I believe that anyone thinking of starting professional dog training should first train chickens. I will go even further - anyone who in their work has contact not only with animals but also with people who need to be effectively motivated. So we are also talking about trainers, managers, teachers and even parents, because each of us is or will be a "trainer".
When I tell my friends about it, the reaction is usually one - laughter. And then lots of questions, but why actually train chickens? So first I let them laugh and then I explain what's going on.
Certainly it's not about our hens giving paws, playing cards, pulling a cart or overcoming an agility course in the intervals between laying eggs. First of all, it is NOT about teaching chickens (although they learn sensational) but about teaching yourself how to train without using aversive methods, to see that much better, faster results are obtained by training using positive methods, because the secret of effective behavior change is on using in practice methods based on motivation, positive reinforcement, rewarding, without shouting, threats, physical force, punishment.
Why chickens? BIRDS DON'T GIVE UP TO MANIPULATION!!!
Have you ever pressed your dog's hindquarters to teach him to sit? Spank a child who cries the entire trip to the supermarket to force a new toy? Exactly!
You won't force anything on the chicken, so it won't even tempt you - you'll only consistently try to learn the assumed behavior. Now tell me how much patience would you have if you taught your dog not to pull on a leash and your child not to write on the walls? How many of you out of balance would simply resort to force methods? Certainly many, right?
Teaching this type of creature basically sets the trainer right from the start on the right track of using positive reinforcement methods in training. Training a hen shows that you don't have to use brute force methods to teach anything to the individual on the other side of the leash or "ruler" (anyone got hit by a ruler from a teacher? )
Why chickens? CHICKEN IS FAST!
Training a chicken requires amazing reflexes and observation skills. Suppose we want to reward a specific behavior - for example, "sit" a dog. The dog sits, we say SUPER (or click) and give a treat. It often happens, however, that we think that we reward the sit, but from the "point of view" of the dog, the reality may look completely different. Perhaps since the time when the dog performed the task that interests us, he also performed another action and if we lack reflexes, we rewarded this action. If there was some other behavior between the dog's sit down and the reward - e.g. the dog lay down and at that moment a treat appeared, we can be sure that we have not rewarded the right behavior. Reflexes and observation are essential features of a good trainer. The hen is much faster than most animals - if we learn from one of the more difficult ones, other species will not be a problem for us.
Why chickens? HEN EMOTIONALLY DOESN'T RELATE TO THE TRAINER!
The emotional connection is often an obstacle in training, the trainer often does not maintain objectivity and the trainee quickly realizes that he will be able to afford many things. Chickens do not become attached to their trainers.
Why chickens? MISTAKES MADE BY THE TRAINER ARE QUICKLY REFLECTED IN CHICKEN BEHAVIOR
And here dogs are very tolerant. The dog, despite the mistakes we make, will eventually learn the desired sit down. Chicken "NO" - he will simply not learn anything or will be reluctant to do so. When training chickens, we quickly realize what mistakes we make.
I highly recommend Train Your Chicken First by Karen Pryor
Chicken training in practice? See for yourself: