Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TAGteach and Lad Lake

Recently I read an article on the website of animal trainer/behaviorist Karen Pryor entitled "Yes, But Does This Work with Kids? How TAGteach Made a Difference at School and Home". TAGteach is something I've been familiar with for quite some time, but this article summed up quite nicely the concept and how it can be applied as a tool for children.

TAGteach is basically clicker training for people. It allows the teacher to break down the whatever is being taught into small steps with each step being reinforced -- just like it would be with animals. The difference is that with people the teacher can articulate to the student specifically what the steps are.

I just started a new semester with my Lad Lake program in which at-risk boys come to HAWS twice a week to do training with shelter dogs. One of the problems I've run into with my previous Lad Lake attendees is that they want to skip steps in the training process. For example -- instead of building on a duration stay and setting the dog up to be successful, they always want to move away from the dog right away. Many of these kids lack patience and self control, and it's more difficult for me to get them to move a bit more slowing in their training steps than it is with the students I work with in my family manners classes.

I've decided to use TAGteach concepts to help the boys define specific steps in training the dogs to do behaviors -- recently I sat down a wrote out the stepts for sit, down, leave it and stay and put together a demonstration video to show them.

Today was the first day that the boys worked with shelter dogs -- we worked on sit and down. And I found that the steps I wrote out served as a good reminder for myself when coaching them so that I could help them help their dogs be successful.

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