Any tips for clicker training?

Talven

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May 4, 2019
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I'm trying to train my galah that click = treat without much success. I've been trying for a few days with the clicker and I don't see any indication that she is associating click with treat. I used the clicker with training my dogs and they had it within a couple of hours. Given that parrots are smarter I would have expected she would have picked it up sooner.

She seems to be going backwards rather than forwards. She will snatch the treat from my fingers and move to the far side of the cage to eat. Sometimes she seems too uncertain to approach for the treat. Am I introducing the clicker too soon? It almost seems like we have less trust now than we did before.

Previously I was using a spray of millet and holding it very close to the end. I've recently switched to the individual buds rather than the whole spray. Would this be the likely cause of the skittish behaviour rather than the clicker?

She is a parent raised aviary bird who has had minimal human interaction. Hatch date was Dec 19/19 so a touch past 7 months old. I've never attempted to tame what is essentially a wild bird. I've worked with neglected hand raised birds before but this is on a whole different level. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.

I have until the new year to have her "tame" or she will be moved on as an aviary bird. It would be kinder than to leave her trapped in her cage which would be her fate if I can't get her to at least step up.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
I'm trying to train my galah that click = treat without much success. I've been trying for a few days with the clicker and I don't see any indication that she is associating click with treat. I used the clicker with training my dogs and they had it within a couple of hours. Given that parrots are smarter I would have expected she would have picked it up sooner.

She seems to be going backwards rather than forwards. She will snatch the treat from my fingers and move to the far side of the cage to eat. Sometimes she seems too uncertain to approach for the treat. Am I introducing the clicker too soon? It almost seems like we have less trust now than we did before.

Previously I was using a spray of millet and holding it very close to the end. I've recently switched to the individual buds rather than the whole spray. Would this be the likely cause of the skittish behaviour rather than the clicker?

She is a parent raised aviary bird who has had minimal human interaction. Hatch date was Dec 19/19 so a touch past 7 months old. I've never attempted to tame what is essentially a wild bird. I've worked with neglected hand raised birds before but this is on a whole different level. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.

I have until the new year to have her "tame" or she will be moved on as an aviary bird. It would be kinder than to leave her trapped in her cage which would be her fate if I can't get her to at least step up.

I maintain you may need to change your approach..cockatoos are their own thing..You said she's going backwards, but how long has she been in the cage? In my opinion, it's going to increase the likelihood of a cage-bound situation, the longer you wait. If she doesn't step up, she's just caged indefinitely? I get that it isn't easy, but come on now...The longer you lock up a bird, the worse their behavior tends to get (especially a cockatoo).

I just do not think this is working, so I think you need to take a structured leap of faith and get her out of that dang box! It is unhealthy and you can't bond with a bird that is going crazy...just like you can't reason with a tantruming/frantic toddler... Like humans need to eat and socialize, birds need to be out of their cages--it is the farthest thing from natural and it really messes them up long-term...They would fly 40 miles a day in the wild...whether or not they step up for anyone.

I can't imagine getting a bird and locking it up contingent upon step-ups..That is counter-intuitive...If they are unhappy and anxious, you are not going to build trust easily because their most basic biological need for freedom is not being met.

Who set your arbitrary deadline?
 
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fiddlejen

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So I read the clicker training book probably a year ago maybe more. And then I have pretty much not implemented it myself. So I might have this all wrong. But. My understanding is that you are supposed to Prime the clicker first. So you start before you ever try to get her to take anything from your hand. You put some food in her bowl that looks like she might have liked it. Then you watch her as she takes that food you Click. Or as she bites the food you Click. You work on doing that for a while. This “Primes” the clicker.

Then, clicker training would be in conjunction with target training. So the next thing you do is you have some thing like a chopstick. So this is an extension of your hand so we can get closer to her than your hand can. You let it get close to her in whenever she finally touches it you click and then you place a treat either, either give it to her or place it in her food bowl and then when she goes to take it you click again. So you primed the clicker by associating it with whatever she likes for a treat. Then the next step is to associate the target that is the tip of the chopstick with the clicker sound. Then eventually you’ll be leading her around with that chopstick. So her goal is done to touch the chopstick to get the reward whether it’s the millet spray or something else and what happens is she touches chopstick you click you give her the reward.

