Tuesday, 1 January 2008

teaching a turtle to do dog tricks

When I first started learning how to work with Penny on tricks I would get impatient with myself for my inability to give consistent signals or reward at the appropriate moment. I'd mix up the verbal signals and Penny would have to figure out whether I meant her to do what the hand signal was saying or what the words said. Maybe that's why she's an adaptable learner. Perhaps every dog should start out with a marginally competent trainer!

I still need to reassure myself that we will make progress, and that, as the old fable says, 'Slow and sure wins the race.' It sometimes seems that we are moving as slowly as a tortoise.

However, it hasn't taken us ten years to learn tricks, as it has for a animal that lives with a Florida psychologist. He's trained his turtle to sit, stay, heel, roll over, shake hands with either 'paw' and play dead, amongst other things.

I was enjoying the video immensely until I read the 'comments' under the clip. A couple of people criticised the guy for the fact that the turtle has a long beak that should have been clipped before now. However, when I browsed a range of reptile sites the members were not critical of the owner so I guess as long as he learns from his commenters all will be well.

I'm amazed that a turtle would learn so many things, but I guess they've got plenty of time as they live so long.

I noticed that the animal was always referred to as a turtle, although I would have thought of it as a tortoise seeing it has feet and not flippers.


Amber-Mae said...

Hehe, you serious? Gosh, I watched the video & I must admit, that turtle is really well trained! My hoomans had a turtle before who they named Elliot. He was not trained to do anything at all but he sure was an intelligent reptile. He was allowed to walk around the house & he was fed with delicious kitty food like tuna. He loved it! And once a month he was fed with a very huge, noisy, crunchy 6 legged buzzing bug. Oooh, he sure loved it! They had him about 8 years ago before us. He sure was spoiled!

Love licks,
Solid Gold Dancer

parlance said...

Hey, Amber-Mae, that's the same thing that happened here. I used to keep reptiles and now I've changed to mammals. Penny sure is more responsive than the tortoises and lizards I've kept in the past. I guess it's not only a matter of intelligence but also facial expressions. I could never tell what they were thinking but I reckon I can read Penny pretty well.

Anonymous said...

I have a aquatic turtle and he is very smart friendly and responsive. He seems to beg to learn new things, and not because he's hungry ;)
They are just bright animals. He really seems to thrive on human interaction.