How to Attend a Dog Training Conference

How to Attend a Dog Training Conference

With the registration date for ClickerExpo coming up, I began to think about what learning goals to concentrate on this year, who I wanted to hear speak, and if there should be a theme or if I should just see whatever sounded interesting. I then began to think about the other part of going to conferences; meeting people and networking. So many times I’ve seen someone I haven’t seen in years passing by in between sessions and had that 7 second drive-by conversation, “Hi! How are you doing! Great to see you! Let’s meet for lunch or something!” The other person responds, “Great!” and then that’s the end of it. This year, I really want to make a plan.

1. Put people you want to meet on your schedule.

I always have the best of intentions and every conference I fail. This year I’m putting people on my schedule. Message people and ask them for a time to meet or share a meal or have a drink. Put the appointment on your schedule with a reminder so you don’t become that person that stood someone up at a training conference. You have 3 meals a day, after conference drinks, breaks in between speakers, and skipped session periods you can fill. Fill them. If meals are coordinated and prepaid you might consider skipping one and doing a DIY lunch at least one day to accommodate people who aren’t purchasing meals.

Related: Are drinks after the conference your favorite part of attending conferences? Do you like meeting online friends in-person? Ever wish you had a group of local, friendly dog trainers to chat with to continue the conversation? Check out our latest project: Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers

2. You don’t have to fill every session.

I actually learned this when I got violently ill at a conference. Fatigue set in and I needed to prioritize my energy instead of my desire to see everything. There were some session slots where there just wasn’t anything that really perked my interest or I had seen all the presentations already. I skipped that period and took a nap, waking up refreshed for the speakers I really wanted to see. When I skipped and didn’t take a nap, I met a bunch of people that were also skipping!  If you’re just trying to fill time by seeing a speaker, meet up with people instead.

3. Introduce yourself to people sitting or eating alone.

If you haven’t filled a meal period with a scheduled meet up then scan the dining area and look for people wearing the conference badge who are sitting alone. Go introduce yourself and ask if they want company. Please don’t push in if the person says they’d rather be alone. Conferences can be overwhelming and some people need quiet time. I’ve had many amazing conversations eating with strangers. Meeting and talking to people way outside your normal circle can be more educational than some presentations. This practice also makes everyone feel welcomed and interesting. Which brings us to number 4.

4. Remember to get cards or contact information for people you meet.

I’m putting this on a post-it note on my forehead this year, “Please give me your business card.” After introducing myself and eating with a stranger and having a lovely conversation, it inevitably happens that the conference bell rings and you’re off and running to the next session. The number of times I’ve grabbed my things and said, “Thank you for the wonderful lunch!” then sprinted away is embarrassing. Take a moment, get a card or have the person put their email address in a note for you. When you get seated at your Must Get To session, make a note of where you met them, what you did together, and the general topic of conversation. Even if you never message them you will have a reminder if you see them at the next conference.

5. Organize meetups with your virtual friends.

We all have them, people we “know” from Twitter, Facebook, certification organizations, clubs, and schools. Schedule a meetup and get a few people you want to meet in one place. On Twitter you can create a hashtag and have people retweet or reply they’d like to join. You can create calendar and Facebook events so other people can invite other people. While it may seem fun to set these up for dinner at a restaurant, some trainers are on a budget. You might consider doing these in hotel common areas instead of restaurants so everyone can bring their own food yet still have dinner together. Remember to send reminders to everyone who was interested when you get to the conference.

Check out our latest project: Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers

Did we miss anything? What is your go-to strategy for attending conferences? Tell us in the comments!

Top 10 Dog Training Conferences for 2017

Top 10 Dog Training Conferences for 2017

See the latest post: Top 10 Animal Behavior Conferences of 2018

We’ve compiled the Best Dog Conferences for you to attend in 2017 because we’ve done that every (20162015). Explore science topics, learn better training skills, concentrate on motivation or the human-animal bond. It’s all here. Let’s go!

Conferences are listed in chronological order due to the author’s inability to decide which should be first.

the best dog training conferences coming up in 2017

1. ClickerExpo

ClickerExpo will be held in 3 locations throughout 2017. This year ClickerExpos have slightly different labs and workshops depending on the location.

