I trained both my dogs to drop it using a high value treat. Noticed the 'trained' part of that sentence. Now that they know what 'drop it' means, they don't always get a cookie for it. On rare occasion they do though. This has resulted in my male practically throwing whatever he has in his mouth at me when I tell him to drop it. There is no hesitation or the "quick! swallow it really fast so the person can't take it away" that some dogs learn because he knows that if he listens to me, he wins. It's the same if Jasper has something I'd like back- I get something better that is okay and trade up. I don't have him trained to 'drop it' but I do tell him, to "hold on a sec" while I get a nut, and now he stops whatever it is he's doing when he hears me say that. Very useful and SAFE for us both.I think GSDs in particular need a very firm hand. Do you find your dog more intelligent than your bird or your bird more intelligent than your dog? I find my dog to be much more intelligent. I suppose there must be different ways to measure intelligence for dog and for birds...
I would be hesitant to divert attention with a treat. I don't do that with my dogs or my birds. My dog is trained to drop anything on command but I never taught him by offering him something else if he dropped what he had. I wanted him to know that when I say "Drop it" he should drop it no matter what. He is also trained not to touch chicken bones on the street, which is very useful.
My male also came to me on the edge of becoming a fearful biter because someone thought he needed 'a firm hand' too. Unfortunately many people define 'a firm hand' with a fist, force, and fear. I won't say that GSDs can't be annoyingly clever and obstinate at times, but managing them is far more about winning the mental game and making them want to do what you want them to do than any sort of brawn.
Wonderful post, and I very much agree. Just because dogs are more resistant to the negative effects of punishment than birds does not make it appropriate for them either! The best way to get the behavior you want out of any species (amazon, dog, human) is to set them up to succeed. Make doing the right thing so easy that it becomes habit.
You dont. I recommend reading Barbara Heidenreich's Parrot Problem Solver to learn more. ANYONE who thinks any type of punishment is needed to work with a bird is WRONG, and needs to read that book ASAP.
Parrot Books | Parrot Training Books
You ignore the bad, or take them away from the situation(or take the situation away from the bird) that causes them to be naughty, and praise good behavior. With prey animals such as birds, they learn MUCH BETTER and faster when using positive reinforcement. Punishment does NOT work longterm and it barely works short term. Whether verbal or physical. The end result is usually a phobic bird, skittish bird, or a bird who is going to feel all its flight instinct to run from the scary punishment is gone and it'll go out on the offensive and it'll learn that in order for it to stop the evil human from being so cruel is to bite bite bite. Punishment, whether verbal or physical is a horrible way to train any animal especially a bird.
This is a huge reason why you see big aggressive parrots. They have been taught (although accidentally from ignorant humans) to bite to be on the offense when IT feels threatened. And typically a bird like this can be very unruly and "unpredictable" and hard to read.
Yelling or pointing fingers at them, giving mean looks, slapping and spankings, etc, does not work. All these things are human ways, and birds do not understand it. You cannot train a bird effectively when using punishment.
Thank you for this post, it's wonderful. And the body language thing is dead right. I can direct my dogs from across the room with a simple look and changing what direction my body is leaning, and we're not even pros! Birds are just as, of not even more observant and sensitive imo. As I say, the thing that supposedly makes us people so great is our big brains, so let's use them to get what we want rather than muscles and force.Dogs do not need a "firm hand", they need a skilled and compassionate owner who will set good boundaries (which can absolutely be done with positive reinforcement), be smart about doling out resources and who is skilled in reading body language. I train dogs professionally and I can tell you that the owners who get in the most trouble are the ones who think that they "need to show the dog whose boss". GSD are extremely sensitive and very responsive to body language.
Dogs aren't "smarter" than birds and birds aren't "smarter" than dogs, it's just not that simple. Measuring intelligence is a really difficult thing to do because humans tend to measure everything against human intelligence. How can you say one is smarter than the other? It's like measuring intelligence of dogs breeds, you can't because they all excel at something.
Really good trainers set the animals up to get it right so that punishment and discipline isn't necessary. The only discipline required is of me to be patient and put together good training plans and not rush things. If a bird is a biter, than you avoid triggers that create bites and desensitize and counter condition the bird to the triggers that make it bite. Nearly all aggression is fear or frustration based, so if you deal with that fear or frustration the bird won't have to bite anymore. Pair that with reinforcing the heck out of the things you do want and the biting goes away. Learning the birds body language is really important too. Most birds (and dogs for that matter) give early subtle signs way before they bite but those signs go ignored and they are pushed to bite.