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Old 12-02-2019, 03:57 AM
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Difficulties with harness training

Hi everyone. Māui has been going great and weíre really developing a good bond. Iíve started trick training and heís already mastered targeting, spin, shake, and Iíve managed to capture his wave.
Iíve also been doing a lot of desensitisation training for the harness and he now tolerates it laying on his body and chooses to put his head through the neck part of the aviator harness whilst reaching for a treat.

What has me baffled is that as soon as he has his head in the harness and heís secured his treat, instead of munching away happily, he will almost immediately go to pull the harness off his head.
Now, we did have a freak out the first time he put his head in because he tried to pull it off with his beak and feet and almost got tangled resulting in me having to restrain him to get it off safely. I backed right off and went back to desensitisation but now weíre back at the point where he chooses to put his head through but doesnít tolerate it for long. I think from this experience heís learnt that it can come off when i pull it up and over from the back of his head, so now heís basically helping me get it off him snappish as soon as he puts his head through.

I suspect that he still doesnít like the feeling of having something on his body for too long, but I donít have a chance to just hold it there for a few seconds so he gradually gets used to it before taking it off him, as he immediately goes in to remove it himself knowing Iíll help him.

Any suggestions on something else I can try to get him comfortable with having something on his body/around his neck?
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:09 AM
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Re: Difficulties with harness training

Do you have a cue word for when you're removing the harness?

What we did was literally shove him full of treats the first time, then when he shook his head to remove it, we said, "off," to make it sound like we cued him to remove it. Gradually, we were able to lengthen the time between "on" and treating. And yes, the first time it was just stuffing treats into him, not giving him much time to chew, but just getting him to realise he can collect and eat more treats the longer he stays in the loop.

Another part of what we did was we trained for handling his wings separate from his harness. Without the harness, we practiced the cue word for touching him wings ("sayang"). Then we were able to integrate that.

So it went
- "on" harness on (one treat)
- "sayang" as we touched his wings (more treats)
- "off" harness off (one treat) (and yes, they learn to help you by shaking their head)

We practiced both "sayang" by itself and "on-sayang-off" every night, for 2-5 minutes when I reached home and for 2-5 minutes right before bedtime.

Then we were able to proceed to the next step of putting his wings through.
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:20 PM
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Re: Difficulties with harness training

Great to know that they learn to help in taking it off! I just thought he really didn't like it (although I know he kinda still doesn't).

No, I haven't been doing a cue word. I've just been getting him to reach through the loops in order to get the treat, so inadvertently he has to touch/wear the harness to get the treat.
We already use "off please" to cue him coming down from the shoulder, so I wouldn't want to use that in case he gets confused. I guess I could start cuing "on" and "done".

I have been training wing touching separately by saying "show wing" whilst I touch/gently move the wing I want, and he will now lift that wing and let me move it a little.

I've been aiming to basically get the harness on him and then immediately take him outside so that he learns that harness means he gets to be outside without a cage.
I know he wants to not be caged outside because when I garden I put him in the travel carrier and take him out and he is constantly fussing because he doesn't want to be caged, and inside the house he will hop towards the screen door and do his little "can I please?" tooting sound as he tried to go outside. So I know outside is a motivator, I just have no idea how to use that until I can get the harness on him!
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:46 PM
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Re: Difficulties with harness training

Your doing really well !! Develope unique trigger words for each action; on, wear and off. Dosn;t have to be related to the action( parrots don't know what the words literally mean) but should be unique enough so there is no ambiguity about what you want him to do. Once he has his head thru the head loop, try getting him to walk a few steps to get a treat laid on the training table,gradually increasing the distance.
Get him to step up and give the harness a little shake ( so he knows why he is getting the treat). Shake hands,high five and waving hello with the harness on can all increase his confidence and further de-sensitize him to having the harness drapped over his body. And of course, giving a treat every time he does the requested action, along with verbal praise, is crucial. Have your treats ready, so he clearly associates the treat with the action or request.

What are you using for treat? We use small slivers of shelled pine nuts, but what ever you use should be a unique,, only used for trick training, most favorite and eaten quickly edible. Our Salty loves walnuts, but he takes a longish time to eat the small pieces so walnuts are not an ideal training treat.

Again, you and Maui are doing really well. Go slow and progress at his pace of learning. Love to see
video(s) of your progress!

Check out some of Saltys trick training videos to get a sense of how we do harness training. Try to train every single night.
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Last edited by wrench13; 12-02-2019 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:22 PM
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Re: Difficulties with harness training

Quote: Originally Posted by wrench13 View Post
Your doing really well !! Develope unique trigger words for each action; on, wear and off. Dosn;t have to be related to the action( parrots don't know what the words literally mean) but should be unique enough so there is no ambiguity about what you want him to do. Once he has his head thru the head loop, try getting him to walk a few steps to get a treat laid on the training table,gradually increasing the distance.
Get him to step up and give the harness a little shake ( so he knows why he is getting the treat). Shake hands,high five and waving hello with the harness on can all increase his confidence and further de-sensitize him to having the harness drapped over his body. And of course, giving a treat every time he does the requested action, along with verbal praise, is crucial. Have your treats ready, so he clearly associates the treat with the action or request.

What are you using for treat? We use small slivers of shelled pine nuts, but what ever you use should be a unique,, only used for trick training, most favorite and eaten quickly edible. Our Salty loves walnuts, but he takes a longish time to eat the small pieces so walnuts are not an ideal training treat.

Again, you and Maui are doing really well. Go slow and progress at his pace of learning. Love to see
video(s) of your progress!

Check out some of Saltys trick training videos to get a sense of how we do harness training. Try to train every single night.
Thanks Wrench! I like the idea of 'wear' as a cue word, I might start using that.

Maui's trick treat is pine nuts, he is so incredibly motivated for those. The secondary treat when I've run out is a hulled sunflower seed.
Although I do use the pine nuts for foraging sometimes because they are easier to squish into slits in his woodblock forager toy, BUT he knows its trick time when I get the little pinenut box and clicker out.

Frustratingly he won't do tricks on anything other than his little table stand. If I ask him to do anything from his floor stand or the kitchen bench he just ignores the trick cue. I think he's still getting used to the environment though as he freezes up when on a flat surface such as table or floor, we're working on building confidence for different surfaces.
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