Pilates Can Help Your Riding
Pets & Animal Horses

Trick-Training Basics

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Everyone is a trainer.
Every minute of every day you're either training yourself or training others, even if it's just to maintain a habit.
Let's take a closer look at that, because it's important.
Your alarm goes off in the morning, and what do you do? If you're anything like me, you hit the snooze - maybe more than once.
Then, too rushed for a real breakfast, you settle for a doughnut instead.
Back home after a long day, and if you're a little distracted, you might forget and let the dog jump on you, or neglect to acknowledge a thoughtful gesture by your husband or kids.
Every one of these incidents serves to either reinforce or eliminate the behavior it's linked to.
Reinforce something enough, it becomes a habit.
That's why your dog jumps on your company.
Act to eliminate a behavior often enough, and your kids will never again take out the trash without being threatened.
What we repeatedly do creates what we and others around us become.
You've heard of self-fulfilling prophecies? The fact is, we determine our world and what's in it, for the most part.
Now you might be thinking this is really out there.
Maybe this training thing works on animals, but I'm above any sort of conditioning like that.
As a psychiatric nurse for the last 25 years, I can assure you that not only does this system work on both animals and people, it can produce immediate, lasting and beneficial effects without others even realizing their involvement! In my work on acute-care, locked-down units, I've certainly witnessed some dramatic events.
I've watched as small issues, which should have blown over, turned into huge crises with unfortunate outcomes: unnecessary violence, injuries, over-medicating, and often a worsened situation.
On the other hand, a few select staff could turn around even the most desperate circumstances almost single-handedly.
Early on I saw the advantages of eliciting cooperation in a kind manner, using gentle and fair methods.
I also became more aware of the effects my body position, gestures, voice, eye contact and attitude had on outcomes.
Allowing choices, maintaining dignity and promoting positive results increasingly became a part of my repertoire.
Trick-Training Techniques The Trick-Training program has three main parts: Shaping, Clicker Training and Positive Reinforcement.
Shaping is the overall process or the basic foundation; clicker training uses an indicator (a click or other sound) that tells the animal the desired behavior has occurred; and positive reinforcement in the form of treats energizes your animal and makes him more willing to participate.
Shaping is a way to introduce a behavior in a gentle and subtle manner.
It teaches small behaviors by growing and connecting them.
In order to shape a behavior, you have 2 choices: you can create it and/or capture it.
Simply by paying close attention to the animal's responses, you'll be able to identify those behaviors you might want to use in the future.
Creating and capturing resemble a steep staircase - the trials and attempts are the flat steps and as the animal catches onto the game, learning rises sharply.
Clicker training impressed me from the start, but there were a few disadvantages I could see: I didn't want to carry anything around in my hands, it wasn't conducive to riding (horses), and there always seemed to be a time-lapse between the response and click, from what I could see.
So instead, I substituted sounds - words and whistles - for my click.
You can choose whatever works best for you and your trainee.
Positive reinforcement is whatever irresistible treat you choose.
You'll need to pair the click of your choice with positive reinforcement - food usually - so the animal learns to work for your click.
And the click promises food, so be careful what you choose.
It should be a favorite treat for your trainee, but not something that will take too long to eat.
Keep in mind, too, that you must give a treat every time you click.
If you repeatedly, accidentally click and say "Good" for example, and no food is forthcoming, you're weakening the link and lessening the student's motivation.


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