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Old 08-22-2019, 11:40 AM
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Recall training frustrations

Alright guys, I need your wisdom again.

My ekkie is newly-flighted. He is quite capable of flying off his perches or cage top to the general vicinity of his target but his landings are still clumsy. Anyway Im trying to recall train him using what seems to be the consensus method (starting with short distances and gradually increasing).

My problem is that once he needs to do more than just 'hop' onto my hand/t-perch he chickens out, turns his back to me and gives up. I get the impression he's frightened but since he can fly I dont understand what he's scared of. Is he just not confident about landing on the perch/my finger? What am I doing wrong?

Thank you!
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:53 AM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

Hello! It’s a motivation issue. You need a better reward.

Many people get stuck at the hop. Took me 3+ weeks to get past that point. It’s just patience, don’t overstrech, and get the best reward you possibly have.

What have you used for treats?
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:30 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

I use sunflower seeds. This guy would commit murder for a sunflower seed so there is no greater motivation I assure you So you think I should close the gap and keep at the hop for a while? Then resume increasing it? Or you think I should stick with it?
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Old 08-22-2019, 02:07 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

Yes to both!

1. Close the gap. Keep it to the hop until the hop is done 100% of the time. These short flights help your bird learn proper landing technique. I taught my boy recall precisely because he never really flew, and when he didi fly in a panic is was always terrifying crash landings.

2. During the time period above, implement variable rewarding. If you aren't familiar, google it. Essentially once a trick is 100%, you don't reward EVERY time they do it, you give the reward ever OTHER success, or every 3rd or 4th success. Be unpredictable. This makes him question why he didn’t get it, and motivates him to do it again, even quicker. want to work harder to get that reward.

3. After a week or so, open the gap 1/2 inch. Don't open it any further until you're at 100% compliance with this new distance. FIND SOMETHING OTHER THAN SUNFLOWER SEEDS TO USE WHEN JUMPING A LARGER GAP FOR THE FIRST TIME. Something pure junk he will kill for, maybe a small nip of cheese if you're bird doesn't have a bad reaction (standard lactose intolerance warnings apply). I use cheese the first item I introduce my ekkie to a new trick or item - he would murder someone for cheese, HUGE motivator. after a couple days, cheese is phased out and nut treats are resumed.

Stick with it. I promise, you'll overcome. This is a common stumbling block most everyone encounters. The bird is unsure and scared; the short distances, increased motivators with better treats the first time out, and variable rewarding will get your bird over the fear eventually. May take a few weeks like it did me, but you will in fact get there.

Be cognizant of what you are requesting also. Keep the hops and flights level at first, don't make him fly too high or too low, which are highly specialized skills a newly flying bird can't achieve.

And keep in mind that because your bird hasnt' really flown, you need to build up the muscles. Their muscles will get sore quickly in the beginning as the flight/chest muscles build up with the flapping they do. Watch for signs of fatigue as you move forward.

Last edited by chris-md; 08-22-2019 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 08-22-2019, 03:45 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

I also MUST highlight the power of "The Reset". This simply emphasizes to the bird that they lost the possibility of a reward. VERY powerful especially for increasing motivation and speeding up reaction time.

Its easy: Give the cue/command while showing the treat as you normally would. If your bird doesn't comply, simply walk away out of sight for 10-20 seconds. Bird quickly learns that he loses out on the possibility of that treat, and will be more motivated to work for it when you come back.

This tool is really best reserved for once a bird has firmly learned the trick you are teaching. It shines best when you're trying to speed up reaction time (coming immediately vs hemming and hawing for 5 seconds before coming). But used strategically, can be implemented in your case to overcome the fear of a longer flight, such as after that first longer flight has been taken each time you widen the distance a bit.
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Old 08-22-2019, 03:45 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

Thank you so, so much. This is the encouragement I needed!

Alright Ill get on it and hopefully report back with good news
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:12 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

And videos! Don't forget videos of the training sessions! We'd love to see the progress Also gives us a chance to critique the technique you are using, in case part of the challenge is you, the trainer.
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:12 AM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

Awesome! Yes Ill record it and share.

Silly question but does it make a difference whether I use a t-perch or my hand? He seems more confident with the t-perch since its a bit easier to land on but ultimately of course I want him to be landing on my hand not the perch. What do you suggest? (he perches on fingers not arms)
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Old 08-23-2019, 05:34 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

Two different way of going about the same thing. Work with what works best for your bird.

For Parker it was better to start just between perches.

Maybe Start with the perches to make sure you get the command down.

Landing on Hands is a more advanced skill given how movable they are, and the fluid/unsteady nature of skin itself. After he’s flying a couple feet between perches, you can concurrently work on small leaps to the hand.
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:21 PM
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Re: Recall training frustrations

Thanks Chris! I've been using perches with vet tape on and he's made some progress. We've gone from hop to one-foot leap lol. Not quite 'flying' yet. Definitely an improvement from last week though. I have a feeling this might work.
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