Three Ways Learning Happens

Three Very Different Ways Behavior Is Modified
— Whether We Notice It Or Not

As Described for the Basically Shy Rat Who Is Not Aggressive or Overly Fearful

For Fearful or Aggressive Rats, much care needs to be taken to stay safe and work with this rat.
Please start with A Good Relationship with Fearful or Aggressive Rats
Environment & Management Where Your Rat Is Just Passively Present Where Your Rat Does Good Things and You Make Sure Good Things Happen Back

Physical Setting, Nutrition, Health, How Things Are Arranged In Advance (Antecedent Arrangements)

Classical Conditioning, including desensitization & counterconditioning

Operant Conditioning - Positive Reinforcement Specifically, and Clicker Training as an extension of R+

This chart contains simple or even simplistic examples. Understand the science, and you'll be empowered to invent many behavior intervations that match to your particular rat. JoinRats offers extensive lnks to all of the subjects (and much more) on this page.

For all examples below, the rat does not become more fearful with any of these. The starting point is Calm, or Alert, but not Over-Threshold

The rat does not become more fearful with any of these.  
First and foremost, the recently rescued pet rat who is malnourished, needs to stabilize health-wise. The shy rat who's new in your home: Sit next to her in her cage and read a book, watch television, check your email, fold laundry, or talk to a friend on the phone. Sitting next to the cage, with the cage door open, because you've determined this rat is not a flight risk, and the cage is on  a play table, the shy but not-too-scared rat begins to approach the cage door. In the moment of the approach: Long handled spoon arrives at rat's mouth with yummy treat. Lots of repetitions each time she takes a step forward in the right direction.
The shy rat who has started making strange squeak noises, and has porphryin around her nose and eyes, needs to visit a vet as soon as possible. (More about this on<a href="/RatHealth/SOUNDS/HealthyOrSickSqueaks/11128370_DtL6HQ" target="_blank">JoinRats - Healthy Squeaks or Sick Squeaks</a>.) As long as the rat is not over-threshold, set the cage where you are doing things such as making dinner, walking back and forth through the hall, or having lunch.   You arrive at the cage door and hope your new but not really friendly rat wants to come out and play. When she pops her head out in your direction, REINFORCE with appearance of long-handled spoon with baby food for a quick like. Spoon retreats and you wait for the rat to offer another movement forward. Reinforce for "coming out" behaviors several times, as you can, and retreat. Come back in 5 minutes and repeat.
When it's time to sit down next to the new rat's cage and offer her yogurt on a long-handled spoon, ask the children to stop playing and leave. This creates the atmosphere for concentration, calm, and focus. Remove distractions. With yogurt on a long-handled spoon, open the cage door and bring the spoon to the rat. This is only for the rat who won't react fearfully at your doing this, and assumes she will like the baby food or yogurt. Offer her lots of licks. Repeat many times  eee
On sitting with your rat at a play table, remove the house cat's toys from the table. Nothing gets in the way of trust more than the predator who might eat one.  The shy rat doesn't seem interested in checking out her human, so the human lays her arm down inside the cage and smears baby food along it. Resting there, doing nothing.   eee
eee  At the play table, the shy rat is able to roam around and check out toys and boxes. You lay your head and shoulders down, but the rat prefers to kind of avoid you. Offer her finges with baby food. Smear baby food on parts of your arm or neck, and allow her to find these at her own pace.  eee
Three Major Realms In Which Behavior Can Be Modified
(And Modification Goes On All The Time Whether We Notice It Or Not)
1st: Environment & Management 2nd: Where Your Rat Is Just Passively Present 3rd: Where Your Rat Does Good Things to Make Good Things Happen

Physical Setting, Nutrition, Health, How Things Are Arranged In Advance (Antecedent Arrangements)

Classical Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

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