Top 10 Animal Training Conferences for 2016

The Ultimate Animal Training Conference Wish List for 2016

Click HERE to see the Top Dog Training Conferences for 2017.

Education, networking, adventure, and fun! Here are the best training and education conferences for you to attend in 2016. It was particularly difficult to whittle down the list this year. If your conference didn’t make the cut please post registration information in the comments! Conferences are listed in chronological order due to the author’s inability to decide which should be first.


ClickerExpo will be held in 3 locations throughout 2016. This year ClickerExpos have slightly different labs and workshops depending on the location.
Reno, Nevada
When: Friday, January 22-24, 2016
Where: Reno, Nevada
Why: New for 2016 are Educational Themes. Themes include: Trainer Skill Development, Teaching People, Aggression and General Behavior Management. Feel free to follow a single theme or skip around. There’s something for everyone! CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information:
Cincinnati, Ohio
When: Friday, March 18-20, 2016
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
Why: New for 2016 is a complete Equine Theme which includes Husbandry, Saddling, Trailer Loading, and much more! This is in addition to the Themes listed for Reno above.  CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information:
ClickerExpo Europe
When: Friday, October 28-30, 2016
Where: Billund, Denmark
Why: The ClickerExpo 2016 schedule for Denmark has not been released yet. It will be released by 15 February 2016. The highlight so far? The conference is going to be held in the LegoLand Hotel!
More Information:

ORCA 8th Annual Art and Science of Animal Training

When: Saturday, February 20-21, 2016
Where: Dallas, Texas
Why: ORCA is now a two day event! This conference has become a staple for all animal trainers. Bringing together trainers and behavior analysts, the conference covers a broad spectrum of knowledge of animal behavior and how to get it. This year has two themes. Saturday will cover shaping behavior in both animal and human learners, and Sunday will cover concepts and tools for improving animal welfare and human-animal interactions. This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Iver Iversen, will discuss: “Selection and creation processes involved in shaping of novel behavior: Method and Theory.”
More Information:

Penn Vet Working Dog Conference

When: Friday, April 8-11, 2016
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Why: You may have seen this conference’s DVD’s on TawzerDog. Did you know you could attend the Penn Vet Working Dog Conference?  This year’s theme is “Whole Dog 360: A multidisciplinary approach.” Individual topics will be addressed with a series of four (4) – ½ day sessions: Advancements in working dog health and medicine; Training the working dog using current scientifically-based methods; Implications of handler training on the successful working dog team; Driving progress in the working dog field through research & innovation. This year’s keynote speaker will be Ken Ramirez.
More Information:

IAABC Animal Behavior Conference

When: Saturday, April 9-10, 2016
Where: Anaheim, California
Why: The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants has creatively merged their Feline and Canine Conferences into one event. Choose to follow the Feline or Canine track, or pick and choose which presentations you’d like to join. The dual-track conference features speakers discussing the latest science, treatments, and protocols for managing and modifying behavior in dogs and cats.
More Information:

Animal Management Behavior Alliance (ABMA) Annual Conference

When: Monday, April 17-22, 2016
Where: Tampa, Florida
Why: The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) specializes in animal care and training through enrichment. This year’s theme is “Breaking Down Barriers: New Possibilities in Animal Welfare.” Conference locations include multiple zoos and a post conference trip to Natural Encounters. This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Susie Ellis of the International Rhino Foundation. Details will be posted as they are finalized.
More Information:

DogEvent 2016

When: Thursday, May 5-8, 2016
Where: Nice, France
Why: You’ve always wanted to see Nice and now you have an excuse! 4 days of dog training, behavior workshops, and demos. Each day has a theme: Shelter Dogs, Behavior Analysis, Training, Canine Nutrition, and Advanced Behavior Techniques. Speakers include Dr. Clive Wynne, Ken McCort, Jean Lessard, Nancy Tucker, and Dr. Jean Dodds. This conference has a limit of 100 attendees.
More Information:

Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Training Camp

When: Friday, June 19-22, 2016
Where: Purina Farms – Gray Summit, MO
Why: It’s bigger. It’s better. It’s at Purina Farms! The Ultimate Dog Sports Training Camp covers Obedience, Rally, Agility, Nosework, Freestyle, and Rally FrEe!  Join the dynamic dog sports goddesses Denise Fenzi, Deb Jones, Hannah Branigan, Julie Flanery, Loretta Mueller, Nancy Gagliardi Little, Shade Whitesel, Sue Ailsby, Amy Cook, Julie Symons, and Stacy Barnett for 4 days of fun. Work on heeling, scenting, retrieves, utilizing play to build motivation, and so much more.
More Information:

Canine Science Forum

When: Tuesday, June 28-July 1, 2016
Where: Padova, Italy
Why: The CSF is a biannual event. This year’s topics include: Evolution of canines; Ecology and conservation of canines; Dogs and humans; Applied aspects of canine biology; Behavioural biology of canines; Cognition; Canine genetics and endo/phenotyping. The Forum also includes a Round Table on service dogs that will introduce some of the main issues related to service dogs and defining the needs and critical points of this area.
More Information:

APDT Annual Conference and Trade Show

When: Wednesday, October 12-15, 2016
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Why: You’re a professional dog trainer, this is your Association. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers Annual Conference is full of prestigious speakers and engaging seminars. The speakers and schedule for 2016 is still pending. This entry will be updated as information becomes available.
More Information:

Pet Professional Guild Educational Summit

When: Tuesday, November 8-11, 2016
Where: Tampa, FL
Why: The speakers and schedule for 2016 is still pending. This entry will be updated as information becomes available.
More Information:

Looking Forward to 2017 – WOOF! is Back!

When: Friday, February 10-12, 2017
Where: University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.
Why:  It’s back! It’s’ back! The very successful WOOF! European Behaviour & Training Conference has been on hiatus since 2013, but it’s back for 2017. Why look that far ahead? This baby is going to fill up fast! Speakers include Sean Pogson, Susan M. Schneider, Susan Friedman, Steve Martin and Chirag Patel. The full topics and speaker schedule is still pending. This entry will be updated as information becomes available.
More Information:


Training Camps and Workshops

In addition to the conferences, these training camps should be on every trainer’s Must Do list.

Terry Ryan Coaching People to Train Their Dogs
When: February 11-15th, 2015
Where: Waialua, Oahu
Why: Coaching People to Train Their Dogs is for anyone with an above average interest in dog training, animal training, and/or student instruction. This course is also for anyone who has read the book by the same name and wants to put it into practice.
More Information:

Bailey-Farhoody CHICKEN CAMPS
When: Summer 2016
Where: Columbia, MD
Why: Dogs are incredibly forgiving. If you want to test your training skills, train a chicken! Dr. Bob Bailey and Ms. Parvene Farhoody, MA, teach these Workshops using chickens as a behavior model in order to teach operant conditioning (OC) and applied behavior analysis (ABA) principles. The 2016 schedule is still pending.
More Information:

When: 2016
Where: Pending
Why: Training a chicken is a stretch and a boost to your mechanical skills. The average chicken is faster than the average dog, giving you a chance to improve your coordination and timing. The 2016 schedule is pending.
More Information:!chicken-workshops/cfvg

When: Monday, March 28 – April 1, 2016 and Monday, August 22-26, 2016
Where: Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL
Why: This is a full graduate course adapted to a one-week format for zoo training professionals. Although originally designed for zoo trainers, many dog trainers take the course each year. This course fills up early.
More Information:

See the top four reasons that continuing education is so important here!

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My Thoughts About The First PPG Summit

It was an honor to be a part of the historic, first-ever Pet Professional Guild Summit in Tampa, Florida, November 11, 12, and 13, 2015. I attended as a presenter (Training and Maintaining Therapy and Crisis Response Dogs) and as an attendee. The Pet Professional Guild provided me with a one-day registration for presenting and provided a Media Pass for the other two days so that I could share information on the Modern Dog Trainer blog.

