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Bettongs are kinda like tiny kangaroos and they're quite smart. Watch Sydney the 6 year old bettong in her very first training session ever.

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Jessi: Hello!  And welcome back to animal wonders!  I am about to have a training session with Sydney the Brushtail Bettong, who is this little cutey right here.  Bettongs are fascinating animals that come from Australia, they are closely related to kangaroos, they're just very small! Right now, she just woke up, she's a nocturnal species; she came out of her little stuffy pouch here, it's a little alligator, it is super cute.  And she is just looking for something to eat or something to do.
I've handled Sydney since she was a baby, and she visits schools as part of our life science course, she is a wonderful ambassador for Bettongs and she helps teach about endangered species and environmental change.  
But I have never had a formal training session with her before; so, I thought it would be fun to show you what it is like to train an older animal for the first time!  
*(Intro Music)*
So, this is Sydney's space.  It's not the easiest to get the camera angled in the right direction here, so we're going to do the best we can.  
I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement training, so every time I can showcase it, I want to do that.  I want everyone who has an animal in their life to give this a try.  I have trained dogs, cats, sugar gliders, parrots, a beaver, a skunk, a monkey and even more animals on the channel!  You can train Any Animal, as long as you can figure out how to give them a reward.  From there you can establish a kind of communication and shape a desired behavior.  
So, first things first, I have all of my tools that I might need; I have a pouch full of treats, tiny little treats because she is a tiny little girl.  I have my target stick, I have a clicker, I have, in case she gets a little too enthusiastic about taking the treats I have two ways to deliver the treats.  Just in case she wants to bite my fingers.  So, she is wide awake and ready to eat, I want her to come on over here.  So, I want to establish that when she hears a click, she is going to get a little treat, so I am using a couple different kinds of re-enforcers, I have cashews and banana chips and almonds and some apple.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

Come on over here.  So, let's see if she reacts to the clicker.  Mm, she looked up right away, so she knows that means a treat is coming, so let's try that one more time jthinks ust to make sure that she like, perks her ears up or moves her head or something when the clicker goes off.  I didn't see as much this time, so I'm just gonna try one more time, see if she can get distracted and then, yep, she looked right towards me.  

Now that she knows that the clicker means a treat is coming, what we're going to do is introduce the target stick so I have tons of equipment in my hand and what I'm going to do is I put the clicker right here and I'm gonna put the target right in front of her so she accidentally touches it and then I will click with my thumb here and deliver the treat.  Um, batongs have extremely large teeth, very sharp, so if she thinks my finger is food, she's going to want it and she's very food possessive, so once she has it, it's hers, she's not gonna let go, which is why I'm protecting my fingers.  

Good job.  That was so good.  Let's see if she will move toward the target.  So, I had her move her hea toward it a little bit just to make sure that she is definitely focused on that target.  Alright.  Let's see if she comes to the target now.  She did!  Well done.  Good job.  First training sessions with an animal is always really fun because, I mean, I know her personality, but I've never tried to do everything, everything with her.  Let's do it from behind, let's see if I can get her to turn around.  Good job.  Got it?  Good job.  Alright, this time, I'm going to have her hop to the target a little bit.  Good job.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

Well done.  Oh, I know.  It's very exciting.  Alright, from there, let's see if I can get her to rise up.  Good job!  And we can always do a little circle.  Good job.  Oh, careful, don't fall.  Spin behavior is interesting because you don't want to like, move the target too much.  You want them to be able to touch it and then you treat just behind the target so that they turn their body.  Wanna come back over here, and we'll do this target?  There, good job, and well done.  She's doing a really good job maneuvering on this little archway here.  

Good.  I wanna see if she wants to do that little circle.  She's just following the target right now.  Good.  The reason that I never trained Sydney before is because I didn't really have to.  She was born at Animal Wonders and I've been handling her since she was out of the pouch and basically, she was so handleable that I would just kinda carry her to where I needed her to go.  

So she goes in her pouch, into a crate, travels to a school, and then--get the little ball, get the little ball--and then she comes out of her pouch, I hold her, she hops around a little bit on the table, and then she goes back into her little pouch and goes back to sleep, so she--we really didn't have much for her to have to be trained and so I never did any formal training sessions, so this is kind of fun.  It's actually maybe really useful 'cause usually I would just scoop her up, but this is giving her the choice to come off my lap or on my lap.  You want to go onto your little--your foofies?  Here, can you get to it?  Good girl.  So it'll be much easier to target her to something or off something.  Are you targeting there?  You were looking at it a second ago.  Is that Maia?  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

Good job.  See if I can target her around the corner.  She came right to it, my goodness, she's so good.  Nicely doe.  Well, that fun little behavior we just did could translate to having her hop into a crate if she needs to or participate in--hi--a transfer or medical procedure.  Good job.  If we needed to do a belly check, instead of holding you, I could just target you up like this.  

So anything to get her comfortable moving her body and participating with interactions is a positive for her.  It's all good.  Let's do this.  Let's see if we can get her to go under her little cave from the back.  Good job.  Okay, there's that.  Before she's done eating, I'm gonna see if I can get her to target through here.  Good job!  A little treat.  There it is.  I wasn't fast enough.

Alright, let's try that again.  Here you go.  Here you go.  Good.  There's that.  She knows to look for...good job.  I just need to give her her treat.  She already knows to expect it.  You can see her behavior changes, she sees the target, she knows what I expect, she looks for it, and then when she hears the clicker, she's like, give me that food.  

There's like, there's no way that I could have said, hey, Sydney, do you wanna go through that little wooden arch there without first establishing a reward, a way to reward her and then making that into a communication with the target stick, saying if you move your body to touch this, you will get a reward, and she goes, oh, I am totally game.  

 (08:00) to (09:34)

I am on board with that.  That is a something that I want to do.  Is that so good?  Delicious.  You have gone through almost all your treats.  I thought we'd have too many treats, but you went through them all because you're so good.  Good girl.  There you go.  Alright, well, there you have it.  Even an animal that has never been trained, she's about six years old, she's never been formally trained, super easy to establish clicker training and target training and we're on the road to being able to have a fun new game to play.

Sydney did so good.  She's very eager to hop around and be active now that she woke up and she ate some treats.  You peeking out over there?  I'm really impressed with how quickly she picked up on that.  I mean, I was kind of expecting it because she is a very smart animal.  I was just--I'm still impressed.

If you have an animal in your life that you haven't yet trained, I hope this inspires you to give it a try.  Thanks for watching, and if you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, be sure to subscribe and I'll see you next week.