Then to turn this into a step up and I’m confident on this because this is how I got my sunny to start being able to step up. To turn it into a step up you have her reaching for the target over obstacles. Eventually the obstacle that she needs to cross to get to the stick is your hand. So after you have associated with touching the end of the stick with good things you were going to move The stick that she is now willing to go after to a location where in order to touch it and get the reward she hast to step up onto your finger. So to that when she does it along with the clicker you add a command of step up step up, and then eventually you move to rewarding for the step upSeparately from targeting and clickering.
 
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fiddlejen

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Mar 28, 2019
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Sunny the Sun Conure (sept '18, gotcha 3/'19). Mr Jefferson Budgie & Mrs Calliope Budgie (albino) (nov'18 & jan'19). Summer 2021 Baby Budgies: Riker (Green); Patchouli, Keye, & Tiny (blue greywings).
Regarding the millet spray, I recently saw a really good tip on YouTube about using it for training. Obviously holding a long spray millet is not good because there’s too much for them to eat for one reward. But holding small sprays you’re right scares them away because it’s too close to your fingers.

The solution is to use a wooden clothespins to hold the small bud of millet. This is great because it allows it to be further away from your hand, and as the bird gets more comfortable you can draw it closer in to your hand.
 
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Talven

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Ah I see where I am going wrong with the clicker. I haven't primed it as described so she isn't associating it with a reward. I need to reverse the way I am doing things at the moment.

As for letting her out of the cage, as I have stated several times, it is not a viable solution given my situation. I live on a busy main road with a fair amount of noise. Chances are my dogs will randomly bark at something which has already been shown to scare Opal enough that she panics when she is out of the cage. Having to use gloves or a towel to get her out of harms way will only be detrimental to any form of trust.

I don't have another room I can take her out in where it would be safe. She's not flighted at the moment so if she wanted to seek safety it would be in one of four places. Under/behind the furniture, under the computer table, under the fish tank or behind the TV. As she doesn't step up I would have to use gloves or a towel to get her out as all of these locations have power cables or other things that would be dangerous to her.

Sure it's probably the best solution for building trust in the right environment. My home, as I'm sure many other peoples who own parrots, is not the ideal environment. I am putting her safety first before I worry about anything else.

The time limit was decided upon by the entire household. Six months trapped in a cage is enough torture and we would rather put her through the trauma of being moved on to an aviary where she gets more freedom than continue it.
 

noodles123

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The last time she flew, wasn't it because she was scared?--due to the dogs and a loud sound? Mine does that too if startled, but that is why you would need to plan and control the environment (including the dogs and people coming in and out of the room etc).

Also, why is she clipped if you aren't letting her out anyway?

I guess my thing is, a safety is important, but so is her sanity, and if she started off inquisitive and willing but is getting more fearful, that could be a sign of instability resulting from her long term in the cage.

I have never tamed a large parrot in the way you are describing, so it is just hard for me to even imagine doing it that way. I know you are worried about safety, but I think that this could be done safely with the right planning...Again, last time, she flew because you were not prepared for her to be out and things happened that were frightening. You can control a lot of this...plus, I am sure you have other rooms in your home that are smaller---surely there is not a single room, given the fact that you have kids etc.

I also do not think that this has anything to do with the fact that she was "parent raised" (at her age). She is so young---so I wouldn't dwell on that fact. I have seen many hand-raised birds who were fearful of humans and acted similarly initially.
 
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Talven

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There are no rooms that are any better than the one she is in so trying to find a different room won't work. I have no control over environmental conditions as I live on a main road. I can't do anything about the things that cause the dogs to start barking. If I try to move them into another room they bark non stop. If I try to put them outside they sit by the door and bark nonstop. I have to work within the limits of what I have here.

When we purchased her we were told semi tame. We were told that she had been indoors with the family when she had been first put up for sale and moved out into the aviary when she didn't sell to prevent the kids wanting to keep her. We were led to believe that she had been tame and handleable and that she had been in the aviary for a couple of months. If that had been the case I should have been able to get her out of the cage after a few weeks. That is why she is clipped. Plus cathedral ceilings that have cork tiles glued to them, pendant lights, a ceiling fan and an untrained parrot. That's just asking for trouble.

