Dr Panksepp is a neuroscientist who studies emotions in animals. I was very interested to see that part of his talk also focused on the importance of PLAY and fun in teaching and learning…..he is also the man who discovered that rats laugh when tickled!
Alexandra Kurland has worked with horses for many years. Her talk was about helping your horse to overcome anxiety and allowing your hands to feel relaxation.
Phung Luu works with birds and on free-flight shows. With birds, your training has to be truly excellent, or they can simply fly away!
Thanks Katie for all you hard work taking and posting notes!
Another question posed at the Q&A session was ….Does Clicker Training bring out qualities in animals that you don’t otherwise see?
Kay Laurence’s reply related to their human trainers. She feels that it makes for better people. This is because it demands that we improve our skills and learn more ourselves. She also feels it makes us much more compassionate. Julie Shaw remarked that CT gives pet owners permission to enjoy their pets and develop a great relationship
Kathy Sdao commented that CT allows animals to show behaviours that reveal their true personalities, while Ken Ramirez said that he sees comfortable and happy animals.
Horses chortle and chuckle, expressions that no other training has ever produced according to Alexandra Kurland.
Karen Pryor described how CT teaches animals to think, pick up concepts, combine cues and teaches them to be more observant. It makes for excellent relationships and trust. She talked about the creative porpoise experiment (which you can read about this in detail in her book “Reaching the Animal Mind” or have a look at her video here) which gave her the biggest surprise of her life. A porpoise was Clicked and treated only for a novel behaviour each time. The porpoise went through it’s repetoire and then showed behaviours never before seen. It appeared that the porpoise thought up new behaviours in the tank at night!
Finally Michele Pouliot described how guide dogs who have been taught to find things for their blind handler, lead their person to the correct spot. If the handler reaches out and keeps missing the item the dog pushes the person into the correct place for the hand movement that they are using….not a taught behaviour. This has been shown to happen with many dogs.
So it seems that CT causes both human and animal to learn more, develop their relationship with fun and to allow expression of personality and creativity. What has been your experience with your animals?