Mary Hunter has teamed up with Alexandra Kurland and Dominique Day to create a 31-part audio course that explores the connections between applied behavior analysis and animal training.
This course explores the basic principles of behavior analysis.
However, this isn’t your typical online course.
In the course, we translate important concepts from behavior analysis so that they are easy to understand. You’ll also learn how these principles relate directly to animal training. Throughout the course, we share all sorts of extra facts and ideas that you would never find in a textbook!
I hope you will join me on this exciting journey as we explore the connections between behavior analysis and animal training.
If you’re ready, you can sign up on the Equiosity website.
What does the course include?
Audio episodes: The course is divided into 31 audio conversations. In total, the course includes more than 12 hours of audio! Each episode explores a particular principle or idea related to behavior analysis.
These episodes are not lectures. Instead, they are back-and-forth discussions that explore concepts and principles and how these ideas relate to animal training.
Additional materials: Each episode also has a page of supplemental materials, which includes activities you can do with your horses or other animals, related web links, video clips, and other resources.
What topics does the course cover?
The course is divided into six units.
Unit 1: What is behavior analysis? is an introduction to the field of applied behavior analysis.
Unit 2: From Aristotle to B. F. Skinner introduces you to some of the important players who have studied animal behavior and learning. We also discuss how science works.
Unit 3: Reinforcement and the quadrants introduces you to the concepts of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. If you’re already familiar with these terms, you’ll enjoy some of the added layers that we explore in our conversations.
Unit 4: The quadrants in the real world continues our discussion of reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. The real world can be messy! We talk through many examples and explore how understanding reinforcement and punishment can help us better understand our horses.
Unit 5: The Premack principle gives you a different way to understand reinforcement and a new way to find reinforcers. Our conversations will help you better understand this principle so that you can use it in your training.
Unit 6: Reinforcement effectiveness wraps up our course. We discuss a handful of different factors that make reinforcers more or less effective, including immediacy, deprivation, reinforcer delivery, competing reinforcers, and more.
Who is the course for?
The course was created for anyone who is interested in learning more about the scientific principles of animal training and animal behavior.
This course was created by Alexandra Kurland and Dominique Day, in collaboration with Mary Hunter.
As you may know, Alexandra and Dominique produce the Equiosity podcast. Where does the name Equiosity come from? Alexandra and Dominique took the word “equus,” for horse, and combined it with “curiosity” to get Equiosity.
Each episode in the course is a back and forth discussion between Alexandra, Dominique, and Mary. The course is delivered in the same friendly, conversational tone as the Equiosity podcast.
If you are new to the concepts of behavior analysis, you will feel very welcome. The course begins with the basics, and Alexandra and Dominique ask Mary lots of the same questions you would be asking.
If you already have spent some time studying behavior analysis, you will still enjoy the course! Our discussions take us down many “rabbit holes,” as we explore questions, ideas, and connections that are not usually found in an introductory textbook or course.
I’m not a horse person….Will I still find this course useful? This course was created with horse owners and trainers in mind. Because of this, many of the examples we discuss come from the horse world. However, we also discuss examples with dogs, goats, parrots, people, and more. The principles we discuss are universal and can be applied to all species. Even if you work with species other than horses, you will still find the course interesting and useful.
I’m ready! How do I sign up? Visit the Equiosity website and click on the “Course” button at the top of the page.
Is there a way to preview the course? The course material is available only for participants. However, in April 2020, the Equiosity podcast featured several episodes with Alexandra Kurland, Mary Hunter, and Cindy Martin. If you’re unsure if you will like the course, I encourage you to start by listening to these conversations. The conversation started in Episode 101 with a discussion about movement cycles and continues in the next two episodes. These episodes are a good representation of the types of discussions we have in the course — very understandable, but with a lot of depth and things to think about!
I still have questions about the course. You can contact Mary. She is happy to discuss the course with you and tell you more about it.
How will this course benefit me as a trainer?
A lot of owners and trainers start out by following other people’s training plans, or training recipes. This often works well enough. But, the person may get stuck when things don’t go as planned.
Our goal with the course is to help people understand the basic principles of behavior analysis. But, more importantly, we want this information to be useful. We want you to understand how these ideas apply to animal training, and we want you to be able to use these ideas to improve your training and your relationship with your horse.
Understanding the basic principles of behavior analysis helps you better understand your horse’s behavior. It helps you make better training plans, it helps you make sense out of your horse’s seemingly strange behavior, and it can help you get unstuck when things don’t go as planned.
As we explore basic principles, we address questions such as:
- How fast do you need to give a reinforcer after a desired behavior occurs?
- How can you use unwanted behaviors to your advantage during training?
- Should you give your horse a “time out” if he misbehaves?
- Why does time out sometimes work, and why does it sometimes not work?
- Are scratches reinforcers?
- Why do some traditionally trained horses become dead-sided or hard-mouthed?
- Why do some animals engage in bad behaviors when we begin clicker training?
- What’s the difference between a bribe, a reinforcer, and a reward?
- And much, much more!
How do I sign up?
The cost for the course is $250.
You can register for the course on the Equiosity website.