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Old 08-24-2010, 07:46 PM
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I've Been Thinking...

...and for me that might be dangerous!!! LOL!

Fred has been in a bad mood for a couple of days.

Yesterday, he bit me hard, between the fingers, when I placed my hand in front of him to step him up. I was asking him if he wanted to come. There was room for him to say NO. He lunged and bit. I yelled at him, stepped him up on to the stick, and put him in the cage. I gave him a really dirty look, and ignored him for about an hour. I think I reacted badly, according to what I read...BUT....Fred actually looked ashamed of himself. He said softly...Freddie's a good bird?, to which I replied No, Freddie's not a good bird. I'm very angry with you! He continued to look ashamed.

This morning, all was well. Step ups were not a problem. Later today, he left the top of his cage and jumped on a leather sofa...where I don't allow him to be. I attempted to step him up. He refused, so I got the stick perch. He stepped up...I thought it would be a good time for him to have a little physical contact. He walked up my arm, attempted to get on the shoulder. I do not allow him on my shoulder. He chomped my upper arm, and removed skin. It was a bite...not an attempt to climb. I again let him know that I was angry, and he got placed in his cage. About an hour later, I offered him my hand. He took my finger gently in his beak. Again, it was quite obvious, that he KNEW that I was displeased with him, and why, and he altered the behavior.

My thinking may be flawed but I'm questioning whether I'm being firm enough with him. I know that I can't destroy his trust, and I should just ignore bad behavior. But Fred seems like a very smart bird who is quite capable of knowing what is acceptable and what is not. He also is a very stubborn bird who is capable of trying to get his way, and trying to discipline me. I think the time has come to get a little more "aggressive" with some of his antics.

Opinions welcome....
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:15 PM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

I always have, and always will say that amazons are one of the most complex and sensitive species of all the parrots for just these types of examples, little Jekyll and Hydes, to this day I still don't know anyone that truely knows what makes them tick, since you seem to have better results in getting a reaction out of Freddie by being disappointed in him than by just simply ignoring his bad behavior, I'd keep trying that and see what results you get for a period of time, it may make a difference, and I know you always praise him when he's a good boy, so I wouldn't change that, you might try being a little more stern with him when he misbehaves(I know thats hard for you Sharon) so he doesn't think your more of a pushover than he already does ...........good luck with the grumpy little bugger....lol
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Old 08-25-2010, 05:17 AM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

I think I am going to try a more stern approach. He does seem to be a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. It makes sense to me, to let him see that there are consequences for nasty behavior...and he does seem to be "ashamed" when he knows he's done something wrong. I'm going to work on that, and see how it goes.

When you think about it, we all have "rules". Children and other pets are educated in how to be social in a family...I'm really good with kids and dogs, and I've always had "rules" for both. I read many times that birds aren't dogs and should not be trained as such, but from what I've seen Fred is very smart. I think he's very capable of learning rules and respecting those rules and his people.
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:20 AM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

Is there anyway you can expand your Fred's world? What I mean is to take him places with you in a travel cage like a school or just sitting outside on a park bench? When Rosie gets nippy I do put her back in the cage for a while but later that day try to give her a change in scenery. Just a thought. Another thought is often times territoriality is a big issue and problem in biting. If you let Fred on the cage door or playtop he will feel more agressive to anyone approaching him. "This is my home and stay away". I know it is a problem for Rosie.

Last edited by Spiritbird; 08-25-2010 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:49 AM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

Good avvice, SB. We are thinking alike as he's currently in the sun on the patio. I too, think a change of scenery does him good. I also just finished rearranging his cage, and rotating toys. I expect I'm going to take a road trip soon, to just get away for a day. I guess Fred will be going with me!
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:08 AM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

I scold Boo occasionally, and I don't see a problem with letting him know that he's done something I don't like. I'm a little more mixed on locking him in his cage as punishment, just because I'm nervous about Boo ever thinking that being in his cage is the same as being punished. Possibly not an issue with the way Boo's cage is, but I still avoid it. I put him *on* his cage - away from me - if he's done something to deserve a time out.

Just keep in mind that there's a fine line sometimes between discouraging a behavior by separating him from you and encouraging a behavior because it gets him attention and excitement. When Boo first came to us, I sometimes spent as much as an hour camped out in my dining room because I wasn't going to encourage him screaming by going into the room where he could see me while he was doing it. I'd wait until he was quiet, and then walk in. Now when he wants to know where I am, he whistles. I whistle back, and we're good. If he screams (he still does, sometimes) I don't respond at all.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:18 AM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

Fred's favourite place to be is on his cage, so that won't work for me. I put him back in the cage, more to deprive him of his "freedom with people" time. I then completely ignored him...not even eye contact. Fred is used to being talked to a lot, so the silence seemed to bother him. I think that was the reason for his saying "Freddie's a good bird," spoken very quietly, almost as if he were trying to get me to speak to him. When I replied "No. Freddie's NOT a good bird" I spoke with irritation in my voice....followed by my silence. He did seem to understand...I think the punishment for Fred here, is the ignoring. He truly loves his cage, and will often choose to be in it, even though the door is open.
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:30 PM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

In my experience with Earlyn (my disaster BFA turned loving companion), the more firm I was, the more stubborn she became. It was a battle of wills, and she was the one with the can-opener-face defense mechanism (i.e. bites), so I was the one with the battle scars. I am her third owner, and she came to me with a boatload of behavior problems.

