Every trainer loves to spend time with their animal but having quality time to train a new behaviour or to be creative is not always possible, so creating the time or taking the opportunity is important. Making better use of the time they do have with their animal, will create these opportunities for quality time.
Having constant daily interaction programs or performing husbandry behaviours, often place limits on the time with the animal. However, you can try to incorporate some things that take only small amounts of time, but result in building up more fun, variety and quality time for the trainer and their animal.
Divide behaviours into sections
Being creative and using any small windows of opportunity to create variety, train sections of a behaviour or to bond with the animal will be highly effective and rewarding.
By using small amounts of time wisely, especially when it is difficult to find longer periods, a behaviour can be trained and learnt in stages and then each learnt part can be put together on the final day, as a new behaviour.
My approach is to take the first minute I have free and train the first stage, the most important part of the new behaviour. I make sure the animal totally learns the first stage of this behaviour and responds to my que with fluency and at criteria. Every time I ask the animal to perform it, the response is at criteria, then I review this behaviour until this stage is totally finished and accurate.
Once the first stage has been learnt, approach each subsequent stage the same way, one at a time until each part is learnt and performed at criteria. It is very important that the trainer maintains a patient attitude, and does not rush the animal, no matter how short the time available is.
When you have trained all stages, then you put all the sections together. The animal should perform all the sections one after the other and then learn the behaviour in full. Because each stage is pre learnt, putting all the stages together will take a fraction of the time, compared with training the whole behaviour all at once.
The images above are just three of the stages in the American Football Behaviour, which can be taught separately using the approach I have described. The full details and all the stages of this approach can be seen in my Behaviour Training Tutorial Handbook, which explains this approach step by step together with many more training techniques, Operant Conditioning and countless helpful tips, to teach and improve behaviour training.
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