Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Clicker training for animal husbandry

The above title is descriptive of a very important way that positive reinforcement training is used.
Although it's so much fun to train for agility work or tricks or trail walking etc., it's really so important that we take the time to train for veterinary procedures too.

And I think it's a fair generalization that many of us overlook the nuts and bolts until we need them - like trying to load your donkey into a trailer because you have to get her in NOW, but you haven't practiced or
if you have practiced trailer loading, it's only been in one location on a sunny day, not in a downpour on the road or some such thing.

So part of training is to vary the circumstances and in the case of vet work, vary the people too.  In other words, sure your donkey will stand still for you, but will she stand still for the vet?  Case in point:  my work with Dorica prior to her West Nile virus vaccine did NOT pay off!  Soooooo sad!  And completely my fault!
I thought I had her ready (we had about five practice sessions) but her nerves got the better of her "stoic" nature and she became a rodeo queen!

I'm sure she was remembering her colic episode (2 IV injections  and nasal-gastric tubings) and a recent dental float ( IV sedation) so how could I possibly expect her stand still when the same vet approached with yet another syringe?

We got it done but chock up another bad experience for Dorica.  Now she's due for her Tetanus shot.  It's my job to work her through this.

There are amazing stories of zoo keepers training many species of animals to present their neck or rump or shoulder for blood draws, and injections of all sorts.
Just Google "positive reinforcement for animal husbandry" to read about practices and accomplishments!

1 comment:

  1. this is something I need to work on. After Daisy had a reaction to a rabies shot, she's been terrified of needles since!

    I've been working with my dog on the same principles, teaching her basic handling, looking into her ears, and brushing her teeth!