Kathy Sdao, a certified applied animal behaviorist, presented several fascinating sessions at Clicker Expo. Here’s her viewpoint on what dogs are telling us. “We’ve been waiting a long time for you to understand what we are saying. And we are thrilled you are finally listening.”
Another highlight of the expo was hearing Victoria Stilwell‘s presentation. She is the dog training star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog. Victoria is so passionate about spreading the word about positive reinforcement that she started a program for trainers called Positively. I’ve loved her on TV and even more so in person. This was an extra delight for me because she has played Through a Dog’s Ear music on her show when working with dogs with anxiety issues. I finally was able to thank her in person.
Clicker expo in Newport Beach was such an educational, enlightening, fun experience for me. Fortunately, it was close enough that I could drive and bring Gina. I’m so eager to learn more that I’m tempted to fly to Chicago in March (sans dogs) for the next one. While I thought I attended to improve my dog training and my relationship with my dogs, it went well beyond that. While there, I realized that it only appeared to be about dogs. Positive reinforcement really relates to our interconnectedness with all beings of all species and our ability to create loving partnerships with our loved ones. Everything I learned at clicker expo can be applied to the children, friends, and partners in our lives. I naturally tend to focus on the positive aspects of life. Clicker training attracts me because it does the same. And if we all could do that in every area of our lives, the world would be a better place, I’m sure.
During the course of the expo, we “tagged” people with raffle coupons when we noticed something good they were doing. That is a key principle of clicker training and of tag teach. Consequently, what happens is that you start noticing more positive attributes in people, they get rewarded for them, and they do more of them. Funny, that’s exactly what Ian Dunbar said at the end of my interview with him…Reward the behaviors you want and you’ll get more behaviors you want. That seems to work cross species.
What do you think? Is dog training an animal welfare issue? Are there benefits of using positive reinforcement across species? Thanks for posting your comments below.
Image: Sanchez in a Down Stay
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