Tag Archives: Animal Learning

Human Animal Bonds for Life

Human Animal Bonds for Life (HABL), a grassroots 501c3 organization was started in 2015 by yours truly with the mission of:

  1. educating the youth on dog safety
  2. promoting force free ways of communicating with dogs and
  3. eradicating the use of aversive techniques and tools in pet dog training

It all started when I attended a guardian ad litem training in order to volunteer for the Humane Society’s Paws in the Court program.  This program allows children involved in negligence, verbal, emotional and physical abuse to spend time with a dog before he/she testifies in order to ease the child’s stress.

There I learned the tremendous benefit that a dog can offer a child and how many children in our community really could use the interaction of a dog.  I left there inspired to start something wonderful and two years later, in the summer of 2017 we launched our first ever dog training summer camp at Rocco’s Pack Dog Training.

Through the camp,  children (ages 7-12) are afforded the opportunity to teach and learn from rescue dogs. The child serves as an ambassador for the dog’s adoption and for force free communication. Children also walk away with conflict resolution and problem solving skills that serve the child later in life. Rescue dogs leave the program with a solid foundation of household basic obedience training that will enhance the dog’s chances of adoption.

In 2018, we are aiming to offer the program to children in dependent care by raising funds through City Dog 5K, HABL’s signature fundraising event taking place on February 25, 2018.  Read more about this event by clicking here.

If you are a rescue organization or a local shelter interested in collaborating to provide rescue pups for the program, a parent or guardian interested in enrolling a child in the program or child welfare orgainization interested in partnering up, learn more at our website humananimalbondsforlife.org  and contact us via info@humananimalbondsforlife.org or 786-309-5109.

Clicker Expo 2013: Ten Years of “WOW”

Karen Pryor and I
Karen Pryor and I

Clicker Expo, held twice a year and organized by the Karen Pryor Academy is a three-day conference where dog trainers and others that work with animals can attend to learn about trends in the industry and participate hands-on with their dogs on various learning labs.

I attended ClickerExpo in San Francisco this past January and was impressed with many aspects of the conference but the two main overarching pieces that I particularly appreciated was:

1) the scientific approach that premised most of the talks and

2) The emphasis on modeling with our human counterparts the very principles that behavior professionals practice and preach about .

I won’t bore you with the scientific approach piece, but I will tell you about the  impact #2 had on me.  As a professional dog trainer that applies the use of positive reinforcement principles, we reward desirable behavior with consequences that the subject deems valuable.  The theory is that behavior that is reinforced is likely to repeat.  So we go on and on talking about the importance of catching our dogs doing the right thing so we can reinforce them, and how it’s important to watch our dogs closely so that when desirable behavior occurs, we’re there to say, “that’s right, that’s what we wanted”.  In essence we teach people to be good observers of behavior and good at reinforcing good behavior.  Well, this is all good and dandy, but what about people?  How many times have we complained to our significant others about a million things but forgot to mention how grateful we were for that one tiny little thing that we really appreciated?  If you’re a manager, how many times have you focused on that one thing that your employee did wrong and forgot to mention how thankful you were for that one thing he/she did that made something else go really smoothly?

ClickerExpo 2013 in Sn Francisco, California
ClickerExpo 2013 in Sn Francisco, California

At ClickerExpo, we had opportunities to get better at reinforcing good human behavior.  Every time, someone did something you really appreciated, you had a chance to provide them with a raffle ticket.  The more raffle tickets you got, the higher your chances of winning the raffle items.

Just to give you an example, right before I attended the conference, I became deathly ill with some weird flu/virus type thing and one particular day of the conference, I had to exit several times in the middle of lectures so as not to disrupt the lecture with my cough and in order to prevent my germs from being shared.  Well, every time I did that and someone noticed, I got a raffle ticket.  For those that brought their dogs, every time someone caught them in the act of doing something right, whether it was exiting the room if the dog barked, or working at the dogs’ level in terms of space, they had an opportunity to get a raffle ticket.  And in general as you met people and conversed, anytime anyone did or said something you really appreciated, you had the opportunity to give them a raffle ticket.

When working with dogs, it’s really fascinating to see how well this principle works, but after ClickerExpo, I was pretty amazed to see how well this principle works with people too.  I got so good at it, I ran out of all my raffle tickets before the conference was over and I  got so many raffle tickets, I won a prize (maybe cause I was really sick, or maybe cause I was really nice–okay fine, probability had a little to do with it).  Nonetheless, it gets you modeling the principles of the work that you do day in and day out.  At the end of the day, you’re living the positive reinforcement life not only with dogs, but with the species that you can’t ever get away from…PEOPLE!  What a concept, it pays to be nice to people too.

To learn more about clicker training click here.