This past weekend, the Pets for Vets organization treated me (and the other Pets for Vets volunteer trainers) to a weekend seminar with the renowned trainer Ken Ramirez. The seminar was held at The Ranch - an incredible training facility in Puyallup, Washington (about an hour north of Seattle). It was an incredible weekend that included lectures, the development of timing and reinforcement skills, and workshops for cooperative behavior - helping dogs and other animals prepare for vet exams and day-to-day practical behaviors. This was all done using a marker (a clicker), and positive reinforcement. For the workshops, we were each assigned one of the animals at The Ranch to work with. My animal was Dogo - a 200-pound goat.
I had to get Dogo to step up onto a platform and stay there, then turn in a circle on the platform, touch a hand target, and then a target on a stick with his head. The purpose of this training was to get Dogo to stand still while being examined by a vet. So my final task was to get him to stand still while I moved around beside him, touching his back, side, and stomach. Dogo was a big guy, and if I made a mistake, or did something he didn’t like, he could just shove me out of the way with his head (it happened once).
The main focus of the seminar was to help all animals get training - for physical exercise, mental stimulation, and cooperative behavior - and to understand that all animals think and learn differently. Ken shared his philosophies, his stories, and adventures. It was an amazing weekend. I got to meet the other Pets for Vets trainers for the first time, talk with Ken, and personally thank the Pets for Vets leaders and board members for all of their work in leading this wonderful organization.