SATS at AOC Terra Vocational School, Netherlands!

SATS Animal Training at AOC-Terra MBO Meppel

In our Animal Care Professional and Veterinary Technician studies at the MBO AOC-Terra in Meppel we teach our students how they can influence the behaviour of animals and change it to more appropriate and/or less undesirable behaviour. We do this through the course Training animals. Besides trying to give the students a proper (theoretical) basic knowledge in the field of animal behavior and animal training, we are mainly concerned with guiding students in learning new behaviors ( “a trick”) to one of our school-animals (like goats, grass parakeets, rabbits). They get one school-year to teach their animal a new behaviour and at the end of the year they have to show what they have accomplished with “their” animal by demonstrating what they have trained him to do. An exceptional learning experience for students and great fun for them to do as well!

There are many ways to train animals, but not all of them are applicable to any species and by no means all of them are equally humane. After many years, but with varying success depending on the species, of working with the method “clicker training”, for about one year now we are training using elements from SATS. SATS is a method of training animals (a method of interacting with animals is actually a better description), which is developed by the American animal trainer with a BS in animal science and MS in education, Kayce Cover.
By using so-called Bridges (signals that tell the animal that he’s performing the desired behaviour or is on the right track to performing it) and Targets (objects, like a target stick, or body parts, like our hand, which the animal has to touch and which you can use to either get an animal to go to a certain spot or to make a specific body-movement) you can teach an animal a new behaviour in a very effective (clear to the animal) and efficient (shortening the training-time significantly) way. The SATS method includes much more than just using Bridges and Targets to teach new behaviour, for example using SATS you can learn the animal to be calm in exciting situations and to cooperate with husbandry routines and medical treatments.
For both an Animal Care Professional as a Veterinary Technician it is very useful to master these skills, since working with a calm and cooperative animal is much easier and safer than working with an animal that’s attempting to get away or one that shows aggressive behaviour. We hope in the future that our school can keep offering the opportunity to our students to learn to work (more) with the SATS training method and by doing so give them an advantage in their future professional field .

For our current third-year students we already have something very exciting planned: In February SATS-founder Kayce Cover comes to our country and she will visit our school as well. Not only will she tell our students something about her training-experiences and SATS, but she will also help them in working with their own training-animal.

Sophie Witschge
Teacher in Animal Training at the AOC-Terra MBO Meppel
Certified trainer SATS Bridge and Target

Want to learn more about SATS? (nederlandstalige website over SATS) (website van Kayce Cover)