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Thread: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

  1. #21
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I love talking about cues and how to teach an animal to associate them with their behaviors.

    When you are training your pet to do a trick, it's best not to attach the trick until the behavior is completely learned. Otherwise, your pet might offer an incomplete version of the behavior or... if they are concentrating really hard on learning, will learn that the word you chose is just white noise that doesn't matter! Some cues are not verbal cues. For example, my guinea pigs load up when they see their carrier that I use for the vet's, even if I don't tell them to jump in. I don't mind this because... why would I show them the carrier if I don't want them to jump into it? Some cues are hand signals that came from luring. For example, holding fingers above a guinea pig's head to tell them to beg.

    There are two ways to train for a verbal cue and it really depends on how you trained your trick:
    If you use shaping (like me, ), you'll wait until your pet starts "throwing" the behavior at you. In clicker training-speak, this means that the animal offers the same behavior over and over again. When they are doing that, you will add the cue right before you think they are going to do the behavior. It doesn't matter if it takes a few seconds, just say the cue once and wait. Once they do the trick, click and treat. If they do the trick without you saying the word first, do not click and treat. And if they do something else after you say the cue, don't click and treat. Mistakes will happen and they are part of the learning process.

    With luring and targeting, it's a lot more intuitive about how to attach the cue and less frustrating for the animal. Luring is when you teach tricks by leading the animal around with a piece of food. Targeting is when you teach tricks by leading the animal around with a target. Targeting usually creates a more thoughtful student and is great for animals who get so obsessed with the treat that they aren't paying attention to what their bodies are doing. You lure the animal a few times without saying the cue and basically click right before you give the lure to the animal. If you use targeting, click for good following of the target or touching the target, depending on the trick. Once the animal is really good at following the lure or target, add the cue! You say the cue, wait for a beat, and then lure or target your pet. Soon, your pet will associate the cue with what you are about to do and offer the trick before you get to lure them because they are anticipating what you are doing to do.

    I'm going to be filming all of Toora's sessions for the Go Around trick, so you'll also see when I add the cue. Fiona's Go Around is trained. I've also added distractions to it.

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  3. #22
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!


    More videos with editing. This is a video with several of Fi's tricks in it. Not all of her tricks, but a lot of them! She's such a sweetheart.


    Here is a video of Toora Loora in her 3rd session of the Go-Around trick. She's still learning it! Once she goes completely around for one c/t (click and treat), I can add distance, which is what my next video is going to be about on Toora's progress with this trick. Once I have distance around the pillar with one c/t, I can then add the cue word.


    This is a quick video I made of training Toora with a target stick. Toora LOVES target sticks, but Fiona isn't as happy about them and much prefers shaping.

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  5. #23
    Cavy Slave Piggly12's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Another question for @ClicknCavy (and any others who use clickers); Do you use the Karen Pryor click clicker? I think I read somewhere that you do.

    I can either buy this 3-pack: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-i-Click-...iclick+clicker which doesn’t have the karen pryor logo, so I don’t think that it is the real thing.

    Or

    The 5-pack version, which has the logo on the clickers, but you have to buy 5. (I could give 1 or 2 to my sister, 1 to my friend for her dog, and keep the other 2 for me - one to carry around and 1 to leave in my room)

    The 3-pack costs $5.31, and the 5-pack costs $7.57, so there isn’t that much difference.

    Here is a screenshot of the page in case you can’t open the link:
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    Thanks!!

  6. #24
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Yep! That's the one I use. I use it because it has a much softer, quieter click than any other clicker I have used before! The 3 pack is the same thing, as that's the one I bought for my guinea girls! I already had a ton of clickers, but not ones I would use for guinea pigs (they were all too loud and sharp sounding!).

    I always buy in bulk so I can give clickers to friends and neighbors when they ask about what I'm doing with my pets and how it works and if they want to try it themselves! If you give a clicker to your friend for her dog, there are some awesome YouTube channels with clicker training tutorials just for dogs such as Kikopup or Zak George. A lot of tutorials can be adapted to be useful for guinea pig training as well!

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  8. #25
    Cavy Slave Piggly12's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Thanks!

    So do you think I should get the 5-pack with the brand name?

    Also, do you just get 5 random colours in the pack, or are they all the same colour?

    I can’t wait to start training them! So I will just start by letting them know that Movement from them = Click = Treat...? How many sessions should I do this for?

