When I was little, I became mesmerized by Dr Dolittle.
Dr Dolittle could talk to animals. He’d ask them questions, they’d vocalize, he’d nod wisely and translate their chirps, whistles, woofs and meows to plain English, to the astonishment of those present.
It was my all-time favourite movie, when I was nine.
Side-note: the 2,5-hour film from 1967 was broadcast on TV at a time in the evening when I was supposed to go to bed about three-quarters of the way through. So after one hour and 45 minutes, dad said: “time to go to bed, Karolina”.
And I pleaded. Threatened. Screamed.
To no avail; there were to be no exceptions to that bedtime hour. I remember being lead to my room, still protesting loudly. And then I spent several hours having a loud and ugly meltdown alone in my room, way past the time that the film ended, and at some point somewhat triumphantly shrieking at the door: “If only you’d let me watch the whole film I’d be asleep by now!!!”
She was quite furry and partly covered in scales, and also had a beak, and so she was named Animal.
Her last name was Welfare.
Animal Welfare had four fairy godmothers, who all gave her precious gifts.
The fairy godmothers came from different scientific realms, and they were called Applied Ethology, Veterinary Medicine, Affective Neuroscience and Applied Behaviour Analysis – and each of them offered priceless, irreplaceable gifts to Animal Welfare.
Here’s four quick tips (discussed in more detail here):
learn from many teachers
learn from many individual animals
learn from several animal species
keep an open mind
Another useful approach is to acquire overall good trainer habits. And in the video below (chapter 11 from the final module of my online course Advanced Animal Training) I discuss what I think are 30 such useful trainer habits.