How Long?! Building Duration

Online, self-paced, mechanics course for trainers and training enthusiasts!

If you want to teach behaviour, get results and keep you learner happy and engaged, no matter the species,, mechanical skills are the keys. Just like sports or dancing, teaching involves technique and skill, that are honed over hours and hours of practice.

Building duration in behaviour during teaching is just one challenge to your teaching mechanics. Doing this course will help you develop a range of approaches to building duration, minimising the use of punishers (yes, even P-) and working with your learner’s behaviours, rather than against them.
You will fill your toolbox with learner-friendly tools so that you will have options to suit a range of learners and requirements.

This course will introduce you to advanced concepts in reinforcement and sequencing, as well as challenge training approaches entrenched in “this is just how we have always done this”. All of it is presented within an evidence based framework relating to the science of how animals learn.


At a glance: 

When? You can start any time!
Apply here and let us know about your teaching and training experience.

Where? From the comfort of your own home, anywhere, any time!

Who? This course is for professional and student animal trainers, and enthusiasts. A basic level of knowledge and skill is presumed and will be required to complete this course; you must have foundations level mechanics. This is not a beginners course.

How long? This is a self-paced course, usually taking 6-10 weeks to complete. You will have access to the online course area, materials and supplementary resources for four months from your enrollment.

How much? Course fees are €30 (usually €50) payable via PayPal or bank transfer.
Assessment submission is optional and costs a further €10, payable at submission.

To participate, you will need:

  • a device and internet access
  • a camera and means to record your work
  • access to a suitable learner of any species
  • teaching equipment such as clickers, reinforcers and so on

You get: 

  • 24/7 access to the course online area, from anywhere, for four months
  • optional assessment submission and self-paced learning
  • multiple media learning resources for viewing or downloading
  • course manual and assessment portfolio
  • five explanatory lectures (clips)
  • over 20 demonstration clips
  • comment facility at the online course area for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a Facebook group to post videos for feedback and to interact with participants


Teaching duration presents challenges to the teacher and the learner, often resulting in frustration and confusion to both parties.

Clear cueing and excellent mechanics helps to reduce this, improving efficacy and learner experience. This is especially important when it comes to reducing the stress associated with learning and that which may be particularly involved in building duration in teaching behaviours or in life.

Your mechanical skills are the foundation for your teaching success and something that AniEd prioritises in all our trainers. Join us on this journey to building mechanical skill in relation to duration, and lots of skills, ideas and knowledge applicable to all areas of animal teaching.

Ask, don’t tell

We have lots of words for cues (such as antecedents, discriminative stimuli, conditioned stimuli, SD), but one we certainly don’t like to use is ‘command’.

It’s not just semantics, words really do matter. Using the term ‘command’ brings a very different image to mind, one of confrontation and the notion that “you better do it, or else…”.

Cues are signals that let the animal know what happens contingent on certain behaviour. You smell yummy dinner smells, head into the kitchen, and get to eat your dinner. Can you pick out the cue that told you what to do, and why you do it?

It’s as simple as A-B-C! Antecedent (yummy smells) – Behaviour (going to the kitchen) – Consequence (eating a delicious dinner)

Cues are occurring in the environment all the time; learning is happening all the time. You are not necessarily required – the environment is training your dog (and you) all the time.

We tend to think of cues as verbal signals, but really, these are probably far down the list in terms of efficacy.

Can you think of things that happen that cue behaviour in your dog, or you?
What behaviour does the sight of the dog’s lead cue? How about the sound of the doorbell?
Here’s a hint: look at the behaviour that happens after the cue.


When we say that behaviour is in the environment, this is what we mean. Things happening around the animal tells them what to expect. Learning is about anticipation.

And because learning allows the animal to anticipate what’s about to happen, they can make choices based on that information. The way we train, allows the animal time and space to make those choices; there isn’t some aversive hanging over them should they make some other choice.

When cues are framed as questions, it’s easier to illustrate. I ask Decker to choose: will I tug the toy or would he prefer I throw it? Same toy, same set up, same human, different choices depending on his preference.

Clip link (sound on for this one)

Not only am I using cues, but he is also using cues. From his point of view, him, for example, keeping hold of that toy, cues me to tug.

Why an understanding of cues, as opposed to commands, is really important is that this is a process of communication. Cues open up that communication, where as commands put a stop to it. Cues are part of a two way discussion, rather than a one-way-telling-or else.

I ask, he answers. He asks, I answer.



Developing the next generation of animal care, training and beahviour specialists in Ireland.