Duck training experiment - 4/11 update - fast learners

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Duck_feeder, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

    Oct 22, 2009
    I recently decided to try to train one of our ducks, Moxy, a blue runner. I'm documenting my processs and results in hopes that we can all learn from this experiment. Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    My goal is to teach Moxy:
    1. Peck a specific color on command
    2. Not eat peas until I tell her she is allowed to.

    #1 should be possible with enough dedication on my part.
    #2 may not be possible at all, but if I pull it off that pretty much proves that you can train a duck to do pretty much anything!

    I am using a clicker training approach. You can google "clicker training" if you aren't familiar with it.

    So far I've had two training sessions with Moxy each about 20-25 minutes. I'm breaking the usual rule of teaching only one trick at a time because #2 might never happen and it can be frustrating for Moxy. I want to be sure to end training on a positive note so I'll finish with color training as that is much easier.

    Day 1: I worked on teaching Moxy to associate the clicker with a reward. Within a few minutes she learned that trying to take the pea from my closed hand was a waste of time and only went after the peas when I used the clicker first (successfully taught her clicker = treat!!!). Since we were only 5 minutes into the training I decided to start teaching Moxy the "wait" command.
    I started saying "wait" then showing her the peas in my hand. If she went after them, I quickly closed my hand and said, "no". When my hand was about eye level and about 8" away she didn't go after the peas half the time so I used the clicker, said "good", and gave her the treats. I ended the session with letting her have a bunch of peas.

    Day 2: Moxy started sitting on eggs today (they were not even her own eggs. I'm not even sure if she laid any this week!) so she was in a bit of a bad mood because I cleared out all the eggs.
    I started by reinforcing clicker = treats. Then I practiced the "wait" command again. No new progress with the "wait" command today. I started introducing her to colors by printing blue, red, and green circles on a sheet of paper and saying the color before I put the pea on the circle. I had a hard time keeping her from standing on top of the circles... I'll need to think of a way to make this easier... Again I ended the session with a bunch of peas.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011

  2. Alicia G

    Alicia G Songster

    Sep 29, 2010
    Nova Scotia
    Perhapse when teaching her the different colors place a pea on the coldred circle you want her to peck. Then as soon as she pecks at it, use the clicker and then give her another treat. I have a mixed drake that waits on command and I got a tell ya it wasnt to bad once he understood the whole concept! Good luck!
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  3. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

    Oct 22, 2009
    Quote:That's my goal! Right now I'm just getting her used to the colored circles so she'll expect to get the peas on the paper and stop charging at me and standing on the paper. [​IMG]

    I have a mixed drake that waits on command and I got a tell ya it wasnt to bad once he understood the whole concept! Good luck!

    I'd love to see a video of that if you have any!​
  4. DuckLover179

    DuckLover179 Waddles & Puddles

    Nov 28, 2010
    So, do you think you can get grown ducks to bond better with you? I have two ducklings (Almost ducks) that are scared of me, except one of them seems more interested in me than the other, do you think if I separated them for a few hours a day, and play with one, that it will bond better with me? It would make things a whole lot nicer, if at least one of them liked me! [​IMG]
  5. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

    Oct 22, 2009

    Two of our ducks (Vinny and Ollie) we get when they were a few months old. Nettie and I spent alone-time with both of them every night for a few weeks and they quickly learned to trust us. Ollie still isn't as friendly as the other ducks but it has a lot to do with being the top duck in the flock (she's all business - constantly keeping watch for trouble and keeping tabs on the other ducks. lol)

    Clicker training is all about building trust between you and your pet. Even if you don't plan on training them to do tricks, it might be worth trying to help build trust and develop a stronger bond.

  6. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

    Oct 22, 2009
    Day 3 update:

    Moxy regressed a bit and wasn't showing any signs of associating the clicker with treats. So today all I did was work on associating the clicker with treats:

    1. Use the clicker then give some peas.
    2. Move my hand as if I was using the clicker and open hand with no treats.

    The response I'm looking for is: Moxy hears me use the clicker with my right hand then immediately move to my left hand for her peas. Right now she doesn't move to my left hand until I open it. When she starts anticipating peas in my left hand after she hears the clicker, I'll try teaching her to wait and identify colors again.
  7. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

    Oct 22, 2009
    Day 4 update:

    I focused on associating the clicker with treats again today and noticed that Moxy taught herself a "trick"!

    I had the clicker in my right hand and the peas in my left hand. I held my hands about 3 feet apart.d
    Moxy would stand waiting in front of my right hand begging for me to use the clicker.
    As soon as I used the clicker, she'd step back and lean towards my left hand.
    When I opened my left hand to give her peas, she'd quickly turn around step towards my left hand and eat the peas.
    When I closed my left hand she immediately turned around and walked back in front of my right hand again!

    So now she knows that during training, she's supposed to wait in front of my right hand and receive treats from my left hand. She knows not to wait by my left hand!

    Tomorrow I plan on letting her warm up doing the exact same exercise then switch hands to see if she knows what to do.
  8. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    I was watching a documentary on a zoo recently and saw how they were training an alpaca by using a clicker and treats as rewards. I will be interested to continue reading your progress on here.
  9. Duck Mad

    Duck Mad Chirping

    Mar 13, 2011
    This is brill [​IMG] loving reading this ... I think cause ducks ban be so cheeky etc they must have a clever brain inside them, and when you talk to them they vocally respond, so yayyyyyy to bringing the best out of these ducks [​IMG] gonna start on the training soon, been so busy, and need to spend proper time with them.. my young muscovy is as bad as child! she litrally puts everything in her beak! lol she will sit for ages just playing with material.. she might be under finding things training [​IMG] .. dont ya just love these interesting duckies [​IMG]

  10. The Duck ABC's

    The Duck ABC's Songster

    Feb 5, 2011
    Just wanted to say that ducks have different color perceptions as we do. Their spectrum looks different. I would take the colored items and hold them underneath a black light to make sure they are distinguishable underneath it. That should take care of that issue. Love the idea of training them. I know they can learn tricks, it just takes time and tons of bribes.

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