Podcast Guest: Mary Hunter

Mary Hunter earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas.

She runs her own animal training and consulting business in north Texas, working mainly with dogs and horses. In addition, she serves as president of The Art and Science of Animal Training, a Texas-based nonprofit that provides educational programs for professional animal trainers. Mary also teaches classes at the University of North Texas as an adjunct instructor.

Mary’s main research interests include studying the process of shaping and developing better methods for teaching both people and animals. In 2019, Mary and Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz published their first book, PORTL: The Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab. You can follow Mary’s training adventures on her blog, StaleCheerios.com.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The common “staircase” metaphor as applied to shaping plans.
  • A new non-linear approach to thinking about shaping.
  • Breaking down a goal behavior into components.
  • How the wrong starting point or intermediate step can make getting to your goal behavior harder, even if it looks closer.
  • Thinking in terms of actions rather than outcomes.
  • Lots of examples with dogs, horses, and people.

Links mentioned:


This podcast is supported by: Zero to CD

Zero to CD is an online group mentorship program designed to provide support, structure, and accountability for people who are new to competition obedience and looking to earn their Novice level title AND to make competition obedience accessible to all dogs and handlers through force-free, positive reinforcement-based methods.

Learn About Zero to CD!