It’s Not Just for Dogs!

Did you know that all sorts of animals can be trained? Pigeons, chickens, parrots, dolphins, whales, dogs and even cats can be trained with positive reinforcements!

Recently, I saw a YouTube video of a cockatiel (a parrot) that was trained to fetch small multi-colored discs from one end of a table and bring them back to his owner. In the video description, it said that this behavior was taught in only a week by giving the parrot seeds for various “good behaviors.”

The owner trained her parrot by rewarding four specific behaviors:

1)      Nipping and biting the discs

2)      Picking up the disc

3)      Walking with the disc

4)      Putting the disc in the owner’s hand.

Each behavior was trained individually, starting with the first one. Once the parrot was successful, they moved on to the next behavior until the parrot could retrieve.

Isn’t it really cool how she was able to train her parrot to fetch? It gets better!

A little while ago, I couldn’t believe what I had just seen… A new member had just joined the discussion forum, and she mentioned that she had trained her cat to do all sorts of tricks.

I was a little skeptical, because I had always been told that cats are not trainable. To be honest, I was expecting a cheesy trick like a cat chasing a red dot, which they all do.

But when she posted some videos, I was utterly amazed at what she had accomplished! Her cat had been trained to respond to the common obedience commands such as sit, down and stand. But what really impressed me was her cat doing all sorts of tricks—some that were incredibly advanced, like leapfrogging over her dog.

This is such a great demonstration of the power of positive reinforcements. Her cat was more trained than most dogs will ever be. And what’s even more amazing is that this cat only had three legs!

If she can train her cat to be well behaved and do tricks, surely you can do the same with your dog! Right?

This story brought back memories of a trainer I used to be good friends with. She desperately wanted to go to dog-obedience school, but didn’t know how well received she would be—because she kind of had a special request that not too many students had.

Her request was definitely special: she wanted to train her pig instead of a dog. And, surprisingly, she found a good and open-minded training facility that allowed her to bring her pig in for training classes.

This training class focused on positive reinforcement training and, amazingly, it worked! By the end of her training, her pig was just as trained as the dogs… And she even continued her training into agility and her pig was able to complete agility courses.

How amazing is that? Again, if someone can train a pig to behave, surely you can train your dog, too!

It’s no secret that I’m a “seminar junkie.” I love learning and using my newfound knowledge to improve my life. I attended this one particular seminar, and the information presented was a bit of an eye-opener for me.

The presenter talked about how whales are trained to jump out of the water. And, to my surprise, the biggest misconception is that people believe they are trained with electric shocks. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Whales are actually trained with positive reinforcements. They are taught that if they jump out of the water and make a big splash, they will receive a delicious fish (or several).

There are many ways to train a whale. One of them is by tying a rope from one end of the pool to the other. Then, the whale is given a fish each time it swims above the rope. They gradually move the rope higher and higher until the whale has no choice but to jump out of the water to go above the rope and get the fish.

I think that it’s incredible how we can train such large animals simply by strategically giving positive reinforcements. And what’s really cool is that your dog can be trained the same way!