Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Patience With Parrots Is A Virtue

Puff is my foster African Grey from Wings of Love Bird Haven.
He has been with me for around 4 months now and has made a lot of improvements.
He now plays with toys, forages and loves being out on the play gym with Marnie and Lucha.
Now his interaction with humans has been slow to build on. His fear based aggression has been so successful in the past, he automatically reverts to in in any kind of nervous situation.
But with patience and using Marnie as a model he has now gotten to the stage where he steps up every time without biting. Along the way we had some bumps in the training road, such as when I had surgery and became the evil head bandage monster and when I was away with work for a month... but now even when I am away for a week on a puppy mill bust he steps up.

Part of his training success has been allowing him to have the cage as his safe place. I don't go into his cage to move toys or clean while he is in it and I don't ask him to step up from inside it. Instead I have a perch on the door which he targets to, then I open the door and ask for the step up.
Most days when I get the birds out on the play gym he comes out last, so when I approach his cage with a visible pine nut (Puff kryptonite) he normally rushes to his door perch.
This morning was something different. When I approached the cage he was on one of the higher perches... I showed him the pine nut and asked him to go to the door perch... he headed down to it and then continued past and beat on one of his toys. "Okay" I thought "I'll come back in a bit).
Four more times when I approached the cage he went from being quiet and calm to full puffed up feathers, pinned eyes, double clicking (a warning noise he makes) and attacking whatever toy was closest. Each time I approached I had the pine nut visible and asked him if he wanted to come out and play... each time he gave me the above reaction I put the pine nut away and walked past him.
Finally 5 hours later I walked up and he ran straight to his door perch, stepped up and took his pine nut reinforcement without any drama.

Now I could have shoved my hand in the cage and asked for the step up, or made him step up on the hand perch, but instead I decided to use my patience and the reward was obvious. Rather than reinforce or react negatively to his behavior, I let him work it out of his system. This meant that instead he got a positive experience and a desired behavior reinforced... even if it was a few hours later than planned.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Patience is indeed a virtue - and certainly pays off when dealing with our animal friends...a few hours to us my be an entirely different time frame in their little mind.