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Old 09-22-2019, 06:47 PM
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Earning my Cockatoo's Trust Back

Hey Guys,
A few months ago I posted about my Goffin Cockatoo (Jojo) suddenly becoming terrified of me. I have been working with him, but I feel like I need a little help in making progression. He's terrified to leave his cage most of the time. I will leave it open for hours (keeping distance), and he won't come out. On a rare occasion he will, but he usually goes right back in.
I am able to pet him through the cage, which he loves. (This is the hardest part for me, because he WANTS attention and affection, but is too scared to get it.) I can also stick my hand in his cage and pet him *most* of the time. I always let him come to me for pets, but sometimes as I'm moving my hand towards his head, he gets scared and runs away.
If I lay my palm flat near his perch, he will come to me and (very hesitantly) step up. Sometimes he spooks and runs away, and I cannot move my hand (up, down, in, or out of the cage), otherwise he will run.
I can't afford a t-perch at this time, which I know is the usual recommendation. But I'm wondering, since he will step up and he will let me pet him if I can't just use my hands for training. I also don't know how to progress any further at this point (ie, getting him out of the cage)
Any tips or tricks to help us would be great. I use sunflower seeds as treats when working with him.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:52 PM
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Re: Earning my Cockatoo's Trust Back

Food is always my go-to for situations like this. Can you find something Jojo really, *really* likes and reserve it just for training? I use sunflower seeds or cut-up bits of peanut or almond or bits of dried paw-paw. A smear of peanut butter on the finger, or honey at a pinch, can work too, only it's messy and really takes too long for birdie to get his reward.

First, you have to teach Jojo to take your treat from your hand (that is, if he doesn't already). Once he's happy to take a treat, why don't you try teaching him target training inside his cage? Honestly, it's *magic* to watch a bird learn to target in a single session! Suddenly, you have the power to position him anywhere you want or need him to go (even outside of his cage?)

All you do is point a chopstick at him and give him a treat if he touches the end (only the *end*, mind - that's important). Slowly point the chopstick a few inches away and reward Jojo if he touches the end (if he doesn't, move the stick somewhere else and try again). Once he's cottoned on, start moving the stick farther so he has to walk to or climb to it. Don't move it too far away at first, but start moving it farther and farther away as he gets better at is. When you've got him clambering all over his cage in search of the stick (and his treat), you can try opening the door and targetting *through* the door (ie. with your hand - and stick - in the doorway). Eventually, you might try asking Jojo to walk onto your hand by pointing the stick on your arm and offering a treat.

Don't be discouraged if he's reluctant. Just keep doing it inside the cage and use your treats wisely. If there's one food item Jojo loves beyond everything else, then save that for when you try to ask him to come outside. Once he is outside, make it good for him! If you don't have a t-perch, use the back of a chair or get a suction-supported window perch (I use those as we have big windows). While Jojo's out of cage, praise him quietly and feed him rewards often while he's sitting on your hand. Maybe you could set him on top of his cage (I usually put a cloth on the curved roof of my training cage just to make it easier for the birds to walk on it) and leave him there with a millet spray or chopped veggies?

The thing is, don't make your training sessions too long, especially at first. Five or ten minutes is enough for most birds to pay attention. The first time you get him out of his cage, make a little fuss about him and then put him back after just a minute or two. That will reassure him that he can always go back to the safety of his cage.

I hope this technique works for you. It's sad to see our birds fearful and I hope you can help Jojo. Good luck, and do let us know how you get on.
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Old 09-23-2019, 03:22 PM
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Re: Earning my Cockatoo's Trust Back

Thank you so much for this helpful trick. We worked on it for the first time (with a kabob skewer lol) for about 15 minutes, and he did really well. I was able to get him out of the cage once, but he was reluctant to touch my arm, so mostly we stayed within the cage.
Thank you again, and if you have any more training advice, it's greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-24-2019, 10:37 PM
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Re: Earning my Cockatoo's Trust Back

Oh, I'm SO glad Jojo has responded well for you! Once you widen his scope, you'll see how magic this technique can be, especially with a difficult bird or a difficult situation.

It took me a while, but I found this again (I'd lost the URL). Might be helpful for you?


Trish.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:23 PM
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Re: Earning my Cockatoo's Trust Back

Quote: Originally Posted by Betrisher View Post
Oh, I'm SO glad Jojo has responded well for you! Once you widen his scope, you'll see how magic this technique can be, especially with a difficult bird or a difficult situation.

It took me a while, but I found this again (I'd lost the URL). Might be helpful for you?


Trish.
Yes, already it has been so helpful! He will now step on the door of his cage when prompted, albeit he quickly heads back in his cage once he's gotten his treat. Baby steps! And yes, the video has been helpful! He is less and less hesitant to step up, and will even let me place him on my shoulder. I'm working on petting him outside the cage, to hopefully make him less fearful of my hands. Thanks again!!
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