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  • Raymond Vagell

Indoor training

I moved my training to indoor enclosures today because of the glare issue (I addressed that on yesterday's post). When indoors, the tablet is able to display the stimuli correctly and is more visible than when outside. If you have used your electronics (cellphone, tablet, laptops, etc ...) outdoors when it is sunny and there's glare, you'll know what I am referring to.

I have also made a few changes in the phone app interface but I realize after using it today that it is still not resolved. I had made it show a number when I tell my conveyer belt to "rewind" or "dispense" but it seems like I wasn't able to reset the number back to 0. Instead, if I rewind past the number 0, it stays at 0 when I dispense so that still throws me off with the number of food reward dispensed. I guess I'll have to put in a reset button. Why does it matter to know how many food reward I still have inside the apparatus? When you train an animal and you give them a food reward, you are not only rewarding the animal but also communicating that the have done a desired behavior. The absence of a food reward during early training sessions will make rewarding and chaining behavior difficult as you always want to reward an animal when they did the appropriate behavior. If not, that will confuse an animal and might make them not associate a desired behavior with food reward. However, because the sound of the conveyer belt is a bridge and trainers can hand the animals a treat, the absence food reward might not be that critical if a trainer offers a food reward right after the sound of a conveyer belt. I might be wrong though ...

I also included a haptic feedback on the phone so whenever I press dispense, I'll feel it. That way, I can focus on the animal while I make my phone app dispense a food reward. That feature worked great and I was able to keep my attention on the lemur without having to look down to make sure I have pressed the "dispense" button.

The craisins I use as food reward have started to stick on the cups because of the heat and humidity (it's sugary). The small grapes that I initially wanted to use are sometimes too big and would get stuck on the cups. Now, the craisins are also getting stuck on the cups. I'm thinking maybe I should use freeze dry fruits but I'm not sure they are as palatable and yummy for the lemurs as these sugary sweet rewards.

Tomorrow, I return and continue training the lemurs indoors.

To follow Raymond's trials at the DLC, you can visit his blog:

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