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Animals (Basel). 2015 Aug 21;5(3):821-37. doi: 10.3390/ani5030386.

"Chickens Are a Lot Smarter than I Originally Thought": Changes in Student Attitudes to Chickens Following a Chicken Training Class.

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School of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5371, Australia.
Australian Population and Migration Research Centre, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, Australia.
Legacy Canine Behavior & Training, Inc, Sequim, WA 98382, USA.


A practical class using clicker training of chickens to apply knowledge of how animals learn and practice skills in animal training was added to an undergraduate course. Since attitudes to animals are related to their perceived intelligence, surveys of student attitudes were completed pre- and post- the practical class, to determine if (1) the practical class changed students' attitudes to chickens and their ability to experience affective states, and (2) any changes were related to previous contact with chickens, training experience or gender. In the post- versus pre-surveys, students agreed more that chickens are easy to teach tricks to, are intelligent, and have individual personalities and disagreed more that they are difficult to train and are slow learners. Following the class, they were more likely to believe chickens experience boredom, frustration and happiness. Females rated the intelligence and ability to experience affective states in chickens more highly than males, although there were shifts in attitude in both genders. This study demonstrated shifts in attitudes following a practical class teaching clicker training in chickens. Similar practical classes may provide an effective method of teaching animal training skills and promoting more positive attitudes to animals.


animal sentience; attitudes towards animals; clicker training; learning theory; practical classes

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