You’ve read the fist two posts on clicker training your rabbit and why it is so effective. Now we are almost ready to start the fist session. Before we grab our ballpoint pen and start rewarding, however, let’s take a breath.
Getting in to the proper frame of mind is absolutely key to successful training. We’ve got to consider how rabbits think, and make sure our own heads are clear and calm.
Dr. A. G. Bradbury, a vet and clicker training expert in the UK, gives us some things to keep in mind:
You won’t need equipment of anything special, but you do need to prepare about 15 tiny itty bitty high-value treats as rewards.
What is a high-value treat? Get a plate, and put a variety of your rabbit’s foods on there. Greens, herbs, bits of bark, flower petals…whatever you think your rabbit loves. Now watch and see what Fluffy eats first. Did the red clover disappear in seconds? Whatever your rabbit chose to gobble up first, THAT is your high-value treat. If you use pelleted food as the treat, deduct that amount of pellets from dinner – we don’t want to overfeed pellets. You may want to take a look at our herbal blends or oat tops as rewards.
Training goes faster, and the urge to get the reward is stronger, when the treat is tiny. Make sure you’ve got itty bitty little pieces as rewards.
Find your ballpoint pen to use as a clicker.
illustration credit: notsalmon.com
Take some deep breaths. Are you feeling calm and patient? What are you going to work on today? Know exactly what you want to ask for before you ask! Picture it in your head. Do you want your rabbit to come to the door of her ex-pen? Do you want her to come running to you when you call from another room? Do you want him to stand on his back legs? Picture each thing very specifically, and decide when the request is a success. This will help you focus on the exact right time to click when the moment comes.
Phone turned off? TV off? Other animals in a different area? Great. You’re ready. Let’s do this!