Clicker Training Accelerates Learning of Complex Behaviors but Reduces Discriminative Abilities of Yucatan Miniature Pigs

Animals (Basel). 2020 May 31;10(6):959. doi: 10.3390/ani10060959.


Animal training is meant to teach specific behavioral responses to specific cues. Clicker training (CT) is a popular training method based on the use of a device that emits a sound of double-click to be associated as a first-order conditioned stimulus in contingency with positive reinforcements. After some repetitions, the clicker sound gains some incentive value and can be paired with the desired behavior. Animal trainers believed that CT can decrease training time compared to other types of training. Herein, we used two-month old miniature piglets to evaluate whether CT decreased the number of repetitions required to learn complex behaviors as compared with animals trained with voice instead of the clicker. In addition, we compared the number of correct choices of animals from both groups when exposed to object discriminative tests. Results indicated that CT decreased the number of repetitions required for pigs to learn to fetch an object but reduced the ability of animals to make correct choices during the discriminate trials. This suggests that CT is more efficient than voice to teach complex behaviors but reduces the ability of animals to use cognitive processes required to discriminate and select objects associated with reward.

Keywords: animal training; clicker training; object discrimination; pig cognition.