Do you want to train dogs? First train the chicken! (by Edyta Gajewska)

Do you want to train dogs? First train the chicken!

I believe that every per­son thin­king about pro­fes­sio­nal dog tra­ining, sho­uld first train chic­kens. I will even go fur­ther — any­one who’s job is to moti­vate effec­ti­vely not only ani­mals but humans as well. I am tal­king here about coaches, mana­gers, teachers and even parents, because each of us in some way is or will be “the tra­iner.“
When I talk about this to my friends the first reac­tion is of course — lau­gh­ter. And then a lot of questions, but why actu­ally train chic­kens for? So I first let them laugh out loud and then I explain what I mean.
Cer­ta­inly it’s not about teaching chic­ken to shake a paw, play cards or pull trol­ley in between the inte­rvals for egg bearing. It is not about teaching chic­kens at all (altho­ugh they learn very fast), but it is about teaching your­self how to train without using aver­sive methods. It is to convince your­self that much bet­ter, faster results are achie­ved by using methods of posi­tive rein­for­ce­ment. It is because the secret of an effec­tive beha­vior change invo­lves the appli­ca­tion of methods based on moti­va­tion, posi­tive rein­for­ce­ment, reward, instead of yel­ling, phy­si­cal force or punishment.

But why chic­ken? BIRDS DO NOT LET MANIPULATE THEMSELVES!

How many of you pres­sed your dog’s rump to teach him how to sit? Did you ever yell at your child because whole trip to the super­mar­ket was just a disa­ster with baby on your sho­ul­der cry­ing for a new toy?
Listen to this – you will never force any­thing on a chic­ken, so you will not be even temp­ted. Now tell me how many patience did you show while teaching your dog not to pull on the leash or your child not to write on the walls? How many of you would lose it and use the force? I think many – but it is really unnecessary.

Teaching this kind of cre­ature, in prin­ci­ple, sets the coach from the very begin­ning on the right track – posi­tive rein­for­ce­ment track. Tra­ining chic­kens shows that we do not need to use vio­lent methods to edu­cate others.

But why chic­ken? CHICKEN IS FAST!

Tra­ining chic­ken requ­ires tre­men­dous reflex and obse­rva­tion skills. Sup­pose we want to reward some spe­ci­fic beha­vior — such as “sit” in the dog. The dog sits and we say SUUUUPER and give him a treat. But it often hap­pens that it only seems to us that we reward “sit”, but from a dog’s “point of view,” it might have been some­thing else. Between the time that dog actu­ally sat and we said “suuuuper”, many other move­ments could have occur­red like lifting the paw, ect. So basi­cally – if I said “suuuuuper” pra­ising dog’s nice “sit”, but just before my “suuuuper” dog lifted his paw – I cer­ta­inly rewar­ded lifting the paw – not sit­ting. Reflex and obse­rva­tion are neces­sary featu­res of a good coach. Chic­ken is much faster than most ani­mals — if we learn on one of the most dif­fi­cult, other spe­cies will not be a pro­blem for us.

But why chic­ken? Chic­ken does not invo­lve emo­tio­nally with his coach!

Emo­tio­nal rela­tion­ship is often an obstacle during the tra­ining, the coach often does not retain the objec­ti­vity and the object tra­ined quic­kly reali­zes that he will be able to get away with many things. Chic­kens do not get atta­ched to the trainers.

But why chic­ken? Mista­kes made by the tra­iners reflect very quick in the chicken’s beha­vior.

Dogs are a very tole­rant. The dog will finally learn how to sit, despite of the trainer’s mista­kes. Chic­ken will not, either he will not learn any­thing or he will stop respon­ding to the tra­ining at all. By teaching chic­kens we quite quic­kly realize what mista­kes do we make and we cor­rect them very quic­kly.
To all inte­re­sted I recom­mend the book of Karen Pryor “Don’t Shoot the Dog”

See some prac­tice with chic­kens on the pic­tu­res and videos atta­ched from the semi­nary I atten­ded myself.

Tre­so­wa­nie kurczaka

Tre­so­wa­nie kurczaka

Tre­so­wa­nie kurczaka

Tre­so­wa­nie kurczaka

Tre­so­wa­nie kurczaka

Tre­so­wa­nie kurczaka