Lesson 533 – A smart little house chick

Charlie, our house chicken, is one smart chick.

You know how I was working with Charlie and a clicker in order to try and get her to poop on command? As we know, that little experiment didn’t exactly work out well. It turns out you need to be with a chicken virtually 24 hours a day in order to do poop training and let’s just say that when you have to work and then on the weekends when you have to drive your kids all around town (and then home again) – it’s not easy to be there when nature calls.

But here’s the thing, you don’t need to be around all the time when you are offering treats by clicker, you just need to have a treat in your hand when you do it.

I am the only one in the household who is allowed to use the clicker but not everyone knows this. When Spencer came home from college for Easter, he picked up the brightly colored toy-like clicker. “What’s this?” He asked, as he started clicking it non-stop thinking perhaps it was some sort of musical instrument.

Don’t step on Charlie, I said to Spencer as Charlie, after hearing the clicker, came running over to Spencer’s feet looking for a yummy, yummy freeze-dried meal worm. Spencer didn’t know what to do, but I did. I dug out a large worm and held it in my hand letting Charlie munch away while I clicked the clicker.

What a good girl.

Which is how Charlie has discovered that like a valid mathematical statement, if I click the clicker, then Charlie gets a treat.

It’s actually a cute little pet trick. Charlie can be asleep in one room of the house and if I click the clicker in the kitchen, she comes excitedly running (galumphing) straight at me, skidding to a stop in front of my feet watching me with her raptor-like eyes, wondering what lovely surprise I have in store for her.

What will it be today? Freeze-dried worms? Bits of left over lettuce? Or maybe even a crushed tortilla chip or two. The possibilities are endless.

So while I don’t have a chicken who poops on command, I do have a house chicken who will drop everything she is doing to come running to me when I click for her.

A neat little trick from a smart little house chicken.



Filed under Backyard Chickens, Charlie, chicken care, Chicks

3 responses to “Lesson 533 – A smart little house chick

  1. lscheuer

    No, no no. It’s not because of the clicker — it’s because she LOVES you!

  2. Hey sis–okay so from my Skinnerian therapy sessions long ago, you have achieved a milestone. You can see that Charlie will perform on demand. Now, keep the clicker for coming (very helpful) and see if you can find another sound for pooping. The goal is to stand the chicken in the liter box and make a noise when she poops and reward her with a mealworm–and eventually either make the other noise to draw her to the litter, or, get the sound after the pooping happens.

    This is a project for the kids who are soon to be home–not you. Intermittent reinforcement is fine, (if Charlie doesn’t get a treat every time it actually increases the behavior). However, you can’t do this all yourself. However, you definitely have discovered that you have a trainable bird! Congratulations! (PS Tell the assigned kid, I choose Spencer–that three days of this project with Charlie might start the pooping in the litter behavior.)

  3. Actually, you have not trained Charlie. Charlie has now trained you. While you are not listening, she is telling the other hens, “I have trained her to feed me on demand. Now I am taking it to the next step; I will get her to bring me just the treat i want from the candy store.”

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