Start Button Behaviors

As positive reinforcement trainers, we work hard at building relationships and providing choice to our animals.

Control is a primary reinforcer! We want our training sessions to be productive, and at the same time, keep putting deposits into that relationship bank account.

There is a huge difference between an animal tolerating a procedure or event and being an active participant. Tolerance means the animal is letting us get away with something in our training, but there is often a cost.

The cost of “tolerance” often equates to deductions from that relationship account, which can have long-term effects, both on that behavior and context, but also extending out and affecting other behaviors in other contexts. It also slows down the training!

To avoid that risk, we want to structure our training sessions so that the animal always has a way of saying “Yes, this is ok.” or “No, that’s too far.”

It’s all about consent!

Of course, animals can’t tell us in so many words that they are uncomfortable. So we have to look for other signs. Smaller, more subtle changes in behavior to tell us we are getting close to (or crossing) that invisible threshold.

Even better, we can deliberately structure our training sessions to include clear yes/no opportunities. Incorporating “start button” behaviors into our training sessions lets us do just that: involving the animal in the learning process, providing clear choices, making sure all of our training sessions (especially those including stressful or scary things) are deposits instead of deductions, AND making the training process faster and more efficient.

Their mission is to help people acquire knowledge and skills in science-based, modern, humane and empowering teaching strategies for the benefit of learners of all species.

Our goal with this workshop is to give you an insight into start button behaviors.

What does that even mean? And what can they be used for?

We hope to inspire you to find ways where your non-human partner can be in control of their learning, and enhance your relationship while still training effectively.

Join us for a 2-hr Q & A-driven workshop to learn about this powerful strategy.

It’s not really a webinar, and it’s not really a book club… but it’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun and VERY nerdy.

As with our other workshops, you will receive a little homework to read in advance with example videos.


The #ballfeelings homework provides an eloquent explanation of the interplay between classical and operant conditioning, with applicable examples in both text and video form. Lindsay and Hannah operationalize the Conditioned Emotional Response in a way that allows for us to make more informed decisions about our practical training. It stands alone as an excellent piece, and has laid the foundation for what I’m sure will be an excellent event! I will be there, glass in hand!

-Aimee Bonnain KPA-CTP

How It Works:

After signing up, you’ll receive a little homework material to prepare for the discussion.

The material includes some reading with bespoke/artisanal diagrams (handmade by moi), a few videos, and maybe a controversial idea or two?

Think of any questions you have, either generated by the reading material or things you’ve always wondered.

And you can either leave those in advance in the virtual classroom (using the “ask a question” feature) or hold on to them and ask them while we are live on camera.

On June 14th, we’ll hold our live event where we can all hang out together (on the internet). We’ll talk about the concepts, explore some examples, and answer your questions… basically, we’ll spend a couple hours geeking out about behavior!

The event is recorded and you can watch it back anytime by going right back to the same link.

About Eva and Emelie:

Swedish Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh are internationally renown teachers of behavior and learning in their collaboration Carpe Momentum. Their goal is to help people acquire knowledge and skills in science-based, modern, humane and empowering teaching strategies for the benefit of learners of all species. They teach seminars on various aspects of behavior and learning, and coach trainers in the art of structuring great training sessions regardless of the venue or the species.

Internationally Eva and Emelie are mostly known from their 10 years on faculty at Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo, while the Scandinavian audience recognizes them as animal training instructors, TAGteach educators, and passionate teachers of behavioral principles. The colleagues have written one book, Agility Right from the Start, and numerous articles.


I really enjoyed your workshop and the homework before. It was great just breaking it down and practicing the mechanics. It was also a good experience to not be in autopilot with my mechanics and have to focus and concentrate with what I’m doing and step back into the shoes of a learner, just like someone who is learning how to use a clicker with dogs for the first time ever. Thank you for that and for your podcast! My not-so-inner dog/behavior nerd has been loving it!

-Ashley Atkinson, Set It and Forget It Virtual Workshop Attendee