Yes her sanity is as important as her safety. That is why she will be sold as an aviary bird in the new year if she can't be taken out of her cage safely. Six months is as long as my family is willing to allow her to be caged without being able to come out.

As for her fearfulness, she will climb down to the bottom of her cage come to the open door and lean her head out to take millet from me, she will take individual millet buds out of my finger tips, eat out of a 3in deep ss feed dish that she has to put her whole head in while I am sitting next to her.

I think the change in behaviour is so she gets to eat the whole bud. I would only let her take a few bites of the spray and would remove it when she stepped back to chew.

I have never tried to tame an untame parrot. I have helped to retame? hand raised birds that have been neglected. I also lack confidence in myself and my ability to tame Opal. Because of this I question everything in case I am making a mistake or making it worse.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
There are no rooms that are any better than the one she is in so trying to find a different room won't work. I have no control over environmental conditions as I live on a main road. I can't do anything about the things that cause the dogs to start barking. If I try to move them into another room they bark non stop. If I try to put them outside they sit by the door and bark nonstop. I have to work within the limits of what I have here.

When we purchased her we were told semi tame. We were told that she had been indoors with the family when she had been first put up for sale and moved out into the aviary when she didn't sell to prevent the kids wanting to keep her. We were led to believe that she had been tame and handleable and that she had been in the aviary for a couple of months. If that had been the case I should have been able to get her out of the cage after a few weeks. That is why she is clipped. Plus cathedral ceilings that have cork tiles glued to them, pendant lights, a ceiling fan and an untrained parrot. That's just asking for trouble.

Yes her sanity is as important as her safety. That is why she will be sold as an aviary bird in the new year if she can't be taken out of her cage safely. Six months is as long as my family is willing to allow her to be caged without being able to come out.

As for her fearfulness, she will climb down to the bottom of her cage come to the open door and lean her head out to take millet from me, she will take individual millet buds out of my finger tips, eat out of a 3in deep ss feed dish that she has to put her whole head in while I am sitting next to her.

I think the change in behaviour is so she gets to eat the whole bud. I would only let her take a few bites of the spray and would remove it when she stepped back to chew.

I have never tried to tame an untame parrot. I have helped to retame? hand raised birds that have been neglected. I also lack confidence in myself and my ability to tame Opal. Because of this I question everything in case I am making a mistake or making it worse.

In 90% of cases, a tame bird will not step up for someone they do not know (unless they really like them, or if in the presence of someone they have a bond with). There is no reason for you to believe that you were mislead. Plenty of tame birds won't step up for people they don't feel a connection to (because that takes time or it is just there). I do not believe she is "un-tame"-- What you described when you got her was not an un-tame bird (having lived with a truly wild parrot growing up)...Nor is what you are describing now. There is hope-- but it would really help if you could change it up in terms of scenery..that's a lot of pent-up energy for one very active bird.
 
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Talven

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We are gunning for getting her out of the cage asap. In the process of acquiring a T perch that can be used rather than hand or arm to help make it more comfortable for her. That way she can be moved from cage to playgym while allowing her to keep her distance from us. Will be moving to target training as soon as is reasonable.

I don't think we were mislead so much as I feel that her semi tameness was misrepresented. She has a tolerance of humans that a wild bird or aviary bird would never display. So she has obviously spent some time in close contact with people. Enough that she doesn't totally fear them but not enough to blindly trust them either.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
We are gunning for getting her out of the cage asap. In the process of acquiring a T perch that can be used rather than hand or arm to help make it more comfortable for her. That way she can be moved from cage to playgym while allowing her to keep her distance from us. Will be moving to target training as soon as is reasonable.

I don't think we were mislead so much as I feel that her semi tameness was misrepresented. She has a tolerance of humans that a wild bird or aviary bird would never display. So she has obviously spent some time in close contact with people. Enough that she doesn't totally fear them but not enough to blindly trust them either.