    I think I will go to the pet supply shop and get a playpen thing to train them in, and put it away from their cage; otherwise they will be constantly squirming to get back in...

    Then, what is the first trick you recommend teaching them? (and please could you possibly do a short how-to if you have time, and if you haven’t demonstrated a video already?)

    I really want to do it right! (as you can probably tell haha )

    Thankyou so much for all your help!! I really appreciate the time you have taken to write all these huge posts! I think that this will help them to trust me more as well!

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  10. #26
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I think you should get the 5 pack definitely if you really want to get into clicker training! When I get the 5 pack, I got all different colors! I got blue, green, purple, red, and black. Lol, I buy clickers often because I either lose them or lend them out. I always have a clicker in my purse so that, when someone asks me about clicker training, I can quickly demonstrate what it's all about! I am very enthusiastic about clicker training because it's a much better way to interact with your pets! And now to answer your training questions!

    A lot of trainers will tell you to just click and treat over and over again regardless of what the animal is doing, but I like by starting to click movement because the tendency for guinea pigs is to hold still when something new is happening--this makes training VERY hard. You will click just for movement for as many sessions as your guinea pig needs in order to be comfortable with being active in learning scenarios. Guinea pigs are very smart and usually associate clicks with treats in one or two sessions (think of how little time it takes before they realize the sounds of the fridge = veggies), but I recommend clicking movement until you see the piggie just being a lot more interactive when put into a training session. In summary, just click movement until your guinea pig moves a lot!

    Also, I got the ex-pen I have for my girls from Amazon for really cheap. And, once you get them really into training, they'll start begging to come out for sessions, haha. When I train one, the other starts crying for the training session as if crying for morning veggies! It's so cute. It took them awhile to get there, though!

    The first trick I recommend is targeting. Toora showed you targeting with a target stick, but both are trained to follow and touch my pointer finger in the same way. The target stick has more enthusiasm with Toora and the finger target has more enthusiasm with Fi. Your guinea pigs will show you which they prefer. There are several videos about target training on YouTube as it is always a foundation skill for clicker trained animals. I'll provide a link to a good tutorial video:



    This video is VERY good because it shows the different targeting behaviors you can train (my girls have all of them down: push a ball with nose is actually a targeting behavior). I also picked this behavior because this is likely going to be around the pace you should expect of a good first session. The target I use for a stick I made out of a wooden dowel and a little wooden ball that I stuck on the end.

    Another behavior I worked on was training to hop onto a platform (a low box). This gets you and your guinea pigs used to shaping. I'll make a video on it as soon as I can because there's a few key things I do differently between guinea pigs and dogs in this. For example, many videos have you throw the treat away from the platform for a dog. I HIGHLY recommend feeding in position for the piggie. Hopping on the box gives a foundation for climbing onto objects, which makes training to hop into a carrier or upside down hidey extremely quick. I recommend trying platform training first so that the important behavior of loading up isn't messed up from sloppy training while you figure out how best to work with your piggies.

    Another trick I worked on very early on was spin. You can teach this in any way you like: Luring with a treat, using a target stick, or shaping it. I tend to use shaping a lot because I'm very good at shaping.

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  12. #27
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I need to get a new video camera and a tripod if I want to start doing tutorials. My boyfriend is too busy to film me enough to make good tutorials. I'll re-teach the trick to hop onto a platform with a new box with Toora Loora since she hasn't used the new box yet.

    Here's some update videos:

    This is Fi's progress with figure 8's. I'm actually really excited because they are starting to look like figure 8's now!


    And here's a video showing my potty trained guinea girl, Toora Loora. Sorry for awkward camera. Like I said, bf is too busy to really film me as often as I would like

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    That's the jump I built for my girls. I can slide out the craft sticks to make the jump lower or add more to make it higher. I normally train and practice them on it at 2 craft sticks high and the max I've ever jumped them is 4 sticks, pictured here, which they cleared easily.

    Fiona has enough tricks now to earn her NTD title. I'll try to make the video as soon as I can

  13. #28
    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Thats really exciting! You are doing so well with your girls! Keep up with the awesome work. I'm really enjoying your videos.

    Is it possible to buy packs of ready made treats for guinea pigs? Suitable ones?
    Last edited by animalmadlover; 05-11-15 at 05:52 pm.

