Animal Diaries Archive
27 April 2007
Hi welcome to Exotics, in this article I will discuss what target training is, hopefully giving you a better understanding of it. I spend different parts of the day doing training with Teela our dromedary camel. So let us begin:
Target training helps to build a relationship between humans and animals, in this case our seventeen-year old female camel, Teela. It helps to build trust and respect and helps regulate a desired behaviour from the animal. We use a Kong ball (a really tough rubber dog ball) on the end of a dowel (stick), the idea is to get Teela to mouth the Kong ball, 'BRIDGED' (a 'bridge' is the link between the verbal command and the food reward), with the word 'GOOD', then immediately rewarded (apple, carrots, sweet potato..!). We can place the target in different locations and heights. She's not so keen on the target being placed low, this is not the most natural position for her unless she's drinking or grazing! Holding the target, we will say 'TARGET' no more than three times. If she does not respond we move to another location. Once Teela has mouthed the Kong ball, she holds it for a second. Upon getting the idea, we can train Teela to hold for longer periods with her mouth on the target.
This is great training for all sorts of reasons, such as standing for vet checkups, loading onto a truck or a float. By doing this training it can reduce the stress on animals and humans, it also helps train the trainer, and especially for watching animal behaviour and the correct timing between responses.
All round, it becomes a content relationship where we have the best situation to maintain her well-being. So if you see us with a funny little white pole with a little red tip…. You know Teela is busy training us for TREATS!!!