Glad to hear it-I think she will be much happier when she is able to get out and about. I would caution you that initially she may be very scared of the t-perch and play gym, and moving her while on a t-perch could really frighten her until she is trained to get used to it. You could put the play-stand in the room and gradually move it closer so that she gets used to it, but then I wold still say that you would want to eventually open the door and allow her to explore it on her own terms perhaps, rather than setting her on it (which could cause her to freak out, depending on how skittish she is about new objects). You will need to likely do the same with the t-stand, because she may freak if you try to get her to step up using it and she has a fear of sticks or something (mine does).

I am assuming the play-stand will be open to the room...but you are okay with her playing on that, I guess I am just confused about why she can't play on her cage-top safely if you are okay with her playing on a play-stand as long as you are able to move her to a fro with a t-stand.
Is it a concern about biting?

I am really glad she's getting out soon, so I am not trying to discourage you, but how is the play-stand any safer than the top of her cage? Especially since you would have an extra step in getting her to the play-stand, vs just letting her hang out on top of the cage she is already in.

If you decide to let her out, block off the places she could hide using bed-sheets or something so she can't do under or behind anything-- put some padding around the base of her cage in case she get scared and does try to fly-- hoping she can glide, but if she can't consider that. If she is in the middle of an open floor with no place to hide, I would venture to say that she WOULD step up due to fear of being totally unprotected in the open with no nooks to seek shelter etc.

Another thought (since she is clipped) is to buy one of those huge stand-alone baby pens...and surround her cage with it. It could definitely freak her out as well, but as long as it is big enough, I don't see how she could get past it. If you know roughly how far she can glide, then you would set it's perimeter just outside of the length. You could even set up a ramp for her so that she could climb back onto her cage if she wen't down, BUT again, she will probably be scared of it too at first, so I am not sure she would use it right away without training and gradual exposure it it. My bird is better able to climb on and off with the seed-skirt removed (which is why I keep mine on lol!) but in your case, you might want to remove it if you think she could get back up better without.

If you could put up a large baby gate or block stuff off, then you could let her get used to coming out of her cage and going back in on her own (don't lock her up the first time she comes out and then goes back in either).

They sell bigger ones....
91U3Y5Xv6sL._SL1500_.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/Evenflo-Vers...eywords=play+fence+baby&qid=1595688472&sr=8-6
You can buy extension panels for this one to connect multiple fences--
912pXeBXJRL._SL1500_.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/Evenflo-Vers...ywords=play+fence+baby&qid=1595688505&sr=8-58
71j%2BRkGYeoL._SL1107_.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/Regalo-192-I...ywords=play+fence+baby&qid=1595688414&sr=8-30
The white one may be too wide, but even just having something there might be enough to cause hesitation...You could also drape blankets over the gate if you think she could run through the holes in the bars. Not sure about the metal safety, but as you would not allow her to contact the gate, I don't see why you couldn't use it with supervision.

ALL OF THESE WOULD BE FOR INDOOR USE ONLY, as a clipped bird can still fly outside...
Here is a more extreme option, but this could also work..with supervision of course
81FPzy-UkdL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/WaterWarden-...words=play+fence+baby&qid=1595688609&sr=8-109

They are honestly not that expensive, and this could prevent the need for you to block off the entire room using sheets etc.
Also, be mindful of the fact that he wings will grow out (obviously you know this) but this plan would really only work for a clipped bird...Then again, this whole thing is meant to be temporary anyway, as eventually, she will likely step-up.
 
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Talven

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I would be just as happy to move her on my hand or wrist as I would with the T perch. The only reason I'm looking at using the T perch is she is more likely to be comfortable using that than my hand. Which means she can come out of her cage sooner. As for being bitten, well if that happens it's my own fault. Cage or playgym are equally fine for her to be on. That's not the issue rather the ability to get her to step onto something when needed.

Without you having been in my house it is very hard for you to visualise how small and how many dangers there are for a Galah that doesn't have enough trust to step up when needed. If I tried to block everything off as you suggest she may as well stay in her cage.

Double the price of everything in USD to get some idea of what it would cost here in Australia. While the barriers are a good idea they can be very expensive here in Australia.
 

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