February 9, 2009

Daisy’s “Trick”

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:18 am by Lindsay

I wanted Daisy to ring a bell.  I thought that if the bell was around nose height this would be ideal since Daisy already stood on her hind legs during clicker training.  Here are the steps we took to reach the goal of ringing the bell!:

1st Contingency:

Daisy needed to at least touch the bell, before receiving a click.  So, the full contingency looked like this:

Touch Bell -> Click -> Corner -> Food

2nd Contingency:

For the second contingency the bell needed to make some sort of noise.  It didn’t matter how Daisy got the bell to make the noise (whether it be with noise, teeth, paw etc), just as long as it made a sound!  So, the contingency was:

Bell Noise -> Click -> Corner -> Food

3rd and Final Contingency:

The noise now needed to consist of a ring sound.  So, of course the contingency was:

Ring -> Click -> Corner -> Food

As you will see in the video Daisy showed behaviors of “minimal effort.”  These behaviors were regressive towards previous contingencies (where she would simply touch the bell (not ring it), run to the corner — when we had moved to the 3rd contingency).  During such periods of behavior as well as incorrect responses to clicks, Daisy did NOT receive food.

Here is a quick video demonstrating above contingencies in order:


January 30, 2009

Clicker Training Complete

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:43 am by Lindsay

Here is a current video of Daisy’s completed clicker training:

January 24, 2009

Daisy’s Specific Clicker Training

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:18 pm by Lindsay

Some important things to note with Daisy’s Clicker training –

1) The second day of training Daisy seemed to associate the food with my hand – I decided to hand feed her (when she reached the specified corner) to increase the likelihood for the association to form with the click.

— I kept my hands in my lap until she reached the corner

2) Daisy developed a habit of standing on her hind legs – since this is how she began recieving her food.    -I decided to have her front paw touch at least one glass piece near the corner for part of her criteria to obtain the food.

3) I also used the double click method.  – The second click will soon be extinguished with a video to follow!

Here is a video of Daisy’s successful clicker training nearly complete:


If you have questions or concerns please feel free to ask them!

January 23, 2009

Clicker Training

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:21 am by Lindsay

Phase One: establishing a habituation for the clicker and the aquarium is vital.  The clicker may elicit a startled response or freezing stance, while the aquarium is usually a new stimulating habitat.  Once somewhat habituated to the new habitat (aquarium, where the work periods took place and nothing else), continuing to click when the rat is about to eat the food is crucial.  Food must be placed in the same corner during every session.

            Phase 2: Pairing the clicker with the food from a small distance away (~1-2inches) from the corner is an option.  Once mastered, begin clicking while she is further (~3-5 inches) and further away (~half the tank).  You may not always be successful, but the key is consistency and patience!

            Phase three includes pairing the click with the food from the longest distance away (i.e.~ the opposite side of the tank). 

*If a “Delayed response” is occurring i.e. not immediately running to the food corner after the click – the rat may not have mastered the previous phase.

Something that helped me (and many other students) was the double click method! Ifthere was a long delay between click and receiving food (but still doing correct behavior), clicking again right before she eats the food can help bridge between these two phases.  However, after pairing this for a few days, the double click SHOULD be extinguished.

            Phase four is a consistent repetition of clicking while the rat is away from the food at varying distances away from the corner (to show her response to the click). 


Remember each rat is different and will require different training.  Be open to adjustments!

HELPFUL: Near the end of phase three and four periodically click to see if the rat will respond by running to the “specified food corner.”  This is a “test” to see if the association is truly between the click and not something else (i.e. a hand).  Once the rat consistently runs to the corner with the click even if there wasn’t food there (responding to the click (CS) with the food (CR) and not my hand (or other stimuli)) shows successful clicker training!

General Guidelines

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:39 am by Lindsay

When delving into the world of clicker training, one should remember that each rat is different and will undergo their own unique training.  There are many techniques to clicker training: however, following a classical conditioning model is good for foundation.

Classical conditioning model:

US (food)>CS




CS + US-> UR


CS (clicker) => CR (food corner) 

It is also helpful to enter into the task with an open mind. Entering into the task of clicker training is easier with an open mind!  Here are some helpful guidelines for clicker training:

1)  Be consistent – a simple rule, if it’s working – stick to it!

Although, students may not have the luxury of much “extra” time it is important to devote AT LEAST one hour a night for training, feeding and play.  Choose this hour wisely and try to commit to going at the same time every day.

1a) Work: Only clicker training should occur.  This helps to signal that the CS is ONLY the clicker (which increases it’s predictability towards the US). Note: see pellet size picture at the bottom

1b) Feeding: Feeding is different then work periods. This is because if the rat is immediately fed after a work period, she may not be as motivated to “work” since she will receive the reward (food) regardless if she works or WAITS.  Therefore, one should establish a fasting period for at least 30 minutes post work periods and provides at least 6 hours of fasting prior to clicker training (this can vary from rat to rat).

1c) Play: This is a time reserved for socialization with the rat.  It can be helpful in training to be with the rat, not only during work periods.

2) Patience: Remember all new things have trial and error.  Be patient with your rat.  Her behavior doesn’t lie – if she’s not responding in the way you would like, change what YOU are doing.

2a) Change:  It is hard to find the stimuli that are causing a particular response.  Try changing ONE thing at a time, not multiple.

3) Document:  A daily journal logging behavior, weight and food consumed is useful.  Memory can become muddled when doing the same task multiple days in a row – so document it as you go!  This will also be very useful with your blogs – In general, most people do not want to read ALL THE DETAILS – less is more especially when you can include a video!

Comparing Pellet Sizes