Michele Pouliot has trained dogs for more than three decades. Since first joining Guide Dogs for the Blind in 1974, she contributed to the organization in many different ways, and today is the director of research and development. Michele is also a champion in canine musical freestyle and participates in equestrian combined driving events. This year, we're proud to welcome Michele to the ClickerExpo faculty. We recently spoke to Michele about her breadth of experience and success.
Laura VanArendonk Baugh won Grand Prize at the first-ever Canis Film Festival, a contest designed to showcase innovative animal-training videos. This unique festival focuses on short films of seven minutes or fewer that educate animal owners and professionals about the power of training based on the science of operant conditioning.
Miniature horses are a special breed. According to horse owners, miniature horses are not descended from ponies, but developed from regular horses. Most of them are about the size of a large dog, and, like some large dogs, they make great guides for blind people.
From Bettye Baldwin, Pleiades Pony Farm, TX: I'm getting pretty excited about this clicker stuff. I specialize in teaching timid riders or those that have lost confidence so anything that can help in that is exciting. I've been dinking with the clicker training this past week while waiting for your articles to arrive. I used some of the target training I read about in your on line articles with an old school pony of mine that is a real case. He was in complete charge of his people for many years and did NOT appreciate my trying to exert any control. He was a mugger first class and had NO sensitivety whatsoever. Within moments I had him focusing on touching the target instead of searching my hands and pockets for the treats he knew were there. I haven't given him treats by hand for the 2 years I've had him, but he would still try to "mug" me, so observing this change in a matter of moments was incredibly exciting. I'm going to attempt to train the youngest of the Arabian mares I bought last month to put her halter on herself. She is coming along pretty well as is, but this should be good for both of us.
I like to start with something that's very simple and easy to understand. I'm going to teach the horse to touch his nose to an object. I've found this works really well in part because it is outside the horse's normal training program. It's so different from anything else he's been asked to do, he has to pay attention to figure me out.