Hello! My name is Shelley Wood and I have been training dolphins, sea lions and manatees for 30 years and I’m exposing to the world the TRUTH about how dolphins are really trained. I’ve personally trained countless Dolphin Discovery dolphins, sea lions and manatees and I have personally taught countless marine mammal specialists how to train successfully. Since Dolphin Discovery was born in 1994 I have been on the front lines teaching dolphins and their trainers. I helped developed the interactive programs you enjoy and developed and taught the ABC Animal Training system, the Dolphin Discovery animal training school to teach all marine mammal specialists.
So what is the TRUTH? The truth is probably not as controversial as you have heard, or read. It’s actually a loving and mindful approach. The animals learn and choose to participate because they have CHOICE. They can swim away from the trainer, they can play with the other dolphins, they can refuse any and all behaviors. In other words they don’t have to participate in the programs if they don’t want to. Yet, I can hear you asking, but they are almost always perfect! They show up at the platform when the program begins, they perform behaviors asked by the trainer, they go here they go there ALL THE TIME! I can’t even get my dog to do any of that!
Everybody has the exact same comment after either watching a dolphin demonstration or doing an interactive program is WOW! They are so well trained, how do you get them to do that? I wish my kids or dogs were as well trained!
The answer is the dolphins CHOOSE to do the behaviors we ask of them because of all the good things that occur to them. The dolphins show up at the platform in front of the trainer for every session because of all the FUN positive things that happen. Sure, fish is one of the reasons, we certainly do feed our marine animals during interactives and demonstrations however, the animals quickly learn they will receive their diet regardless of how they perform. So, then, if a dolphin eats it's full diet if it chooses to do it's own thing, or participates in the swims then why does the dolphin willingly show up at the platforms and perform the behaviors?
Because the trainer builds a mutual relationship of trust and respect and learns what each individual dolphins likes, and the list is endless. I’m sure you have seen this while at any of the Dolphin Discovery locations. The trainers themselves are extremely motivating to the dolphins, they WATCH our every move and find us entertaining, and YOU, my dear guest, can be motivating as well! Each person who receives a foot push for example, that’s a different experience for the dolphin every time. Every person reacts to the Foot Push in a different manner and the animals find this reinforcing. This training thing is a GAME that the dolphins enjoy. And to be a FUN GAME only good positive things happen. The dolphin can play with a toy, the dolphin can follow a kayak, the dolphin can swim fast, jump high or make funny sounds!
Not yet convinced this is the TRUTH? Then don’t take my 30 years of experience and ridiculous number of animals I have taught, try it for yourself! The Power of Positive will change your life.