Lesson 9.5 – Animal Training Skills (Molly the Morepork, Part 6)


This is the final of a 6 part series on Training Molly the Morepork owl. The series follows Molly’s journey from a three-month-old owl that wouldn’t let me come near her to a bird that’s now used in live animal shows.

In this lesson I want to talk about patience. Patience is really important in your toolbox when it comes to building your animal training skills. I’ve had people tell me that Positive Reinforcement doesn’t work. My understanding of this was that their animal did not learn a behavior in a time-frame, which was, determined by them (i.e. the human). The conclusion drawn was that positive reinforcement was not an efficient training tool.

Some of you might have seen my video about the first animal I ever trained: Bob the wedge tail eagle. The initial behavior I set out to train with Bob took me eight months to achieve. One reason behind this is that Bob and I were learning together. Bob had no schedule in the training.

Bob’s only schedule was going about his day doing the most reinforcing thing available to him at any point in time. It was my job to communicate to Bob what my schedule was. It took me eight months to do this and make that a mutually beneficial schedule, but we got there in the end using positive and un-intrusive techniques.

If you’re new to training practice patience. It’s okay if you don’t get the behavior as fast as you originally thought you might. Keep practicing and as importantly allow your animal to have lots of practice as well. The more practice the both of you have the more you will learn. To help develop you animal training skills be patient not only in individual training sessions but also with your animals learning pace (and your own).