClickerExpo in the past.