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Clicker training!!

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  • Clicker training!!

    Hello All!!

    Im here for a bit of advice for those who have used clicker training. I am an 8th semester senior animal science student currently enrolled in a behavior and training class. I am going to be training via clicker training for the rest of the semester but i have never actually used a clicker for formal training. i understand how to use but just looking for some further advice from those who have trained.

    Anyways- i was looking for some advice from those of you who have trained horses...or any animals using a clicker. the catch is; i am training my Jersey heifer to do different things and seeing as she is much like a horse; i would ask the horse folks just how they did it.

    She already well halter broke as i have shown her a few times. I am looking to train her to do a variety of things such as:

    -Give kisses
    -Walk with me without being led.
    -Stay & Come
    -and to bow- now she probably can't get down on one knee like horses can to bow, but i have faith in her that she will be able to bow her head to the ground
    -I am also going to try to attempt to teach her to shake her head yes or no but thats just going to be something extra

    I am going to be using grain as a reward since cows don't really like treats but i was wondering if anyone had any advice for clicker training their horses, dogs, etc that i could transfer to teaching my heifer. It should be quite interesting but i have lots of confidence in her!! Thanks in advance for any advice!! Its very much appreciated! If anyone has any extra tricks/commands to teach her that are reasonable---they are very much welcomed!

    Anyways without further adew- here is Rudy!!

    http://s70.photobucket.com/albums/i9...1.jpg&newest=1

    http://s70.photobucket.com/albums/i9...rent=063-1.jpg

  • #2
    no advice, but your little cow is just DARLING!!
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

    PONY'TUDE

    Comment


    • #3
      I doubt training a cow to give you a big sloppy kiss will be difficult at all.

      Knowing cows, I would start with Yes and No. It's just an irritant then discontinuation of an irritant. Very easy. Just make like a fly

      Bowing should be possible. Maybe will have to be both knees though. I can't see the pic from work. How limber is she?
      Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

      Comment


      • #4
        She's adorable! Keep us posted on how the training goes.
        Crayola Posse - Pine Green
        Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
        Autumn Caper (April 27, 1989 - May 24, 2015)
        Murphy (April 28, 1994 - May 5, 2017)

        Comment


        • #5
          Your cow is cute! Is she Jersey?

          Anyway, really the most important thing in clicker training is to pay close close attention and click ONLY the behavior you want, RIGHT WHEN it occurs. Timing is everything, as well has having a crystal clear picture in your mind of the behavior you will reward.

          One time I taught my horse lick the target, instead of touching her nose to it, because she was licking while I clicked, and then when she did it a second time, I clicked again like an idiot thinking it was "close enough" to the desired behavior. Undoing the licking thing was a pain!!!

          My number 2 tip is that it is a bit easier to teach a positive action (Do X) than a negative action (Don't do X). "Stand/stay" can be a challenge, at first they can't figure out what you're clicking. A good idea is to practice this when she might be a bit tired and inclined to stand around anyway. For a horse, that would be after you ride him. I don't know what makes cows tired.

          For a reward treat, maybe a bit of pellet feed, like calf manna or something, that cows like. Just a couple of pellets at a time though.
          Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            thanks guys! A friend of mine actually taught her heifer to bow. it wasnt quite like a horse, she just put her head to one leg. it was several years ago but it was done.

            She's currently on a pellet grain in additon to her silage that she loves so that should do. she loves people and already knows be by face and voice. I can walk right in the barn and call her name and she gets right up and comes running.

            It only took me 2 days to halter break her so she should be fairly easy to teach different things (i hope).

            I know cows are preety good at giving sloppy isses but i was hoping to just teach kiss as a "target", as in a person's cheek is a target and she would touch to it.

            Yes, she's a Jersey! i'm excited to do all this with her. We have to make a video of our finished training so when she's all done, all be sure to share it with everyone

            Thanks again for the advice

            Comment


            • #7
              She is a cutie! Maybe you can post videos once you've trained her?

              I used to do some clicker training with Prozac Pony. HelloAgain's advice is right on the mark.

              On a related note, there was a rider who used clicker training at the Scottsdale Police Mounted Unit's "bomb-proofing" clinic I went to last weekend. She was dutifully clicking away as her horse did things. One of the officers kept saying, "Be sure to praise your horse... be sure to praise him."

              I think he didn't "get" that by clicking, she *was* praising him.
              Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
              "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

              Comment


              • #8
                What a cute heifer!

                Rudy is adoreable! Please tell us more about her.

                I read a long time ago that jersey cows were bred to have more family friendly characteristics and very more intelligent in a kind way towards their family. Their milk had very high butterfat for making cream and rich food.

                I think my grandfather may have had one, because he spoke well of them. He was a "fresh" cow dealer back in the beginning of the 1900's. His own herd were herefords.

