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Old 11-01-2014, 07:03 AM
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Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

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Parrots rarely bite each other, because they convey their feelings beforehand or fly off to avoid physical contact. If it's feels cornered and frighten then need to bite will be from the natural instinct of self -preservation.

The cage is the Parrot safe haven and any attempt to enter, add or remove items and this includes forcefully removing the bird, will most likely trigger a bite response. This why you first build trust with the bird in the cage (safe haven). Trying hanging a chew toy on the outside of the cage.

No putting hands inside the cage. No chasing the bird around the cage or room. (forcing the bird) instead Conducted lots of trust building and bonding sessions (training). I have had great success with the following method to bond and build trust. I would use a T-perch to handle him.

This how I bonded and built trust with an aviary bred bird and have used it on other birds. I obtained a aviary bred IRN a few years ago who we named Bluey. When people approached Bluey he would thrash around the cage in fear. So I needed some tools to address this problem 1 was a clicker 2 was training treats 3 was T-perch.

Clickers are the best for training. Do some research? B F Skinner is a good start. Clicks won't confuse the bird. Where has words can. Without realising, words can be changed. It doesn't seem much, but it is to a bird. Has an example you might be saying "good boy". Then you say "that's a good boy" or you’re a good bird. Clickers are a bridge to identify wanted behaviour between you and your bird.

Second By putting five different foods on a plate and watch which one Bluey ate first I worked out what Bluey favorite food. I used sunflower seeds, corn kernels, pine nuts, grapes and balls of millet. This became Bluey's training treat and I removed this food from Bluey diet. Whatever your bird picks, it must not be part of the bird’s diet otherwise it defeats the purpose of being a training treat. It was sunflower seeds.

These are the procedures I used to calm and interact with him.
Bluey was in a cage in the lounge room. With the clicker in my hand, I entered the lounge room and went to the furthest point away from the cage. Then I would slowly approach the cage until Bluey showed signs of fear. When your bird becomes small and "skinny," and the bird's crop often looks sucked in, and all the feathers lie flat on the body. It usually means the bird is scared.

I would stop and stand there until Bluey relaxed.
Relaxed feathers and wings, standing on one foot, preening and /or grinding his upper and lower mandible together to produce a scratchy or "zippy" noise. This bird is probably content and relaxed. The bird might not display all these signs but relaxed feathers and wings, standing on one foot are a sure sign.

When Bluey relaxed, I click the clicker and took 3 slow steps back waited 20 to 30 seconds. Then, again I would slowly approach the cage until Bluey showed signs of fear. But this time I got a bit closer to the cage. Then I would stop and stand there until Bluey relaxed.

When Bluey relaxed I click the clicker and took 3 slow steps back waited 20 to 30 seconds. I repeated this procedure and with each approach, I would get a bit closer to the cage until I was standing next to the cage and Bluey was relaxed.

When this was achieved I would leave the room for 20 to 30 minutes. Then I would repeat this procedure for 5 to 7 times that day. By the end of the day you should be able to slowly walk up to the cage and the bird should stay relaxed.

I then used a spray of millet first has it was a larger food treat and it allowed Bluey to get use to my hand. Once Bluey became use to my hand I started to reduce the size of the millet until I could use sunflower seeds.

Note: This is important and that is, not to force the bird to do something it doesn't want to do. Let it approach the millet.

Once I was able to walk up to the cage without Bluey being scared, I then started to train Bluey to come out of the cage.
The first stage is with the clicker in one hand and a spray of millet in the other.

I would offer the millet to Bluey through the cage where the perch is attached. If he didn't take a bite of the millet within 15 seconds, I would remove the millet from his sight for 20 to 30 seconds.

Then I would re-offer the millet. When Bluey took a bite I click the clicker and withdraw the millet but kept it in Bluey sight. When Bluey finished eating the millet. I repeated the procedure and did this for 15 minutes then took a 30 minute break and repeated this 3 more times.

Note: By removing the Millet from the Bird's sight you encourage the "what have I just missed out on. Was that food? Where did it go? Then when you re-offer the millet. The bird thinks I'm not going to miss out again.

The next stage. With the clicker in one hand and a spray of millet in the other. Open the cage door and offer the millet at the entrance of the cage.
Note: Don't put your hand inside the cage has the bird could see this has invasion of their territory.

If Bluey didn't approach the millet within 15 seconds, I would remove it from his sight for 20 to 30 seconds. Then re-offer the millet. When the Bluey came to the cage entrance and took a bite I click the clicker and withdraw the millet but kept it in Bluey sight. I did this for 15 minutes then took a 30 minute break and repeated this 3 more times.

The next stage is to place a T-perch just outside the cage. When Bluey flew to the T-perch and took a bite I click the clicker and withdraw the millet but I kept it in Bluey sight. I did this for 15 minutes then took a 30 minute break and repeated this daily.

You can use the T-perch to return the Bird to the cage. I found that a T-perch is better than a piece of dowel. The bird can run down a piece of dowel and bite the hand. But with the T-perch the bird can run from end to end but the hand is out of reach.

This is more towards interacting with your bird to build trust/bonding. Once you have establish a bond of trust with your bird you can start to train basic tricks. Then advance to more tricks if you desire.
Use the clicker to identify the desired behaviour and the training treats and praise to reinforce that desired behaviour.

