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A Valentine Letter to the Obama Girls

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Editor's note: The Obama family's new dog has made nearly as many headlines as the president himself. When the First Daughters have their furry friend, how will they train him?

valentine puppy

Authors and clicker trainers Evelyn Pang and Hilary Louie—who happen to be kids themselves—encourage Sasha and Malia Obama to choose clicker training.

Evelyn and Hilary learned dog behavior and training with Lynn Loar, Ph.D., in SHIP, the Strategic Humane Interventions Program, in San Francisco. They had so much fun learning about dogs, how to be safe around them, how to train them, and how to enjoy them that they wanted to bring the information to other children through their writing and illustrations. The pair teamed up to write Good Dog, which Karen Pryor endorsed by saying, "This book, created by kids who clicker train, tells other kids how to use clickers to understand and communicate with their pets: a great idea and a useful and amusing book."

Here, Evelyn and Hilary write an open letter to the First Daughters, urging them to consider clicker training. It's hard to argue with this persuasive missive!

San Francisco, CA
February 1, 2009

Dear Malia and Sasha,

Congratulations to you and to the rest of the new First Family. We are Evelyn Pang and Hilary Louie, the authors of the newly-published book, Good Dog! Kids Teach Kids About Dog Behavior and Training. We heard that you are planning to become dog owners, and we would like to introduce you to our book. Our book teaches kids about dogs' body language and calming signals. It also explains how to be safe around dogs, and how to train them without punishment.

When we were close to your ages, we started learning about training that uses positive reinforcement. It's called clicker training, because you use a clicker to mark good behaviors. Clicker training makes training and learning fun. The clicker makes a short, sharp sound to mark a good behavior, and every click earns a treat. Clicker training is very successful because it lets the dog (or other learner) earn treats for figuring out the behavior that the trainer wants the dog to learn.

Shortly after learning about clicker training, we wrote two brochures about it. We then combined our two clicker training brochures, added a section about dogs' calming signals, and wrote our book! At age 15, we are now authors; we hope to continue writing for others in the future.

Owning a dog is one of the best ways to become responsible young women. But when you have a dog, you not only learn to be responsible, you also gain a new friend!

We hope that you will read our book and learn more about dogs. Our book can help you build a good relationship with your pet. Who knows? Maybe you can be like us, and write a book about your dog in the White House!


Evelyn Pang and Hilary Louie

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