Clicker Training Blog

Piano playing and grief counseling: A day in the life of clicker training cats

Being partial to cats myself, I love this piece on a journalist who discovers that - gasp! - not only can you clicker train a cat, but it can open new doors never before imagined:

At one outdoor concert, a 10-year-old boy with Down's syndrome walked by. He was enthralled by the piano-playing feline. He stared at Ricky for several minutes, then spontaneously began to laugh. We're not talking little giggles here. I mean full-blown belly laughter. His mother was stunned. She told me quietly, "Billy's father passed on two weeks ago. Everyone tried to get him to talk, to react, but he wouldn't."

Training your inner dolphin

A "Dolphin Trainer for a Day" program at the Texas State Aquarium offers the "mystical connection that seems to exist between dolphins and humans"--or just raw herring?

The dolphins at this aquarium are trained with operant conditioning, "and it works like a charm....negative reinforcement doesn't work....In the case of disobedience, the best response is just to ignore and then refocus."

Teaching CPR with a clicker

This is a fascinating story about a CPR self-training device that uses a clicker to mark when chest compressions are being done correctly, with fantastic results:

"They found that the home group learned CPR as effectively as those taking the full-fledged course," Cave said.

Clicker Trained Painting Beagles Help with Dog Bite Victim Support

The Painting Beagles of Newfoundland will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their paintings to the Courtney Trempe Memorial Fund for Dog Bite Victim Support. The Painting Beagles are trained by Tonji Stewart of Canine Company Clicker Training and Consulting in Holyrood, Newfoundland. The dogs paint using a painting mitt worn on a paw, they were taught using clicker training, an advanced method of training used by elite trainers of marine mammals, search dogs, service dogs and even zoo animals

Stop speeding--with negative reinforcement?

"Three weeks ago, [police chief] Hocker attended a...seminar on highway safety where more than 20 issues of safety were discussed, but the one everyone agreed was overwhelming was aggressive driving. And in almost all cases of aggressive driving, speed is a factor, Hocker said. In Hocker's opinion, B.F. Skinner holds the answer to reducing speeding: operant conditioning. The negative reinforcement of a driver having to pay for a speeding ticket and getting points on his license helps to shape behavior, Hocker said."

Zoo animals become artists, with operant conditioning

"At the Louisville Zoo, it's not art for art's sake; it's for the sake of the animals -- and, as often as not, their human keepers too.....Keepers bond with the animals -- even through something as abstract as art -- through operant conditioning, 'a training that really is a form of communicating with the animals,' said Diana DeVaughn, the zoo's media/promotions coordinator. 'It builds their trust' by forming an association between a behavior and a positive consequence."

Clicker Beagle stars in national ad

Clicker trainer Tonji Stewart, of Newfoundland, Canada, has seven dogs including rescued beagle Piper. Piper is currently the mascot for North Atlantic Petroleum. His photo appears on billboards and the sides of oil tanker trucks all over Canada. He won the modeling job in a contest which included the province's top obedience dog.

Big Apple Dims Lights For Birds

"The bright lights of New York City will be a little dimmer starting next week. That's because many of the city's buildings—including famous skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center—have agreed to turn down the glow in an effort to protect migratory birds. Millions of birds pass through New York City during the fall and spring migration seasons. Window reflections and bright city lights disorient the birds, causing many to crash into buildings and die. The new bird-friendly policy, crafted by the city and the Audubon Society, requests that buildings taller than 40 stories dim or turn off their lights at midnight during the September, October, April, and May migrating periods. Glass buildings along the migration corridors of the Hudson and East Rivers were also asked to dim their lights. Daniel Klem, an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, estimates that 100 million birds die every year from building collisions, and the Audubon Society has collected more than 400 dead birds from a small sampling of buildings in New York City since 1997. A similar program in Chicago has resulted in 80 percent fewer bird deaths." (California Wild This Week)