Saturday, May 8, 2010

Donkey Day & Chrome's Clicker Training

Picture taken 3-14-2010.

When I went outside to feed I found Zeppelin already in Chrome's stall so I just shut him in and started thinking. I knew I wanted to do something with him, but I didn't want to use the clicker in ear shot of Chrome. I've had this problem with Storm and Jackal before too and I never came up with a solution really . . . I just started training them separately, which is impossible with Chrome and Zep.

I got Zep's feed and tried hand feeding him, but he didn't want to come close to me since we were confined in the stall. He probably felt trapped and it didn't help that Chrome was pacing outside. I finally decided to just let him eat his feed out of the bucket while I was holding it. I'll do that for a while until he gets comfortable with me being in the stall with him. Then I'll proceed from there. If any of you seasoned horse clicker trainers have any tips on training them together without diluting the power of the clicker please let me know. I'd really appreciate it.

Picture taken 3-16-2010.

After feeding Zeppelin I worked with Chrome. We did target training first and I discovered something! The reason I'm having trouble getting him to target closer to the ground is because he's associated the outstretched arm with targeting. I forget how tuned into body language they are! I also realized that he probably has trouble seeing the tennis ball (I don't accept touches of the dowel rod as a target, only the ball). I think I'm going to leave that alone for now because I like the distance it creates between us with my outstretched arm and instead I'm going to teach him to target a small, orange cone. I want to eventually get him targeting the cone on the ground so I can work on 'sending' him to it. I'm hoping this will help us with stimulus control and also reinforce the voice cue (which I feel he ignores or barely notices). Anyway, that will be a while (or not considering how fast he catches on).

After that I worked on Grownups are Talking (which has become his default behavior). He has that down perfect. Then I decided to work on something new. I'm going to attempt something I've never done before and never seen done (if anyone knows of a Youtube video let me know). I'm going to basically 'target' his shoulder to my shoulder, so that he automatically positions himself on my left hand side with his shoulder even with mine. I have no idea if I'm making any sense. Anyway it went really well! He caught on so quickly!

Basically how it went is I walked away from him and stopped with my back to him and waited. And waited. And waited. He started out just turning his head away and held it there. Eventually he came closer and turned his head away. As he inched closer he eventually drew even with my shoulder and I clicked. Within minutes he was positioning himself perfectly every time I walked away. Then I worked on the following game. I forgot to work on stopping though. Oh well. All in all I think it went great! And to think when I started out I wasn't in a good mood and didn't even feel like training. I'm glad I did.


  1. Very nice.

    I have use "yes" instead of a click. Some say it is not as effective because it can not be delivered as quickly, but for your purposes with Zep it should be fine.

  2. Great progress! You sound like you're doing something very similar to the "why would you leave me?" I'm doing with Star at the moment. I'm clicking her for having her head at my shoulder. I worked quite a bit on this and am just introducing a stopping cue now as I wanted to get her thinking forward first.

    I know what you mean about worrying about diluting the power of the clicker when you have more than one clicker trained animal about the place. I think it can be frustrating for them but they do learn when they are being trained and when it's someone else turn. Or you could try using a different marker noise for each animal :)

  3. We have tons of experienced clicker trainers on the ClickRyder email list:


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