Louise Continues Clicker Training
Louise and I are currently on our fifth day of clicker training and this morning was our best session yet! I finally got her hungry enough to be interested in the food for more than about 15 trials. In fact, she ate 37 pieces! However, I had to “starve” her for over 40 hours. Other than the roughly 4 grams of food she was getting during training, I only gave her about 5 additional grams over that period of time. But I must say, it did the trick!
Before I decided to withhold food for such a long period, our sessions were not going as well. Louise would be interested in the pellets for about 3 in a row (which caused me to get my hopes up that it would be a successful training session!) and then she would begin to wander around the glass aquarium. Additionally, two days in a row, she have herself a long, luxurious bath and then curled up in the corner for a good snooze. Although she looked extremely cute, she was still sleeping on the job and I was not happy! But once she got to that point, even if I tried to get her energized again by playing a bit, she would only eat a pellet maybe every 10 minutes–not very helpful!
I also made an interesting discovery today. Since the last few sessions had not been very productive, I went home yesterday trying to think of other solutions to the problem in case the “starvation” method didn’t work. I had also noticed that as soon as I put Louise back in her cage after sessions she would immediately have a big drink of water. Therefore, during today’s session, I decided to bring along her water bottle. When she seemed to be losing interest in the food, I offered her water and she drank a ton! After that, she continued eating as hungrily as before. The pellets must make her pretty thirsty and I’ll be sure to have water handy during the rest of our sessions.
I also want to note that I have somewhat switched up my training method. Instead of simply placing food in the tank and then clicking right before she eats it, I now click and immediately drop the food in the front left corner. I then click again when she finds it (because on days when she is less hungry, it often takes a minute or two for her to wander over to where the food was dropped.) After reading the blogs of a few students from last year, I noticed that this was the method many of them used and it seemed to work well for them.
However, after only about half a training session, I noticed that Louise was not so much reacting to the clicking noise as she was my hand raising to the top of the tank to drop the food. This technique was giving me further trouble because the pellets often bounce from the front left corner where I drop them to other random places in the tank (which, I’m assuming, would mess up the learning process since I only want Louise to come to one particular corner for food.) I remedied both of these problems by rigging a paper tube in the front left corner through which I can slide the pellets, reducing the appearance of my hand as well as keeping the flying pellets under control.
After today, I definitely feel like Louise and I are getting somewhere (at least she is eating and she also tends to stay in the “food corner” for the majority of training.) However, I’m still not sure she’s associating the clicker with the food! I’m thinking it will take a few more days and hopefully she’ll be just as hungry for the next few sessions!
Entry filed under: Carly and Louise.