Debi Davis, service-dog trainer and ClickerExpo presenter (Minneapolis, November 2005), writes training articles for national and international magazines and is an Internet mentor for service-dog teams in training. In 1998, she co-founded OC-Assist-Dogs, a Yahoo Group Internet discussion list for those clicker training service dogs, now the largest service-dog discussion list on the web. In 1999, her papillon, Peek, became the first toy breed and first clicker trained dog to earn the Delta Society's National Service Dog of the Year award. In 2003, Peek was among the Pedigree Paws to Recognize Canine World Hero nominees. Peek and Debi were also profiled on a segment of the international television program Dogs with Jobs. A member of the APDT, IAADP, IABC, and the Delta Society, Debi lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband and five clicker trained dogs. Recently, we spoke to her about clicker training assistance dogs and her experiences attending ClickerExpo San Diego.
-Five-year-old SHIP program participant
Many clicker trainers have experienced it. You are training your dog, clicking and reinforcing for desired behavior, making swift progress toward your goal, and communicating with your animal at a level you never dreamed possible. Suddenly, it dawns on you that clicker training is so much more than a training technique; it is a powerful new way of interacting, a technology and a philosophy rolled into one-that can change lives.
Ann Edie is blind. And, like many blind people, she used a guide dog to help her get around. When her dog suddenly died, it was a very sad thing for Ann. Not only did she miss her special friend, but she also missed his help. What would she do?
She could use her white cane, of course. And she could get another guide dog. But dogs can work for only a few years. So she came up with a different idea: "What about a guide HORSE?"
The olfactory power of dogs has made headlines again this month, with new research supporting our canine friends' ability to "sniff out" the presence of cancer. While these findings continue to astonish many, one aspect won't surprise fans of operant conditioning: the dogs in this study were clicker trained.
Sheri Soltes is the Founder and President of Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. She pioneered positive training in the assistance dog industry. Recently, we spoke to her about her new training facility and her plans for the future.