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Thread: Help! How do I OC train my RedTail?

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    Default Help! How do I OC train my RedTail?

    Greetings! I am a first year apprentice with a red tail hawk. Traditional training has help me man an amazing RTH. However, I feel I am still missing something. OPC training innately makes sense to me for training a my bird dogs. Obviously, I can use this with my raptor as well! I was initially turned on to this method of training from the modern apprentice website. I have read numerous articles explaining various techniques on how to implement the conditioning. However, I have not run across any videos taking someone step-by-step through this process or introduction. Are there any books or videos (preferably videos) that someone could direct me towards? I am eager to learn as much as I can. I look forward to hearing back from someone soon!

    Thanks you!
    Kevin VanNostrand

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    Kevin,

    If you are hunting with your Red Tail, you are using operant conditioning already. It does work the same as it does with your bird dogs, in theory. Only the application and the end results are going to be different.

    There are tons of books out there on Operant conditioning and plenty of videos, but probably not many of hawks being trained.

    What is it that you want your hawk to do? If you explain that in detail, I am sure I, or plenty of others on this forum, can help you achieve your goal.
    Mark D. Cusick

  3. #3
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    If you are already familiar with OC, then using it on a new species is just as simple as 1) establishing the conditioned reinforcer/targets that you want to use and 2) coming up with a plan of attack for a behavior that you want to shape.

    OC is not always the best/fastest way to get results, but anything that can learn and that senses the outside world and that can preceive that they recieved a reward can be trained with OC. This is not theory - its long since been established. Scallops and earthworms have been trained.

    Here is a really good video on a single session of hood training a falcon using OC. In this example, the falcon is well on its way and this is more of a "polishing the behavior" session.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRvT6IzEJPo

    There are a lot of example videos here:
    http://www.themodernapprentice.com/games.htm

    None of them really demonstrate the behavior being trained, they show the polished behavior after it is trained. But you can clearly see the cue, response, and hear the CR being given and then the reward given. If you have done any actual OC training from beginning to end, this should be enough for you to build on.
    Geoff Hirschi - "It is better to have lightning in the fist than thunder in the mouth"
    Custom made Tail Saver Perches - http://www.myrthwood.com/TieEmHigh/

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    Good post, Geoff.
    Deb Davis
    Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful of your life. - Mark Twain

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    First off, thank you for your response. Unintentionally you are totally correct. I'm sure some of my training are already OC related. Presently, I am training my bird to hunt off a T-perch and also to hunt up front in stead of hunting 50 yard behind. First, I started off by utilizing the creance in combination with T-perch. Basically, when the bird flies to the glove, I "click", I give him a tidbit and he flies back to the T-Perch. Then, I "click" when he lands back on the T-Perch. For a time, every other flight to the glove, I did NOT give my bird a tidbit, I gave him a "click"instead. Still, when the bird turned off my glove and flew back to the perch, I always give him another "click" when he lands back on the T-Perch. The bird quickly began hesitating to fly to the glove when he was going to receive a "click" and not a tidbit. My response to his hesitation is always the same, I put my hand down, count to 30, walk away and try again a max of three times. My bird is reacting to the idea that there MUST be a tidbit in my glove for him to fly to me. My primary goal was to try and create anticipation for the bird that i would have a tidbit for him, hopefully resulting in more consistency, without having to tibit everytime I raised my glove, however it began to back fire and he was hesitant to fly to the glove without a tidbit. Second, I wanted to reward the bird with a "click" everytime he flew to the T-perch, without having to put a tidbit on the perch each time. My goal here was to "reward" the bird for being on the perch. Third, I would ultimately like to learn how to use OC to teach my bird to hunt forward or above me rather then 50 yards behind me. (yes, I understand that i need to keep the bird on game)
    Thank you to Geoff! The hood and HLT video was great! I need to see more videos like that one! Someone needs to make video series.
    Again, I really learned a lot from the modern apprentice website. However, I would love to see some videos or read a book that teaches how to tidbit correctly in combination with a "click".
    Kevin VanNostrand

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    Kevin,
    There are a couple of things going on here. The first of which is, do you show the tidbit on the glove when working your recalls? If you do, more than likely, the only time the bird will come to your fist is when there is a tidbit in view. When you show the tidbit, you are not using a reward, but a bribe. Hide the tidbit in the glove and the bird will have to come to the glove to find out if the reward is there. Doing this will actually strengthen your recall ability. After tidbitting say 25 times in a row and maybe more, with the recall, you can then start to vary the reward schedule. This will also strengthen the recall to the glove.

    Your bird is probably following behind you for a couple of reasons. 1. The bird is only called to the fist for a tidbit when it is behind you. 2. Game is being flushed when the bird is behind you. Try waiting for the bird to come up to you or even in front of you. Have a good sized reward in the glove ready and when the bird gets there, call to the glove or to really cement the exercise, throw out the lure or release bagged game. A couple of those sessions and the bird will get the point. Since you have dogs, if they go on point, do not allow the flush until the bird comes even with you or in front.

