Clicker Training the Rooster

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by joneus, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. joneus

    joneus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    10/24/11-

    I SHOULD have been working on my sons Halloween costume, but instead, I dutifully quartered up some grapes, grabbed my *clicker and headed outside. My 5mo EE cockerel, Puddy, has been showing behavior that I'm concerned about and I'm hoping to change it, or at least control it, in a positive way. He is not a pet, exactly, but he IS a treasured member of the flock. For the past 2 mornings, he has greeted me at the coop door with an attitude: growling, pushing "his" girls around, and giving me that annoying side shuffling wing display that just screams, "bring it on". I've tried smacking him for it, then separated him from the girls with my body language, and felt bad about it. I also tried carrying him around while I went about my morning routine (do you know how hard it is to open & pour a bag of cereal with a chicken under your arm?). Both methods adjusted his attitude quickly and he was positively sweet to me for the rest of the day.

    Still, I want to try something that wont make him resent me, potentially hurt or kill him, or make my arm cramp up after 10mins. Whether you believe chickens are dumb as a post or brilliant as can be- one thing I've noticed is that they CAN learn (why else would they all come running whenever they hear the back door open?). Any creature as highly food motivated as a chicken appears to be may even be trainable.

    Which brings me back around to the grapes and the clicker. Puddy LOVES grapes. Its the one food that he will steal from the girls and doesnt always share. Knowing that, I found myself in the back yard, surrounded by 6 curious, begging, bearded faces- grape slices in one hand, a clicker in the other. Puddy has learned by now that he gets treats last, so I handed out a few smaller bits to the girls. Then came Puddys turn. Click & treat, "Good Boy!"

    I did this a few times until they became accustomed to the sound. Within a few minutes, the girls were ignoring it, but Puddy seemed to know what it meant because he hung out in the back of the group until he heard it and THEN came over for his treat. I upped the requirement. At this point, all I want him to do is turn away from me and stay turned away until I "invite" him to come closer. So I withheld the treats and waited for them to turn away.

    Click! Treat! "Good Boy!"

    Within 5 minutes he had made the connection (which, I must admit, was less time than it took for my dog to figure it out): Turning away = funny noise = food! To test him, I made him wait a bit longer for the click and was sort of surprised by what he'd learned. He turned away, but when that didnt get him an immediate reward, he'd look over his shoulder at me, then look away again. Click! Treat! "Good Boy!"

    I have no idea if this is going to work. I'm sure they have some sort of long term memory (back door opening = food) but I dont know how long this will get stored in that little chicken head of his. All I can do is try, right?


    I really dont want to eat him... [​IMG]

    *clicker- a small plastic box with a bit of metal that clicks when you press on it- NOT a remote control!
     
  2. sutillman

    sutillman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting idea! Will be waiting to see how it turns out. Chicken's are a lot smarter than most folks think!
     
  3. Farm_Maven

    Farm_Maven Chillin' With My Peeps

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    that's neat! here's another trick to try with him too. Slowly and gently push him into a squat with your hand, (same position more or less his hens would take for mating). Hold him there til he stops struggling and relaxes. Also, when your in the run with the chickens, herd him around, make him move away from you, and you "walk thru" this maneuver (in other words, don't just stop when he moves away, keep moving). They respond to this the same way horses do(the first to "move away" is the loser of the contest in the dominance game). I have never had a problem with my BR roo. I started doing these things while he was still young. I have a BCM cockerel I got later that challenged me twice, I started doing these with him and no problems since.
     
  4. greymane

    greymane Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very interesting idea. That is great!

    [​IMG]
     
  5. joneus

    joneus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yep. He's always got at least a little bit of an attitude in the morning, so I will herd him around the run until he goes back into the coop & then I stand there & use my body language to keep him there. He's much more pleasant for the rest of the day, but I'll still walk through him when I approach the flock just to reinforce my dominance.

    I'd do the submissive squat thing, but he's hard to catch (he's not a pet). The only reason I was able to grab him this morning is because he hopped up on the roost after I'd herded him around the coop.

    He's still young yet and, from what I understand, they sometimes go through a "rebellious" stage and need to be taught manners. HOPEFULLY thats all this is and the clicker training will at least "mark" the behavior I want out of him. Its gonna be a long 6 more months. [​IMG]
     
  6. Farm_Maven

    Farm_Maven Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yep. He's always got at least a little bit of an attitude in the morning, so I will herd him around the run until he goes back into the coop & then I stand there & use my body language to keep him there. He's much more pleasant for the rest of the day, but I'll still walk through him when I approach the flock just to reinforce my dominance.

    I'd do the submissive squat thing, but he's hard to catch (he's not a pet). The only reason I was able to grab him this morning is because he hopped up on the roost after I'd herded him around the coop.

    He's still young yet and, from what I understand, they sometimes go through a "rebellious" stage and need to be taught manners. HOPEFULLY thats all this is and the clicker training will at least "mark" the behavior I want out of him. Its gonna be a long 6 more months. [​IMG]

    yeppers. But, it's gonna be so interesting seeing how he progresses!!
    have fun!
     
  7. hmmcc123

    hmmcc123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree that chickens are smart. This is very interesting! I can't wait to read updates!! [​IMG]
     
  8. sbtgal

    sbtgal Out Of The Brooder

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    Yup, I had the same experience. The chickens learned targeting ridiculously fast! The dogs... not so much. I keep threatening to train a chicken to run an agility course and give demonstrations just for fun. If I ever get around to it I'll post a video.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You can use a name instead of clicker. I have birds named Eduardo, Sallie, Spud and Speach that will respond only to their names. I can call them out of a free ranging flock with minimal effort. I can have school kids do same so they have pretty good ability to distinguish human sounds.

    I do not think the clicker technique will work to suppress sexual advances / aggression. At 5 months of age, the two behavior pathways are hard to tell apart and the former is a reward in itself.
     
  10. Coopa Cabana

    Coopa Cabana My Coop Runneth Over . . .

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    There are a lot of videos on YouTube showing clicker-training for chickens.
     

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