Fundamentals of Animal Behavior and Learning

  • Overview

  • Required

  • Schedule

  • Prerequisites

  • CEUs & Pricing

  • About Your Instructor

Course Begins: July 21, 2024

Duration: 4 weeks

Instructor: JoAnna Platzer, B.Sc. & Dr. Erica Feuerbacher

Course type: Instructed Course

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Think scientifically about animal training and behavior consulting for all species.
  • Break training into component principles.
  • Analyze environmental events that maintain behavior.
  • Recognize how labels such as “aggressive” or “submissive” cloud your thinking and work.
  • Establish accurate descriptions of animals who are said to be “confident,” “creative,” “a problem solver,” and how you should approach those learners.
  • Understand the common principles at play in different animals & species.
  • Directly assess behavior and train more humanely and effectively by cutting through the jargon.

Full Students must carry out the reading assignments listed in the syllabus before class (first class not included)complete all assignments, check email and visit the learning site regularly (at least once a day) to check in on the discussion group.

Students should expect to spend an average of 4-5 hours per week on course material and viewing, depending on the individual speed of learning and the week’s materials.


Auditors must review all course material. This will be verified in the Learning Management System.

This four-week course will begin on the specified start date. The first three weeks will explore the scope of the course. There will be no new content in the fourth week which is reserved for completing final projects, discussion and synthesizing the course content.

Students will have access to the course for 1 year from the date of their most recent IAABC Foundation purchase.

Online Lectures

Each week there will be several short videos (10-20 minutes each; typically 60-90 minutes total per week) that will discuss the topics for that week.

Online Readings with Reading Guides

Each week you will have a scientific reading with a guide to help you navigate the reading. The paper will exemplify the principles being discussed that week.

Online Assignments

During Weeks 1-3, you will have 1-2 short online assignments each week. Some of these will entail you giving an example and then giving feedback on examples provided by a few of your fellow students.

Online Posts

During Weeks 2-4 you will post two questions, comments or reflections relevant to the material from the previous week to the discussion forum. You will also respond to at least two of your fellow students' posts from that week (= a total of four posts per week). Your questions and responses will be graded based on their thoughtfulness and completeness.

Final Project

During Week 4, you will complete a final project/paper in which you will synthesize the topics covered to cohesively analyze and scientifically critique publicly available training videos and handouts.

An understanding of the operant quadrants is recommended/helpful. This information is taught in Week 1, but new learners with no previous knowledge of these concepts may find the first week intense.

Full Student:


Cost: $285



Cost: $175

Cancellation Policy: We will refund 90% up to 30 days pre-event. A 50% refund will be available up to 15 days pre-event. After these deadlines, no refunds will be issued.

Instructor: JoAnna Platzer, B.Sc. & Dr. Erica Feuerbacher

JoAnna Platzer, B.Sc., CPDT-KA, is a Doctoral Candidate in the Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare lab at Virginia Tech under Dr. Erica Feuerbacher. She attended the University of Florida where she majored in Zoology with an emphasis on animal behavior. After graduation, she participated in research on site fidelity of Mockingbirds with the University of Florida, social behavior of Fairy-wrens with Cornell University, and comparative cognition of canines with Yale University. She has worked as a professional dog trainer and has experience in zoos and conservancies, where she was involved in training exotic animal species for enrichment and low-stress husbandry. Her current research focuses on the impact of fostering programs on shelter dog welfare, reinforcer efficacy of different types of grain for horses, and behavioral synchronization between dogs and their owners.



Erica Feuerbacher, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CPDT-KA is an Assistant Professor of Anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, MT, where she leads the canine program in which students train foster dogs during the academic year. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Florida under the advisorship of Dr. Clive Wynne in the UF Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab (now part of the Canine Science Collaboratory) and her Masters in Behavior Analysis in the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies under the advisorship of Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz.

She has published a variety of scientific articles of her research on learning theory and the dog-human relationship. She has taught Principles of Behavior Analysis, Behaviorism in Contemporary Society, Learning and Cognition, Basic and Advanced Canine Training, Research Methods, and General Psychology at the college level. She has earned several awards for her behavior analytic research and her dedication to the theoretical foundations of behavior analysis. Her research interests center on dog-human social interactions, canine welfare, and enhancing humane, effective training techniques.