    As far as the bird being rewarded on the T perch; please keep in mind that the click is not the reward, but the marker for the reward (a reward is coming). Attach a binder clip to the T perch on the opposite side of the one you recall the bird. You will have to put a reward up there a bunch of times in the beginning and then only sometimes, but the reward needs to be out of the bird's sight. Again, if the bird can see the reward, it is not a reward, but a bribe. Bribes are weak forms of reinforcing behaviors. The bird must show up first, to find out if the reward is there or not. By bribing, the bird can decide if it wants to come or not and already has the information as to if the rewards is there or not. Further use of the bribe system can allow the bird to decide if there is enough reward there to even warrant coming at all. Soon the tidbit must become a chunk in order for the bird to come to the fist. Now the bird is training the falconer.

    Varying the reward schedule will increase recall. Varying the amount of the reward will make it even stronger. Sometimes there should be a little tidbit, sometimes nothing at all and other times there should be a big blob of food. You want your bird to think that coming back to you, or the T perch is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get, but you have to come back to find out.

    Hiding the food is the key here. You may need to take your training back to very small recalls to start and build from there. Hiding the food at this time and trying a 100 yard recall is not going to work. You will be laying a whole new set of rules for the bird, and it will need to learn them.

    Hope this helps. Please let us know how your endeavor turned out.
    Mark D. Cusick

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    This is the basis for the info on the modern apprentice website: http://www.clickertraining.com/
    -Jeff
    "You live more for five minutes going fast on a bike like that, than other people do in all of their life." --Marco Simoncelli

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    Mark,
    Again, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to respond to my text. Since the beginning, I have always hidden the tidbit. I was taught that this always gives the bird a sense of anticipation. I normally keep the tidbit in my palm before giving it. I will definitely work on doing 25 tidbits before varying the tidbit schedule.
    I have done 4 baggies thus far. Using 3 inch pipe cut at 12 inches. I then added an two adjustable (tension) end caps to each end. Next, I place a stake 10 feet in front of the pipe with a thin rope attached to one end of a 75% loosened cap. The caudal cap I have tighten at 100% with a 40 foot rope attached. I place my set up 10 feet from a tree. After a short walk with my bird on the T perch, I gently pull the rope and release the squirrel. Then the fireworks begin! My hope is that eventually the bird will realize that he needs to be up with me to get game. However, you are correct. The bird was only coming up to me for the meat on my glove and not for the hope that I will produce game. As friend recently said to me, so long as I have game popping up, the bird with learn the program.
    Thank you for the great advice. I'll learn from your suggestions.
    Kevin VanNostrand

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    Jeff,
    Yes, I have read that article 5 times already. It was part on my inspiration to learn more about OC. However, I still need a better understanding. I am hoping that someone soon will make a "how to" video soon. Thank you!!!!
    Kevin VanNostrand

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    Um...article? I put up a link to an entire website with discussion forum and resources for OC. it's not rocket science and you're doing OC with EVERYTHING training your bird. Not sure how to help you understand it better, it's not magic.

    It also has its limitations, reading your posts I can't help but think you're trying way to hard. Passage redtails dont need baggies, especially this late in the year, go hunting. Impatience is common amongst people who's expectations are too high, give the bird a chance to figure out what works. It's really as simple as flushing for the bird when he's out of position and it will figure out it doesn't work and move up. You're the source of quarry, they learn it. I can't imagine building a release system for bagged squirrels if the bird hunts them, instead of just going hawking.

    There are OC related articles around the Internet that deal with truly random reward, might want to find them. If youre this "into" OC, a video won't solve your understanding of it...practicing it will.
    Last edited by JRedig; 01-15-2017 at 11:03 AM.
    -Jeff
    "You live more for five minutes going fast on a bike like that, than other people do in all of their life." --Marco Simoncelli

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRedig View Post
    Um...article? I put up a link to an entire website with discussion forum and resources for OC. it's not rocket science and you're doing OC with EVERYTHING training your bird. Not sure how to help you understand it better, it's not magic.

    It also has its limitations, reading your posts I can't help but think you're trying way to hard. Passage redtails dont need baggies, especially this late in the year, go hunting. Impatience is common amongst people who's expectations are too high, give the bird a chance to figure out what works. It's really as simple as flushing for the bird when he's out of position and it will figure out it doesn't work and move up. You're the source of quarry, they learn it. I can't imagine building a release system for bagged squirrels if the bird hunts them, instead of just going hawking.

    There are OC related articles around the Internet that deal with truly random reward, might want to find them. If youre this "into" OC, a video won't solve your understanding of it...practicing it will.
    I could tell you all you need to know about OC and it would fit on a cocktail napkin.

    If I tried to cover all the subtle how to nuances of it, it there are not enough books in a library to contain it all.

    Jeff is right, its not magic. Well, it kinda is until you understand it and its power and its limitations. Anyone who wants to learn OC training, just needs to dive in and start working on it. The cocktail napkin I mentioned above is more than adequate to cover all the info, but until you dive into the proverbial pool and start swimming, none of it will have context and it will just seem a bunch mumbo jumbo. Based on the questions, its clear that if the orginal poster has done OC, they haven't done very much of it and certainly not an entire shaping project.

