Charging and Using a Clicker
Now that you’ve seen what a clicker looks like (refer to previous entry re: clickers), here is a video of a clicker in action.
In this video, we are charging the clicker. This means giving the clicker value by rewarding each time I click. I am not waiting for or asking the chickens to do anything, I am purley making the association that the click sound means something great, wonderful and rewarding.
Note that I end after a session of 7 or 8. This is to let the hen “soak up” what she was just exposed to. I will begin several training sessions with charging up the clicker, reminding them the sounds means a reward.
By using the clicker training technique, I plan to teach several hens to load into my pickup and travel with me to the ranch to assist with bug control, especially grasshoppers.
Taking into consideration my criteria (distance, distraction, duration), I have chosen to begin this training near the coop where the chickens are comfortable, or a low distracting environment.
While Winnie (the yellow lab in the background) stands guard in the background, I begin with making the association that click means treat. Once I get a couple of subjects interested, I move closer to the ramp.
There I pull out a more valuable treat which is happens to be old hamburger bun this session. I make the attempt to click every time a chicken picks up the bread.
Once I got a hen on the ramp, I realized the hamburger bun was too big and bulky which created the desire for the prize getter to run away, not share her food but not want to stay on the ramp. I decide that little pieces of grain in my hand are easier to work with. As the hen moves ahead up the ramp, I click and reward her with a treat. With the click, I am marking the behavior (walking up the ramp) that I like. To provide the likelihood that behavior will happen again, I follow the click with a reward.
To build fluency, I will slowly increase my criteria. Stay tuned.