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
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