Want to learn how to successfully train Fido? What about a pig, horse, or even a chicken?
Starting next month, Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Truro is offering an innovative online animal behaviour and training course that’s the first of its kind to be offered at a recognized institution in Canada.
All you need is access to a computer, high speed internet, an animal to work with, and the ability to video your training progress.
Operant Conditioning Behaviour Analysis: Animal Training in the 21st Century (Level 1) is billed as a course for anyone who loves animals and works with them now or hopes to in the future.
Renowned Operant Conditioning Beahviour Analysis expert Heather A. Logan and her daughter Melissa Cox are co-instructing the course.
“It is the training method of choice for people in zoos and research institutions ... We knew Heather was good at what she did and we wanted to share it with the world,” explained Jolene MacEachern, program manager for extended learning at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture.
“In the fall of 2010 we ran a pilot on campus course that was very successful. We had great feedback from that, and knew the scope here would be bigger so we investigated the options of online delivery.”
Marketing only started two weeks ago and the course is already more than half full. It has attracted interest from students, animal trainers and hobbyists from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.
“A well trained animal is a happy animal. Like children they need to have structure and to know what to expect,” MacEachern said. “It’s not just about controlling them but providing an optimal environment.”
MacEachern said one of the biggest draws to the course is that students can work from home around their own schedules. They still have reading, assignments and deadlines to ensure everyone works at the same pace.
Students must apply what they are learning and regularly document their progress through videos, training records and group discussions. Successful completion of the course provides “the research-based knowledge and foundation” to become an animal trainer.
“The beauty is it’s not species specific. Melissa and Heather have trained chickens. Dogs and horses are popular, but Melissa said she even trained some kind of insect,” MacEachern said.
“They say they can train anything. Some animals respond better than others, but you can train a mouse, rat, zebra or lion.”
Lower Sackville resident and dog rescuer Louise A. Bowden Leonard is seriously considering taking the course.
"It's great that you can do it around your own schedule in your own home and it would provide the ability and confidence to do it yourself," she said. "I think this is fantastic."
What: Operant Conditioning Behaviour Analysis: Animal Training in the 21st Century (Level 1)
Where: Online via Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture
When: April 4 to June 20, 2013
Contact: email@example.com, (902) 893-6666