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ClickerSolutions Training Articles -- Instinctive Drift

For those of you remembering the photo birds we trained, the birds VERY gently touched the camera to the window surface, which could be anything from a screen to glass. The natural tendency of the bird was to slam very hard the camera against the surface. This was just like the bird killing prey, or cracking open a nut. If the trainer reinforced ANY hard thrusts of the beak, we would end up with a bird banging the window, and once established, hard thrusts were extremely difficult to extinguish.
Can you see where the instinctive drift creeps in here? In the evolutionary history of the raven, soft pecking was likely not advantageous, where hard pecking resulted in more success. We were asking for the bird to go against what its nature told it to do. There was an innate tendency for the bird to emit hard pecks rather than soft pecks. As soon as we screwed up a few times, and reinforced what we should not have, the bird was back to doing what was natural - hard pecks. These were wild birds being asked to fly untethered into strange territories, so punishing hard thrusts was not an option.

...The important issue here is that this is a TENDENCY, and not all animals will exhibit this in ALL behaviors ALL of the time. A trainer should be sensitive to what behaviors MIGHT cause problems, and what the problems might be, that is, what behaviors might crop up under given conditions. To me, this is part of the craft, or art, of training; the recognition of what might happen and how to head off trouble before it starts. A good trainer makes it look easy"


sort of like running toward the dog that does not respond to a recall. The dogs natural response is to run away and so you have a game of chase that is fun and reinforcing to the dog. The dog learns to run or way or simply not move when you call it. If however you run away from the dog the dog must run to you to chase and at least you are reinforcing the behavior you want with a chase game.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Hmmmm.....I'll have to think about how we are reinforcing his head shaking or even latching on and pulling. I feel like it's getting better with him, but he is programming a fear reaction in our girls, so that they just run when they see him coming at them. Sigh.
 
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