Introduction to SATSthe journey begins here
1) What is SATS? SATS is simply a simple, fast, fun, fair way to work with others – both people and animals. It’s powerful and can be used for every training purpose. Read on for more information! The word, “SATS”, stands for the “Syn Alia Training System”. “Syn Alia” was a hybridized word made from “Synergistic Alliances”, inspiring SATS trainers to form relationships that made all the partners stronger. In other words, by working “With Others”, we should all benefit. In order for this to happen, all our relationships need to be mutually beneficial, mutually responsible, mutually respectful, and always conducted with integrity. The hybrid words, “Syn Alia” literally mean “WIth Others,” in Latin.
2) What are the beginnings of SATS? SATS was founded and developed by professional animal trainer and manager, Kayce Cover. SATS evolved from Bridge and Target Training, which was named by Kayce Cover, but developed in the marine mammal training industry. Scroll down for more on Kayce Cover.
3) How is SATS different than Bridge and Target Training? Bridge and Target training is a method of using targets to describe and define behaviors for an animal in training. This method is more efficient than ‘free-shaping’, and doesn’t waste the effort of animals trying to cooperate with the trainer. It is a cornerstone of SATS. However, SATS also teaches animals to manage their own emotions. This allows us to solve innumerable behavior problems, and to empower animals to live successfully with humans. It prepares the animal to be an efficient learner, and to be healthier. SATS trainers use an incredibly powerful and versatile tool: the Intermediate Bridge. This tool allows us to give the animal feedback on his performance, in 1/8th second increments. This sophisticated feedback system speeds training and animal confidence. SATS trainers create a common language between the trainer and the animal being trained. This language is used to give the animal all the information he needs to do his job, without having to guess. It allows the animal to take his knowledge into new situations. Animals, armed with information, may act as if they are trained, simply because they understand what is going on and what is wanted by the human.
4) What is the “Syn Alia Training System”? It is two things at once. It is a highly effective training method and a philosophy. In order to maintain high standards of interaction with our animal partners, SATS trainers employ tools which make them highly effective trainers. They give rich feedback to guide the animal to optimal performance. They use language to label concepts and items for animals, so that these labels can be used to give the animals information in future situations.
5) What is the philosophy of SATS? The Syn Alia Training System recognizes that animals can be aware, thinking, responsible, partners – and should be treated as such. They deserve to know the training goals and requirements, and to get feedback in their success in achieving these goals and requirements. They are most effectively managed with respect and fairness. In our interactions with animals, SATS trainers strive for mutual respect, responsibility, benefit, and integrity. We give the animal a lot of support and information during the training process. We seek to empower our animal partners to be successful in all their dealings with humans. The philosophy of SATS is that in our interactions “With Others” , we treat others as we would want to be treated, if our positions were reversed.
6) What are the ‘tools’ of SATS? SATS embraces all tools and methods of training, No matter what training methods you prefer, you can probably enhance your training by adding the tools and philosophy of SATS. However, while all techniques and tools are embraced, we find that many training devices are not needed with SATS. SATS trainers employ powerful tools. Bridges, Name & Explain, Conditioned Relaxation, Cycles, and Perception Modification, to name a few.
Bridges: We can support animals with simple but super effective guidance signals. We use Terminal Bridges (TBs), which tell an animal the instant he has succeeded. But, we also can give instantaneous and continuous feedback to the animal as he works, with Intermediate Bridges (IBs). IBs can help an animal learn quickly without luring, without frustration, and often, without error. Whilst normally used during learning, and faded as the animal gains proficiency in a task, IBs can be faded in a matter of minutes, or brought back in to support an animal in extreme circumstances. The non-technical term for a Terminal Bridge is a Success Signal, while an Intermediate Bridge is a Support Signal.
Name & Explain: We label concepts, events, locations, behaviors and items for animals, so that these labels can be used to give the animals information in future situations. Animals have an exceptional ability to learn quickly, and are able to fast map. We encourage animals to use these abilities. Rather than teach rote, unconscious compliance, we teach animals concepts, and how those concepts relate to their lives in various contexts. Behaviors are broken into components. Each component has a name, which the animal learns. Then components can be combined into more complex behaviors – in record time. By telling the animal which components will be used, we empower the animal to cooperate with us in creating the new, more complex, behavior – rather than subjugating him to a guessing game of trial and error, which causes many animals to shut down, often in great frustration.
Conditioned Relaxation: The optimal state for learning is calm alertness. Many animals learn to live in a state of constant arousal. This is difficult for the owners, and the animal, and is hard on the animal’s body. Arousal directly suppresses the immune system of an animal. We teach animals about the contrasting states of arousal and calmness. We label these states and work with the animals till they can attain either state, at will. Soon, the animal learns to choose a calm, alert state over an aroused state. Not only is this healthier, and nicer to be around – the animal is always prepared to learn, think, and apply what he knows to the situation at hand.
