Over $500 in cash prizes and a video contract await the producers of top videos that showcase innovative and informative animal training featuring positive training methods. Everyone can qualify for entry, provided that each demonstrated trick or feat is achieved through force-free training methods, and submissions can feature any species.
It’s a sunny spring afternoon in New England at the annual meeting of a group of animal behaviorists. I’m sitting on a folding chair alongside a small corral, watching some demonstrations with horses. My friend Tim Sullivan, curator of behavioral husbandry at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, is sitting on my left.
We’re watching a demonstration of clicker training. A calm old police horse is led into the corral and turned loose. The trainer stands on our side of the fence. She has a clicker, a bucket of feed, and a huge target stick that looks like a toilet plunger, with a big padded lump on one end.
My friends Leslie and John Hawkinson live in Golden, Colorado. They participate in a fifty-year-old riding organization called Westernaires. Leslie is an expert driver and traveled for years with the Coors beer eight-horse hitch of Belgians. For Westernaires, she has trained horses and ponies to pull carts and wagons and taught children and adults to drive them. John, an engineer, is a master at building and repairing wagons, stage coaches, and other rolling stock used in Westernaires competitions and performances. Their four children, now grown, were all Westernaires. My friends have always wanted me to see Westernaires, because from a training standpoint it's unique. Now I'm in Denver and I have time, and we go.
ClickerExpo announces the 2009 season of its highly popular conference series for animal trainers at every level, from new dog owners to professional zookeepers. If you've ever wanted to know how trainers bond with orca whales, teach sea lions to play soccer, or train a dog to lie down quietly outside the local coffee shop while they sip a cup of java inside, then ClickerExpo is for you.
Morten Egtvedt and Cecilie Køste, two of the newest ClickerExpo faculty members, are a married training team from Norway. The pair were early adopters of clicker training and are Scandinavia's leading authors on this technology. Morten and Cecilie have been top European competitors in obedience, tracking, and agility. Their clicker training school focuses on using clicker training to win in competition; teachers and students from their school are not just top clicker trainers, but also top-notch competitors in European dog-related sports. Morten and Cecilie edit and publish a full-color magazine on dog training, and publish and sell Don't Shoot the Dog, as well as many other clicker titles in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Finnish. Recently we spoke with Morten and Cecilie about their background and success.