Dog Training

Chicken Training

April 18, 2024

We trained baby chicks to better understand dog training! Animals require in-the-moment feedback, motivation is key (not all dogs have the same motivation), and having an end goal with your training will make sure the path you’re on will get you there.

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Puppy Training Principles Podcast

Episode 75: Chicken Training

We trained some baby chicks to learn principles that applied to dog training.

Chick training and dog training have so many similarities. Today, Lorelei and trainer Abby take over the podcast! Did you know you could train a chick?! Well, we did exactly that! Our Cornerstone trainers worked with chicks for 3 weeks and trained them to do certain things, like peck a red dot. We learned how animals require in-the-moment feedback, motivation is key (not all dogs have the same motivation), and having an end goal with your training will make sure the path you’re on will get you there.

How Abbie Came to Work for Cornerstone Dog Training

1:45 Back story about how Abbie started with Cornerstone. Abbie has been working with dogs ever since graduating from high school. She started at a doggy daycare and was working there at the time that her sister came to us for dog training with a dog named Flower. Her sister decided she didn’t want the responsibility of owning a dog and so gave Flower to Abbie, who stepped in and finished the training program with us.

We could tell that Abbie had great handling skills. We hired her to help us with some office work in the business and gradually she started working with us more and more. She started by learning to train puppies through our Puppy Training program and eventually added working with older dogs through our Chaos to Calm program.

Chick Training

One of Abbie’s favorite training activities we have done with Cornerstone trainers was teaching little chicks to pick a red dot for food. There are so many training principles you can learn through the process!

Where Did the Chick-Training Idea Come From?

4:42 Jason is a Psychology major and took a class that involved training rats and chickens! Yes, literally. Jason’s rat was named Rizo (which he taught to cross a tightrope). As he trained these rats and chicks, he understood the learning process on a deeper level that decades later he still remembers. The way that dogs learn is similar as well!

So we recreated the class on a small level by having our trainers work with chicks.

How We Set Up Chick Training

6:20 We had the chicks for 3 weeks with the end goal of having the chicken peck the colored dot. (Not to worry, we had someone ready to give these chicks a home at the end of the 3 weeks).

Abbie created boxes with a smaller box of chicken food that slides in and out. The reward is food. It takes time and practice. In the podcast, Abbie describes how this process works to teach a chick to peck a dot.

Even our kids got in on training the chicks!

Dogs Live In the Moment

10:23 Just like we saw in training chicks, dogs are also in-the-moment animals. They need direct and clear feedback from you in the moment of a behavior, using methods a dog can understand. You can’t just sit down and have a conversation about what you’re expecting. It requires action and patient repetition in the very moment of a behavior.

In dog training, especially with puppies, you want to mark any desired behavior with some sort of marker, like a clicker. We find it simple to use the word “yes”. You have to practice with the timing of the marker word “yes”. It takes practice. With the chicks, we didn’t use any words and instead would just slide the food drawer out the second we wanted to mark a desired behavior.

What Motivates YOUR Dog?

12:13 Get to know what your dog likes best as a reward. Not all dogs will respond to food. Some dogs do better with rewards of praise, touch, or play. The yes marker will help them know what behavior you are looking for…the behavior that gets them a reward.

Start With the End in Mind? What is Your Dog-Training Dream Result?

14:17 Jump into training. You will see results, just make sure you know what your end goal is! What is YOUR red dot? If you get clear on what your end goal is, you can stay motivated as your dog gets closer and closer.

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