Details & Requirements

Options for taking this course

You can take this online course on your own (audit) or you can take the full course with Ken Ramirez. In the full course, Ken guides you interactively. He reviews each student’s training progress via video at regular intervals, and provides remote coaching, support, and feedback to each student. Students also have the option to submit a final video to try to earn the Smart Reinforcement Knowledge-Assessed Certificate of Completion. Both the audit and full course option include the same engaging writing, instructional videos, and step-by-step exercises.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for advanced trainers. The course assumes that the student is already a positive reinforcement trainer who has:

  • A clicker trained animal
  • A strong relationship with the animal
  • A diverse repertoire of fluent behaviors already trained
  • An animal that enjoys learning and eagerly participates in the training process

If any of these qualifications is not true for you and your animal, we strongly advise you to take the Dog Trainer Foundations course first. Though beginner trainers will get some value from this course, they may find many of the exercises to be difficult.

Admission Requirements

To get the most out of this course, students should already be familiar with the fundamentals of clicker training, including mechanical skills, capturing and shaping behavior, cueing, and the basics of canine emotional signals. Animals should understand the relationship between click and treat, and how to offer behavior on their own. If you and your animal do not have this experience, we recommend that you take Karen Pryor Academy’s Dog Trainer Foundations course before the Smart Reinforcement course.

Course Author and Coach

Ken Ramirez

Ken Ramirez is one of the foremost experts on, and practitioners of animal training in the world today. He has taught more than 20,000 trainers and 500 individual animals of nearly 75 species throughout his career. Ken is a guest lecturer, speaker, and behavior and training consultant for premier organizations globally including oceanariums, zoos, law enforcement, universities and scientific institutions, philanthropic foundations and government. He consults, teaches, and lectures more than 80 days a year throughout the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia.

A 35+ year veteran of animal care and training, Ken is the Executive Vice-President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT). Previously, he served as the Executive Vice-President of animal care and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. There he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development, and public-presentation programs for the entire animal collection of more than 32,000 animals. Ken worked at Shedd for nearly 26 years.

Ken is a past president of the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), has been a ClickerExpo faculty member since 2005, and teaches a graduate course at Western Illinois University.

Ken has written for numerous scientific publications and authored countless popular articles. He authored the book Animal Training: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement, published in 1999. See Ken’s full bio here.

Course Details

The Smart Reinforcement course features clear and engaging content, and includes high-quality, instructional videos and step-by-step training exercises.

The course is divided into 6 lessons.

Ken has more than three decades of experience using the concepts of Smart Reinforcement himself and teaching them to others. The skills in this course take time and practice to master the components build on each other. Students must work steadily and consistently. Consequently, the course is structured to be completed over 8 months. It is possible to move through the course at a faster pace, but it would be unusual for someone to do so successfully. You will have up to one year to complete the course, if necessary.

Check out the Course Guide and Learning Goals.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Students of the Smart Reinforcement course can receive CEUs for completion of the course.

Full Course

  • The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) awards 21 CEUs.
  • The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) awards 25 CEUs.
  • International Avian Trainers Certification Board (IATCB) awards 20 CEUs.

Audit Only

  • The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) awards 20 CEUs.
  • The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) awards 21 CEUs.

Enrollment Schedule and Time Commitment

Enroll online and start the course any time after you enroll. Once you have completed the enrollment process, you will be given access to the course and can begin right away!

Be sure to read Ken's letter regarding time commitment for the course before you enroll!

Required Materials

  • A computer with high-speed Internet access
  • A modern web browser. We test with the latest versions of Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.
  • Support for Adobe PDF documents (the latest version of Adobe Reader or Mac OS X Preview)
  • Access to at least one animal you can train regularly

Required training supplies