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Why chickens?

Keller and Marian Breland taught their first animal trainer classes in 1947 and 1948. They used chickens as models. The Brelands spent many years searching for a better behavioral model than chickens, but they always came back to the common barnyard fowl. Bob and Marian Bailey continued using chickens to teach novice and experienced trainers. With Marian's passing, Bob will continue the Bailey & Bailey tradition.

Bob Bailey's philosophical point of view on teaching animal training is that training is a mechanical skill and the understanding and skillful practicing of a few simple behavioral principles are keys to trainer success. 

When someone is called "chicken!", the meaning is clear - such is the uninspiring reputation of this domestic bird. What is not so well known is that a chicken may be simple, and cautious, but, it is not stupid. Chickens, as a groupe, have coped by learning what to do and what not to do. In the classroom we take advantage of that power to learn.

It is the chicken's very simplicity that makes it an ideal model for shaping behavior in the classroom. Most higher animals are complicated by many levels of social, investigatory, or play behaviors. These comlicated behaviors may be triggered by internal or external factors unknown to us. While chickens are social animals,, interactions are relativly infrequent, and highly stereotypic. There are few of the "play" behaviors we tend to associate with higher animals. Thus, the chickens seems dedicated to eating, avoiding being eaten, and making more chickens, with very few diversions. This singlemindedness is a help when shaping behavior. The student can spend more time shaping behavior, and less time waiting for the bird to compleate som extraneous behavior  pattern initiated internally or by the enviroment.

The chickens is not only simple, it is FAST. Though the chicken is an omnivore, it has the speed and competitiveness of a predator. It takes a quick and obeservant trainer to time the clicker with the impact of the chicken's beak.

A properly selected chicken is the best training model now available.

Copyright Marian Breland Bailey och Bob Bailey ã