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step up off shoulder

Discussion in 'Behavior Byway' started by Imogena, 1/10/19.

  1. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    So Edgar (almost 7 month TAG) learned step up very quickly. Now he does it almost automaticaly, most of the time even without reward, only with a praise from me. Even when he goes somewhere he really wants to go and I don't necesarilly want him there, I ask step up and he will.
    The problem is when he sits on my shoulder. He will not step up. He knows perfectly well what I'm asking him for because we train it during our training sesions and then he does it without any problems. But outside the training sesion he almost never steps up from my shoulder.
    He quickly figured out that if he goes lower on my back I cannot reach him. And he does exactly that. Or he lies his head on my shoulder and asks for scritches.
    So my idea is like this: several times during the day I ask him to step up from my shoulder, usually I hold the clicker so he knows he will get rewarded. I also have better rewards then for normal training. I also do not put him into his cage after he steps up, but continue playing with him or just let him stay for a moment on my hand so he can decide where he wants to go.
    I tried this only today so I cannot say if it works or not. Edgar stepped up few times but there were few times when he flatly refused.
    Do you think it is a good idea? Should I patiently continue and hope for results? Or maybe I should try different approach?
    Should I give him scritches when he wants to avoid stepping up or should I ignore his request?
    Thanx
     
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  2. lillie

    lillie Strolling the yard

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    I don't have any advice, but Edgar sounds like a sweet heart :) Good luck in training!
     
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  3. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    Thank you:). He is a sweet heart. And usually quite cooperative. Only with going off my shoulder we have a problem.
     
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  4. Feather

    Feather Rollerblading along the road Avenue Veteran

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    My only advice is if Edgar doesn't want to come down, then don't let him be up there at all.

    The shoulder spot is a privilege to earn, not a right. As a rule, if one of mine doesn't consistently come off my shoulder the first time I ask every time, then they don't get to be there. Consequently, Zyda is the only bird I allow on my shoulder. MT and Rowan don't come down when I ask and none of the littles care to be there in the first place.
     
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  5. Mockinbirdiva

    Mockinbirdiva Rollerblading along the road Celebirdy of the Month Avenue Veteran

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    The problem with allowing them on your shoulder is the lack of control you have. He's young now but should he decide to take a nibble on your ear, cheek or neck and it hurts your first instinct is going to be get him off of your shoulder. If he doesn't want to get off he may choose to bite your hand in an attempt to keep it from taking off where he wants to be. And, it can progress from there to an awful situation that may lead to a bad experience for both you and the bird. The last thing you want to do is make a bad impression on his young life that could set a precedent for future behavior problems. It's best you keep him on your lower arm and when he starts to climb up towards your shoulder have him step off onto your other arm. He's already accustomed to being on your shoulder so you'll have some retraining to do. If you are giving him scritches when he refuses to step up you are rewarding him for not stepping up.
     
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  6. Fuzzy

    Fuzzy Rollerblading along the road Avenue Veteran

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    Reinforcers (rewards) can be many things other than treats. He steps up for you because it is reinforcing. Perhaps your praise is reinforcing, perhaps he gets to go somewhere awesome. He sits on your shoulder because it is reinforcing. Good idea to make stepping up hugely reinforcing by playing with him a while and not putting him straight into his cage. If he refuses to step up and puts his head down for you to skritch, and you skritch him, guess what you are reinforcing? Yep - his being on your shoulder. So ignore his request when he's on your shoulder, but you could use skritching as an extra reinforcer when he steps off.
     
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  7. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    I never thought about it as a privilege. Maybe I made mistake at the beginning by alowing him to be on my shoulder. He likes it and I like it. Could you tell me how did you teach Zyda to step off your shoulder? Maybe I will try to train him and only if it doesn't work, I will stop letting him to go there.
     
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  8. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    Yes, you are right.
    Sometimes he nibbles on my ear, but when I tell him to stop, or I move his beak with my hand, he stops. But you are right, it might get worse and then it will be a big problem.
    So you suggest that I stop letting him on my shoulder as well, right? Do you think I should try training him with stepping up or should I focus on not letting him on my shoulder?
    Yes, that's what I thought. I stopped giving him scritches when he refuses to step up. I just wanted to make sure.
     
