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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Monday, May 13, 2013

Chicken Training and Mechanical Skills

I just finished watching Terry Ryan's "Poultry In Motion" DVD -  it was fabulous! Terry is primarily a dog trainer but has been running "chicken camps" for many years (some of the time with Bob Bailey.)

What I loved about it, is that Terry really, really stresses perfecting your mechanical skills as a trainer and practicing without an animal present so that you develop your body stance, hand movements, trainer position, timing, presentation of food delivery etc. before you start working with animal - even a chicken!

Alexandra Kurland stresses this also but it's just so easy to "ignore" this part when you're at home and have eager animals waiting to be trained.  Terry's DVD was a great reminder!

The last piece on the DVD was about teaching a chicken colour discrimination and it was super interesting.

Inspired, I decided to try this with one of my donkeys. I chose to work with Dorica who is fairly clicker savvy and well... she was amazing!

Here's what I did:  (in a nutshell but I will video and explain in more detail)

I started with a blue disc, clicked and treated Dorica many times for touching it with her nose.  When she was good at this, I raised the criteria by changing my position and also changing the position of the blue disc. Then I added a cue just as she was touching the disc: "blue" said with the same inflection each time.

After she was fluent with this, I added a red disc but kept cueing her for "blue" ignoring when she touched red. Then I took away blue and repeated the whole thing but this time for the red disc.

I taught her a cue for "red" using the same shaping process that I used for the blue disc but I used a different vocal inflection for "red."  I positioned the disc in different spots and I also asked her to come to me to get her reward.  I stood very still and quiet - she did the moving. 

When I put both discs out together, I was able to cue her for each colour and she was able to distinguish between blue and red - it was freakin' awesome! I hope to get this on video - so exciting!

Here's a link to Terry Ryan's website:  www.legacycanine.com/workshops/chicken-camps.html‎

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