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Old 02-10-2020, 02:33 PM
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Regaining trust of CAG?

Hello, thank you in advance for any advice. My wife and I owned a CAG for three wonderful years, who unfortunately succumbed to aspers around 18 months ago. The vet who performed the necroscopy said he was likely exposed to it during boarding while we were out of the country on vacation, which was heartbreaking. That to say, we have a bit of familiarity with CAG behavior, body language, interactions, etc.

We made the decision to adopt another little guy last summer, who as of today is approximately 11 months old. We began the bonding process immediately at the pet store, and for the first 4 months after bringing him home he seemed content and happy. I noticed that he seemed a bit more sensitive than the previous guy (anxious stepping from foot to foot with nail chewing, etc), but otherwise happy and healthy. Not very interested in toys or playing, but enjoyed spending time with the family and getting scratches.
Normal eating and vocalizations.

In October we noticed discharge from his nostril, which began a series of multiple visits to the avian vet to clear up what eventually was diagnosed as a sinus infection. Blood tests, lots of nasal flushes, antibiotics, etc. I work from home, so I was the one to take him to the vet. He immediately began to fear me, screaming anytime I would come near his cage, jumping from my hand anytime I'd pick him up, biting, etc. Sometimes this would result him him jumping and landing on the floor, which promoted even more fear and screaming when I would try to gently get him back to his cage. That behavior only seems to have gotten worse since October, to the point now where he shakes violently anytime he seems me.

I tried to re-gain trust by being near him without touching; sitting near his cage working on my computer, talking to him etc. Trying to show him I'm not a threat but also not touching him or trying to pick him up, which would set off the screaming and events above. Simply sitting in the same room with him again promotes the nervous behavior, anxiously chewing his nails down to the nubs to the point where he now has trouble perching. He does not exude any of this behavior towards my wife, who he trusts unconditionally. It is much more than simple "bonding" is straight up fear of me.

I don't know what to do to regain trust, as even sitting in the same room with him causes him to self harm his feet or break off his tail feathers. I've read all the blogs, forums and even spoken to the avian vet. Our CAG isn't motivated by food or playing, I've tried everything, and will not engage with tried and true methods like target training. It makes me feel guilty that even being in the same room with him causes him so much anxiety, but if he is supposed to live with us for the next 50+ years, I can't exactly walk on egg shells around the house for the rest of my life. If time cures all wounds, that's fine with me, just curious if I should continue to be present without touching him (same room, talking to him) or if I should completely ignore him to minimize stress on him. He's only a baby at 11 months, so not sure if he'll grow out of this behavior or not, but suffice to say it's heartbreaking that he is terrified all the time in our otherwise very quiet and calm household. Is it normal for a baby grey to be so phobic? Is it likely for this behavior to last into adulthood? Thank you for any advice or thoughts.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:34 PM
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Re: Regaining trust of CAG?

He might grow out of it but....

Try this. Sit in a chair working quietly at the perimeter of the room. every other day move the chair 2 feet closer. if he goes nuts, move the chair back 1 foot, and wait 2 days to move it again. Gradually work to get cloaser to the cage. Greys can be so sensitive sometimes, and this will take work to gain the trust you had, but well worth it.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:31 AM
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Re: Regaining trust of CAG?

as above......

Also, try and work on his inquisitive side, during the time when you are slowly moving closer to him, play with something like a small ball or a pencil, maybe just ripping up some cardboard, he will be watching. With treats, try and appear to be eating things that will be his snack, make sure you smack your lips and make 'yummy' sounds but don't actually offer any to him.

As you know they are very intelligent and therefore very inquisitive..... this inquisitiveness may get the better of him and he may pop over to join in the fun. Assuming you leave his cage open when you are in the room with him?
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Old 02-12-2020, 11:29 AM
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Re: Regaining trust of CAG?

Welcome to our family, but first my deep condolences for the loss of your previous CAG. Without a doubt the precious memories were inspiration for your current bird.

Curious, prior to medical issue, was he roughly equally friendly to both you and your wife? Trying to establish the initial level of trust/bond as predicate for future expectations.

I agree this deep seated fear is beyond the typical methods of bonding and building trust. Still, have a look at this comprehensive thread, possibly something will trigger progress: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

CAGs are prone to neuroses and stubborn behaviors. CAG101 explores many of their arcane and endearing features: Cag 101

A final potential and admittedly controversial step to be discussed only with a certified avian vet: Very short term use of psychotropic drugs might remove the fear barrier and allow him to learn you are not a threat. Haldol (Haloperidol) has been used with parrots when physical contact is mandatory, such as managing post surgical care. Whether it is appropriate for behavior modification is a question of ethics. Just food for thought!
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