Friday, January 26, 2007

Popp Culture

In a recent series of radio ads by a local telecomm company, the daughter of the company founder talks about the values instilled in her by her parents - most importantly, that school is where you must learn how to learn.

At class on Monday night, several of us had an interesting conversation on the various motivations and experiences training our dogs. One viewpoint in particular centered on the difference in training dogs using more traditional corrective methods versus the clicker method of positive reinforcement used by Helping Paws.

Sue, one of the most experienced of the foster homes in our class having trained two previous dogs for Helping Paws, related her thoughts at the first class she attended as a new foster trainer. Sue told us she had to tell herself to keep an open mind as the teacher for that class explained the clicker method. And then she told us about Tara and Rue, a graduate team that have done great things together. About how Tara has been able to teach Rue many new cues that assist Tara in her specific needs. Ordinary things, like opening and closing the blinds in her apartment and retrieving a can of soda from the refrigerator, that become extraordinary when performed by a dog for the human they love.

Sue then pointed out that she believed the clicker method allowed Rue and Tara to develop those skills because Rue had been trained to learn how to learn, not how to avoid making a mistake.

What a tribute to Helping Paws and the people that work with us weekly for two plus years, teaching us to teach our dogs how to learn how to learn. Can I say the same? Am I still learning new cues years after my formal training has ended? More importantly, am I helping my children and my co-workers learn how to learn?

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