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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    This is very cool! I was going to attempt clicker training, but it seemed difficult. I was wondering while watching your videos, do you have special hand movements for each trick, or is it the word the guinea pigs associate with the trick? Thanks

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    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Thanks @animalmadlover!
    I do have a bag of ready-made treats (Oxbow Dried Strawberries), but I don't use them for training and instead we use them for what we call "Strawberry Kisses" where we come to their cage before we take them to bed and put our faces in the cage and then they give us kisses and we give them each a piece of strawberry. Yes, we are lame, but we love our girls!

    I typically prepare small pieces of fresh produce (usually carrot) to use for training. Training treats can be anything as long as the guinea piggie will eat them when offered nearly every time, they are small enough that they take a second or two to eat, and you can easily dole them out! Even when I still had a dog, I normally made my own treats, as my dog wasn't too fond of any store-bought dog treats that were cheap enough for me to buy a lot of.

    @fluffedpig - I don't really have special hand movements for the girls; most tricks are on verbal cue only now. However, most tricks are also signaled by the props I set out for them. The few that do have hand signals are the ones that I trained with luring or targeting ("off" and "over"). I also taught a hand signal for spin.

  16. #31
    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Quote Originally Posted by ClicknCavy View Post
    Thanks @animalmadlover!
    I do have a bag of ready-made treats (Oxbow Dried Strawberries), but I don't use them for training and instead we use them for what we call "Strawberry Kisses" where we come to their cage before we take them to bed and put our faces in the cage and then they give us kisses and we give them each a piece of strawberry. Yes, we are lame, but we love our girls!

    I typically prepare small pieces of fresh produce (usually carrot) to use for training. Training treats can be anything as long as the guinea piggie will eat them when offered nearly every time, they are small enough that they take a second or two to eat, and you can easily dole them out! Even when I still had a dog, I normally made my own treats, as my dog wasn't too fond of any store-bought dog treats that were cheap enough for me to buy a lot of.
    Awww, strawberry kisses Cute!
    I just thought that it might be easier for me to have a bag of ready made treats available. I know, I Know I'm lazy!

  17. #32
    Cavy Slave Piggly12's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    My clicker will hopefully arrive on the 27th, and I will just cut up a bunch of carrots and put them in the fridge. It shouldn’t take much more than 10 minutes to cut up a bowlful

  18. #33
    Cavy Slave Jessica Dale's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Bahaha oh my gosh they are so stinking cute. I have so many clickers and target sticks and you name it in this house. I work with dogs. I can't wait to work with my girls. Mal will be recovered and done with antibiotics this weekend. Then we get our second on sunday. Once they adapt and then migrate together and all is settled we will be marking behaviors (they're so widdle I just wuv dem!!).

    The clicker is excellent for shaping. My therapy dog I have now is just amazing but the only way I could train her was with shaping and targeting. You could not lure this dog. This dog did not take food. Most difficult dog I've ever worked with and I must say now she's my super star. (Isn't that how it always is?!) The fearful ones are always the hardest at first! But then total little obedient loves!

    I can't wait to work with the cavies. YouTube channel is a good idea to keep track of your progress! I'll have to make an account and follow you. Keep up the good work! So glad people are training cavies! Next thing you know they'll have agility rings of their own too I personally want to bring my cavies into the therapy program. I am going to just keep up the research and outreach then do a proposal to the board of the foundation I work with. Then hopefully they'll approve and we can start evaluating piggies for work!

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  20. #34
    Cavy Slave BaconAndEggs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Wow, this is great! You train guinea pigs like a professional... now I'm going to try clicker training! I can't wait to start, as soon as my cold goes away and I can get some clickers. (Seriously, being sick and unable to touch your piggies makes you feel really empty inside...) Bacon will do anything for food, but I'm not sure if that will encourage him to learn, or get in the way of his learning.

    Just curious, if you didn't use a clicker, and made some other unique noise to associate with food, would that work too? Training seems so logical.

  21. #35
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica Dale View Post
    Bahaha oh my gosh they are so stinking cute. I have so many clickers and target sticks and you name it in this house. I work with dogs. I can't wait to work with my girls. Mal will be recovered and done with antibiotics this weekend. Then we get our second on sunday. Once they adapt and then migrate together and all is settled we will be marking behaviors (they're so widdle I just wuv dem!!).

    The clicker is excellent for shaping. My therapy dog I have now is just amazing but the only way I could train her was with shaping and targeting. You could not lure this dog. This dog did not take food. Most difficult dog I've ever worked with and I must say now she's my super star. (Isn't that how it always is?!) The fearful ones are always the hardest at first! But then total little obedient loves!

