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Thread: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

  1. #61
    Cavy Slave SquigglyPigs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Just ordered my clicker and I'm going to start training this weekend! Can't wait. I have taught my guinea pig, Mu, to spin and she seems very eager to learn! My shy girl, Evie, won't be quite as easy because she doesn't like to move around much even when treats are involved. And my third pig, Nim, is distracted by nearly everything It will be fun to see how training affects each of them with such different personalities! I also have two rats at home that I have been training.

    I love all of your videos - they've been very helpful! It's definitely a good reminder for me to let the pigs decide if they want to come out of their cage and train. I'm guilty of chasing them around their cage to take them out for snuggles whether they like it or not. I think sometimes it's hard to remember that these animals have personalities too and are not necessarily here to serve your every want, even though they are your pets. Thanks again for all the tips and videos!

  2. #62
    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Yaaay! I managed to teach Sparkles to jump on command! Clever boy!

  3. #63
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    That's awesome guys! I love when people train their pets using positive methods such as clicker training. It's so rewarding to work together with your pet to do amazing things.

    My next few videos are SUPER interesting (well, to me) because they show how my guinea pigs and I, as a team, handle errors (both animal errors and handler errors). I think how the team responds to imperfect sessions is more indicative of the relationship than how they respond during perfect sessions.



    Fi is doing amazing with her figure 8's and leg weaves progress. I just starting chaining the leg weaves. I have strict criteria because I know she can do it. When she messes up, look at how eagerly she wants to try again! Not only that, but positively trained animals correct themselves! That's what I want: a pet who consciously makes good choices. It's really cool to watch!!! Then again, I'm an animal training nerd, haha.



    Toora Loora is doing pretty awesome herself with her retrieves. I'm working on increasing the duration of the hold and also on delivery-to-hand. Something cool about this video is that it shows how she deals with handler errors -- when I mess up. Also, how I deal with them. As a trainer, I'm constantly putting "good attitude" as something I look for and click for. Toora has a great attitude during training. She's very thoughtful and focused and really fun to train.



    That up there is the training video of what I worked on with Toora Loora between her two retrieve sessions; it's platform work! I must say I sort of neglected platform work with Toora compared to Fi's work with it. But, I'm working on it again and she's remembering it so well!

    I also made a website about clicker training guinea pigs which has all of the information on this thread, but in an easier to follow step-by-step format.

  4. #64
    Cavy Slave BaconAndEggs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I just love watching your videos! I have so far taught Bacon "around"(or spin), though we are still working on doing so on command, without the garbage can. He has also quickly taken to walking over a pillow on the "over" cue, as well as "up"(or standing on his hind legs). I am still reluctant to begin Eggs' training, but hopefully because I am out for summer-finally-I can spend more time training Bacon and-when the time comes-Eggs, as well as bonding. I have also begun using a few of your training methods with my dogs. I've discovered so much-including how intelligent a Boston Terrier + Pug mix can really be-through clicker training.

    If you could, I'd love a link to your website!

  5. #65
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    That's awesome!

    I actually started clicker training with dogs. A lot of the stubborn breeds really excel with clicker training. My personal dog until I moved to this apartment was a Dalmatian x Chow mix, both breeds known for being stubborn. Most breeds labeled stubborn or unintelligent are actually extremely bright when given the chance to show off how creative and smart they are! I can talk dog training all day. ;D It's my favorite subject to talk about, hands down.

    http://quirkytea34.wix.com/clickncavies

    That's the link!

  6. #66
    Cavy Slave BaconAndEggs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    My Chihuahua isn't stubborn, but I must admit that he is rather obese(I am working on giving him plenty of exercise and appropriate portion sizes, though he is three years old and somewhat lazy), so getting up and down probably makes him tire more quickly. I like to keep our training sessions short but repetitive(at least 1-3 a day), though this is only my fifth day working with him. He already knows sit-we adopted him only a few months ago-so I haven't necessarily been able to assess his intellegence accurately yet. Tank, the Boston Terrier and Pug mix-officially called a Bugg-is on day thirteen and already knows sit, up, lie down, and around(a trick I made up more for show). We are just about finished with shake.

    I must admit this is my first time training dogs, my old Pug Chunky had health problems later in life-eventually leading to bone cancer and therefore passing on, RIP Chunky-so when I was old enough.to think about training he was already on decline. I have done research on dog training and I find it fascinating!

    Oh my, sorry if I rambled-I could talk about dog training all day as well! Also, I checked out your website.and it has great bonding tips that I think I will use with Eggs, so thank you for that!

  7. #67
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Training with dogs is so much fun! I love training my guinea girls, but it's not the same as training a dog, at least to me! I do love the challenge of training guinea pigs--they do require much neater and precise training mechanics. I feel training Fi and Toora has definitely made me a better trainer. The most useful trick I taught my dog was the nose-to-hand touch.



    A short video of his sustained nose touch.

