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What’s a Chicken Camp?

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Date: July 17, 2009

Author: Ellen Sam

July 17, 2009 - Chicken Camp?  Why go to a camp with chickens?  Parrots … at least they talk and you can teach them tricks but chickens?  Well believe it or not, they can teach you a lot more than you think whether you are new to training or an old pro and have loads of fun!  

Did you know that you can teach them to peck a target that is a circle rather than a square or a triangle and then in the very same training session, train it to stop pecking the circle but now peck the triangle and still ignore the square?  Yes – extinction really does work!  Did you know that you can train them to follow a target stick and then use the target stick as a tool to take them from one obstacle/task to another like they were doing an agility course?  How about another favorite, peck a ping pong ball suspended on a string and then teach them to peck it harder and harder until the ball does a full circle. 

Timing.  We all know that the timing of praise, rewards, etc. is critical.  Dogs are very forgiving in this area.  It can be rather amazing that dogs still learn what we want even though our timing is off.  If you know that your timing is a little sloppy, get a chicken.  Chickens rapidly show you what happens if you do not “time” it right but they are also great at improving your timing too.  Timing also improves because you become more skilled in observing your training subject.

Chicken camp is a fun way to improves one’s understanding of learning theory and use of operant conditioning, mechanical skills of training, and the importance of planning out the objective of a training session.  Key word – invaluable!


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