Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Would You Go to Chicken Training Camp?

Flickr photo credit: jcolman
Did you know you could go to chicken training camp this summer? Yes, you read that right: chicken training camp.

While the idea sounds a tad eccentric, a bit of digging reveals that training chickens is a no-nonsense endeavor, especially for those that are training themselves to handle other animals.

Legacy Canine (a dog training school) is running a series of chicken training camps this year, and here's how they got into the chicken business:

Legacy has been hosting dog training camps since the 1980’s.  In the old days the camps had 120 participants, many from overseas.  Terry decided that a convenient on-site training model should be provided for people flying in and unable to bring their dogs.  For several years Legacy campers trained rats in Skinner boxes.  In the early 90’s Ingrid Kang Shallenberger (Sea Life Park) and Terry Ryan, began using bantam chickens as training models at Legacy camps... In 1994 Terry asked Marian Breland-Bailey and Bob Bailey to share their years of animal training experience with Legacy campers.  For several years Marian and Bob taught the chicken unit at Legacy Camps.  Terry has included chickens in her current instructor’s courses “Coaching People to Train Their Dogs” and conducts one-day “Poultry in Motion” chicken training workshops.  Bob Bailey retired in 2008 from teaching his continuing education series of U.S. based chicken training workshops.
Now, we urban chicken farmers know our chickens to be intelligent creatures, but I have to admit even I was taken aback at finding out hens are used by click-trainers to hone their skills for use on other non-poultry species.

And hey, what could match the joy of adding "certified Chicken Trainer" to one's CV underneath the heading "Urban Chicken Farmer"?

BONUS reading for those of you already intrigued by animal training, here's an insightful white paper entitled "The Misbehavior of Organisms?"

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