Cycles: SATS trainers work in ‘Cycles’. Cycles refers to a process of taking a complex task or challenge, and breaking it into tiny pieces which can be done and undone by the animal. Using this tool, the most difficult training dilemmas often become trivial to solve. We prefer it to backchaining, which is a rote process. Besides, much of life must be done in cycles. For example, a dog cannot learn to come out of a kennel until he learns to go into it. One cannot start training by having a dog come out of a kennel, if he will not go into it. Cycles are a more logical and efficient approach.
Perception Modification: Many, many dogs fail in training programs because they fail to adjust to some requirement, or they have some behavioral quirk which is unacceptable in the program. Perhaps they won’t allow part of the body to be touched, or they won’t tolerate water, or they want to kill cats, or other dogs, or they bark constantly…. The process of Perception Modification allows us to quickly change some of the most difficult behavioral problems – often quickly, safely and easily. This method is effective without requiring food, toys, or any punishment except for stopping the work. 7)
What devices do I need to train with SATS? Nothing but your voice, and if you like, some treats. (Safety equipment, such as leads and collars, are used when working in an unsecured area, or with other animals – but are not generally used to train the animals). We make a point of not depending on devices and gimmicks in order to work with our animal partners. This is because, while such devices can be popular with pet owners, in real life we don’t want to depend on them. We must always be able to communicate with our animals, and motivate them, when our hands are full and the situation is complicated. Further, this is such an effective way to train, that devices often just not needed. Worst of all, trainers can create a dependency on devices and gimmicks, which they find hard to escape. Many people working with dogs do not trust a dog to work if the dog is not food or toy crazy. Once they get the dog crazy over toys or food, then they may have trouble instructing the dog because he is too aroused.
8) How long does it take to teach my animal using SATS? It takes less than 5 minutes to teach most animals the bridges and targets. Once an animal understands about touching targets, targets can be used to show the animal where he has to be, or how he needs to move, for any behavior the trainer wants. Skillful use of targets eliminates the trial and error guessing of free shaping. Often training speed is limited by the trainer’s fluency with technique, rather than the speed of learning of the animal. The material in the booklet, “SATS & the Family Dog” may be taught in a single weekend, or in four two and a half hour classes.
9) What can I teach, using SATS? Anything! You can teach a dog to be safe with children, to quit barking at other dogs, to like the water, to be calm at the vet’s. You can teach him rally and obedience, and freestyle. You can prepare him to be an asset to the community and welcome wherever he goes. You can teach him to have a vast vocabulary, which you can use to prepare him for what will happen in new situations. You can even teach him to move in time to music, and to count choreography. You can communicate detailed specifics to high performance animals, empowering them to align themselves with the tasks and achieve certifications and competency.
10) How can I get started training my animals with SATS? It takes minutes, or less, to start a new journey into better communication with the animals in your life. Let me know how it goes in the comments, please!
11) What’s next? There are three electronic manuals which can be downloaded in a PDF format. “Talk to me!”: Try the “Talk to me!” manual next. This booklet explains how you can turbo charge your communication with your animal, and start building his vocabulary. “SATS & the Family Dog”: Then, we recommend “SATS & the Family Dog”, which is a collection of step by step directions for critical living skills for dogs. This manual eases you into the SATS way of life, and gets you used to giving your dog simple, specific information on what you need him to do. “Introduction to Bridge and Target Technique”: For professionals, researchers, and serious hobbyists, we recommend The Introduction to Bridge and Target Technique.” This manual is used in the training of professional trainers, and includes a glossary and other study aids. Get manuals here: https://synalia.com/product-category/manuals/
12) What are you waiting for!!? Just take the first step into the world of SATS. It is fun and your animals will blossom. Please post your comments on your experiences!
13) Who is Kayce Cover? Kayce Cover, the founder of SATS, is a professional animal trainer and manager, who has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, and a Masters of Science in Education. Kayce is trained as a research scientist, but prefers to work in applied communication and motivation – working to get results with people teamed with animals. Kayce has worked for a number of highly prestigious institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, and a number of universities. Kayce’s work with animals is broad and deep, but has three specializations: 1) establish quick communication with any kind of animal, 2) empower animals to cope with stressors and manage their own emotions and 3) prepare animals to live successfully amongst humans. Using the methods honed in SATS, Kayce Cover has achieved many ‘first ever’ accomplishments, such as training monkeys to aid quadriplegics, teaching cows to tell scientists whether they wanted food or a date with a bull, and training crabs. She has led countless owners, trainers and dogs, and other animals to a better life together. Kayce Cover’s work spans four decades, over one hundred species of animals, and applications related to welfare, enrichment, veterinary procedures, care, obedience, dance, search and recovery, detection, protection, theater, research, and more. To support these goals, Kayce has developed a system for training and managing animals, and a system for developing skilled trainers.
To learn more about Kayce Cover, click here.