Above: Rat training video shows how a rat can quickly be conditioned to learn how to go touch a target.
I enjoyed this video illustrating the training of a rat to go to a target. You can teach any animal to go to a specific location using a target object.
If you want to try this technique I’d encourage you to do so–even if it is just for fun.
The target object can be a small towel, flat object, or mat. This is conditioned as illustrated in the above video.
When working with groups of animals, or if you are separated from an animal by a barrier, you can teach the animal to go to a specific “station” or location for easier management.
Usually a target pole or just a position withing the location (or stall) can be used and it is trained the same way. The advantage of using a target is that it gives the animal a clear visual cue as well.
If you read the series about Mr B’s cat training process, his stationing behavior prior to feeding was simply a location on the carpet away from the smooth floor.
Above: Example of a stationing behavior as Mr B waits outside of his feeding location. The criteria was simply that he had to be on the carpet but the mat became a boundary point. On the mat or behind it closer to the chair are the areas where he is most rewarded.
This texture change was the only criteria so that when we move into another location that texture is the SD for the location that is preferred.
Why use this technique?
When you train an animal to position, or go to a specific place, you can mitigate issues at the door, during feeding, and other things.
Many people use, “go to your bed” and often an animal will decide to go on his or her own during situations that have caused chaos in the past.
It changes the animal’s state and redirects their previous behavior into something more desirable.
See if you can watch the video and see how the rat is shaped. I had two rats for training in college. Some time I will share the differences in the techniques between the two because they are striking.