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Thread: Teaching "Handshake" Trick

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    Cavy Slave katkor03's Avatar
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    Teaching "Handshake" Trick

    Hi! I have taught my boys to beg when I say "up" and how to do little spins, but I want to teach them how to do a little handshake too! Has anyone successfully done this? Any tips?

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    Cavy Slave koalamissy's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching "Handshake" Trick

    That's so cool!!! My two girls didn't need training to stand holding on to the side of their cage to beg for food, they didn't that all on their own (unless they were taught that before I got them two weeks ago). But then they do that every time I walk back from the kitchen and they think they're getting food. They look so dejected when I go sit on the couch and they don't get anything. LOL!!! I was going to try to teach them to do little spins for a treat, but no time soon. Hope someone has tips for you, I'd be interested.

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    Cavy Slave nikdarg's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching "Handshake" Trick

    While I have never done a handshake with my own pigs, as an applied animal behaviorist I recommend you use a technique called shaping. Shaping is a way of training that involves slowly getting the behavior you want over time by rewarding the animal where it is at and reinforcing a "standard of behavior".

    The standard of behavior is something that you can get your pig to do reliably. For instance to teach a handshake, you might put your hand by the pig and treat when he steps toward you. you would do this over and over until the pig does this reliably. Then you can increase the standard of behavior by only giving a treat when your piggie steps a foot on your hand. Treat this every single time until he understands that stepping on your hand means treat. Then you could try lifting your hand a tiny tiny amount when he steps on it and then treat and so on.

    To do this, you will need to use a small amount of treat that you can give very quickly. It also has to be something that they want and will work and focus for. I use a single bite of a carrot I am holding. It works like a charm, especially if they haven't had their carrots yet that day. They do the behavior, I hold the end of the carrot out for them, they take a bite, and we try again. They love it!

    The timing is really important too. As soon as you get the behavior you are looking for, the treat needs to come immediately. Studies show that after only a few seconds, animals aren't sure what they are being rewarded for anymore since they can exhibit several behaviors in a single second.

    Another thing to note is that this progress could be very slow. It is possible that this will take a lot of time. You might be stuck on one standard of behavior for weeks. But it is important not to rush it so that they can understand what they are learning. It might take a while, but by the end you will have your piggie doing a reliable behavior through positive reinforcement and its own choice because you are someone they want to listen to. It is really rewarding. Plus it engages them mentally and enrichment is always good for animals. The process works best if you practice with them two or three times a day for ten to fifteen minutes at a time.

    Now that I have written that novel, have fun! If you have any questions or need me to clarify something, let me know. I want to know how it goes!!

  4. "Thank you, nikdarg, for this useful post," say these 3 members:


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    Cavy Slave Mickeys Piggies's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching "Handshake" Trick

    I think the way to start is to tap their foot a few times, sometimes they lift it up and place it on your finger I haven't actively tried this method though.

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    Cavy Slave katkor03's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching "Handshake" Trick

    I think both of your posts are very good ideas and I could combine them I am very patient. It took several months to get them to do "spin". When they beg I just hold my fist and say up, if they stand up they get a treat. If they "cheat" using the wall or bars I don't give them one XD My rollie pollie piggie loves to cheat and gets so disappointed when it doesn't work .

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