Portland, OR
When: Friday, January 27-29, 2017
Where: Portland, OR
Why: Educational Themes are back for 2017. Themes are labs and presentations focusing on a certain concentration. Themes include: Trainer Skill Development, Teaching People, Aggression and General Behavior Management, and Veterinary Environments. Feel free to follow a single theme or skip around and explore a variety of topics. There’s something for everyone! CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information:

Stamford, CT
When: Friday, March 31-April 2, 2017
Where: Stamford, CT
Why: A complete Equine Theme which includes Husbandry, Saddling, Trailer Loading, and much more continues for 2017. This is in addition to the Themes listed for Portland above.  CCPDT, IAABC, and KPA Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information:

ClickerExpo Europe
When: Friday, November 3-5, 2017
Where: Denmark
Why: The ClickerExpo 2017 schedule for Denmark has not been released yet. It will be released by 15 February 2017.
More Information:

2. WOOF!

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. 3 full days of brilliant seminars with Bob Bailey, Susan Friedman, Kay Laurence, Jean Donaldson, and Clive Wynne.
More Information:

3. Canine Science Symposium

When: Saturday, March 11-12, 2017
Where: San Francisco SPCA in San Francisco, CA
Why: Bringing together professors of Psychology, Anthrozoology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Behavior Analysis, this symposium covers the science of welfare for shelter dogs, training, and canine aggression. Enjoy two days with some of the leading canine science minds with Julie Hecht, Monica Udell, Sheila D’Arpino, and Erica Feuerbacher. CCPDT and IAABC Continuing Education Units are available for professionals attending this event.
More Information:

4. IAABC Animal Behavior Conference

When: Saturday, April 8-9, 2017
Where: Culver City, CA
Why: The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants has creatively merged their multiple species Conferences into one event. Choose to follow the Dog, Cat, Parrot, or Horse tracks, or pick and choose which presentations you’d like to join. The conference features speakers discussing the latest science, treatments, and protocols for managing and modifying behavior in all species.
(Read about our experience at the 2015 IAABC Conference.)
More Information:

5. DogEvent 2017

When: Thursday, April 14-17, 2017
Where: Rambouillet, France
Why: 4 days of dog training, behavior workshops, and demos on the outskirts of Paris! Each day has a theme: Clicker Training, Motivation, Aggression, Canine Sorts, and more. Speakers include Emily Larlham, Chirag Patel, Nando Brown, Denise Fenzi, and Lori Stevens. Presentations will be given in English.
More Information (in French):
More Information (in English):

6. Animal Management Behavior Alliance (ABMA) Annual Conference

When: Sunday, April 23-28, 2017
Where: Cincinnati, OH
Why: The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) specializes in animal care and training through enrichment. This year’s theme is “Back to Basics: Crossing The Bridge Between Training and Conservation.” Conference locations include multiple zoos. This year’s keynote speaker will be Megan Parker, PhD, Co-founder & Director of Research, Working Dogs for Conservation discussing ways to use dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell to protect wildlife and wild places.
More Information:

7. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Training Camp

When: Thursday, June 22-25, 2017
Where: Linn County Expo Center, Albany, Oregon
Why: It’s back! The Ultimate Dog Sports Training Camp covers Obedience, Rally, Agility, Nosework, Freestyle, and Rally FrEe!  Join the energizing dog sports goddesses Denise Fenzi, Deb Jones, Hannah Branigan, Julie Flanery, Loretta Mueller, Nancy Gagliardi Little, Shade Whitesel, 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. Priority registrations will be given to students that have previous enrollments in FDSA online courses.
More Information:

8. International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Conference

When: Thursday June 22-25, 2017
Where: Davis, CA
Why: The International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) annual conference covers new and intriguing ideas in Human-Animal Interactions. The speakers and program for 2017 is pending. Stay tuned to the link below to keep up as this conference program develops.
More Information:

9. International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) Conference

When: Friday, August 7-10, 2017
Where: Aarhus, Denmark
Why: The International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) annual conference covers the presentation and discussion of advances in applied animal behaviour science and education and. The speakers and program for 2017 is pending, but topics include, Animal learning and cognition, Social behaviour of animals, Animal stress responses, and Human-animal interactions. Stay tuned to the link below to keep up as this conference program develops.
More Information:

10. APDT Annual Conference and Trade Show

When: Wednesday, October 18-21, 2017
Where: Richmond, Virginia
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 2017 is still pending. This entry will be updated as information becomes available.
(Read about our experience as a volunteer APDT Border Collie.)
More Information:


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