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  9. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    Do I understand you right, you say that sitting on my shoulder is reinforcing by itself?
    Yes, that's right. I will not do that. I know it is a reasonable thing to do. He is so cute, thought when he asks for scritches. Ok. feelings are nice but sometimes thay are bad advisor.
     
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  10. Feather

    Feather Rollerblading along the road Avenue Veteran

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    That's just it, though. She didn't require any extra training. Asking her to step up from off my shoulder is and has always been the same as asking her to step up anywhere else.

    I think @Fuzzy hit the nail on the head, here. Sitting on the shoulder can be a reward in itself to them, so training a reluctant bird to come down reliably will require a reward that is even more desirable.
     
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  11. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    I strongly suspect that Edgar was reading this thread when I wasn't watching. He read it and got scared that I will follow your advice and stop letting him on my shoulder. Today he stepped up of my shoulder every time I asked him. EVERY TIME. And I asked him many times:starshower1: Each time I rewarded him handsomly and praised him. Next I went for impossible: he was on my shoulder playing with a foot toy and I asked him to step up. He then dropped the toy and stepped up.
    I'm trying not to get too big expectations so I tell myself that it can change in a moment and tomorrow I can have a set back, but for now I'm happy.
    Thank you for all the advices.
     
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  12. Monica

    Monica Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    Sounds like you are doing right! Instead of stepping up off your shoulder, you could also teach him to walk down your arm for a reward. You will need to hold your arm out/steady and reward any step towards your hand.
     
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  13. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    This would be great alternative. If he refuses to step of my shoulder I could ask him to walk down my arm. Maybe he would like this better. Thank you, good idea.
     
  14. Fuzzy

    Fuzzy Rollerblading along the road Avenue Veteran

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    Absolutely. I know it is because he keeps going up there. Any behaviour that is repeated is being reinforced. How come he had a foot toy on your shoulder? Playing with that is yet another reinforcing consequence to go to your shoulder. It is so easy for us humans to accidentally reinforce unwanted behaviours. ;)
     
  15. Mockinbirdiva

    Mockinbirdiva Rollerblading along the road Celebirdy of the Month Avenue Veteran

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    I'm not one to encourage anyone with a larger species of bird to allow them to sit on the shoulder. I know many people do because like you... they enjoy it. I don't want to be a hypocrite because I do allow a three of my smaller birds on my shoulder. Their beaks are much smaller so they can't inflict the damage a larger bird can but nevertheless a bite would still hurt. Of the nine and ten years they've been with me I've only had one bite and that was when I was trying to get Rocket to step off onto my hand. He didn't want to get off. All of my birds were trained to step up to my hand both inside and outside of the cage. It's natural for birds to want to climb to your shoulder. They like to be higher up and feel safer there. I do think it's important to begin training with positive reinforcement to step up and down from both inside and outside of the cage before progressing to your shoulder. When they are young their personalities are generally sweeter and it can give a false sense of security until the day comes something goes awry be it hormones or something startles the bird and you are either bitten intentionally or by accident. Some bird have "triggers". Meaning, you could be unassuming the crinkle of a bag, picking up the phone, door bell rings could trigger a sudden bite. Birds that are especially bonded to their one care taker will bite the care taker when someone else approaches. This is a "transferred aggression" bite. Every bird is different and it may or may not ever happen. Too many people assumed and insisted receiving a bite would never happen because their birds are too nice and sweet. It's just so unfortunate and disappointing if and when it does. All around, it truly is safer to carry them on your arm where you do have more control.

    One post recently had a video with a girl and her macaw on her shoulder. To us, it was clear he wasn't a happy bird, she was a bit foolish and I gotta tell you... it was hard watching that bird bite her cheek. They don't just bite and release. Most of the time when they bite they don't let go. I've been bitten by my amazon on my finger and it was so painful... like having someone grab me with pruning sheers. Many years ago my ex husband was bitten by my first amazon on his upper lip when he leaned in to get her to talk for his friends that were visiting. In a split second she lurched at his face, grabbed the mid section of his upper lip and in his shock he jerked back. She was still attached to his lip and he batted her off of him. She didn't just puncture his lip.... she ripped a big horse shoe shape hunk of tissue down his lip about the size of a dime. I worked for oral surgeons and called one of my doctors to meet us at the office to sew his lip back together.

