November 14th, 2005

clicker training - conditioning of clicker day 2

First thing I did was to check YS bowl and the control and his weight.

YS bowl weighed in at 39.2 against 39.4 the late afternoon before with control bowl remaining at 36.5 gm. YS weight was 33.8 gm.

I was relieved that YS did eat the mash. That 0.2 gm might not seem like much, but that was dry weight of animal protein and fat. And plant protein and fat and vitamins A (from sweet potatoes), B, C and D and all kinds of amino acids. The dry mash even had taurine as high quality cat dry food was incorporated. I felt the insects that I supplied would not be enough to keep him at top health. There is just no way I could give him the 50 to 80 kind of insects and wrigglies he would get in the wild together with whatever would be in their guts. The dry mash I created for him was essential. Raw beef is 75% water, and insects up to 90% water. So that 0.2 gm that he ate in the morning was satisfying to me. So if the insects I gave were not enough, the dry mash remained forever in his bowl for him to help himself.

I will stop weighing the dry mash and the control dry mash.

I would just focus on the weight of YS from tomorrow.

I opened the mealworm pupae box to find lots of whiteys. I extracted some suris into another box for easy feeding to YS.

I click the clicker. In split second, YS eyes were on me and he in high state of alert. At call of "YingShiong come!" , he flew like a flash to my fingers to hover and get the whitey. He learned fast. It was the same for the next 3 clicks and whiteys. I did my thing for half hour and pressed the clicker with him flying to me to get his suri.

The next click, I stood up and handed the suri to him.

I have to remember I am "conditioning the clicker" and not doing recall training with him.

You recalled that YS was already flying to me for his treat and I got him to stand on my finger even before using clicker. But that time, he was clearly motivated by food.

Now, I am getting him to associate the clicker sound as a good sound, and food and nice things will come to him with that sound. You may say then why not forget the clicker and just use food.

There are a few reasons why the clicker is so important.

1 Clicking is easy and you can do that without even thinking of it, unlike holding a suri without it wriggling away to join escapees. By using the clicker, you can focus better on the bird, on the eye, and the nuances of body movement and if that bird is receptive to you on not.

2 Clicking is fast. The bird may be doing a series of actions , one of which is the one that you want. By timing the click to that very particular action, you let the bird know that is the action that you want and you want to reward for. Saying "good" or "good boy" or "wonderful" will not going to be as accurate as that click. Your reward can come a few seconds later after the click. But that click at the time of the action tell the creature that action is what you want.

3 Use of clicker also focus you and focus the bird on you.

There are more, much more than what I have said. Do try to read in Tinkerbell webpage my thoughts on clicker training, clicker training and bonding as well as what I wrote in this blog that I kept asking you to take a look.

It was tempting to want to use the clicker now to freeze the action. Such as when YS landed near me, or looked at me in a particular way, or stretch his wings. I resisted as this is "conditioning the clicker stage".

That's why I did not insist on his flying to me to get treat after I clicked.

From time to time, I deliberately walked over to offer the whitey or suri to him. I also 'click' and in clear sight of him, and moving slowly and deliberately, I drop the whitey or suri (after crushing the suri head with forceps to prevent it joining other escapees) into one or the other of the bowls on the hanging perch near me or the specially wobbly perch. Great to see YS flying over to those places to retrieve and eat his treats.

On Sunday, my wife wanted to see YS flying to me and onto my finger after she read the blog. I resisted as I just started "conditioning the clicker" and did not want to confuse YS.

He hear a 'click' and that's good for him.

In each session, he might get 4 click and treat, or 6 click and treat, or 2 click and treat. Deliberately not consistent. The session repeated maybe 30 minutes later, or 2 hours later, again deliberately not consistent.

He tried a few half hearted hijacks. He got scolded and he knew that was bad. YS is intelligent, more intelligent then I expected.

This clicking is for him to know me , and for me to know him.

I observe him very closely before the click, at the click itself, and after that. He on his part, observe me very closely , when I stretched my hand out to the clicker, he was on alert alread.

He also appeared to accept my voice cues. The click made him look at me. Then at my voice of "Yingshiong, come" with me waving the whitey or suri, he flashed over.

The last session was at about 430pm. I wanted him to digest the treats prior to weighing.

At 615 pm, the weighing started. His bowl remained at 39.2 gram. With the amount of whiteys and suris, he was not hungry enough to take the dry mash.

YS weight was a staggering 36.3 gm

I thought I overfeed him. But click and treat was just so much fun for both of us. Please do not ask me to cut whiteys or suris into small bits. Too much icky stuff oozing out for me to handle.

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