Harold the Rooster

Dahlia

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We're working on putting sit to a verbal command. I think it must be hard for chickens to distinguish a verbal command. They're very responsive to visual cues but not so much the verbal cues so far View attachment 58083
I told my kids about your rooster that you taught to sit and they were amazed that such things can be taught to someone in the poultry family!
 

AMKuska

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A chicken scientist actually got back to me! There should be no problems with Harold being capable of understanding spoken words. Chickens make 24 unique vocalizations to communicate with each other, and can even use them deceptively.

They may try to get rid of a rival for example, by spying a predator and deciding not to vocalize if a rival is nearby, or getting upset because their chicks are upset, even if there's no clear reason for their behavior.

In short, Harold definitely has the language processing skills to understand my words. It's more likely that the 'stimulus' for him to sit is seeing my hand to go under, not the word. A better plan for fading the lure was suggested, where I have him go under my hand to sit, but then gradually raise it up an inch at a time, and see if he'll still sit even if he doesn't have to crouch to go under my hand.

If he will, we can just gradually raise the hand each time, while making the verbal cue "sit" precede it each time, until he is sitting when he hears the word, not when he sees the cue.
 

AMKuska

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It works!! I thought he wouldn't sit when the hand was so high he didn't have to crawl under it, but he is definitely viewing my horizontal arm as the signal to sit. I gradually raised my arm up half an inch at a time until it was 6 inches above him and he still sat.

Unfortunately asking for "sit" and not showing the visual signal still isn't working, but he's much less frustrated. (I know he's frustrated when he starts offering the previous behavior instead of trying to sit.)
 

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It works!! I thought he wouldn't sit when the hand was so high he didn't have to crawl under it, but he is definitely viewing my horizontal arm as the signal to sit. I gradually raised my arm up half an inch at a time until it was 6 inches above him and he still sat.

Unfortunately asking for "sit" and not showing the visual signal still isn't working, but he's much less frustrated. (I know he's frustrated when he starts offering the previous behavior instead of trying to sit.)

i suppose now is not the time to talk about flipping the bird... if he gets too frustrated he may take that up...
 

AMKuska

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Harold offered a couple of sits without a lure today. I think I'll probably work on something else for a while and then come back to it. He was very mouthy (beaky?) today. He pecked my shoes, pecked at my hands, and then leapt up and pecked at my face!

He got picked up at the last peck so we could have a discussion about his behavior. He sat there, passively dangling from my hands, and turned his head so he could look at me while he dangled. He was not a bit sorry. When I set him down though, he stopped pecking and got to work.

Perhaps we'll be starting each training with cuddles if that's what he needs.
 

AMKuska

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Harold's first video is on YouTube!

Someone already viewed and liked it within the first few seconds of having it up, so I think he's going to be popular. :)

We went to the zoo with the kids today and I was so tired I just reviewed sit again. No pecking nonsense today!
 

AMKuska

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Harold does not like fireworks. I came out to see if they were okay and he was swelled up to look like a tiny beach ball. When a boom went off he would spook, and then run at the nearest thing that had changed. He ran at a dog who was outside the chicken coop panicking as well. He ran at a suspicious leaf. He even ran at me once, but aborted that decision before getting very close.

I kinda want to get a picture of him walking around like an expanded puffer fish, but I also don't want to be associated with all this noise, so I probably won't head out there tonight. If he thought yesterday was bad, he's going to be real surprised tonight.
 
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