Saturday, August 21, 2010

Clicker Training

Clicker training is under way. Clicker training is reinforcing behavior you want with a click on a clicker at the precise instant the behavior happens followed by a reward.

I wanted to start with Beau because I want to get him back to letting me put a halter on him so we can go for walks outside the pasture. Also I want to train him to stand still while I trim his hooves or someone shears him. Basically it is gaining his trust that I won't hurt him.

So this morning early it was off to the barn to begin. When Beau saw me with a bag I didn't usually have and a clicker in hand he got nervous and didn't want to have anything to do with the training. What I didn't take into account was that it is Beau's job to notice anything different and be cautious. SO

When Mira volunteered to do training I took her up on it. She whizzed through target training so we went on to touching. With Mira I want to be able to gain her trust to let me pick up her feet since she is the heaviest and hardest to do work on. When I tried to touch her foot she lowered her head to butt. I then back tracked and tried touch shoulder- click- reward. That was fine with her so we did that a few times and then moved down the leg just a bit.

By the end of Mira's first short training session, Beau was watching out of the corner of his eye so I will try again with him after I work a few times with Mira and he sees that nothing bad happens to her.

After the training session I went down to the Farmer's Market and was talking to a friend, Catherine, and her husband and told them I was doing clicker training. They were interested in listening but didn't think it would be too helpful with their 130 sheep. Catherine's husband (I always forget his name) said they do "sick um" training. If their sheep are not in line they tell them they are going to have the dog sick um.

I can see their point but I am excited about the POSSIBILITIES on our farm!

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