Training a Conure to not bite?

Discussion in 'The Training Court' started by Archiesmom, 11/30/09.

  1. Archiesmom
    Offline

    Archiesmom Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    11/16/09
    Messages:
    9,544
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Real Name:
    Natalie
    I know all birds bite for various reasons, and I'm ok with experiencing the occasional nip or chomp from a bird, especially a conure, because it comes with the territory. But I'm definitely noticing some behavioral issues in Ella that I think need to be addressed.

    As she continues to grow and bond in our household, she has become extremely attached to my fiance, who is terrified of her. He will allow her to perch on his shoulder, but won't ever go get her out of the cage/take her off a perch/engage her etc. because he's seen the damage she's done to my hands and fingers in the past couple of weeks. However, she has selected him as "her person" and with each passing day her aggression just seems to grow. Recently, it has developed to where if Paul is in the same room I cannot handle her whatsoever. If I try to make her step up from her perch, she will gladly step up onto my offered finger, and then start tearing at my flesh. She will also fly and attack me if I enter the same room as Paul and she is out. She got a good hunk of flesh out of the side of my face then other day, and if it was a little bit bigger I probably would need stitches.

    I have been attempting to use the "time out" method, where everytime she bites me, I put her back in her cage, cover her up, and we all ignore her for 15 minutes. I then am the one to go and fetch her from her cage, or give her a treat. Since Paul is so scared of her, everytime we take her out, I am the one who has to put her back, so I get bit EVERY TIME we take her out. My hands look like they have gone through a meat grinder.

    Any recommendations on curbing some of this aggression? We know nothing about her age other than her leg band says MN three letters I can never make out and then the # 74. I don't believe she is 35 years old, the people I got her from said she was around 3. Advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Welshanne
    Offline

    Welshanne Cruising the avenue Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award

    Joined:
    10/16/09
    Messages:
    10,797
    Location:
    Pembrokeshire. South Wales, Britain.
    Real Name:
    Ann Burdett
    know zilch all about conures so no help there, but going through the same stages with a hybrid macaw/blue fronted grey pair. Having said that the hybrid macaw would have a fit if you said Boo to him. It is the blue front who is looking after them both and on the attack as they have bonded with I reckon super glue.
    Now the blue front Jay has I reckon a set of false teeth inside his beak and they are just for use on me!
    The fact your boyfriend is nervous(do not blame him one bit, he has brains!) is a factor believe you me, they pick up on our body language and are a lot brighter than we think.
    What I have found I have had to do is read their body language and it can be subtle or hit you between the eyes if you are looking for it.
    Have you tried the approach that I have found the way forward with my two. Let them come to you. Sounds daft but if you open the door of the cage and let the bird come out to who it wants to. Having to put it back is OK if you are not in a great hurry. Make sure the only food available is in the cage bowls and dim your lights. The tummy wins hands down every time. They have to eat right? So watching from a distance when your bird goes in for food or water or both, shut the door.
    This is not the forever routine, only the start. They build up trust and now I am at the critical stage of Jay actually falling in love with me! Because of this, he is lothe to sink those nashers into me as he used to, and would rather blow me a kiss!
    My situation looking back from the start and knowing why they were behaving as they were, and why the last owner just could not cope, we have come a long way,and no way will I throw in the towel. Love is my key but a tough love. They know I am in control and there are boundaries. Once they comply with those the biting stops the love flows and we are as one. Until the hormonal season starts and then probably back to stage one. That is another day. Good luck!
  3. JLcribber
    Offline

    JLcribber Cruising the avenue Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award

    Joined:
    10/16/09
    Messages:
    11,251
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Real Name:
    John
    Putting him in a time out is not going to help because what he's doing is completely natural. You are the intruder/competition and always will be.

    I would suggest you get him to start using a T stick to handle him so you can avoid the bites.
  4. Chicklette
    Offline

    Chicklette Rollerblading along the road

    Joined:
    11/24/09
    Messages:
    3,594
    Location:
    Canada Ontario
    Real Name:
    Courtney
    One tip I can tell you is to gently blow on her as soon as she is going to bite. It stops them in their tracts. Boomer my GCC and Chiquita my IRN were massive biters. Boomer was abused so his defense was to bite until he realized that I was not going to harm him but the blowing trick worked like a charm.

