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Old 04-01-2018, 05:54 PM
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Question Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Hello all, I'm brand new to the forum and I joined to get feedback on this question.

I got a 5 month old Indian Ringneck named Dagger (when I first met him he bit me and drew blood, hence the name) about a month ago and I've been taking all the typical advice (no sudden movements, soft kind voice, positive reinforcement, etc.). His cage is quite large with perches and toys and he's been coming out on his own and exploring for a few weeks now so I figured it was time for some daily training sessions.

He's still afraid of hands which is understandable, so he tends to fly around when I approach him with the goal of taking him to the bathroom (away from cage) for a "step up" training session. He flies until he gets himself into a situation where he needs my help and then he steps up to my hand no problem and I walk him to the bathroom at about belly height and he's fine. Then we get to the bathroom and he is immediately looking for a way out (he still steps up but always in a panicked fashion). He refuses to take any treats from my hands during these sessions so I have to wait until afterward and I'll give him a peanut. I keep these sessions at 5 mins or until he's clearly had enough. I used to use a perch to train him to step up and now he seems more afraid of the stick than he does my hand, which is odd and I'm unsure if that's progress.

So I'm wondering, are these forced interactions and training sessions actually HURTING our relationship? I'm torn because I don't want to hurt the relationship before it starts but I feel he'll just remain afraid of humans if there is no interaction at all.

Also, I've been trying to get him used to my hands by gently resting one on a perch in his cage for a few minutes, he clings to the side of the cage and frantically looks many directions. I leave my hand there in hopes to teach him that showing fearful behavior won't get me to leave, as to not make a habit out of it. However, he does not calm down until as soon as I remove my hand. Is this a bad idea? Maybe it would be best to only use this approach for aggressive behavior?

I love him and feel I am taking the necessary steps and I'm typically very patient but progress is slow/plateaued.

Thanks,

Joe
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Old 04-01-2018, 09:30 PM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Just some suggestions:

Don't use peanuts as treat or reward, even shelled ones. Find another treat he REALLY loves ( Salty's is pine nuts - most parrots love them).

Put a few slices of the treat lets assume it is pine nuts, in you palm, when you put your hand into his cage.
No eye contact. Talking softly is fine, getting used to your voice.

Letting him fly around when he is so paranoid of hands and you is not good for your relationship He may perceive this as you chasing him to eat him ( parrots are prey animals - learn to think from that perspective). Me, personally would have him clipped, at least until the trustissues are in the past and he steps up easily. Once he understands only good things come from you, you can let his flight feathers grow in.

Trust - it all about trust and some parrots give it very grudgingly. Go at his pace , not at the one you have set for yourself.

Hope this helps - let us know how your coming along.
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Old 04-01-2018, 09:35 PM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Pine nuts are Ollie's favorite treat too! They are much safer than peanuts as Wrench13 has said.
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Old 04-02-2018, 01:54 AM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Thanks for the tips, I'll pick up some pine nuts tomorrow. I've only been using shelled peanuts because it was the only thing that he obviously enjoyed (and the only thing he'll willingly take from my hands so far).

Obviously I hate feeling like I'm chasing him around, but I want to encourage him coming out of the cage which he very willingly does (I've built a perch tree and decorated it with toys, and I turned the top of my entertainment center into a playground for them) and it's always inevitable that I'll have to leave and get him back in the cage. This is always a familiar process. He flies multiple directions until he ends up on the floor or couch (he's clipped but growing back and persistent) then he steps up on my hand no problem, but jumps to safety as soon as he sees the opportunity.

What about the training sessions? Should I avoid them completely until he is more relaxed when I approach him?

Thanks,

Joe

Last edited by JoeD642; 04-02-2018 at 02:55 AM.
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Old 04-02-2018, 09:01 AM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

I would personally take a step back with the training sessions. What you want to remember is that getting a parrot to do as you ask is not a matter of domination. The trick is to get them to want to do what you are asking them to do. And this is achieved through association. Basically, you want your bird to associate you, and your interactions, with good things. An association so strong that he comes to derive pleasure from simply doing as you ask.

So first, do you free feed? Or do you give 2 or 3 clearly defined meals per day? I find that giving clearly defined meals helps a lot with the training process. I personally have my eclectus parrots on a 2 meal per day feeding schedule. Why is this important? Because if you work on training your bird between meals, like say a half hour or so before dinner when he is at his hungriest, he is far more likely to be treat-motivated. (Not to be confused with withholding food for training purposes. This is just strategically timed training. Please don't withhold food.)

If you do free feed, he can still be treat-motivated... but you will be under far more pressure to find a food that he would absolutely die for. (And besides, it's easier to keep track of how much food your little guy eats with clearly defined meals.)