My Alexandrine Delfin is fine with the family, has we all take turns in the training. Delfin will fly to us, turn around, shake hands and pick up items and put them into a bin. It's no secret, you just need to spend time interacting and training with your bird.

The clicker is the bridge between you and your bird and you use that bridge to highlight the bird’s desired behaviour to your bird. That how I have gotten Delfin to fly to me, turn around, shake hands and put things into a bin.

I put Delfin on his T-stand and gave him a sunflower seed and click the clicker. This indicates that training has started.
Then in my right hand I held the clicker and the sunflower seed. The set up was the clicker in the palm with my middle finger on the button and the sunflower seed held between my thumb and index finger.

With my left hand I made a pistol so my finger was parallel to the perch and about 3 cm away. Then I would bring my right hand up behind my left hand and show Delfin the sunflower seed and say "come Delfin". if after 15 to 20 seconds Delfin hadn't stepped up onto my left hand I would remove the sunflower seed from his sight.

Wait 20 seconds and reshow the treat. When Delfin stepped up onto my left hand and took the sunflower seed I would click the clicker at the same time. Then I return Delfin back to the T-perch and repeat. I would slowly increase the distance from the T-perch to my hands.
After three days, Delfin was flying 4 metres to my left hand take the sunflower seed and fly back to the T-perch.

The advice I can give is
1 move slowly around the bird
2 let the bird come to you.
3 Don't force the bird to do anything that it doesn't want to do.
4 make the trust building and bonding sessions (training) fun
5 end all training sessions on a positive.
6 patience.

Remember food is a great motivator.

Last edited by JerseyWendy; 02-08-2015 at 10:44 AM. Reason: Original version!!
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:42 AM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

If anyone has any feed back Please post it
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Old 11-20-2014, 11:06 AM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Thank you so much Delfin. I like how you really took the time to explain the details. I am sure this will help a lot of people.
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Old 11-20-2014, 03:04 PM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Delfin, your article and the way you wrote and explained everything so detailed is simply AWESOME!!!!

Thank you so very much !!
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Old 11-21-2014, 04:21 AM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

I would like some feedback from the members who have use the method to identify any issues. By using that feedback the method can be improved.
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Old 11-27-2014, 11:48 AM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

I recently "acquired " Doodle from neighbor who abandoned him. He's a green cheek conure. He's EXTREMELY fearful of hands. From the suggestions of other members Doodle was probably manhandled improperly. Thanks to ALLEE,, who gave me you link, I am going to implement these techniques to gain Doodles trust. DELFIN....thank you so much for your DETAILED & informative article. I haven't had a bird in over 20 years, nor was it a conure.....I now feel confident I can be a good and trusted DoodleMom. I WILL leave posts on OUR progress together. Again, DELFIN, MANY THANKS!
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Old 12-05-2014, 02:59 AM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

This is a great article. The only addition that I would make is to research your species fear response/body language as there are differences. For example an eclectus will stand still and if really angry will raise its feathers. A macaws face will turn red if angry. If your bird is angry leave it alone until it is completely calm and then start again.
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Old 12-13-2014, 02:24 PM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Thanks for the info!
I'm new to all of this, bought a Pineapple Conure yesterday and he was great, would step up and come out of the cage without biting. Then early today his was scared of me, puffs out and bites now!
Starting over with him and following these steps!
Thanks again
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Old 12-13-2014, 11:15 PM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Clicker training seems to bode well with my Kakariki as she is less fearful and loves her treats. She still wont let me take her out of the cage yet though.

I don't even know where to begin with clicker training my Turquoisine. He's a tiny little terrified bird hehe. I usually just catch him and pet him on occassion to get him used to my hands. The only success I have is extending millet out to him and he waits a few mins and then takes a bite even if im poking him literally in the face with it, he gets that scared to touch it lol. but yea these methods are helpful and I do feel that they work, SLOWLY, but effectively.

I need some training on patience for myself... hehe sometimes I get frustrated cause it's been almost 2 months now and I haven't made much progress but I guess it is what it is.
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Tiki & Cleo, may you both rest in peace together now at the rainbow bridge.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:37 AM
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Re: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Quote: Originally Posted by RainbowRose View Post
Clicker training seems to bode well with my Kakariki as she is less fearful and loves her treats. She still wont let me take her out of the cage yet though.

I don't even know where to begin with clicker training my Turquoisine. He's a tiny little terrified bird hehe. I usually just catch him and pet him on occassion to get him used to my hands. The only success I have is extending millet out to him and he waits a few mins and then takes a bite even if im poking him literally in the face with it, he gets that scared to touch it lol. but yea these methods are helpful and I do feel that they work, SLOWLY, but effectively.

I need some training on patience for myself... hehe sometimes I get frustrated cause it's been almost 2 months now and I haven't made much progress but I guess it is what it is.
The method as presented her is almost exactly the way that I proceed with my birds. I works and does not stress the bird because the bird decides when it is ready to proceed further and it builds trust for the same reason.

It appears to me that your own lack of patience is the primary factor preventing the progress that you would like to have. There is a big difference between poking a bird to get a response from it and offering your hand, a perch or a treat and waiting for the birds response. The first is a form of flooding and will backfire on you as it is not conducive to trust, whereas the second builds trusts and then allows you to build on that trust.

Just my opinion.
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