    One last story.. an amazon that lived in a pet store I went to for years. A store employee that worked there for a while would once in a while allow this bird to sit on his shoulder while he worked. Tiko, was at least 35 years old. One day, said worker, answered the store phone while Tiko sat comfortably on his shoulder as he had many times. Out of the blue.... Tiko bit the workers face badly. I'm guessing the store was fairly slow or empty that day.. but this guy really smacked that bird around for biting. Hid the bird in a back store room and was likely going to sneak it out as if someone stole it. Family members of the store found the bird and took it to the vet. He had several broken bones. He did recover but it took months. Had he not been on this guys shoulder to begin with... none of that would have happened. Poor Tiko suffered a lot.

    So, in closing, do what is best for you and your bird. I like to give a fair warning of what could happen and keep others from learning a hard and painful lesson.
     
  16. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    Ummmm, well... he had a foot toy because he took it with him and went to my shoulder :) ... but he was stepping up so nicely the whole day...
    Ok. now I feel a little like child explaining to the parrent that walking on the thin ice is more fun than dangerous. :) But I believed if I teach him to step up of my shoulder then I wouldn't have a problem. And it seemed to be working.
    I really don't know what to do now. I enjoy having him on my shoulder but I don't want to create behavioral problems in the future. To be frank, I feel lost now.
    Today just started (we are two hours after waking up) and Edgar went on my shoulder several times already. Each time I asked him to step up on my hand and he did without hesitation. It was just time after time because he went up, I asked him to step up, he did, then immediately he went up, ask step up, he did and so on for a few minutes.
     
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  17. Imogena

    Imogena Strolling the yard

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    Edgar knows step up. He steps up for me almost automatically. Even when he goes somewhere he wants to be and I ask step up to take him from this place, he will. I think he even stopped thinking what I want and when he sees my hand close to him, he just steps up. Now (second day in the row) he steps up from my shoulder as well.
    Yes, you are right. Thank you for making me aware. I somewhat knew this already but I think I chose not to remember this. You reminded me. Parrots are wild animals and even though I love Edgar with all my heart, I should remember not to trust him completely.
    Yes, I saw this video. Scary.
    You scared me a little, but it is a good (a mean positive) scare. Useful. Thank you.
    One more thing: I would never smack Edgar for biting. Never. But now I can imagine that I could become nervous around him (if he started serious biting) and for sure he would feel it and became nervous as well. We would have vicious circle of nervousness. It would't do any good for either of us.
    Thank you so much for reminding me few things and making me aware of possible dangers. I have a lot to think about. It will not be easy just to stop having Edgar on my shoulder (because I really enjoy it and Edgar as well) but I have to seriously consider this option.
     
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  18. annoellyn

    annoellyn Strolling the yard

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    I've seen that video, she got bit pretty good but she's lucky it didn't break the skin. I saw two other videos similar, one of a macaw on this guys shoulder who got bit GOOD on the ear, he threw the bird off him out of reflex, felt bad for the bird - not so much for the owner lol. the other video a woman had TWO cockatoos one on each shoulder, she was playing with one and he was happy and bouncing, the other was clearly getting jealous but she can't see him while playing with the other. Bit HARD at her ear, she managed to keep her cool until the second bite then threw BOTH birds to the ground and screamed at them. I don't know if any damage was done by the birds hitting the ground but I hope not.

    I can say that by owning a small gcc conure and being bit many times, I never ever want to own a big beak haha. I give props to all the big beak owners out there, you know they've been bit at least once.
     
  19. Sylvester

    Sylvester Rollerblading along the road I Can't Stop Posting!

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    I have the same issue with my BE2. He has been taught to step up, which he now totally ignores. Instead he will either hop or fly to my shoulder, and then won't step down. When I offer my hand for him to step down on, he tries to bite it.
     
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  20. Sylvester

    Sylvester Rollerblading along the road I Can't Stop Posting!

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    How are you suppose to deter them? MY BE2 will either fly to, or hop up my arm, to get to my shoulder. He totally rejects my hand.
     
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