    But I agree with John, they don’t comprehend when you punish them. They don’t understand that. You need to ignore this behavior and encourage good behavior with treats. Don't make any drama over it because they feed off it it, try very hard to ignore it.

    All parrots seem to go threw this destructive aggressive phase. Chiquita was given no human interaction from the breeder what so ever so when I started training her she would bite me. She was totally wild. Well when she was on my arm I would blow on her and she would stop. Now neither of them bite.

    I hope this works for you because it REALLY worked for me. :hug8:
    Last edited: 11/30/09
    1 person likes this.
  5. Archiesmom
    Offline

    Archiesmom Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    11/16/09
    Messages:
    9,544
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Real Name:
    Natalie
    Yes, time out has thus far been VERY ineffective. I have a "step up perch" that I have been trying to use with her, but she is a little wary of it still. Will she really never get better about this? I'm always going to have to deal with her attacking me? :(

    I know they say rescuing birds is supposed to be a good thing, but I'm seeing a definite downfall here. I'm going to have a killer in my family for the next 30 years that can't stand me, where as if I had gone and purchased a baby, I probably would be able to bond with it more, and acclimate it to other surroundings because it wouldn't have been so set in its ways. Clearly, no one worked with Ella very much when she was younger, she definitely thinks she is dominant over me and you're absolutely right, I am the intruder/competitor for Paul's attention.
  6. Archiesmom
    Offline

    Archiesmom Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    11/16/09
    Messages:
    9,544
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Real Name:
    Natalie
    Ok, so step 1) got a suitable "T" perch, which is really a branch we have that has a nice little mishapen T on the end that she is comfortable enough to step up on, thus saving my poor hands and fingers hehe.

    2) What do you think about clicker training?
  7. BraveheartDogs
    Offline

    BraveheartDogs Cruising the avenue Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    10/16/09
    Messages:
    11,114
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Real Name:
    Vicki
    If she is biting YOU because she doesn't want you to hold her, then time outs are reinforcing because what she wants is distance from you and so putting her in the cage is probably reinforcing. Negative reinforcement means something aversive (you holding her) goes away (you put her away) to make a behavior go up in frequency (biting to get distance from you), if that makes sense:)

    I would use a stick to get her to step up. Clicker training would help too. Start by just presenting the stick a foot away and click and treat if she even looks at it, then build it up slowly, AT HER PACE.

    I would recommend you join the yahoogroup Bird-Click and also recommend the book The Bird School by Ann Castro. Also, Good Bird, Inc has lots of great information.
  8. BraveheartDogs
    Offline

    BraveheartDogs Cruising the avenue Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    10/16/09
    Messages:
    11,114
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Real Name:
    Vicki
    Yes, definitely clicker train her. Clicker training is extremely effective with aggressive or fearful individuals. You can even do it without having her out. Target training from outside the cage is a great way to start to develop a rapport. Just remember it is just behavior and behavior can always be modified:hug8:
  9. Archiesmom
    Offline

    Archiesmom Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    11/16/09
    Messages:
    9,544
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Real Name:
    Natalie
    Thanks for the advice Vicki! Yes, I had an "aha" moment when I made a clicking noise with my tongue and gave her a treat. She is so active and hyper as well, I think it will be really good for her to redirect some of that energy and aggression into learning for some delicious dehydrated banana and pineapple :) Definitely going to pick up that book and do some reading on it, also will hop over and join that Yahoo group. I'm going to do some research on it tonight and watch a few tutorials, and try to work with her wihle Paul is at least in another room to lessen her distractions, hehe. I'm bound and determined to bond with this bird! Even if she'll never like me as much as she likes Paul, I really would enjoy having her like me enough to not attack me when I'm in the room.
  10. BraveheartDogs
    Offline

    BraveheartDogs Cruising the avenue Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    10/16/09
    Messages:
    11,114
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Real Name:
    Vicki
    That book, The Bird School is pricey, but it is one of the best I have seen and I have several of them. You are going to love the clicker training. They really help because animals that feel defensive or fearful or confused are able to operate the environment by the choices that they make. It's very cool. Just remember to keep your training sessions really short and your criteria (steps) really small so that she can succeed. :heart:
  11. cmoore
    Offline

    cmoore Strolling the yard

    Joined:
    10/29/09
    Messages:
    76
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Real Name:
    cmoore
    Ditto what everyone else has said about clicker training. It works WONDERS for redirecting parrots' energy into positive channels.

