As a Delta Society Pet Partner Team Evaluator, I saw how much more willing and relaxed clicker trained dogs were during testing. This observation cemented my commitment to abandoning old training techniques and fully embracing punishment-free reward-based methods.
I used clicker training in our local shelter and created clicker training packets for the staff (before KPA began selling training materials to shelters!) Every week I took at-risk adolescents to exercise and train shelter animals. One of my goals with these students was to show them alternatives to punishment-based ways of child rearing. Initially, the children were skeptical that dogs could be trained using only positive techniques, and they didn't think that cats could learn anything via any method! Our first targeting session with shelter cats in cages was rewarding and fun, and clicking for quiet in the kennel area was so effective that several students admitted that alternatives to spanking their own kids (and dogs) just might be worth learning. It didn't take the kids long to get very good at clicker training and the positive philosophy. Now, if only we could get nations to embrace this philosophy and methodology!
I'm a volunteer trainer at Summit Assistance Dogs in Anacortes, Washington, and have been a certified horseback riding instructor with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) for more than 10 years. For more than 25 years, I have worked professionally with at-risk and special needs kids in private and public school settings, now moving more toward coaching, teaching, and training in semi-retirement.
As the Executive Director of Partnering with Animals and the Land (PAL), I work on 11 acres nine miles east of Bellingham, Washington. The PAL program has been teaching farm-based job training skills to adolescents with special needs for the past five years. Now that I am a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP), my board and I are looking forward to adding clicker training to our program!