Zebra Training, Day Who Knows?
It's been so long since I've written about Stripe's progress, I've lost count of the days!
Stripes has made steady progress in her training and has become quite the friendly little zebra! She's still wary of people, but comes right over when she sees me, eager to begin the day's session.
Currently Stripes is learning to put her feet on a wooden block in preparation for a pedicure. For now we're using a wooden block because it's an easier target than a hoof stand. I'm using a process called "shaping" to get the behavior. This process involves reinforcing successive approximations to the goal behavior. In other words, I start by reinforcing any and all interactions with the block, even if it's with her nose instead of her foot!
Once Stripes was interacting with the block pretty consistently during our last training session, I started reinforcing only movements of her feet. Pretty soon this turned in to reinforcing only for lifting her foot. I also added in the discriminative stimulus of which side I'm on. Meaning that Stripes learned that if I was on her left side, she would only be reinforced for lifting her left foot, and if I was on her right side, she would only be reinforced for lifting her right foot.
Stripes picked all of this up within 3 training sessions, so now it's just a matter of shaping her to actually place a foot on the block and keep it there. During our sessions, we also work on desensitizing to touch and I'm gradually touching more and more of her shoulders and chest, with the idea of working my way down her legs. Eventually it will all come together as a final behavior of being able to touch all the way down to the hoof that's resting on the hoof stand.
Here is our latest video with all of stripe's behaviors so far: