Clicker training for rodents & co
Clicker training is a training method where the animal is rewarded with a sound instead of a treat. This “click” is made by a specially developed device, a “clicker”. The click is used as positive reinforcement (at the start, a treat is given at the same time) and is understood as a reward by the animal, even after the treat has been taken away. This method was first used with dogs, and then cats – since then, animal lovers have discovered that it is also a great training technique for rabbits, guinea pigs and birds.
Keep them on their toes!
Clicker training adds a bit of variety to your pet’s everyday life, encourages them to move and provides mental stimulation. Don’t forget that in the wild, all animals have to overcome a variety of challenges to survive – such as finding food and shelter, and looking after their young. Life as a pet is easy in contrast and sometimes even a bit boring, so small challenges are very welcome.
Start off slowly
If you want to train your rabbit or guinea pig with a clicker, it is very important that you don’t frighten them. A normal clicker might be too loud, so try with a normal pen or clicking your tongue. Sit on the floor with your pet otherwise you appear gigantic and scary. If your rabbit or guinea pig plays on its own, encourage the desired behaviour with a purposeful “click”.
Rabbits like to prod things with their noses. As soon as they nudge a ball, click and give them a reward. Once you have practised this a few times, they will go straight to the ball on their own. Although you can teach rabbits and guinea pigs a number of things by observing and clicking, keep in mind that you can’t expect the same results as from a cat or dog. They can only concentrate for a short period of time and are not physically capable of a lot of sport. Training should always be at an appropriate level and – most importantly – it should be fun.
By the way
Clicker training is also fantastic for parrots, budgies and canaries. Just like with rodents, it is all about the right timing and keeping within your bird’s capabilities. You can teach birds great tricks, including tricks that take advantage of their great colour recognition skills. You could train them to pick out a bowl of a certain colour with a click. Happy training!
Call into your local store today to discuss your small animals personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts