Penelope is Clicker Trained!!!
We have finally reached our goal. It was a long hull but Penelope is finally clicker trained.When you condition a rat to be under stimulus control by the click of a clicker this is called clicker training. In this class we had to clicker train our rat to hear the clicker and run to the corner with food. I want to summarize the past couple of weeks that I have had with Penelope, the ups and downs I have had with clicker training.
First and most importantly, I spent about a week with Penelope just getting to know her. We became comfortable with each other before I started to train her. I think this is very important, in order for your rat to have success. The other important factor before clicker training is knowing your rats weight and about how much they eat a day. You need to know this so you can cut down on their food, that way when it is time to train they participate. I had a major problem with this. Every time I went to train Penelope she would not be hungry enough so she did not have motivation to move toward the food. I cut Penelope’s food down to half of what I was giving her, about 15 grams a day. Once I saw that this amount worked than I stayed consistent with that amount. I weigh Penelope everyday to make sure she is maintaining her average weight and I am not starving her. Also, when clicker training be sure to train in a quite non-distracting environment, you will see the best results here.
Now that Penelope was hungry enough we began clicker training. My first method was placing the food in the bottom right hand corner and clicking right before Penelope ate the food. This was a great starting point. This method helped Penelope figure out this was now the “food corner.” One problem I had was my food pieces were too big so I was not getting many trails in per day. I made the pieces smaller which increased the trials I got in and I placed the food in the corner while Penelope was not looking. Penelope was still startled by the clicker at this point, so when she heard the clicker she would run across the aquarium to eat the food. This gave me the perfect opportunity to put a new piece of food in without her seeing me. I felt Penelope and I were not moving forward with clicker training at this point. In class we discussed our progress and several people shared a different method they were trying, clicking when they dropped the food as well as when their rat ate the food. Everyone seemed to be having success with this method, so I gave it a try.
The new method ended up working perfectly. I was able to start shaping her at this point. I wanted Penelope to start getting a little bit away from the corner and still respond to the clicker. Each new trail she would get a little bit further and further away from the corner. I found new problems here. I was not sure if Penelope was responding to the sound of the food dropping or the clicker, so I decided to start clicking twice. The second click covered the sound of the food dropping. Another way to cover this was not dropping the food until Penelope got to the corner. Also, I infer that Penelope was making an association with my hand and the food. At certain points during training I would stick my hand over the corner and not drop any food. After a few rounds of this, she was done with my hand. Another point to make is that during training Penelope did a lot of grooming, scratching, and sniffing. I had the best responses to the clicker when I made sure she was not busy and she was not distracted. The best advice I can give to anyone clicker training is to be consistent, it is really important!
I continued shaping her with this method and now I feel like she is clicker trained. She still gets somewhat distracted, but once she is done doing whatever she is doing she comes to the corner. Penelope runs to the “food corner” after hearing the clicker stimulus about 80% of the time. This is when you know your rat has got it!
This is a video that shows Penelope is clicker trained!! Enjoy!
Entry filed under: Erika and Penelope.