WANT to hone your dog- training skills? Setting off and attending chicken camp might be just the way to do it.
Hobart’s first taste of chicken camp, led by world- renowned trainer Terry Ryan and local behavioural trainer Jade Fountain, will be next week.
Having spent two months working with Ryan in the US, Fountain can vouch for the fact training chickens is a whole new ball game.
It challenges dog trainers to let go of old training habits and preconceived ideas.
Chickens move faster and behave differently to dogs, so the trainer’s timing and observations need to go up a notch.
Take nothing for granted when training chickens, especially when it comes to the amazing range of things they can be taught to do.
With positive reinforcement in the form of layer pellets and cracked corn, chickens can be trained to understand signals, roll dice, make choices, move objects and complete obstacle courses and agility runs.
YouTube sports several entertaining clips of sharp- eyed, smart- thinking chooks completing a series of complex tasks during chicken camp.
And it’s not all about trainers refining their skills.
You get the impression the chooks may enjoy the mental stimulation that comes with sharpening their problem skills.
Fountain confi rmed that, through training, chickens form a bond with their handler and could be taught to load themselves into a crate on cue – a particularly practical trick in times of emergency, such as bushfire.
Chickens, which are notoriously hard to round up, can be taught to calmly and efficiently load themselves up for a trip to the vet – another useful training outcome.
For more information on this and other animal training topics, visit www.facebook.com/AnimalBehaviourMatters.
For those who want to build their dogtraining skills, as opposed to chicken-training skills, simply pick up a copy of Ryan’s hugely practical book The Toolbox for Building a Great Family Dog.