How to deal with unwanted behaviours or generally difficult situations

For a trainer, whether in a show or an interaction program, the key to success is planning. Whilst interacting with their animal, being relaxed and confident, will create the right environment and that confidence will be felt by their animal and the customers. Proper planning, knowing step by step what the trainer wants to do and what is required of their animal, is paramount. Executing what was planned, as closely to that planning as possible, will give the opportunity for calmness and confidence.

However, whilst training behaviours, as a trainer plans a routine or program sequence, there will often be times when unwanted behaviours occur. There are emergency techniques to immediately take control of the situation and restore calm. These actions also greatly support the safety of interactive programs, by a trainer having techniques ready to use as soon as they are required.

Having these emergency techniques to rely upon in difficult times is not only extremely useful but it also ensures difficult situations are dealt with safely.

The technical terms included in these techniques are the behaviours known as Recall, Stationing and Gating.

  • Always correct difficult behaviour during interactive programs as soon as it happens, without having to involve customers or any other persons in the water.
  • Remove the animal from the program, restart session, review troubleshooting behaviour in the holding with a group of staff to give the animal a chance to get it right and remember to end with a happy session.
  • Have available space to move the animal into, whilst correcting the unwanted behaviour.
  • Try to have a spare animal, so you can replace an animal in a program, if you need to remove one.
  • Once the animal understands where/what was the wrong, have Individual enrichment or play time in the holding whilst other programs or training sessions are taking place.
  • Finally correcting a behaviour should be in a holding pen, away from any other animals and programs that are taking place.

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