                There were a number of threads recently about operant conditioning, (clicker) You might look them up on the search feature and the archives. They gave a number of books, websites and resources.

                I use a variety of cluck sound like a champagne bottle popping, rather than a thing I have to hold in my hand. I want both of my hands free when I am training.

                Another tip I learned was to test the treat to see what the animal likes best and the order of preference. The jackpot treat is the oh! Wow! and only used for spectacular mind connection, so the animal doesn't yawn, and lose interest.

                I suggset that you ask cadriver about the many things she has taught her driving team. She is phenominal (Sp?)She requently posts over on the para/rehab/disabilities forum.
                Intermediate Riding Skills

                Comment


                • #9
                  As other responders have said, in the beginning it is easier to teach positive / active behaviors. The animals seem to "get it" faster when they are doing something and being rewarded for it. Teaching the "absence" of behavior (stand still and do nothing) is a more advanced skill, best saved for a little farther into the process.

                  So positive things you can teach might be to touch named things on command. So, touch her nose to your hand (command = nose for my horse), or touch a ball (and get her to move towards the ball to touch it ... a soccer playing heifer), touch her nose to her knee, etc. You can also teach movement commands: back, side, forward, etc.

                  I taught one of the barn cats to walk on a leash and come when called using clicker training. In his case, food was not working as a treat, but a scratch behind the ears was a more than suitable substitute in his mind.

                  *star*
                  "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                  - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by whicker View Post
                    Rudy is adoreable! Please tell us more about her.

                    I read a long time ago that jersey cows were bred to have more family friendly characteristics and very more intelligent in a kind way towards their family. Their milk had very high butterfat for making cream and rich food.

                    I think my grandfather may have had one, because he spoke well of them. He was a "fresh" cow dealer back in the beginning of the 1900's. His own herd were herefords.

                    There were a number of threads recently about operant conditioning, (clicker) You might look them up on the search feature and the archives. They gave a number of books, websites and resources.

                    I use a variety of cluck sound like a champagne bottle popping, rather than a thing I have to hold in my hand. I want both of my hands free when I am training.

                    Another tip I learned was to test the treat to see what the animal likes best and the order of preference. The jackpot treat is the oh! Wow! and only used for spectacular mind connection, so the animal doesn't yawn, and lose interest.

                    I suggset that you ask cadriver about the many things she has taught her driving team. She is phenominal (Sp?)She requently posts over on the para/rehab/disabilities forum.
                    THANKS! Her sire is reg. jersey Gaby's Hallmark Showtime and she is out of a registered jersey cow named UConn Maxx Reanne. She is a full, registered jersey. She is actually owned by my college and housed at the dairy i work at. She is one of the two jersey's i plan to take home when their milking careers are over (she has quite a few more years though!!!). She just turned 1 yr in december.

                    I halter broker her at a few months of age. She has been easy, easy to work with and she truly loves showing and everything that goes along with it (including going on field trips!!).

                    Her actual name is Rudolph as she was born in december but i can't stand that name so i call her Rudy. Everyone now calls her Rudy and the name kind of stuck.

                    Jersey's are popular because they have a high butterfat content. this is great for coffee products and extremely imporant to rich, creamy ice cream. They can typically be more difficult to handle. they honestly resemble a pony in their attitudes. Most of them are very, very personable and as long as you work with them as youngsters; they are very gentle. They are about medium pony size and i personally think, are about 10x better than holsteins.

                    they last longer in a working herd and tend to have less feet and leg problems. i think they are quite flashy looking cows and I grew up around welsh ponies so i have a special place in my heart for the jersey breed .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've done clicker training with my dog and horse and found that it works much better when you find the right reward that they will do ANYTHING to get. For my dog it was hot dogs. Saw probably 2-3x the progress as compared to using milkbones. For my horse it was pears. Sounds like an intersting idea to modify the treats and feed multiple kinds depending on the behavior. Or even randomly I suppose to keep more of a drive.

                      Also, as others have mentioned timing is everything. You wan the click to go off right when they initiate the desired behavior. I've heard that photographers are really good at clicker training because they already have the timing down.

                      I've never really thought about teaching "stand" or "stay" with a clicker... that sounds a lot more challenging. Perhaps I should attempt once and for all to train my horse to not paw in the cross ties....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I love Jersey cows!!!
                        I think it would be really easy to teach her to fetch!
                        I taught my mustang to do it fairly quickly - but start with rewarding the tiniest bit of interest in the object (a look, a touch, etc)
                        Once you get her fetching, you can teach her to put a ball in one of those toy basketall hoop. Bet she'll be a real crowd pleaser!
                        You could also teach her to get on a pedestal, hold a flag, etc
                        I agree with using something she finds tasty.
                        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Read read read!

