Miki completed the KPA DTP program in January 2020 in Maui, Hawaii. She remembers her wonderful classmates from all over the world. As English is Miki’s second language, teaching a group class in English was a challenging assignment. “All of the other students supported me, however, because classmates all helped each other. It was a great experience!”
Training visually impaired dogs is Miki’s professional specialty. Her business BAWedu (Better Animal Welfare Education) focuses on educating animal professionals about training this special category of animals. An online school, BAW Academy, is also available. Training with her now-deceased blind dachshund, Nono, helped Miki improve her training and build training plans for visually impaired dogs. Miki and Nono were successful in passing trainer-certification exams in Japan, despite others’ poor expectations of them. “No one expected us to pass. No one believed that a blind dog could learn the behaviors, like retrieve, that were part of the exam. No one helped us. It took us three years, but we passed all of our exams!”
There is limited information available about training blind dogs. “Their difficulties and their abilities are often misunderstood,” Miki reports. She shares her own experiences and advice through her writing and on her website; she also provides “safe and fun” training tutorial videos on YouTube. Miki has worked with variety of blind dogs and their people across the globe. A future goal is to write a book in English: Clicker Training for Blind Dogs. Miki says that what she has learned at ClickerExpo, especially, has widened her view and built her critical thinking skills. “I’ve gained flexibility and confidence in training and behavior modification.”
Miki now sees positive reinforcement as her ABCs, the foundation of her interactions. “When I see or think of behavior, in humans and in animals, I focus on the desired behavior.” With that focus, Miki can construct a plan to change behavior. She concentrates on selecting the best reinforcer for the learner, striving to share the learner’s or listener’s perspective.
Miki loves thinking, learning, and teaching about safe and kind animal behavior. She is always working to update and improve her skills and knowledge. COVID-19 has impacted Miki’s life and business, making it difficult for her to travel around Japan to share positive training or invite professionals from other countries to present seminars in Japan. She has had to make many adjustments within her training business. The pandemic led her to create her online school, however. Miki hopes to return to her primary interest of spreading the positives of clicker training across the globe—and find time to write the book—this year.
Miki would love for ClickerExpo to be held in Asia, maybe even Japan, one day!