In companion animal training, positive reinforcement is when trainers use rewards, often in the form of treats or praise, to evoke desirable behaviors in animals. For example, if you give a dog a treat every time he sits, Fido is likely to start sitting without being asked in hopes of getting a reward. Since animals don’t quite speak our language (and we are still learning to interpret theirs!), trainers have devised a different technique in order to communicate with them.>
Clicker training is a communication method that uses positive reinforcement to encourage our animals to perform desirable behaviors. With this method, owners can teach their pet to do anything from simple obedience to complex agility moves. Clicker training is a marker-based technique in which the “click” sound indicates to the animal that the desired behavior has been performed. When the animal hears the click, he or she knows the correct action has been taken and a reward will follow!>
The magic of the clicker comes from consistency and precision. Clicking at the exact moment the animal performs the behavior lets the animal know precisely which behavior you want. It is often too difficult to provide a treat exactly when the behavior is occurring, so trainers use the click to mark the behavior and then have time to provide the treat. The click means, “Yes! You got it!” and then a reward follows. If you click too soon or too late, you may be encouraging the wrong behavior. Practice your timing by watching television and click every time a reporter says a particular word or every time an actor touches his hair. >
In clicker training, no punishment, force or intimidation is involved. Incorrect behaviors are ignored and desired behaviors are encouraged with food rewards, affection or even play time. Research shows that animals retain learned behaviors better when there is no correction. In clicker training, the animals make the choice on their own to do the behavior: they are basically training themselves!>
Reinforcement Ideas for Ferrets!
Find a favorite treat for your ferret that isn’t difficult for him or her to consume. Many ferret treats can be bulky and take some time to chew, so using small edible treats will make training more simple and efficient. FuroVite is a great reward for training because it is a vitamin gel. It is not only healthy for your furry friend, but can be dispensed in small amounts. Ferrets also LOVE the taste! Make sure whatever you use is very tasty and motivating for your little companion. A ferret that is eager to learn has his ears pricked forward and shows interest. He may even do his infamous ferret happy-dance! If his ears go flat, he squirms or avoids you, suddenly scratches himself or yawns, then he probably isn’t impressed by your treat so you’ll need to find something better. Never force your ferret to participate in training. If he doesn't seem interested today, spend some time playing with him instead and try again tomorrow. >
In the beginning, let your ferret know that the click sound means a reward is coming. Click and give your ferret the reward (the treat can be placed on the ground if he is over-excited or nippy). After a few click and treat pairings, the ferret will begin associating the sound with the imminent reward. Now, wait for your ferret to do something--any behavior can be fun to reinforce. If he takes a step forward, click and treat! If he gets on his haunches, click and treat! Soon, your ferret will start performing the behavior you have chosen to reward. He gets it!>
The Game Is On!
Ferrets Can Learn Tons with Clicker Training
Clicker training your ferret allows him to have positive interactions with you and strengthens your bond with each other. Ferrets are naturally curious, so any new behavior is an exciting new adventure!>
Tips for Training
If you have additional questions about clicker training, visit www.clickertraining.com for advice from the clicker experts!>