World Renowned Presenters at the PPG Summit

Pet Professional Guild assembled an impressive group of knowledgeable and skilled force-free animal trainers to share their expertise with other trainers from around the world – Niki Tudge, Dr. Karen Overall, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Pat Miller, Ken McCort, Jacqueline Munera, Dr. Soraya Juarbe Diaz, Pamela Johnson, Mark Hines, Angleica Steinker, Janis Bradley, Theresa McKeon, Laurie Schlossnagle, Diane Garrod, Lisa Morrissey, Shari Sprague, Diana Pappert, Scott Baggett, Nancy Tucker, Linda Michaels, Debra Milliken, Lara Joseph, Maureen Backman, Dr. Michelle Duda, JJ Bachant Brown, and Emily Cassell.

With so many sessions to choose from, it was difficult to decide what to attend. I finally decided to attend:

  • Dr. Overall’s keynote session with the opening by Niki Tudge
  • Chirag Patel – Shaping the Perfect Patient
  • Janis Bradley – That’s the Lab in Him. Breed Bias, a Distraction from the Dog in Front of You
  • Diane Garrod – Solving the Aggression Puzzle and Multi-Dog Household Aggression,
  • Pamela Johnson – Training Snake Aversion the Force-Free Way,
  • Lara Joseph – Online Behavior and Training Consultations and How They are Successful,
  • Linda Michaels – Understanding Research: Making the Case for Force-Free Training, and
  • Theresa McKeon – TAG Don’t Nag: Techniques to be Force-Free with the Humans in Your Life.

There were also panel discussions on Wednesday and Friday, but I did not attend those (on Wednesday I needed to let my brain rest and on Friday I left to fly home).

For me, two sessions really struck a cord with me – Chirag Patel and Theresa McKeon. In both of those sessions, I learned practical information that I will be integrating into my training, both personally and professionally. They were both excellent, organized, engaging presenters. I will be adding both of them to my list of must-see speakers!

Theresa McKeon’s session was especially wonderful. She created a comfortable atmosphere and allowed personal interactions through which I learned a lot. Overall, the PPG Summit was well organized and the speakers were prepared. Scheduling is a challenge at any conference and can make it difficult to attend every speaker you want to see. The sheer variety of speakers and topics was impressive and valuable.

Most attendees were privileged to session notes before the conference. I missed out on those emails, but Niki Tudge, the Founder of PPG, went above and beyond to make sure I received the notes once I asked about them!

Tampa was a great city to hold the conference. The weather was beautiful and travel was relatively quick and easy. The conference was held in both a hotel and in a convention center which made moving in between sessions time-consuming. Distance played a factor in deciding which sessions I would attend. There were so many interesting speakers and topics to choose from!

Conference Accommodations

The Sheraton Riverwalk Hotel staff had amazing customer service which made my stay very enjoyable. I was able to easily access WiFi in my hotel room and in the conference rooms (at the hotel) which we all know can be difficult to get when traveling!

It looked like there were some very interesting meals to be had in great company, but I was not able to attend them due to a break down in communication. Hotel meals and restaurant meals added up financially, not to mention missing out on stimulating discussions on animal behavior.


In the future, I hope to see more vendors attend the PPG Summit. There are a lot of opportunities to meet reputable people in the industry. The effort and planning that goes into an event, let alone a first-ever event, is enormous! Niki Tudge and her team put together a quality educational event for force-free trainers. Trainers came from all over the world to participate and to learn. The 2016 Summit is already being discussed and trainers are looking forward to attending.

It is often said that if you have two dog trainers the only thing they will agree on is that they disagree. The great thing about a conference of dog trainers is that while we still may disagree, we enjoy learning together and being able to be in the same place at the same time with other like-minded trainers. Thank you Pet Professional Guild for offering us this opportunity!!!

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Volunteering as an APDT Conference Border Collie

Volunteering as an APDT Conference Border Collie

No, not the dog. The Border Collies I’m talking about are people who volunteer to help at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ Annual Educational Conference & Trade Show. They are integral to the smooth and successful running of these Conferences.

2015 APDT Conference Border Collie Volunteers

They assist in rounding up and herding folks to the right sessions, assisting during demos, checking names tags at the door, answering questions, showing people to their seats, and helping during breaks.

BC Start

The start of the BC Orientation Meeting with Carlos Betancourt, a co-host, on the far left standing, standing reading his notes

Being a member of the Border Collie Brigade provides you with the opportunity to meet new and interesting people, form new friendships, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Bill Hatherley, the Border Collie Lead on the APDT Task Force says – “We like to say it is our privilege to help the attendees have a great conference experience. While it may not be noticeable, a lot of oversight and management was done in the months leading up to the Conference. Irma Bice, Neil Smith and I had been planning for and working on this conference since March of last year. We met every two weeks via conference call and coordinated our efforts.”

This year, there were 42 volunteers, with 19 of them being veterans who have been Border Collies for 10 years – now THAT is dedication! We even had some BCs take on 6 assignments. Wow!!!

BC Duties

Bill Hatherley, BC Lead, giving the Duties of the BCs

The rest were at their first conference and wanted the opportunity to help and to network. We worked hard at providing them opportunities to meet new folks and everyone I talked to was very happy with this.”

Bill is very much like a cheerleader, he and Carlos Betancourt hosted the Training Meeting of the Border Collie Brigade. Between the two of them, they got the BCs excited and enthusiastic about their role. This great attitude carried on throughout the conference, helping all attendees to enjoy it even more.

I so wanted to be a BC, but my duties of reporting and blogging for The Modern dog Trainer took precedence. I chatted with some Border Collies – Jolynn Payne, Theresa Hyatt Cahill and Ryan Lockard and asked them some questions about their experiences.

1. Was this your first time being a BC?

  • Jolynn – “It was my first year.
  • Theresa – “First time.”
  • Ryan – “This was my first time as a BC.”

2. Why did you volunteer as a BC?

  • Jolynn – “I was at the conference a day early so I wanted to help and get involved.”
  • Theresa – “Thought I’d get a better understanding and learning from other trainers. I did.”
  • Ryan – “I volunteered because I like being involved and helping.”

3. Will you volunteer to be a BC again?

  • Jolynn – “Absolutely!”
  • Theresa – “YES I would volunteer again.”
  • Ryan – “I would volunteer again.”

4. What was your best experience of the Conference?

  • Jolynn – “Meeting new friends!”
  • Theresa – “Best I found was that there was a lot of help getting started. A lot of helpful info and useful info building my business”
  • Ryan – “The best thing was the positive comments that I received from the conference staff and the people I got to meet.”BC Overview - "Smile - Be Friendly"

5. What was the worst experience you had being a BC?

  • Jolynn – “Having to BC in a session where the speaker kept repeating “ok” after every sentence. Stopped counting after 35 in the first 30 minutes.”
  • Theresa – “There wasn’t enough communication. I met a few trainers but other than that I was on my own to find info – who and how to contact someone if you were available for other things, where to go if I had a comment or complaint. The ones that have been there before welcomed me but I had so much free time and I didn’t know where to turn to offer any help if someone needed it. But everything worked out because now I know who to look for and where (for the most part) to go if I don’t.”
  • Ryan – “The worst thing was the bag stuffing; it seemed to be very unorganized.”

6. What the duties did you volunteer to do?

  • Jolynn – “I worked the check-in shirt table and 2 different sessions checking badges and watching doors.”
  • Theresa – “I greeted and directed attendees”
  • Ryan – “My duties were to verify attendees had paid for the day, that they were eligible to attend the workshop and to do the necessary head counts.”

Bill Hatherley, the BC Lead welcomes constructive comments and got lots of feedback from the volunteers, all to make things better and more efficient in the following years.

The BCs got special buttons, a BC ribbon on their lanyard, and a free APDT Conference shirt if they volunteered for 3 or more sessions. They also were invited to a yummy breakfast especially for them.

The next APDT Conference will be in 2016 Conference in Las Vegas. Consider sharing a few hours of your trip to help out as a volunteer Border Collie! Their contribution is invaluable and greatly appreciated.

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Day Three Summary At The Pet Professional Guild Summit

The final day at any conference always has a little bit of a different feel to it; people are ready to go home to their families and pets, eager to put into practice all they have learned, but they are sad to be leaving their friends and colleagues. The 2015 Pet Professional Guild Summit was no different!

My day started with Linda Michaels presenting, “Understanding the Research – Making the Case for Force-Free Training.”  She shared what publications are reliable and respected in the field as well as the history of psychology and its importance in animal behavior research.

