Capybara Training: Part I


Me with Barbara Heidenreich

Things are going to  be a bit out of order for the next few blog posts. Too many things have been happening for me to keep up! It is a very exciting life, being Capybara Ambassador (or Capybassador, as some say). But I wanted to tell you about my new friend, Barbara Heidenreich, right away. You will never believe this but Barbara is a capybara trainer!

Friends and food, can't have one without the other

Believe it or don’t, Melly met Barbara at the grocery store! Seems like something good did come from our appearance on My Crazy Obsession (humm, I never even blogged about that). Barbara saw me on TV and she wanted to tell Melly that she could help me with my harness-o-phobia. At first Melly and I were skeptical, but then we went to Barbara’s webpage, Good Bird Inc. Barb’s got the credentials to back up her claims.

Barbara and Richard from Britian's Channel 5

A last minute change of script allowed Barbara to come give me my very first training session on camera for our shoot with Channel 5 in the UK. (I don’t know yet when that will air but I’ll keep you posted.)

Luckily Barb’s good at explaining things because Melly is not the toothiest piranha in the Amazon, if you know what I mean. Basically the first task is to get me to put my nose on a ball at the end of a stick. Every time I do that, I get a treat. Barb said this is called “targeting.” Ultimately, it is supposed to teach me where to go since the theory is that the rest of my body will follow my nose. I’m pretty sure that at least my mouth and my stomach will since I’ll need them to digest the treat.

YouTube Preview Image

My first real training session

Like all capybaras, I am super smart. And really, how hard is it to put my nose on a ball? Only there better always be a treat! I’m not some dog where you only have to provide the treat once in a while. I expect a treat–and a good one–every single time. You can see by the video that Melly and I did okay with this training stuff right from the beginning. When I touch the ball, she gives the treat.


On my way to training session two

My second training session

If this is all there is to training, I think I am going to like it. It has provided me with a nifty way to tell Melly to fork over a treat. And I don’t have to shake or do a circle. Sometimes she makes me stand, but that is easy.

When the target is high, I have to stand up to touch it

Of course, standing up and begging is a trick I’ve known how to do for a long time. I’m not sure I look any cuter doing it to touch my nose on that target than I did when there was no target. Melly has threatened to teach me to touch the target when it is underwater though. I am not sure yet how I feel about that. I guess you’ll have to read about it on my blog on some future date.

Don’t forget to take the poll on the right side bar!

10 comments to Capybara Training: Part I

  • I used targets to help feed the sea turtles at the Monterey Bay Aquarium once… you really needed to know that. (not)

  • Stephanie Labbate

    How you can get any cuter…but you DO!

  • Lynn Marcotte

    Wow basically took less than 15min. to train him!!!

  • Congrats Melanie and Gari! LOVE the progress you both have made already. Can’t wait to visit again : )

  • Ann M. Bednarek

    Oh my dear Melly and Gari, you are like 2 peas in a pod—-so cute and sweet and made for each other. I love you both. I look forward to your photos,& videos. One of these days I would love to come to Buda to visit you. Blessings, Ann Bednarek

  • Michelle

    I always knew larger rodetns were smart! The bigger, the smarter, it seems! I love the choices for the poll – but does anyone else have a problem reading the poll’s white-on-aqua color scheme? And it turns illegible when you roll the cursor over it?

  • Kathryn

    Way to go Gari!!!! You are so beautiful!

  • I hope Stacy doesn’t read this.

  • Milana

    Whoa, Barbara is seriously the best there is. You’re a lucky capy, Gari!

  • Malkah

    You are SO SMART!!!! YAY!!! And I love Swiss chard, too. I’m growing it in my garden. I’d do tricks to eat it!

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