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Training updates and solutions

Discussion in 'The Training Court' started by M&M Ninja, 10/6/19.

  1. M&M Ninja

    M&M Ninja Strolling the yard

    Joined:
    7/31/19
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    Location:
    Northeast Florida
    I posted a long post of questions here. Several things have improved. I’m posting the update separately as some of our training methods might be helpful to others.

    Location
    After initially trying to work in the bathroom, away from her cage, I’ve stopped doing that. I now mostly work at/near the cage. This transition happened organically, but was also mentioned by @Monica as advisable.

    Timing
    It is important to be sensitive to her daily mood/energy swings. She is too hyper first thing in the morning. And she gets sleepy during the early afternoons. Most other times can work. I have found the best time for her is late morning, before we eat lunch. This does not necessarily coincide with her being hungry. But it seems to be the time when she is most present and attentive to what I’m saying.

    Harness Work
    We are harness training in an unconventional and completely inconvenient way. She likes to sit on my arm and lean into my ribs. So once in that position, I would put the harness on the other hand and then use that hand to scratch her head. The harness comes close by, hangs out around her face, oftentimes bumps her, and then goes away. We advanced to big hole over the head; then resting on body. Then we did small hole. Amazing. She didn’t care at all because she it was all about the snuggles and she felt safe.

    Because we have been doing ‘wings’ as part of our comfort with handling practice, I was then able to get a wing in….then the OTHER WING. No joke. I got the harness on with one hand with her body mostly inaccessible, while snuggled against my side. My husband had to come do the final tightening because I just couldn’t bend that way.

    We did this for three days in a row. She isn’t thrilled about being outside to the extent that she’ll leave the harness alone. She was regularly outside in a big aviary at the breeders, so her mind isn’t blown by the scenery. Her main objective is to preen and bite the harness. I’m not sure how to discourage this.

    Then we suffered a setback. :( On day three, we came in, I was calmly taking the harness off, something spooked her and she started flying around. She was still mostly harnessed and couldn’t get far. As she was flying back and forth at the end of the tether, she flew right in front of one of the dogs (who snapped at her) and then into the bathroom. This all freaked her out and now she is NOT COOL about the harness.

    Obviously, we will now put the dogs away when we do anything Cord might be nervous about. But we haven’t gotten back to that point yet. We are back to ‘harness on hand that scratches’ and occasionally ‘big loop over head’. Maybe by the time we get the harness back on, she’ll be amazed by the outdoors again and willing to leave it alone.

    Step up/Step down
    She still isn’t food motivated but I’ve continued to offer her papaya bits and sunflower seeds, mostly because that is what we have on hand and they are small. I formally ask for a step up off the cage door every time she comes out. She isn’t allowed to fly to me from the cage. I say step down every time I want her down. This is the weaker of the two since she would prefer to be on us. But she is getting it and she does do it. We have stepped her up off our shoulders a few times, off furniture, off her perch, etc. I can tell she’s thinking and realizes some sort of communication is going on. The first time she does it in a given day and I praise her really big, she always gets soft and very pleased looking.

    Wait
    This might not be a conventional parrot ‘trick’, but I believe it is important. The dogos are NOT allowed to barge through doors. This was not cool when we lived in a house and it is unsafe to barge down the RV steps with leashes, legs, uncertain ground, etc. All non-human animals need to learn to wait. So that includes Cord too.

    She has a perch right by the doors. At first, I tapped the perch to make her go there before opening the doors. I’d say something like ‘go to your perch’. Then I’d take hold off the door latch. She’s like the energizer bunny and immediately wants to leap out, so she always wanted to follow my hand from her side of the cage. To the latch! Back vertical! Lean over again! Try to get out! Vertical on the perch again! Oh, there it is – back to the latch!

    The final behavior looks like this: I hold up the hand not reaching for the latch and tell her to wait. Then I open the door, put the hand down, and say, ‘okay’. She then comes out.

    There were several stages of intermediate understanding. Door opens a little, she lunges to break free, door closes again. She leaps off her perch prematurely. Etc. The duration of the ‘wait’ started very small and I tried to open the door as quickly as possible so that she was successful. Now, she can wait for a good, solid, 2 Mississippi seconds. When I release her, she climbs off the perch, through the door and then I ask for the step up.