Linda also shared with us her newly released Hierarchy of Dog Needs™. The new hierarchy is focused on wellness and force-free behavior modification. The complete hierarchy can be found here:

“There is never a justification to use pain, fear, dominance devices

 or training methods with our pet dogs.”

For my late morning/early afternoon sessions, I attended Theresa McKeon’s lecture/lab, “TAG Don’t Nag: Techniques to Be ‘Force-Free’ with the Humans in Your Life.” This was a very interactive lecture/lab and we all had a chance to use TAGteaching to see how well it works in the animal training profession.

Teach without Nagging?
• Arrange goals to be met in steps (shaping)
• Arrange immediate feedback
• Arrange/identify immediate reinforcement

(I spent some time talking with Theresa McKeon after the lecture/lab, saying good-bye to friends, and getting checked out, so I did not attend any other sessions on Day Three.)

Overall, a good three days of continuing education in Tampa, Florida at the first-ever Pet Professional Guild Summit. Thank you to PPG for having me present about Therapy and Crisis Response Dogs and thank you for providing the Media Pass for the other two days at the Summit!!!

See the write ups from day 1 here and day 2 here!

(Coming soon – personal reflections on my experience at the Summit.)

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Day Two Summary At The Pet Professional Guild Summit

With no keynote speaker on Day #2, we were able to listen to our choice of presentations for every session. There were five different choices in every time slot.

I started my day with Janis Bradley and her presentation, “That’s the Lab in Him. Breed Bias, a Distraction from the Dog in Front of Us.” In this presentation, she talked about the part genetics plays in behavior for dogs.

During the second time slot, I presented “Training and Maintaining Therapy and Crisis Response Dogs.” It was a small group, so we were able to have a great discussion and we all shared a great deal of information about liability, what skills and training therapy and crisis response dogs should have, and what kinds of exposure.

After lunch, I attended Diane Garrod’s presentation, “Solving the Aggression Puzzle and Multi-Dog Household Fighting.” Unfortunately, the aggression portion of the presentation took up most of the time and there was not much information shared about multi-dog household fighting. The aggression puzzle information was very visual and contained a lot of information.

For my second afternoon session, I went to learn from Pamela Johnson about “Training Snake Aversion the Force-Free Way.” This session was more general in scope because the skills necessary for training a dog to avoid snakes is many of the same behaviors we train in many dogs – for example, recall, leave-it, safe place, and heeling – just with a different emphasis and a particular focus.

At the end of the day, they offered “bite-size lecture sessions.” These sessions are only 30 minutes long. I attended Lara Joseph’s session “On-line Behavior and Training Consultations and How They Are Successful.” In this virtual, online world, this is a great way for trainers to meet the needs of even more clients.

I’m looking forward to Day #3, but my brain is full and I am ready to go home and start implementing some of the new things I have learned.

See Laurie’s thoughts from day 1 of the Pet Professional Guild Summit here!

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Day One Summary At The Pet Professional Guild Summit

Day One Summary At The Pet Professional Guild Summit

Day one was rich with information!

The Summit opened with PPG President Niki Tudge sharing her vision for the future and thanking those who have helped get both Pet Professional Guild and the Summit itself to this point. “Let the results of force-free training and pet care stand up and be counted.”

Niki Tudge

Pet Professional Guild Summit – Keynote Speaker

The Keynote speaker was Dr. Karen Overall. She spoke for the rest of the morning; her presentation was split intofour sections:

From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs
1. The brain in evolution and everyday life
2. Neurobiology of reactivity and stress
3. Assessing behavior: what do tests tell us?
4. No fear – redefining humane behavioral care

“Good relationships are not based on fear and restraint. We now have choices. We can do better and understand more. Forward…..”

Dr. Karen Overall

For the afternoon sessions, I attended the lecture and the lab with Chirag Patel: Shaping the Co-Operative Patient. In an interesting metaphor, he said, “Husbandry is my agility.” His lab gave dog/handler teams the opportunity to try out stationing behaviors and The Bucket Game.

“Inspire. Empower. Change.”

Chirag Patel with Laurie and Ashley

Chirag Patel with Laurie and Ashley

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