The Association of Professional Dog Trainers


Advanced Learning Theory 201: An Advanced Look at How Animals Learn

Return to online course List

Start Date: May 04, 2017
End Date: June 08, 2017
Cost: $300.00 for APDT Members
$399.00 for Non-APDT Members
$100.00 for APDT Members - AUDIT ONLY (what's this?)
$125.00 for Non-APDT Members - AUDIT ONLY (what's this?)
Subject(s): Animal Learning, Behavior (Canine, Other Species)
Instructor(s): Kristina Spaulding, PhD.
Registration: Purchase Online

Course Details

Course Schedule & Details

For all course details, including schedule, homework assignments, deadlines, and more View Full Course Syllabus

Description: Once you know the basics of how animals learn, it’s time to take it to the next level. How do you know if you know the basics? You can define and distinguish between operant and classical conditioning.  You understand the differences between positive and negative reinforcement and punishment and how to apply them. If you know the previous information, you’re ready gain a deeper understanding of animal learning. This course is the ideal follow-up to Intro to Animal Learning.

View recorded lectures, participate in online discussion, & submit homework assignments at your convenience, regardless of schedule or time zone. Full Students must complete assignments by weekly deadlines. Auditing students do not have deadlines.

Level of Knowledge: Prior to attending this course, it is assumed all attendees are:

  1. Have attended APDT’s Learning Theory 101 


  1. Are familiar with, able to define, and/or know how or when to apply: 
     Classical conditioning and instrumental conditioning and emotional conditioning
     Reinforcement and punishment 
     R+, R-, P+, P-
     US, CS, UR, CR
     Pattern and rate of learning
     Flooding, systematic desensitization, exposure therapy, and counter conditioning 
     ABC Sequence

Learning Outcomes: After attending this course, attendees can expect to:

  1. Define and distinguish between different types of classical conditioning (e.g. higher order conditioning and blocking) as well as other types of learning that are often confused with classical conditioning (e.g. habituation and sensitization).
  2. Explain the different types of reinforcers and reinforcement schedules and their influences on behavior.
  3. Discuss various theories of reinforcement and how they apply to training and behavior.
  4. Explain and distinguish between the different methods of eliciting behaviors in dogs including, but not limited to, shaping, luring and prompting.
  5. Define generalization, discrimination and social learning.
  6. Identify the major brain areas and neurological processes that are involved in learning, classical conditioning, operant conditioning and stress and describe how they influence the various types of learning.
  7. Apply the principles from the preceding six learning outcomes to real world scenarios in dog training and behavior.
  8. Analyze, integrate and apply new information to fit into current framework of knowledge of learning to be able to pursue novel paths of thinking if new information does not fit into that current framework. 

 Course Evaluation & Completion: will be determined based on but not limited to

  • On-time completion of all required homework assignments (see details below).
  • Participation.on the discussion boards. (5 points)
    • Participating students are required to make two posts each week
    • You will get .5 points for each discussion post, for a maximum of 1 point per week
    • Discussions must relate to course material (questions about due dates, technical issues, etc., do not count toward your discussion requirement)
  • Completing weekly assignments. (50 points)
    • There will one assignment each week.
    • Each assignment is worth 10 points
    • Grading will be based on understanding of the course material, critical thinking and application skills and grammar, punctuation and clarity of writing
    • Each assignment will be graded using the following scale:


Total points

High honors



8 – 8.5


7 – 7.5

Unsatisfactory (no pass)

Less than 7


    • Late assignments
      • Assignments are due on Tuesday at 12 pm ET.
      • Unexcused late assignments will be assigned a 2 point penalty for each day they are late
        • Assignments submitted at 12:01 pm ET on Tuesday are considered one day late (2 point deduction).  Assignments submitted at 12:01 pm on Wednesday are considered two days late (4 point deduction), etc.
      • Extensions without point deductions will only be granted in the case of emergencies and with proper documentation.
  • The overall course grade will be determined as follows


Total points


High honors

49.5 or more

90 and above



80 - 89


38.5 - 43.5

70 – 79

Unsatisfactory (no pass)

Less than 38.5

Less than 70%





Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

  • CCPDT: 20 CEUs
  • IAABC: 20 CEUs
  • IACP: 20 CEUs
  • KPA: 20 CEUs

Instructor Biography

Kristina Spaulding, PhD.

Kristina Spaulding, PhD. owns Smart Dog Training and Behavior, LLC. She specializes in the prevention and treatment of behavior problems in dogs. Kristina has a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience/Biopsychology. She studies the social cognition, evolution and behavior of dogs. Since 2010, Kristina has taught 14 undergraduate courses including Learning, Evolutionary Psychology, Statistics and Introduction to Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience. In 2012, she earned the Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student Award. She has also served as an invited presenter at several teaching workshops and presentations hosted by the University and was an invited speaker at the Evolutionary Studies Summit at SUNY New Paltz in 2012. She is also on the APDT’s education committee.  Prior to opening Smart Dog in 2001, Kristina obtained her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology at the University at Wisconsin and served as an assistant trainer at Dog’s Best Friend, then owned by Dr. Patricia McConnell.

Additional Information

APDT Chronicle of the Dog

Chronicile of the Dog

The quarterly APDT Chronicle of the Dog keeps APDT members abreast of contemporary pet dog training techniques and provides a lively forum for discussion of dog training and behavior issues.

Annual Conference

Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show


Date: Oct. 18-21, 2017
Location: Richmond, VA.

Richmond Marriott.
Richmond, VA.

APDT Foundation

The corporation is organized for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

The purpose of the foundation is to raise funds for scientific research and of education  of dog trainers.

Visit Foundation website

Contact the APDT


2365 Harrodsburg Road A325
Lexington, KY 40504





Follow the APDT

© 2016 Association of Professional Dog Trainers. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Contact Us