The six mothers and their 15 children are housed in a transitional living apartment complex for battered women. In many ways, these are the "lucky" families. These courageous women have made the difficult decision to leave their abusive partners. They have spent up to 30 days at the battered women's shelter and, subsequently, have made the even more difficult decision to not return home—ever. In seeking a safer life for themselves and their children, they live in TLP, the Transitional Living Project, run by the Greater Cincinnati YWCA. For up to two years the women are offered job counseling, employment support, skills training, and therapy groups.
Just for Shelters
Clicker Training uses a clear, distinct signal that is unemotional and consistent. Animals learn quickly from an occasional click and treat, here and there, for desirable behavior such as sitting instead of jumping on the kennel door, or being quiet instead of barking. The more information an animal receives about its environment, the more calmness and confidence that animal will display. The calmer and more confident the animal appears, the sooner it will be adopted.
From Charleen Cordo: I am a member of APDT and have been clicker training and teaching clicker training in my classes for about the past 7 years now. I also have the youth at the Colorado Boys Ranch learning to use it. We work with shelter dogs whom we adopt out to appropriate homes through a program called New Leash on Life. These are "throwaway" dogs but they respond so well that they adapt readily and appropriately into their adoptee families after we work with them for 9 to 10 weeks.
Trying to desensitize and tame a hissing, feral cat, whether kitten or adult, can be a slow business. You can speed it up immensely with the clicker. Use a highly-preferred treat, such as canned tuna or any freeze-dried fish cat treat. Approach the cage, let the cat retreat, put a pea-sized treat in the front of the cage, click, and instantly back away.
Susan Carney is Community Programs Manager at the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham, New Hampshire. Spurred by the success of other New England shelters, her organization is planning to incorporate clicker training in their program. Earlier this spring Susan wrote to our Shelter Resource Center, "I've taken the hints and information from your shelter pack and I think we will be OK. I am really excited about all that I have learned. I am going to try to take a crack at training the staff myself. Our first training session is May 6th."