The most significant change I have seen happened after (ok, this might sound crazy) I stopped treating her like a "pet" and started treating her like another individual. In this sense, dogs are more like "pets". You can train them to follow your will. Parrots are trainable too... but I don't think you can ever overcome their will. Treating her like an individual meant accepting that there were some days she didn't want to play or come out of her cage. Consistency became important than stern treatment (i.e. I had to be consistent with my behavior): I would offer my hand for her to step up (without shoving it into her) while speaking kindly and invitingly to her (with the requisite "step up!"), and if she wanted to interact, she would. If she doesn't, it is either because she doesn't trust me to hold her without dropping her, she's afraid I might pull my hand away (early problem, when I was worried about being bitten), or she just doesn't want to come out. I usually make the offer a few times before rescinding it, talking the whole time ("Step up. Step up. No? You don't want to come out? Ok... I won't make you, but I'm sad that you don't want to spend time with me").

Now, in the situation you describe where Fred was in a place you didn't want... and riled up to boot... I would have grabbed the towel. I think we all know "overloaded parrot" mode, and at that point I find it safest (for our relationship) just to towel her quickly and place her back in the cage to cool down. Especially during hormone season. Otherwise, I might get bitten and feel angry, which won't help.

For punishment, I am very careful not to yell or get emotional. I agree that Amazons are extremely sensitive... I can remember being very upset about a breakup a few years ago, sobbing on my couch, and then looking over to see poor Earlyn pulling her feathers out. She had been making little noises at me while I was sitting there, and I'm assuming that the feather-pulling resulted from the frustration of seeing her flockmate and friend upset while she was confined to her cage and unable to understand why I was upset or approach me. I'll never forget that. Similarly, if I scream or get angry, I can see changes in her mood.

The most effective punishment is isolation. Bad bird = alone time in cage. Bad NOISY bird = alone time in cage w/cover for 10 minutes. During that time, no one is allowed to respond to the bird or make any reference to her that she might understand or touch the cage. Continued bad behavior? Continued cover... until I get 10 minutes of quiet (or soft, regretful noises). Sometimes it's a long time. Sometimes you take the cover off only to have to re-cover right away, or 5 minutes later. It can take MONTHS for the bird to understand what is happening, but the end results are completely worth it (versus battle of the wills). Good behavior reinforces good behavior... and in time, the bird will more or less forget the naughty things that he/she could do to rile you up. Patience is essential, although it's insanely frustrating. Sometimes the behavior regresses and you have to start over again.

Sorry that a lot of this is just me rambling... hopefully part of it is relevant and/or helpful.
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:32 PM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

P.S. I do not allow Earlyn to lounge about on top of her cage anymore because I read somewhere that it encourages territorial behavior. She has a play stand that she hangs out on outside of the cage instead. I swear this makes a huge difference, because even though she'll let me pick her up anywhere, the top of the cage is still the hardest place to get her to step up.
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Old 08-27-2010, 05:20 PM
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Re: I've Been Thinking...

Quote: Originally Posted by SharonC View Post
He truly loves his cage, and will often choose to be in it, even though the door is open.
Boo's cage is open most of the time, too. We just got him (well, a few months ago) a new, much larger cage. The old one was about 40" high by 30" wide and 24" deep. The new one is much wider, much taller, and has a split playtop/open top. I'll see if I can find a picture.

OK, I found one:
I've Been Thinking...-24228_hq_dual_level_large_split_cage.jpg

If you click on it, it gets bigger. I was worried he'd be freaked out by a new cage, but he loves it. Climbs all over it. I have the top permanently open for him, and the side door onto his playtop also locked open. The only door he can't go in and out is the front cage door (but that bothers him, so he crawls down the front of the cage and is trying to figure out how to work the lock). He doesn't fly, because of his stiff wing, and he loves being able to be outside the cage whenever he wants. And when he sits up on top of the highest point, he's probably 7' up in the air (good thing we have tall ceilings). He's now king of his domain and he knows he can always get away from whatever is bothering him - he's a happy Boo. But he still likes being with me, so me putting him back on his cage is all I need to do.
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