great tricks to teach my mouse?

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great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by dragonmyst on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 11:16 am

I didn't train Mr. Jingles, just gave him a ton of attention, but I am interested in teaching Ramoth a few tricks. So how would I go about doing it? I have tried (with varying levels of success) to train dogs. Is it the same for a mouse? I am honestly curious how it is done since nice are so different. So what are some good tricks and how do I go about teaching them?
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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by stephlisa on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 11:47 am

I haven't deliberately trained Colin but he does respond to his name and (occassionally) comes when called! I've never trained a dog, but you can Clicker train mice:
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3226

The problem I would have is that Colin isn't at all food motivated so it would be very hard to reinforce the right behaviour all the time!

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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by CallaLily on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 11:53 am

I haven't tried teaching my mice any tricks.  A few have learned their name or phrases ("playtime!" or "home?") just from repetition.  There's a youtuber called MouseAgility that has taught some of their mice some pretty neat things. I think they have a few videos explaining how they went about it.

This person has this cute video showing her mice coming when called.

(She also has an amazing mouse house and foraging toy ideas. She works with a lot of other animals too.)

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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Unicorn on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 12:18 pm

I made a target stick out of a dowel rod and taught my hamster to follow it with a clicker and some millet spray (he only gets this treat during training so it makes it extra motivating). I plan to do the same with Flynn once he trusts me more. It's useful because you can direct them to places it may be hard to reach with your hand, and teach them to come to you by building value for grabbing the target. It builds communication as well.
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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Bthny on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 12:36 pm

How did you train dogs in the past?  Some methods are more similar to mouse training than others.

I do agility training with my mice.  Making obstacles out of Popsicle sticks is cheap and mice tend to have a lot of fun with it.  Making a few jumps and A-frames is pretty easy to see how they take to it.  Here's a picture with some ideas if you're interested (http://www.mouseagility.com/menagerie/photos/rats/agility/equipment/ratgreenpopsicleagilityset.jpg)

One training method is called luring.  To do this, you need to train your mouse to follow a treat by holding one in your hand and starting close to your mouse and slowly moving it so the mouse has to take a few steps.  Most mice pick this up pretty quickly, so then you can use the treat to lure him over obstacles.  I treat my mice every time they succeed, but I raise the criteria for it (as opposed to training dogs, where it starts as continuous but then becomes more intermittent).  On a new obstacle, I'll treat them for starting it, then they'll get the treat for finishing it, then for completing two obstacles in a row, etc.  Eventually, you can start to fade the lure, but I personally tend to not bother with my mice.  If you'd want to train your mouse to sit up, spin, etc, you'd use this.

You can also use capturing.  I use this for new equipment if my mice seem unsure about it.  In this method, you let them run around and do mousey stuff, but treat them for showing interest in the object or doing a certain behavior.  They'll start to spend more and more time on the object, so then you can start your training.  If you've even seen videos of mice or rats playing basketball, this is how they're usually trained for that.  

I don't really do any tricks besides agility, but lately I've been training my girls to present certain body parts so I can inspect/monitor them for health reasons.  I also have a fair amount of semi-professional training experience with dogs and cats, so if you have any questions about things I haven't personally done, I can try to give advice by combining what I know from that with what I know about mice.

Here's a few other tips:
You want to be consistent.  You want to have training sessions regularly (typically once a day, a few times a day if you can, and if you skip a day here and there, it'll be okay), but if you're trying to train once a week, they won't pick it up.

Another thing to keep in mind is to listen to what your mice are telling you.  Sometimes, they won't be into the session at all, and sometimes they'll be nailing it and super focused.  It's okay to take a step backwards if your mouse needs it.  You want your mouse to succeed, and if you're repeatedly asking and getting nothing, it's frustrating for both of you.  That said, make sure you're only treating your mouse for doing what you ask.  It's also always best to end a training session on a positive note.  It's better to keep training sessions short with your mice engaged.  It's also perfectly okay to do a training session, move them to a playpen and play for a bit, then train again.  I usually aim to keep training sessions under or around 10 minutes.

My girls also tend to do better in a place they're familiar with.  If you're planning on using an unfamiliar area, let your mice get used to it first.  If you also have equipment specific to training, like agility equipment, don't let them play on it outside of training.  You want them to associate what they're doing on the equipment with getting a reward, and if they play on it too much without one, then they'll lose that association.

You also want to find treats that your mice are really motivated by, and that you can feed to them in tiny pieces that won't disrupt your training.  For comparison, dogs can be trained using pea-sized treats, so mice don't need a big treat for this!
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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Plazmotech on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 7:10 pm

That's awesome Bthny! I'm going to try to train my mice. Do you recommend using a clicker?

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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Bthny on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 9:29 pm

In your situation, I'd say it really comes down to personal preference. I personally don't us a clicker with my mice because I've always had girls, and I don't separate them for training so it wouldn't be all that useful to me. Some of the benefits of the clicker is that it gives you a little more time to deliver the treat, it tends to be a lot more consistent for reaction time between a few trainers, and animals learn that they need to keep working until the click happens, so they'll tend to offer more tricks or behaviors to get it. A clicker would also be extremely helpful with capturing behavior, but it's not essential. However, a clicker is also an extra step, and it can be a little clumsy to deal with until you get really familiar with it, so I'd suggest considering the potential benefits and drawbacks of what you want to be training.

Good luck with training! Let us know how is goes Very Happy
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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Plazmotech on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 9:37 pm

Thanks! Yeah that's just a future idea. For now I'm still trying to tame them! One of them will step into my hands sometimes, and will behave if I pick her up. The other one just stepped onto my hand for the first time yesterday. But today neither have willingly stepped onto my hand. in fact, the more well behaved one even seemed like she was avoiding me! Weird.

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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Plazmotech on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 9:43 pm

How do you go about giving your mice treats without encouraging nibbling? I was giving my mice treats to try and tame them, but now they just bite me when I hold my hand out because they think its a treat! So I think I'm going to stop hand feeding them treats. What should I do as a reward for training??? Should I have a little spoon of treats?

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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Unicorn on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 9:50 pm

Spoons work, especially a longer-handled measuring spoon like a little teaspoon (deeper cup, less likely to just scatter the treats). I use a millet spray, it's already a long sprig and I just let them nibble a seed or two off the end before taking it away again and waiting for them to offer the next behavior.
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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Plazmotech on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 9:51 pm

Where can I get that? Are the ones from PetCo okay?

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Re: great tricks to teach my mouse?

Post by Unicorn on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 10:54 pm

You can definitely get a millet spray from Petco, it's sold as a parakeet treat, you can get them singly from the bulk bins or sometimes sold in a package (my hamster and mouse are tiny so I tend to buy them one or two at a time).
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