May 01

Herding in a new direction

On May 6, I will be on my way to present at the ABMA conference in San Francisco, Calif. The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) is a not-for-profit corporation with a membership comprised of animal care professionals and other individuals interested in enhancing animal care through training and enrichment. The ABMA is intended to be nurturing and informative, and was created to serve trainers, handlers, and keepers of animals, irrespective of species, with information and assistance in the behavior management of their charges. Their mission is to advance animal behavior management in order to enhance the husbandry and welfare of animals. If you are interested in learning more you can check them out at

Each year the ABMA hosts a conference to further educate its members as well as give select people the chance to present their written papers, create posters and present at the conference in front of their peers. This year there are four presenters from Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. It is a great honor to be chosen and a great stepping stone in my career. I will be presenting with Anita Yeattes on the training methods that we used while training our Border Collie, Molly, how to herd sheep. This is going to be my first conference and I’m extremely excited to go!

We trained both Molly and our flock of sheep how to participate in herding demonstrations using positive reinforcement. We used food to let the sheep know that they were doing the correct behavior, and we used verbal praise and affection to train Molly. Molly was also reinforced for a great herding demonstration by being granted access to herding again. The act of herding was reinforcing and fun for her.

We put together a video to show some of our herding and the training that we used. If you are in the park, stop by the Highland Stables in Scotland to see our flock of Scottish Blackface sheep and our Border collies. We also have daily herding demonstrations where you can see the final product of our training.

I’ll let you know how it goes after the conference. Wish me luck.

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