Help Your Rat Sit Quietly In Your Arms - JoinRats
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Help Your Rat Sit Quietly In Your Arms

Would you like to help your energized, busy-body, exhuberant rat enjoy lying quietly in your arms?

Positive reinforcement can help!

Sounds simple, and, it is simple in concept, until our zoom-zoom rat moves here and there and EVERYWHERE, and SO FAST. Right?

Here’s a way for you to see (1) What your rat does, and (2) What you do, to help that hyperactive rat. :)

The idea and method of Positive Reinforcement is simple (read more here):

  1. What Comes Before (Antecedent): Your rat is climbing around your shoulder.
  2. The Behavior you would like to see more of: She comes down off your shoulder and lays in your arms.
  3. Immediately bring her a food treat (Consequence).
  4. Over time, if she comes down off your shoulder and lays in your arms longer, Positive Reinforcement will have occurred.

Okay – but, how might this play out? Have you ever had this experience with your hyperactive rat?:

This example cycle or loop takes place entirely in under 5 seconds:

When Willow came to me at about 1.5 years of age, she had never been touched or handled by a human. Using Positive Reinforcement I helped her to love to hop onto my shoulders and go for rides. Over time, I helped her come down onto my arms and enjoy staying in place.

When Willow came to me at about 1.5 years of age, she had never been touched or handled by a human. Using Positive Reinforcement I helped her to love to hop onto my shoulders and go for rides. Over time, I helped her come down onto my arms and enjoy staying in place.

So your sweet rat is a zoom-zoom rat, and waiting for her to calm down and be still so that you can deliver a food treat, can mean you actually encourage more zoom-zoom behaviors

What do we do about it?

See how we can zoom zoom in ourselves to just a portion of the loop, and examine it?

Tune Your Eye To Smaller Loops (Of Behavior – Reinforcement – Behavior – Reinforcement)

Here a shorter loop, where a loop is Behavior – Reinforcement. Around in a loop, back to a new behavior (repeat).

Watc sooner, for when the rat steps down off your shoulder, onto your arms.

Your hand is moving the food right to her as her paws land on your hands and before any paw has a chance to move again.

Next loop, watch that the rat finishes her treat-eating, but does not have time to take another paw step any which way. Reinforce again for her laying quietly.

The idea is to repeat a few loops very very quickly so that your rat does not have an opportunity to sit up, look around, etc. End this session after even 3 short loops. Repeat again many times.

Each of these cycles or loops completes entirely in 1 to 1.5 seconds:

Inspiration for this page comes from:

My own experience with my zoom-zoom rats. :)

Hannah Brannigan’s amazing Wonderpups blog article, with amazing loop graphics, The SECRET to Clicker Training for Duration. She writes about the loop involved when a cue and a marker (clicker) are involved.

Caveat:

I am in active discussions with behavior analysts and trainers, to make sure I represent the science of Operant Conditioning correctly. Any errors on this page are my own.

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