On my earlier post, I mentioned about Clicker and Target Training being introduced to Kermit, my Senegal Parrot. There’s a tremendous improvement in the training. Many have learned about Target Training from articles online, books from library and even a post titled “Introducing Target Training” written by me dated a few months back. But many still unaware and have little information about Clicker Training, some readers emailed me asking about details on Clicker Training.
Clicker Training is not something new in the animal behavior training culture, it has been established many years back. Currently now Clicker Training is commonly used in training domestically bred dogs, thus is never difficult to see pet dogs stores selling all sort different designs of clickers. I’ve got my clicker from the local pet dogs store too.
What is a clicker?
A clicker is actually a simple device that creates a unique distinct “click” sound and is easily recognized by all animals.
And What is Clicker Training?
Clicker Training is a process use to train animals (like dogs, birds, cats and even chickens) with the use of a conditioned reinforcer – the clicker. The conditioned reinforcer which is the clicker, which is able to mark the desirable behavior and rewarding it.
Clicker Training is actually based on both principles of Pavlovian Conditioning (also known as Classical Conditioning) and Operant Conditioning. Palvovian Conditioning (or Classical Conditioning) is a form of associative learning which means animal can learn to associate sound with food. For example in Clicker Training, we can teach our parrots to associate the clicker sound with treats. As for Operant Conditioning where our parrots have to perform a series of right behavior in order to receive treats.
In summary, based on the 2 theories, the clicker act as a stimulus bridge and a also a reinforcer which bridge the clicking sound as treats. Whenever the parrot perform the right behavior, the clicker can easily mark the desirable behavior at that very moment and rewarding it accordingly. This way letting the parrot understand that whenever it does the right behavior it gets treats.
Before we can effectively deploy clicker training on our parrots, they have to undergo a simple procedure called Clicker Conditioning or “Charging” the Clicker. Clicker Conditioning allows our parrots to associate the click with a positive experience which is the treats.
Steps to conduct Clicker Conditioning:
When I tried introducing the clicker to Kermit, I did not hastily move into the step of Clicker Conditioning. Instead I allow Kermit, my senegal parrot, to play with the clicker himself. This was to ensure that Kermit was not frightened by this “foreign” object, unfortunately Kermit was quite afraid of the striking blue clicker and refused to get any closer to the clicker.
I tried placing a few sunflower seeds around the clicker, this was to lure Kermit close the clicker. I allowed him to enjoy the treats but with close proximity to the clicker. After couple of minutes, Kermit was able to beak and try picking up the clicker on his own. The very first psychological obstruction was removed, but I foreseen another ahead which is the clicking sound from the clicker.
Basically I tried sound off the clicker. Bingo! I was right about my hunch. Kermit took off and so afraid of the clicking sound. I tried another by muffling the clicking sound by clicking the clicker under a sofa cushion. The clicking sound was much softer and less alarming. Kermit was able to accept the muffled but with a little trembling on his legs.
I had to consistently calm him down and talk to him and repeatedly introducing the clicking sound slowly. After couple of few sessions, Kermit was able to accept the clicking sound. This was when I’m really certain that I can go about moving into steps on clicker conditioning.
Basically moving into clicker conditioning is a breeze. It is fairly simple, basically just click and offer the treat immediately. Repeating the same sequence for about 2-3 session with 10-20 repetitions. Kermit was able to link the clicking sound with the treat immediately after the first session, thus I don’t see much difficulty.
My advise for introducing the clicker training, always exercise caution and eliminate all the possible fears in the parrot itself. By doing so will ensure that the parrot is not stress up and its safety is ensured, then it will be more willing to learn and accepting new things. It’s all about patience.
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