    Screaming and The Coffee Grinder
    I’ve given up on modifying this behavior right now. I’ve tried everything I could think of to see what environment promoted the least reaction. The only thing that works consistently is her being out and on one of us. Since we don’t want her out first thing in the morning, we are allowing her to scream and hoping she gets less sensitive about it. If we make coffee in the afternoon, she is usually out and doesn’t scream. [We are also keeping the grinder out on our table and thinking about turning it on randomly during the day.]

    Previously good, Now not so good
    Whatever poop training she came with, she no longer has. She still poops off of surfaces pretty well, but doesn’t target “her” stuff like she did at the breeder’s house.

    She has started landing on the dogs if I am loving on them. This is so not good. She immediately gets picked up and plopped somewhere else, then later reinforced for being there. I’m trying to be very careful about loving on them if she is out. She has also started landing on the ground. Also not good.
     
  2. 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 overall you have been amazing with Cord! I certainly wouldn't recommend having her and the dogs 'together' simply because dogs are predators. Even if they are fine now, that could change in the future.

    Wait is honestly not a bad behavior to teach a parrot, but not one that's commonly trained! It's also known as "station training". :)
     
    Gribouille, Sodapop&Co. and M&M Ninja like this.
  3. M&M Ninja

    M&M Ninja Strolling the yard

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    @Monica They aren't freely together, but they do all coexist in the same space. I put the dogs behind a barrier if they are too worked up, but our options are a little limited in that regard. Most simply - None of the animals are trustworthy enough to be allowed to interact freely.
     
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  4. Monaco

    Monaco Strolling the yard

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    Kelly Hill
    I love the "wait" command. I will have to come up with something similar here, even though I have a virtual two door system. I need to start getting a habit of a wait or freeze signal at the sound of a knock on the door to build some time into that scenario. My poor old dog is getting more deaf all the time, so maybe I can turn lights on and off for him and give the oral cue at the same time.... So he remembers it when he can't hear me anymore. Surely the lights will get the birds attention too, right?
     
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  5. Monica

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

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    Might be worth looking into what Lara Joseph has done with her dogs! She has a normal rottweiler, a deaf bulldog, and a deaf and blind border collie. (if I remember the breeds correctly) I know that the bulldog was trained with a laser pointer (may freak birds out!), although I'm not sure about Snow, the deaf and blind pup.
     
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  6. M&M Ninja

    M&M Ninja Strolling the yard

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    More progress. Hurray!

    Based on @Monica 's suggestions, I decided to adjust Cord's food. A few days ago, I weighed how much food I was giving her and then observed how much was left at the end of the day. There was quite a bit left, so I adjusted it down a little. I did that again until her food bowl was basically empty when I fed her in the morning.

    This morning, I fed her her chopped veggies, then let her come out for a little while. Then we did a training session with papaya bits on the t-stand. During the session, she was focused AND wanted the papaya bits. (Still eats really slowly...and not interested in sunflower seeds.) Hurrah! It was so rewarding for us both to have that solid communication. This is what I'm asking....and THERE, that was the correct behavior. Then she went back in the cage for half of her daily pellets. I'm going to try to repeat at some point midday.

    I guess making sure she wasn't filled to the brim on pellets was a big part of the answer. Or at least a big part of establishing what snacks she likes.
     
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  7. M&M Ninja

    M&M Ninja Strolling the yard

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Northeast Florida
    Harness Update!
    Yesterday, Cord stuck her head through the tiny loop. I didn't put it over her head; she jammed her head through it. :yahoo:

    Once we figured out she liked papaya bits (and now, she is also quite fond of apple), I started doing actual harness training (not just sticking it over her head while she was in the crook of my arm). I would have her on her cage or a t-stand and I would hold up the big loop, offering a treat on the opposite side. Initially, she only wanted to snatch it from the other side, but after 2-3 training sessions, she was calmly sticking her head all the way through it and taking the treat with nonchalance. I tried the small head loop a couple of days ago and she would take the snack through it; but not with ease. Yesterday, she was so damned eager for her snack that she was like, screw this...jammed her head through it, took the treat, and then sat there for a moment with the harness head loop on.

    Timeline:
    Brought home mid-September
    ~1 week later - Started harness "training" (see post at top)
    Had setback a few days later; took a break from harness work
    ~3 weeks with us - Figured out what food motivates her
    ~4 weeks - SHE put her head through the tiny loop

    PS. We have been doing short training sessions midday and sometimes in the afternoon. We also sort of do the competitive training model described by Irene Pepperberg (of Alex the African Grey). I ask the dogs for certain things, click (or say 'YES'), reward...then do it with Cord.
     
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