From Aidan Bindoff: Most of you would be aware that the golden retriever excells in obedience, tracking, retrieving etc. This all-purpose dog is well known for its intelligence and ability to obey instruction, and cats are well known for their ability to lie around all day and look pretty, right?
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People interested in clicker training often ask how we might fit this approach into the school system: not the clicker per se, but the whole technology. Actually the behavioral scientists have been working on this for a long time. An exchange on the topic appeared on the ARF listserv, run by graduate students of the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. Here are some highlights.
My name is Emma Parsons and I am the Training Director here at Sunshine Books, Inc. Karen is away on vacation but she wanted me to update you on a few of our projects.
I have just finished teaching a six-week clicker training course at the Tufts Veterinary School of Medicine in North Grafton, MA. Nine students attended, mostly first and second year veterinary students. A Masters degree student and a practicing veterinarian also joined us as well.
The best example of a clicker trained dog that I know personally is Lynn Gardner's Aussie rescue named Maggie Mae, in Ontario. Maggie's owner has trained her to recognize over 200 cues, and often does clicker demos with her in schools. Maggie's click is the blink of a flashlight, just a regular pen light pointed at her; and most of her cues are American Sign Language words. The trainer holds the light in one hand along with the target stick if using one; and treats in the other, just as we do with target and clicker. The dog has to be watching the trainer to see the blink, but she watches very carefully, you may be sure! Once when Maggie was sitting in front of Lynn, at attention, Lynn gave her a hand signal, and the dog rolled over on one haunch and scratched herself. I couldn't help but ask, "What was THAT signal?" "Relax," said Lynn.
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