                          Don't Shoot the Dog has a lot of references to horses and dolphins, not just dogs, and is a great book about learning behavior!

                          If you can figure our the natural behaviors of the species, and utilize learning theory, you can pretty much teach any animal (including people) to do anything that's within their physical capacities!

                          Good luck!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            That's great that you're learning about applied behavioral analysis. I would say nearly everything about clicker training horses will apply to cattle. I would suggest picking up Alexandra Kurland's 'Clicker Training for Horses'. This will help with step by step instructions, and let you know about common pitfalls to avoid. Also, try the yahoo group 'Clickryder' - you can search the archives for any issue you're having.

                            One of the first things I try to establish is space awareness. For each click, provide the treat at arms length in such a way that she has to take a step back to eat it. Don't tease with it, or lead her with it, just put your hand where you would like her head to be when she eats it. Never treat in close to your body - this will help her learn that mugging you/nuzzling etc never earns treats. (And be sure that if she does nuzzle you, you don't treat).

                            The next thing is targeting. You can pick any easily picked up object - and orange soccer cone, a supplement lid, a frisbee, whatever. It's not important. One thing that has been helpful for me, is putting a small piece of one of those pool 'noodle' toys on the end of my dressage whip. Then, teach her to target the noodle piece, not the whip portion. Once she's really good at this, you can use the target stick to prompt other behaviors. I used this to teach my mare to bow by placing the target lower to the ground, then between her front feet, then just behind her front feet etc.

                            You can also use targeting to teach leading. Good luck - there's lots of info out there to read. Try:

                            http://www.equineclickertraining.com/

                            http://www.canisclickertraining.com/clickertraining/

                            http://www.theclickercenter.com/

                            Also, if you have some academic contacts, Texas A&M has some great applied behavioral analysis going on. Go to Clickerexpo if you ever have chance - its AWESOME.

                            Have fun!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              To teach her to stay start of having her target a mat with her feet. First one and then both. Then lengthen the time that she has to stay on the mat to get the click. Then introduce the cue and start to reduce the size of the mat. The mat can be anything that she will put her feet on and that will stay in place.

                              Are you luring or shaping to get your behaviors? If you are luring, you will want to get rid of the lure as soon as possible. Remember to look for the smallest movement toward what you want and reward that. The biggest mistake in clicker training is moving too fast or taking too big a step from the behavior you have been rewarding to the new behavior that you now want to reward.

                              Clickertraining.com has a lot of useful information.

                              Have fun and good luck.
                              Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are. - King Soloman (970-928 B.C.)

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                stay and come will most likely be the last behaviors we teach. she stands pretty well, i could probably just leave her and walk circles around her no problem. I think i'm first going to use my first or hand as a target and teach her that. since most of my meneuvers will be taught first with a voice command and my hand as a target (especially kisses), i think we should have no problem.

                                I have a friend who taught her sheep to do everything by clicker haha so i have faith in myself and Rudy <3

                                The only thing cows really like is their grain so we will have to use that as a motivator. Ive tried everything from soaked apples to carrots to molasses home-made horse treats---and they dont care for them lol. fussy little moo's haha.

                                Thanks so much for all the advice. first day of training starts today!!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I just want to say, I would expire from teh cuteness if I saw a cow that could pick up a thing -- like a stick, or a ball, or for added hilarity, a milk carton -- and then go put it in another thing like a bucket or milk crate.

                                  I would die of squeeeeeeing if I saw that.


                                  Just a suggestion.
                                  Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Your little cow is beautiful, and lucky to have someone like you to care about her. I have always wanted a family cow.

                                    I just got interested in clicker training myself and had my first session with my 2 backyard horses today..they are bored in winter ( I don't ride in the cold and snow and don't have an indoor place to ride) and they just loved this new game!

                                    Taught both of them (had to separate them and do it one at a time--but they could see each other) to touch a target with their noses in just a few minutes. The one who went second--my Arab mare--got it on the first try, after watching the Canadien gelding's lesson!

                                    I'm sure it will go well for you because you have a positive attitude and love your animal.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm working on stay-in-your-stall-with-the-door-open with my mare right now. It is a modified dog stay.

                                      1. stand in front, click/treat

                                      2. stand in front, count to 2, c/t.

                                      3. stand in font, count to 4, c/t etc till you get to 10, then raise the counting increments by 5 before c/t.

                                      4. take one step back, come forward c/t.

                                      5. take 2 steps back, come forward c/t.

                                      you get the idea.

                                      for leading without a halter or lead, start with the halter and lead but try very hard to keep it loose. C/t for walking .exactly. where you want her. Treat in place for this also. next step is to toss the lead over her shoulders, then unsnap it and leave it over her shoulders, then take it off her shoulders.

                                      good luck and let us know how it goes!

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