    I'm really happy that my website gave you some great tips for yours and Eggs's relationship! I made it because I feel like info on science-based, positive methods for taming/training on guinea pigs is hard or impossible to find. I want to add more to my site. I was thinking of adding a tutorial for recalls (come when called).

  8. #68
    Cavy Slave BaconAndEggs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I know this is off topic, but thank you for using the proper form of Eggs's name! Many people assume that his name is just just Egg, but it is really Eggs. His full name is Burnt Eggs, but I do prefer using his "middle" name, because Burnt wouldn't be that great of a name, you know?

    Anyway, I will check out that video. I do enjoy the challenges of training-I'm hoping to learn more about behavioral training when we take Tank in with a professional(At a year old, he is still a puppy and has some behaviors to correct). I prefer home training for some topics because I believe that some dogs may process things better if they are already involved in training with someone they know.

    I have started really working with Eggs for taming. I will admit that we didn't have the best start, and he has never been fully tamed, even though he has lived with me for over a year. Stress-free handling is the way to go, whether it is with dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. It really helps to build trust instead of tolerance.

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  10. #69
    Cavy Slave Oreocookies123's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Great! I trained my girl Oreo how to hop out of the cage onto her favorite pillow for food and hop back in. Its wonderful that you're clicker training your cavies! I wish you the best of luck!

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

    Thanks @BaconAndEggs for committing to low-stress handling in order to build a bond! If I do one thing with my girls, I hope it's to convince other people that using positive reinforcement is the best way to tame their pets.
    @Oreocookies123 - it's awesome that your girl hops onto her favorite pillow! And thanks!

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    Cavy Slave Oreocookies123's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    No problem!! Have fun with your cavies!

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

    I haven't been filming lately, but I did upload one more video from the day my brother filmed me and my girls. My boyfriend (the usual camera man) is still obsessed with his video game, .



    Something I like about this video is that it shows, in real time, just how quickly a guinea pig who is experienced in clicker training can pick up a new concept in training using things she has already learned. In this case, Fiona is drawing from her platform training to learn the new trick of hopping from one platform to another. It also shows how easy it is to fade lures/targets to a guinea pig who is trained primarily using shaping.

    Something else is it displays exactly WHY I choose the training method that I do: My brother puts his hand in the enclosure and makes it pretty crazy! Guinea girl Fiona just approaches it confidently and once her curiosity is satisfied, easily comes back to me for more training. Clicker training promotes these sorts of interactions with the environment!

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

    So I have a question.
    Two of my pigs had their "aha!" moment and totally understand that click=treat and they can make clicks happen. It's funny sometimes to see their faces when they're trying to figure out how to make that click happen They learn new tricks so fast now!
    However, my third pig will. not. do. anything. She won't follow a treat, even her favorite: carrots. Sometimes I can get her to stretch her neck for the treat so I click and give one to her just for moving. After doing this twice, she gives up entirely and the training session has to be finished. I've been working with her for about 2.5 weeks and she really doesn't get it. Any advice?

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

    Without video, I can't see if the problem is due to the guinea pig being stressed or due to handler error or she just doesn't have the temperament to figure it all out right away (typically a shy/timid personality finds it hardest to make that leap that THEY control their environment). I'm going to assume that you've already have let her de-stress so that she's comfortable with living with you and that the lack of progress in training is due to a combination of the factors I've described.

    My advice is to listen to what she's telling you: She's saying that she's not comfortable with the training. Figure out a way to attend to her needs. Do you provide her with a hiding place at all times? Will she stick her nose out to take the treats? You can start to click her for doing that and allowing her to run back into the hiding place will actually serve as another reward on top of the carrot. And the power to actually control her environment will help her confidence so she can have those a-ha moments. The sequence would look like this:

    Feed her treats from the hiding place
    let her retreat back into it when you've stopped
    Then, you wait for her to stick her nose out of the hiding place
    Click and treat
    Let her retreat into the hiding place again
    Wait for her to orient towards the exit of the hiding place
    click and treat
    let her retreat if she needs it
    end training session

    It's very important, especially for the super timid guinea pigs, that you let them create their own behaviors and try to refrain from trying to create the opportunities yourself by helping her with treats or by removing her hiding place (you had GREAT instinct, BTW, to try to create the opportunities by getting her to stretch her neck for the treat. For most guinea pigs and animals, this would be wonderful and a pro-active way to start behaviors, but it sounds like it isn't working for her). Let her come to the realization on her own. However long it takes her to get there is however long she needs. If you go at her pace, you'll get there quicker than if tried to rush her. If she isn't ready for training yet, then work on building her trust around hands and movements and your presence.

    Please provide videos if you are able and I can make better suggestions. Finding a local dog trainer who uses clicker training to help you will help, too. I know that so many of them (at least the good ones~) would jump at the chance to try to brainstorm with someone to work with another species, as that sort of work sharpens observation and training skills.