    Just play with it - train your dog to do something amuzing as a test project for example. Something that it wont matter if the training gets all botched up. OC relies on delicate timing and consistency, and that takes some practice to get down. My first real OC project was training my dog to bring a ball to me when we played fetch, but due to poor timing on my part, I instead trained him to drop it exactly 6 feet away from me and even though my skills at OC dramatically increased afterwards, I was never able to fix that behavior. I suppose I could have if I was really motivated to, but the point is made. He went to his grave thinking his job was to make me walk two steps to get the ball back.
    Last edited by JRedig; 01-15-2017 at 11:04 AM. Reason: Updated my quote
    Geoff Hirschi - "It is better to have lightning in the fist than thunder in the mouth"
    Custom made Tail Saver Perches - http://www.myrthwood.com/TieEmHigh/

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    Quote Originally Posted by goshawkr View Post
    OC relies on delicate timing and consistency, and that takes some practice to get down.
    IMO, this is the most important and truest statement ever written about consciously training with OC. 99% of the problems I've seen with OC are timing related. (If the training lies within reasonable goals for OC, which is a relative comment to this thread and the OP)
    -Jeff
    "You live more for five minutes going fast on a bike like that, than other people do in all of their life." --Marco Simoncelli

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    And if the end result isn't what you had hoped for, remember this---experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.
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    Quote Originally Posted by goshawkr View Post
    Just play with it - train your dog to do something amuzing as a test project for example. Something that it wont matter if the training gets all botched up. OC relies on delicate timing and consistency, and that takes some practice to get down. My first real OC project was training my dog to bring a ball to me when we played fetch, but due to poor timing on my part, I instead trained him to drop it exactly 6 feet away from me and even though my skills at OC dramatically increased afterwards, I was never able to fix that behavior. I suppose I could have if I was really motivated to, but the point is made. He went to his grave thinking his job was to make me walk two steps to get the ball back.
    Geoff, I think you really hit on a point here with OC training with raptors. Personally, I never got why everyone wanted to switch from what they thought they were doing to OC because basically it is all OC. LOL But back to point, we all see many problems folks tell us about with a bird on here and if they are really honest and tell us all the steps they went through in training, we will see where they came up short (no pun to your situation with your dog lol) and if they had just done this or that, the bird wouldn't be doing what they didn't want. OC training to me is really about routine with a raptor, if you do the same thing over and over, they get it. And as Jeff said, nothing cures more problems than just getting out there and hunting!!!!!
    Fred
    "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Thank you for helping. I've had a few good people reach out and suggest some additional reading on the subject. I should have my first book, "don't shoot the dog" tomorrow. This forum has allowed me to begin to get a better understanding of what I am attempting to do. Ultimately, I don't just want to "starve" my bird into a response. I want to strengthen him up and condition the bird into the response I want using OC.
    If anyone is going to train a Gun Dog, check out Higgins Gun Dogs, Brad Higgins. He conditions his dogs naturally, strictly with OC. No WHOA training. Its so simple, its stupid.

    Again, thank you for reaching out to me on this site with your great suggestions.
    Kevin VanNostrand

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    One of my initial issues was that my bird was hanging out +50 yards behind me. After speaking with someone from this site, this person quickly realized my problem. Every time I walked and the bird lagged behind, I would hold up my glove and give him a tidbit. I now realized that I trained him that if he lags behind, he will get a tidbit off my glove. I created that behavior. Now, I am creating scenarios where the bird with have to fly past me to get to the next tree or post. My plan is now to tidbit my bird only when he is front of me and/or to release baggies only when he is in front of me.
    Just understanding that scenario, helped me understand more about OC.
    Kevin VanNostrand

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynckmob25 View Post
    One of my initial issues was that my bird was hanging out +50 yards behind me. After speaking with someone from this site, this person quickly realized my problem. Every time I walked and the bird lagged behind, I would hold up my glove and give him a tidbit. I now realized that I trained him that if he lags behind, he will get a tidbit off my glove. I created that behavior. Now, I am creating scenarios where the bird with have to fly past me to get to the next tree or post. My plan is now to tidbit my bird only when he is front of me and/or to release baggies only when he is in front of me.
    Just understanding that scenario, helped me understand more about OC.
    One key to training, any kind of training, not just OC, is to pay close attention to the signals you are giving both consciously and sub-conciosly.

    Reward the behaviors you want to see more of. Even if that means blowing a chance to catch something. If your a trap-hunt-release kind of guy, it might not be worth as much to get the behaviors you want, but if you spend several seasons with your hawk then the short term loss is worth it in the long run. By short term loss I mean this - if you see your hawk do something really cool, and you give them the lure to encourage more of it at the expense of being to hunt more that day, you have sacrificed short terms gains for the long term goal.

    I keep my hawks as long term projects, so for me it is easy to see where the priority is an that is always in my mind.

    Don't shoot the dog is a great start. Should be required reading.
    Geoff Hirschi - "It is better to have lightning in the fist than thunder in the mouth"
    Custom made Tail Saver Perches - http://www.myrthwood.com/TieEmHigh/

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