This post was written by Veterinary Technology Chair Mary Oberson. The Small Animal Behavior and Introduction to Veterinary Technology classes combined to put on an animal behavior seminar at the Plymouth campus recently.
Students from the Small Animal Behavior class at the Plymouth campus presented information on building a better relationship with your dog recently. The class spent presented information taken from researching animal communication, learning theory, and training techniques learned throughout the quarter.
Observation at Cloud Nine Dog Training in Hopkins, Minn. was also utilized for the presentation. Students assessed training techniques and canine communication practices. The information taken away from these sessions helped the students provide a solid base to present on building strong relationships between owners and their dogs.
The class demonstrated positive reinforcement techniques to teach dogs the desired behavior, while controlling unwanted behavior by using a combination of environmental control and training tools such as head halters. The also discussed showed the importance of reinforcing right behaviors while ignoring undesirable behaviors, as most nuisance behaviors in dogs are repeated due to inadvertent reinforcement.
The Introduction to Veterinary Technology class contributed information therapy and service dogs to the seminar. The presentation talked about the role of therapy dogs, which
visit nursing homes and hospitals to offer support for patients, and the role of service dogs, which provide assistance to people with disabilities or health conditions to provide so that they can enjoy greater independence.
Students from that class visited Can Do Canines in New Hope, where they spoke with trainers and owners of these special dogs. The students took the skills they acquired to train Cami, a border collie, to perform an assistance behavior. The students used shaping and positive reinforcement to teach her to retrieve a towel and deliver it to a person who had just washed their hands. Cami demonstrated this behavior during the presentation with great enthusiasm.
Sarah Palm, a canine massage therapist and trainer, was also on hand with her Delta Certified Therapy dog Ruthie, to answer questions about therapy dogs. Sarah teaches the
therapy dog class at Cloud Nine and has been doing therapy work with her dogs for several years.
The overall goal of the presentations was to help dog owners to understand their dog and how to build a better relationship. Inspiring dog owners to invest time and training with
their dogs helps strengthen the human-animal bond. This bond is the key to keeping dogs in their homes and providing owners with a pet that can provide all the wonderful things that dogs bring to lives.