    If The Bird School is out of your price range, Getting Started: Clicker Training for Birds is also an excellent book. They're my two favorite parrot clicker training books.
  12. Archiesmom
    Offline

    Archiesmom Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

    Joined:
    11/16/09
    Messages:
    9,544
    Location:
    Minnesnowta
    Real Name:
    Natalie
    Thanks for the recommendation!
    Yes, it really does seem to be making the difference with Ella! After 2 days, she no longer flies and attacks me, which is good. Still can't touch her when Paul is home, but at least that has stopped. She also is working on stepping up, and doesn't seem so aggressively agitated when I am around. I am going to try to chronicle our progess on here as a sort of living testimonial to what clicker training can do. I'm keeping a journal of her behaviors now, and I'm so excited to see where we are at next month!
  13. Katrina86
    Offline

    Katrina86 Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    5/31/13
    Messages:
    2
    Real Name:
    Katrina
    I just purchased a turquoise conure and at the store he was so sweet and lovable and when I got him home he was ok for a few minutes and was able to have him step up. I then put him back in his cage and gave him fresh food and water and tried to pick him up 2 hours later and he attached my hand. I was shocked and cant figure out why he was so aggressive, I've given him some time to settle in and tried again and he bites again. I place I bought him said he's aggressive when you reach in his cage and that the girl who always handled him just reached in and grabbed him and then he was fine. I think this action by the previous owner has made him aggressive because he thinks he's going to get hurt if I reach in his cage. I am purchasing a new cage to give him a bigger home and am trying to lightly blow on him when he tries to bite when I try to pet him. He LOVES getting petted but sometimes he asks to be petted and I pet him and then he turns and bites me hard, not a love nibble. I don't understand what's wrong, I've gotten nervous now that's he's going to bite too hard and hurt me and I think he can sense my nerves. I've tired everything, talking to him a bit before I try to pick him up. Not messing with him when he's eating and even putting my hand in is cage very slowly and no fast movements. I don't know what to do. Please Help!
  14. roxynoodle
    Offline

    roxynoodle Cruising the avenue Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award

    Joined:
    8/5/12
    Messages:
    14,197
    Location:
    Ohio
    Real Name:
    Audrey
    A lot of conures are territorial about their cages, food, toys and things. It is an instinctual behavior IMO and probably can't be erased. I find it's just better for us both to work around it. I have always let Rowdy come out of her cage on her own. She just climbs down to the open door, but some put a perch on the inside of the door instead and then just open the door and the perch is now outside the cage. I can now be in my bird's cage to clean or put in new toys,etc, with a minimum of issues, but it's taken years to get to that point. If you are getting attacked while cleaning you can always put your bird in a travel cage first.

    And my conure will bite if she doesn't want to do something. However, her mood could be entirely different just a few minutes later when I ask again and then everything is fine.
  15. webchirp
    Offline

    webchirp Cruising the avenue Avenue Spotlight Award

    Joined:
    8/2/10
    Messages:
    10,220
    Location:
    Ohio
    Real Name:
    Chandra
    Two things work for me, ignoring the bite and pushing through or distraction. Usually my boys are the culprits of hard bites. With Rocco, he watches his girlfriend so if I mistakenly say bed time or bye, bye before I pick him up, I pick Jewel up first and with her close by, then pick Rocco up. With Zephyr, his favorite in all the world are sunflower seeds. I rarely give them out and use them more for emergency situations....but again he is so distracted by the seed that he forgets he wants to chew me.
  16. Katrina86
    Offline

    Katrina86 Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    5/31/13
    Messages:
    2
    Real Name:
    Katrina
    Its not just cleaning, its even if I try to pet him. He bites more often then not and when my boyfriend goes to pet him he acts so shy but with me he's very open and bites me. I don't know if because the first time he bit me really hard I pulled away instinctively and now he thinks its a game or what. My fingers hurt from trying to ignore the biting and saying NO firmly, I've tried lightly blow in when he starts to bite but I just don't know. First it was only in his cage and as soon as he's out he's ok but now its even when he's on top of his cage that he bites. Thanks so much for your input I really appreciate it.

Users Viewing Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 0)