Mirkka has been an animal lover all her life. Her love for animals manifested itself early in her life as a passion for horseback riding. Mirkka started clicker training in Finland in 2002, as soon as she got her Hovawart puppy; she has never trained dogs using any other methodology. To learn about clicker training, Mirkka attended several courses offered by Clicker Trainers Club Finland. Through these courses she got to know other clicker trainers, and together they began training search and rescue using positive reinforcement and operant conditioning. In Finland, search and rescue is a competitive sport for working dog enthusiasts. Before moving to Canada, Mirkka and her Hovawart, Dea, attended a search and rescue trial—and won with highest marks! Tracking and obedience training are also close to Mirkka’s heart. In Canada, Mirkka and Dea received their Tracking Dog (TD) title in 2008. Mirkka has competed successfully in obedience and Rally-O trials in both Finland and in Canada.
Due to the guard dog instinct that is prevalent in the Hovawart breed, Mirkka has become well acquainted with the importance of positive reinforcement, particularly in counter-conditioning hard-to-train dog breeds in order to help them cope with the challenges of urban environments. Mirkka is focused on bringing clicker training to urban “hunters” and “guardians,” dogs that can become pleasurable life companions using positive reinforcement.
Mirkka has a PhD in biochemistry and her education as a research scientist has helped her in developing an analytical and systematical approach to dog training. What she is particularly attracted to in clicker training is how the training is based on scientific data about how animals learn. Mirkka worked for a few years teaching clicker training to pet owners while she was in Finland.
In 2010, Mirkka decided to take her education as a dog trainer to the next level by attending the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Dog Trainer Program. She graduated in October, 2010 as a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (CTP). Since then she has been running her company Mindful Behaviors offering both group and private training for dog owners. In July 2012, Mirkka cofounded Toronto Centre for Canine Education, a company offering specialty dog training for socially challenged dogs.