Cues and Cueing
A note from Karen Pryor:
Sherri Lippman was an early adopter of clicker training. She is co-author and co-star, with Virginia Broitman, of the award-winning clicker training video, The How of Bow Wow! Sherri has been a presenter at ClickerExpo and at APDT.
While working in California at a wildlife rehabilitation center with a public display of educational animals, one of the challenges Sherri took on was the training of a long-term resident, a crippled raven that was fearful and unapproachable. The following account is, in my opinion, a dazzling example of ingenious behavioral management. Sherri taught the bird to recognize cues for necessary upcoming events, negative (netting the raven for veterinary care), harmless (cleaning and feeding), and positive (training). More to the point, she taught the staff and the many volunteers to present the cues reliably. Read on to see what happened.
For many years, we have preached about the importance of training according to Good Agility Practices. What that means is making sure that training is permeated by focus and intensity, and that your handling system is followed both during and in between exercises. This philosophy of training is not only true for agility training, but provides benefits for all kinds of training.
As a newcomer to the sport of dog agility, I couldn't wait to train my dog, Jessie, to perform all the obstacles. Clicker in hand, I jumped in with great enthusiasm. Jessie learned to perform jumps and tunnels in no time, and the contact obstacles (A-frame, dog walk, and teeter) came along quickly. We were attending weekly classes, and also doing some practice sessions on our own. Soon we began running short "courses," or series of obstacles.