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