Looking for harness training advice

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We haven’t done much since the incident. I can tell it’s set her back and she’s more afraid of it now :( All I’ve been doing is having her put her head through the big wing loop while she is on the table
 
THe wing loop can be made progressively smaller and smaller. Over a period of months, tightening it a tiny bit every session, you'll get to the same size as the head loop. and can move forward. As I said, it took me a whole year of every night training sessions to get him to the point of not raising a fuss putting it on. 365 trys, probably more. ANd that was a good 5 years ago, and we still put it partially on in every trick training session, so maybe several thousand times at this point.
 
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THe wing loop can be made progressively smaller and smaller. Over a period of months, tightening it a tiny bit every session, you'll get to the same size as the head loop. and can move forward. As I said, it took me a whole year of every night training sessions to get him to the point of not raising a fuss putting it on. 365 trys, probably more. ANd that was a good 5 years ago, and we still put it partially on in every trick training session, so maybe several thousand times at this point.
We’ll keep it in the training rotation and see where it goes. At the end of the day if she truly never is comfortable with it I have to be ok with that. But I won’t give up just yet! I’m hoping that over some time she will be less afraid of it and we can start doing smaller wing loops again. Still kicking myself for pushing it too far that day.
 
Has anyone here successfully harness trained your parrot?

I’ve been working on harness training Ona with an Aviator harness since about September. We have made a lot of progress but the problem is I feel we are at a roadblock and I’m having a hard time getting us over the hump. Here’s what she will do now:
  • She is not fearful while in the presence of the harness
  • She will put her head through the wing loop - and most of the time the head loop as well - for a treat.
  • She will allow me to gently lift her wings while not wearing the harness
What I’m struggling with is getting her to leave her head through the harness for any extended amount of time. She’s mostly ok with putting her head through the loop, but she snatches her treat and immediately pulls her head back out. If I attempt to let go of the harness at all while her head is through either loop she completely freaks out. I have to be holding it up while her head is through.

Here’s what I’ve started trying this week: Instead of making her treat seeds easy to snatch from my hand, I bury them in some of her dried veggie treats. She digs through the veggies to get to the seeds, therefore leaving her head through the loop longer. I’ve been doing this with the wing loop only so far for the past six days, everyday. It is helping, and maybe eventually it will be enough to progress more, but I still can’t let go of the harness at all or leave her head through without me holding it up.

She also HATES either loop rubbing against her head as she take her head out. She normally does a grumpy squeal with the smaller head loop. Maybe I need to try a treat for both putting her head in and taking it out?

Anyone have any tips to help us progress?

Edit: I should also add I’ve watched countless YouTube videos on harness training but most them focus on getting your bird to put their head through the loop. I can do that - it’s the next steps we are struggling with.
I am in the process of switching from an aviator to a vest style harness so we can sidestep the part about inserting his head through the loop. Of course, my Amazon remains skeptical! So at present I am hoping to desensitize him to it by draping it around my ear while he rides around on my shoulder 🤪
 

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I am in the process of switching from an aviator to a vest style harness so we can sidestep the part about inserting his head through the loop. Of course, my Amazon remains skeptical! So at present I am hoping to desensitize him to it by draping it around my ear while he rides around on my shoulder 🤪
What a cutie! I’ve never seen this type of harness. I wonder how it compares to the Aviator in safety. One thing I like about the Aviator is the elastic leash so if they fly to end they don’t get jerked back.

I’m sad to say Ona and I haven’t made a lot of progress lately. She definitely remembers getting stuck in the harness and really hates it now.
 
Have you considered changing to a different color harness? THat may be enough to reset the clock on this. I know they ain't cheap, but....
 
What a cutie! I’ve never seen this type of harness. I wonder how it compares to the Aviator in safety. One thing I like about the Aviator is the elastic leash so if they fly to end they don’t get jerked back.

I’m sad to say Ona and I haven’t made a lot of progress lately. She definitely remembers getting stuck in the harness and really hates it now.
The Avian Web leash is also elastic.
At least Gemi isn't recoiling from the new harness like he does the Aviator.
Patience and positive reinforcement... did I mention patience... sigh. This I cannot rush!
 
Have you considered changing to a different color harness? THat may be enough to reset the clock on this. I know they ain't cheap, but....
If the Avian web doesn't work out then I may. I carefully considered color when I picked out the vest style harness. It comes in lots of sparkly versions but for Gemi I went with the understated tool belt vibe, hoping it would increase the odds of his tolerating it.
 
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Have you considered changing to a different color harness? THat may be enough to reset the clock on this. I know they ain't cheap, but....
That’s an interesting thought….. I wonder if it would help. For now I’m still just having her very briefly put her head through the wing loop and not pushing it. I wonder if I could disguise the harness in a bird safe way with tape or something? Something to make it look different 🤔
 
This whole topic was extremely helpful to read through lol. She had a little freak-out with her harness today, falling off the perch etc. and then her shower perch broke in half because it fell off the shower wall, ugh ... Why are these things so stressful. 😅
 
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I just came across the most insightful video from Flock Talk!


She hits the nail on the head with where I’ve been stuck. She emphasized the importance of not using a high value treat to lure their head through. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing this whole time and it’s teaching her to put her head through the loop even though she isn’t comfortable with it. Instead she advises using a target stick or lower value treat and making sure you give the high value reward outside of the harness that way they form the positive reinforcement with the harness and not just doing something they really don’t want to just to grab the treat. She says for this reason a lot of people get stuck where their bird will put their head through and then immediately jerk it out and this is exactly where I’ve been stuck.

Mind blown. Time to start over at square one - AGAIN.
 
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For the past 10 days or so I've been working with Ona and the harness using the techniques I mentioned in my previous post. I really think we are on the right track this time! 🎉 I'm seeing huge improvements already.

I backtracked all the way to square one and started by rewarding her just for touching the harness. Then we started working on putting her head through the wing loop - this time using the target stick on the other side of the loop and NOT luring her with any treats whatsoever. She only gets the treat once her head is back out of the harness. After several days of doing this I am so happy with her progress!! We are still only using the wing loop but I can get the size to be quite small, just slightly bigger than the head loop. She no longer gets grumpy or upset at the sensation of her head coming out of the loop because she is truly choosing to put her head through vs just being lured through treats.

I can tell a big difference in her attitude toward the harness and really feel like we are on to something here!
 
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I wanted to share an update! It may not look like much but this is HUGE progress! Before Ona was to the point where she wanted nothing to do with the harness. Now she looks forward to seeing it.


You can really see the difference in Ona's behavior here and in my training methods if you compare this short video to my older video. I think this really shows the power of positive reinforcement. I also really made this process Ona's choice vs trying to force it on her by adjusting my training methods. Such subtle cues, such as where and when you treat, can make all the difference.

Next we work on duration of head through the head loop!
 
I am in the process of switching from an aviator to a vest style harness so we can sidestep the part about inserting his head through the loop. Of course, my Amazon remains skeptical! So at present I am hoping to desensitize him to it by draping it around my ear while he rides around on my shoulder 🤪
Hey! This is the one Kirby came with. Supposedly he used to use it, but acts terrified of it now. I also tried an aviator but he won’t let me get near him with it.

Going to be back reading this thread, as I am thinking other than target training I’d really like to get Broccoli started with a harness. Kirby too.
 
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Duration progress update:


It's subtle but it's there - a brief pause before she yanks her head out. Before she would pull her out immediately. Now just that split second pause with me counting. We mostly practice duration with the wing loop but are working on doing it with the head loop as well.
 
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Progress!!! Look at that pause with the head through! She waits until I say 2 - most of the time.

 

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