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

    Thank you! Yes, she is my shy and timid little girl. She's very comfortable with me but she prefers to take a nap on my lap instead of running around and exploring. I didn't provide her with a hiding place so I will try that next time. When she is in her cage she will stick her nose out for treats so I will try that. We were training on the couch because she is there everyday and is comfortable there but maybe it also made her nervous to be outside of the cage with a strange clicking sound haha. I will try training her inside the cage next time and see how it goes.

    The weird thing is that when I did group training, she did great! I was teaching them to come to me when I say "come here girls!" and she was the only one that consistently came to me. I'm wondering if maybe she is still nervous to be away from the other pigs.

  18. #76
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    That might be it! There are a lot of things that stress guinea pigs differently.

    I do advise to try training in a cage first, especially when you introduce new things to a very timid guinea pig. But if you find that she feels and does her best in group training, then definitely do that! Training provides confidence building and mental stimulation like nothing else can and it only works if you listen to what your pet is telling you. Remember that you know your piggie best. The best that I can do is give you suggestions based on the information I give you! Good luck with your little girl and I hope she blossoms. I keep a hiding place or escape route in all of my training sessions (oftentimes off camera, ), so my piggies always can opt to say "not today" and I honor their requests.


    Both of my girls occasionally use their hiding places/escape routes to tell me, "not now" or "not today". Always give them the opportunity to communicate with you and you'll find they'll opt, more and more, to do really amazing things together with you! Here's a picture of Fiona using her hiding place during a group training session with Toora (lap time session actually).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    EDIT: I forgot to mention that for some guinea pigs, especially if they have a history of hiding places being removed, you have to train them to enter their hiding places when out on the floor and/or how to leave their hiding places once they are inside of them. Even guinea pigs who have never known a harsh action against them might need this additional training. However, I feel it's important to teach them how to make themselves feel more comfortable if they need it.

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  20. #77
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I would love some advice on training them. I love training animals as well, but all my piggies know is how to beg and only one of them do! Snickers (the one who doesn't know) is too timid and shy to learn and Cocoa never likes to listen, only likes his food close to him. Any advice would be great and very much appreciated!

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

    The best advice I can give is to listen to your animal. If one of them is very timid or shy, it's VERY important not to force him to do anything. Building trust is the first step. For dogs, often times, you can start training right away because they have a built-in instinct to connect with people. But with guinea pigs, you have to first teach them that you are their friend. You do this by listening to their needs and putting them before your own desires until they trust and love you enough to try some of the stuff you want to do like being held or sitting in your lap or being pet.

    As far as a guinea pig who only likes his food close to him... I highly recommend clicker training. Just start with pairing the click and treat. Soon, he'll understand that the treats are never far away because he can always earn clicks (which predict treats). For most pets, the only 100% consistent sign that they will be getting treats soon is the sight of the treats. Which, if you want to someday phase the treats out... is not the best training tactic. Just put the treats out of sight and start from square one with Cocoa, rewarding him for being active and curious.

    I have a taming guide which includes foundation skills for training on it: http://quirkytea34.wix.com/clickncav...mingintro/coc2

  22. #79
    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    That is so cool! How do you manage to train your guinea pig to pick up something? I'm working on "hold and carry" with our dog, but he loves to spit out the ball straight away to get the treat, so I'm working on holding it for longer before carrying ;-) I can't imagine how you'd do it for guinea pigs!!!

    By the way: Proud mama moment Sparkles can circle on command and jump over jumps on command. I will have to post a video sometime, because its sooo cute!

    Guinea pigs can't "roll over" can they? I'd imagine that because their backs are so fragile that they could hurt themselves trying to do this? What do you think?

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I might do this with Bob, I think...

    I'm trying to balance my workload of summer reading (1500+ pages of college level reading plus a 3 page essay) and mini donkey raising (30 hours worth, plus another 3 page essay) and driving lessons and art (I'm getting to it!) and I really want to have something fun and productive to do as a break between working. I'm going to try and turn art back into a fun, breaktime activity, and I would love to also teach and interact with Bob more during breaks as well.

    I think he'd learn pretty quickly too! He's such a mellow little guy, but he's ridiculously well behaved and full of energy and curiosity. He's so good though...he is really calm being pet and handled, and has no fear of people, unless you make loud noises or move really quickly. He even started to come up to me whe I go by his cage, and puts his feet up on the coroplast, waiting to be picked up. He doesn't even panic when I go to take him outside of the cage (getting him back in is another matter entirely), and he even listens to me (kind of) if I ask him to do something...like "stop chewing on the bookshelf, it's not food".

    I'm just not sure where to start...and what do I even give him as a treat? He HATES carrots. Like, won;t even touch them, and if I do put them in his veggie bowl he ignores them until they literally shrivel up. But he LOVES bell peppers! Would little pieces of that work? And where do I get one of these clickers? Can I find them at a pet store, or do they have to be ordered online?

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