    I can't wait to work with the cavies. YouTube channel is a good idea to keep track of your progress! I'll have to make an account and follow you. Keep up the good work! So glad people are training cavies! Next thing you know they'll have agility rings of their own too I personally want to bring my cavies into the therapy program. I am going to just keep up the research and outreach then do a proposal to the board of the foundation I work with. Then hopefully they'll approve and we can start evaluating piggies for work!
    That's awesome! I clickertrained my doggy when I still had him. He wasn't fond of luring either and had little food drive also. However, once he understood the game of training, he started to love treats and toys since they were a part of the learning process--which he found sooooo fun and awesome. The easy dogs let you show off your skills; the difficult ones teach you so much as a trainer.

    Since you are familiar with clicker training dogs, I will say that cavies definitely require more fine-tuned training mechanics than dogs. Training guinea pigs will definitely make you a better dog trainer.

  22. #36
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Quote Originally Posted by BaconAndEggs View Post
    Wow, this is great! You train guinea pigs like a professional... now I'm going to try clicker training! I can't wait to start, as soon as my cold goes away and I can get some clickers. (Seriously, being sick and unable to touch your piggies makes you feel really empty inside...) Bacon will do anything for food, but I'm not sure if that will encourage him to learn, or get in the way of his learning.

    Just curious, if you didn't use a clicker, and made some other unique noise to associate with food, would that work too? Training seems so logical.
    Thanks! I try to train as cleanly and precisely as I can, since it helps them learn faster.

    And yes, you can clicker train without a clicker! A lot of people use a verbal marker "yes" or "yep" or even a tongue click. The clicker itself is not a magic tool. It's just a convenient, cheap, and easy to access tool to bridge the time between when an animal does the behavior correctly to the actual treat delivery. Although verbal markers can be just as effective as a mechanical click, I tend to recommend that beginners get a hand-held clicker since it helps improve timing.

    Training should definitely seem logical. Clicker training is based in science, after all! I went to college for a psych degree (focusing primarily on learning and motivation) and so I can answer any questions about my training method: from why not just directly give treats without a marker to why I don't say "NO" or punish my piggies.

  23. #37
    Cavy Slave BaconAndEggs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Quote Originally Posted by ClicknCavy View Post
    Thanks! I try to train as cleanly and precisely as I can, since it helps them learn faster.

    And yes, you can clicker train without a clicker! A lot of people use a verbal marker "yes" or "yep" or even a tongue click. The clicker itself is not a magic tool. It's just a convenient, cheap, and easy to access tool to bridge the time between when an animal does the behavior correctly to the actual treat delivery. Although verbal markers can be just as effective as a mechanical click, I tend to recommend that beginners get a hand-held clicker since it helps improve timing.

    Training should definitely seem logical. Clicker training is based in science, after all! I went to college for a psych degree (focusing primarily on learning and motivation) and so I can answer any questions about my training method: from why not just directly give treats without a marker to why I don't say "NO" or punish my piggies.
    That makes sense! And I understand what you mean about not punishing your piggies. If you punish them, or say no, then they aren't going to know what they did wrong. They'll just think, "Why is this person doing this to me? What did I do?!" It works the same way for people too; for the most part, anyway.

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  25. #38
    Cavy Slave Jessica Dale's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I will be so happy if I can impress and demonstrate to the board members how wonderful these animals are! When we are ready to begin I'll have to let you know how it goes

  26. #39
    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I'm teaching Sparkles to touch the target. He gets distracted really easily though, so training sessions are quite slow The trouble with Sparkles is that he gets bored really quickly before he learns the trick. He is so active that he gets bored so quickly.
    Ida however is a completely different story. The guinea pigs are in the busiest part of the house, I spend heaps of time with them everyday. But I'm not getting anywhere with her. She is the scared-est guinea pig I've ever had!!!
    She won't touch food at all if I'm near her. She runs into hiding as soon as anyone comes into the room. Every time I think that I'm getting somewhere with her, she scares again. At the moment I'm still working on taming, rather then training.

    Sometimes I think that her previous owners must've abused her to make her that scared of people, she is two years old so she must've been neglected. Just getting her to take food from my hand would be a huge step! She is really, really jumpy.

  27. #40
    Cavy Slave Jessica Dale's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Is everyone using their Target sticks from Dog Training? Or did you make a Cavy Target Stick? Did you guys hit up crafts stores for some stuff? Can you share so I can stock up? Thanks loves!

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