Guest: Dr. Michaela Hempen

Dr. Michaela Hempen began clicker training her own horses in 2010 following Alexandra Kurland’s The Click That Teaches program. In 2013, she became one of Alexandra’s online coaches; in 2016, she published a German version of Alexandra’s online course. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Michaela organized clinics with Alexandra in Germany and Italy. She also organized “Science Camp,” a unique conference experience featuring Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, Mary Hunter, and Alexandra Kurland. In 2020, Science Camp became a virtual event. In 2021, Alexandra invited Michaela to co-teach some of her virtual clinics, and in 2022 she co-presented with Alexandra at ClickerExpo.

Michaela is passionate about balance and classical dressage, a passion she shares with Alexandra. She is particularly inspired by Anja Beran, a well-respected classical dressage trainer based in Germany whom she visits frequently. Michaela has earned a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine and an MSc degree in equine science. Her MSc thesis on the environmental control of crib-biting in a horse was supervised by Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz. This work is ongoing with support from Dr. Rosales-Ruiz, Alexandra Kurland, and Mary Hunter, and strongly influences Michaela’s current approach to training.

In this episode we discuss:

  • A question from one of my favorite listeners about a stereotypic/compulsive tail chasing behavior in her dog.
  • Brainstorming steps one might take when unpacking a stereotypic (I’m practicing my language!) behavior problem.
  • Taking a baseline to help with staying objective about the training.
  • Identifying and testing possible variables that might be part of the antecedent.
  • Considerations when selecting a goal or replacement behavior.
  • Layering in relevant pieces of the antecedent or trigger while maintaining a clean loop.
  • We also get a little bit deep pondering on how much power really have to influence behavior, even ones we’d never thought we could affect.

Links mentioned:

  • Low, M. (2003). Stereotypies and behavioural medicine: confusions in current thinking. Australian veterinary journal, 81(4), 192-198.
  • Plato, S. M. (2022). Comparing the pathology of equine stereotypical behaviours to obsessive-compulsive and related disorder in humans: An exploratory Delphi study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 248, 105571.
  • *Cunningham, A. B., & Schreibman, L. (2008). Stereotypy in Autism: The Importance of Function. Research in autism spectrum disorders, 2(3), 469–479.
  • Hall, N. J., Protopopova, A., & Wynne, C. D. (2015). The role of environmental and owner-provided consequences in canine stereotypy and compulsive behavior. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 10(1), 24-35.
  • Goldiamond, I. (1974). Toward a constructional approach to social problems: ethical and constitutional issues raised by applied behavior analysis. Behaviorism, 2(1), 1-84.
  • Layng, T. J., Andronis, P. T., Codd, R. T., & Abdel-Jalil, A. (2021). Nonlinear contingency analysis: Going beyond cognition and behavior in clinical practice. Routledge.
  • Layng, T. V., & Andronis, P. T. (1984). Toward a functional analysis of delusional speech and hallucinatory behavior. The Behavior Analyst, 7(2), 139-156.

Make sure to check out Michaela’s website for a detailed account of her work with Blondie and videos to see what their training looks like:

This podcast is supported by: Voilà! Pets

Visit the Voilà! Pets website and use code DFTT for 10% off of your order of sustainable, consciously-crafted treat bags.