Anyhow, once you find his absolute favorite treat food (other than peanuts, as has been said, as they can sometimes carry an aflatoxin that can lead to Aspergillosis), try using it to coax him out of his cage by merely holding the treat in your hand and allowing him to be the one to approach. Getting it to be his idea to step onto your hand rather than something imposed upon him will go a long way to making him feel that it is a good idea. Like so many people, parrots often don't think any idea is a good one unless it is their own. Lol!

Here is a video that shows the general concept:

And related to this is the process of target training. Target training will allow you to direct your bird to go where you need him to go without having to chase after and catch him. And this works whether he is flighted or not. Here is the best video I've seen on the topic:

Working with these methods will greatly improve your interactions, and overall relationship, with your IRN. But it will require patience and you have to be consistent. Eventually, though, he'll want to do exactly as you ask.

In the meantime, however, here's another "trick" that will keep you from having to catch him to put him back in the cage. It's all about timing and placement. I say placement, because you should always provide his main meals inside of his cage. That reinforces his cage as a good place to be in a way that jives well with his instincts. Basically, he associates his cage with food. It becomes a place to satisfy one of his most basic, and insistent, needs. Which brings us to timing. When the time comes for his dinner, he'll be hungry. So if you time his initial outings around his meal times, you can be reasonably assured that he will be at least as motivated to get into his cage as you are to put him there.

The duration of his time out should then be planned accordingly. So for example, if you want to take him out for say three hours before dinner, but you have something to do in a half hour that might take around 30 minutes, then just interact with him from within his cage (reading/talking to him, or practicing target training from beyond the bars of the cage) for the half hour that you have, and then wait to take him out until after you have done what you needed to do. This way, he gets two solid hours of uninterrupted outside time without the trauma of being chased down and forced back into his cage. Trust me, the extra half hour out would not make up for the indignity of being pursued about the room.

And then, once dinner time comes around, just put the bowl into his cage and let him decide that now would be a wonderful time for him to go inside. His idea = good idea.

Later on, once he's mastered target training, you won't have to worry anywhere near so much about the timing. Nowadays, I can take my birds out anytime... even if I only have a few minutes before having to run off somewhere. There is never any question about whether they will go where I ask. Because what I want now dovetails nicely into what they want. Know what I mean?
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Old 04-02-2018, 09:15 AM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Great advice above!

I agree. I wish I did more of these things myself.

May I add a note about expectations? If you have a difficult bird (sounds like you DON'T, but...)---

Most would say that my bird is pretty awful. He's a fun mimic and a real character, but...
Even after all these years, I sometimes find myself putting myself or my bird down... stuff like...
I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS OR THAT.
WHY CAN'T HE BE SWEET AND NICE, LIKE A PUPPY?
PEOPLE WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY I PUT UP WITH THIS.
Stuff like that.
But the Rb is a parrot... in his particular case, one generation out of the wild.
I do all the right things, as much/well as I can, but in the end, I just LOVE my bird,
Some parrots are SO SWEET, and I'm a bit JEALOUS of those successes. Over the years, I have been very embarassed/downhearted/sad about having a pet that was so... out of my control. But it is my choice to indulge and adore him.
Finally, I accepted that I have an amazing half-wild being who shares my life! It's magic enough for me!

I love your open-mindedness and obvious adoration for your bird.

I predict a wonderful relationship.
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Old 04-04-2018, 03:36 PM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Thank you all for the great advice. Apparently neither of my birds enjoy pine nuts, oh well I'll keep searching.

I'll lay off on the training for now and start from the beginning. I think I'll start limiting the time outside of the cage (although it hurts me to do so) because getting him back in is always a pain for both of us. The reason I have been encouraging out of the cage time is because all sources say that Indian Ringnecks can easily become cage bound and "wild"...

I'm also going to impose a more regulated, precise, and timed diet and see if that helps.

I will keep you updated on any progress and if I have more questions.

Thanks a lot,

Joe
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:45 PM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Aw, Gail, the RB is special to me, and I'm sure to a lot of folks on here. We know the realtionship you have with him is unique and I always get a laugh from your thred on him. You always make me understand that we all have basically wild animals that we have invited into our homes. I loves the RB!
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:48 PM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Joe, please do keep us updated. Why not start a thread for your Parrot, and put all the updates, stories, pictures, etc in there so we can all enjoy your trip together.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:11 PM
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Re: Are my training sessions with my bird hurting our relationship?

Just a thought, when you resume the training sessions-Bumble (my Parrotlet) is terrified of the bathroom. I donít know why, but she is, so I keep the door closed and she is fine. Maybe try moving his training somewhere else that doesnít upset him as much??


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