Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TAGteacher Spotlight - Maggie Ouillette

Maggie Ouillette is a nurse, a dog trainer and a certified Level 2 TAGteacher. Maggie volunteers at the Michigan Humane Society helping to implement the Pawsitive Start Program. This is an enrichment program for shelter dogs to help them develop life skills that will make them more adoptable and will also improve their lives at the shelter. The dogs are trained using clicker training by volunteers. Before the volunteers can work with the dogs they must learn the necessary dog handling and clicker training skills.

Maggie has worked to develop tag points for the various skills that the volunteers need to learn. She presented the results of this work at a TAGteach seminar in Tonawanda NY in August 2009 for completion of the requirements for Level 2 TAGteach Certification.

You can download Maggie's project report from the files section at the TAGteach Yahoo discussion group to see all the tag points, what worked and what didn't.

Here is a video that shows some of Maggie's presentation:

Here is a video showing how TAGteach is incorporated into handler training. The dog gets a click for looking at the handler. It does not matter what else he is doing, if he looks he gets a click. He gets a treat after each click. The handler places the treat on the floor and after doing so, takes one step forward. The targets on the floor are to guide the handler so that she know where to step. After placing the treat on the floor, the tag point is step on the target. The tag sound for the handler is a different sound from the clicker used with the dog. The handler does not get a treat after each tag, her reinforcement comes from knowing she did the correct thing and from seeing the dog improve.

Here is what the finished skill looks like. The handler does not need to be tagged here, because she knows the skill (dog looks, click, treat on the ground, walk on):

For more information about Maggie please visit Serendipity Dog Training.

For more videos visit
Maggie's YouTube channel and the Pawsitive Start YouTube channel

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