Every Day with Every Interaction:
Deepening the IACUC’s Understanding of Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive Reinforcement Training

Every Day with Every Interaction: Deepening the IACUC’s Understanding of Positive Reinforcement Training


Every day and with every interaction, animals learn how to respond to the people in their research environment. Positive reinforcement training (PRT) techniques can improve animals’ level of compliance with research tasks, as well as their physiological response to their environment. PRT reduces the need for coercive methods of handling and improves animal welfare for all species. It’s critical that IACUC members have a working knowledge of classical and operant conditioning in order to critically assess research proposals to ensure that the protocols include appropriate PRT.


  • Positive reinforcement training (PRT): philosophy, purpose, and function
  • Classical and operant conditioning: definitions and examples
  • Secondary reinforcement: definition; tools; and techniques, including clicker training, approximations, targeting, luring, and shaping
  • Considerations for IACUCs, including how to recognize and ensure PRT is adequately and accurately included in a research protocol
  • PRT as part of a framework of “lifelong learning” for animals used in research

What will I learn?

After attending this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Define the foundational principles of classical and operant conditioning
  • Assess whether PRT has been adequately incorporated into a research protocol
  • Recognize other operant techniques in use, and assess the accuracy of language used to describe them

Who should attend?

This webinar is aimed at IACUC professionals and members. Compliance staff, animal husbandry staff, veterinarians, trainers, and investigators may also benefit.

Continuing Education

Webinar participants holding the Certified Professional in IACUC Administration (CPIA®) credential may apply 1.25 continuing education credits towards CPIA recertification. Learn More »


Kelly Morrisroe

Kelly Morrisroe

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Additional Resources

A collection of relevant readings accompany each PRIM&R webinar. Groups that register for webinars receive a discussion guide containing thought-provoking questions and facilitation tips that may help in using the webinar as an educational tool for IRBs.


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