Animals deserve the best care we can possibly provide. Training should not be considered a luxury that is only provided if there is time; it is an essential part of good animal care. Just as one would never consider developing an animal care program without a veterinary component, a nutritional component, a social component, and an environmental component; nobody should consider caring for an animal without a behavioral management component integrated into the program ~ Ken Ramirez
4 Elements My Behavioral Work Is Based Upon
These are tools I have learned through decades of working with a wide range of domestic and exotic animals (and people) in professional and personal environments.
What is training?
Training is “teaching.” Sometimes we are aware of what we teach or train when we make conscious efforts to train animals to exhibit a variety of behaviors. However, sometimes we influence (train) an animal’s behavior inadvertently through our actions, or through other stimuli present in their environment.
We need to become aware of that fact that we are always training. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you influence what your animal companions learn. As their caretaker you are teaching the animals under your care all the time.
Training is all about associations. The key to an optimal home environment is to assist an animal’s opportunity to make associations that enhance its overall well-being. As various methods for animal training are being developed, and as training methods are being applied to an increasingly diverse number of species, it is important to discover what methods are appropriate (or not appropriate) and what training methods are most successful for each species.
My goal is to help you do this. Together we will discover what is best for each animal companion in your home. I will teach you how to train (TEACH) them.
You will learn the science-based skills that enable you and your animal companions to successfully coexist.
Why training is essential
Training is not a luxury. It's a key component to an animal's well being. Training is the key to safety, harmony, and wellbeing in the home. A home without a well trained, well behaved animal is chaotic and stressful. Most - if not all - animal behavioral issues can be more successfully managed with a formal training plan. From trips to the vet, to trips to the park, training is at the heart of having these experiences be a positive one for all involved.
Positive-based training is one of the best ways to enhance the relationship between a person and an animal, and maintain this trust for a lifetime. Training increases trust and confidence, and it builds bonds that create a happy, harmonious home!
What is enrichment?
Enrichment is as integral to animal care as veterinary and nutrition programs.
Enrichment can be defined as: “A process for improving or enhancing animal environments and care within the context of their inhabitants’ behavioral biology and natural history. It is a dynamic process in which changes to structures and husbandry practices are made with the goal of increasing behavioral choices available to animals and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors and abilities, thus enhancing animal welfare." - Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Behavior Scientific Advisory Group 1999) Excerpted from Disney’s Animal Programs.
Simply put, enrichment is “the act or process of increasing the intellectual or spiritual resources”.
Why enrichment is important
All captive living animals need environmental enrichment whether they live in a zoo, shelter, laboratory, sanctuary, or your home.
Animal enrichment promotes naturalistic behaviors that stimulate the mind and increases physical activity. It reduces stress and therefore promotes overall health by increasing an animal's perception of control over their environment and by occupying their time.
Techniques used to enrich an animal's environment generally fall into 5 categories:
Enrichment is one of the keys to enhancing your animal companion’s life! It is also one of the easiest to implement on a daily basis.
Enrichment is something that can be and should be incorporated into your animal companion’s life every day. My goal is to teach you how to use enrichment effectively in your home.
What is husbandry?
Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years. It has existed ever since humans began domesticating and keeping animals around 10,000 years ago. However, today there are many people who don’t know what animal husbandry is. In a zoo setting, routine husbandry may include shifting animals from one area to
another, separating animals from each other, and working with the animals so that they tolerate close visual inspection by keepers and treatment by veterinarians. These same husbandry practices can be done at home, with domestic and exotic animal companions.
Simply put, anyone who takes care of domestic or exotic animals is practicing animal husbandry.
Why it matters
Animal husbandry attempts to create an environment that will support an animal’s growth and development. As the variety and diversity of animal companions in our homes increases, appropriate husbandry practices are becoming more evident and necessary.
Husbandry mimics conditions that each species would have in the wild.
The physical characteristics of an animal’s environment or enclosure are critical for its health and happiness. For example, specific temperatures ranges, appropriate substrate, the available space, the lighting, and the “furniture” within the enclosure (such as climbing structures, logs for hiding or nesting, trees or other physical barriers allow
for isolation) are required to maintain the health and longevity of a many species.
My goal is to teach you how to create appropriate husbandry conditions for each animal in your home.
Most people have limited resources available to help them feed, train, and enrich the lives of their animal companions. Appropriate enrichment, training, and exercise are often lacking with most household pets. Making a few changes to their daily routines can greatly enhance the life and longevity of your animal companion. My goal is to show you how to do just that!