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Frazzled With Behavior: HELP BEFORE I LOSE MY MIND

Reggie

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As many of you know I got Cooper the GCC on December 1st. I had no idea the situation he was coming from until I've spent more time with him. Most of the time he's okay, but I have a few things I get irritated with that he does, no matter how I try to get him to stop.

1 THE BITING I'm not talking about beaking (he does that too sometimes); I'm talking about us hanging out with my mom in the basement and all of a sudden he gets mean and bites anyone he's near. All of us have to wear socks around him now when he's out; I've been bitten on the lip twice and he broke skin once. I can't just let him bite me or shake him off because 9/10 he's made me bleed. It's nothing that we're doing either. It's like he's got aggressive mood swings and he can only be out for about 15-45 minutes at a time before he bites someone, and sometimes even less than that.
What I've been doing is when he bites I take him back and put him in his cage. I wait a few minutes (like a half hour) just to see if he needed some time alone, and then I take him back out again. But when I try to take him back out he tries to bite my arms, my jacket, my hands, etc. When he tries to bite me it's like he's angry at me for punishing him? I don't know how to explain it, but I need serious advice. There has to be a way to teach him that biting isn't okay, because I'm at my wits end.

2 CAGE AGGRESSION When I first posted about this one, I was told it wasn't cage aggression - that he was just in a new place and his cage was all he had so he felt safe in there? That's not at all how it is. He tries to bite my fingers whenever I go near the lock, he tries to bite the back of my neck when I clean out the tray, he puffs up and gets aggressive if I come near the cage to talk to him. How do I solve this one? I was thinking about getting him a new cage (his cage is outdated and disgusting because we haven't had the chance to spray it; but we can't in the winter), will that help the situation or make it worse? I want him to know that me (or my family members) coming near his cage isn't an attack on his territory.
The budgies' cage and his used to be adjacent, but I put a book case in between them. It helped him from being so stressed out and doing that wing shake thing he used to do a lot. I was told by his previous owner that they'd tried to get him to interact with other birds and that he even lived with other birds for a time (it wasn't specified what kind), and that he was bullied.

3 THE CONSTANT CONTACT CALLING I know that it's contact calling because my budgies do it when I come home from work. It's high-pitched, irritating and doesn't make any sense that he's doing it? I understand that he's excited to see me when I come home from work, but if he can't see me from his cage (if I step into my bathroom for more than a millisecond) he immediately starts contact calling me like I've abandoned him. Again, I don't know what his previous owner did to him to make him like this, but it's awful! And sometimes when I go to get him out, because I've just woken up or he hasn't been out yet, he'll try to bite me - so why is he contact calling like he wants me to take him out?

4 HE'S SCARED OF ANY TOY I TRY TO SHOW HIM HOW TO PLAY WITH When I go bird shopping I often times get willow balls from the small animal section (my budgies love them), or tiny puppy kongs that I put seed into as a foraging toy? He's got several wood and plastic toys hung in his cage, and I've tried showing him that they aren't going to hurt him, but he just steps away when I try to. How do I effectively show him that the toys in his cage are fun, and that they'll help him from being bored when I'm at work. (I believe that may be a part of the problem. I can't always be home and when I am about half the time I'm sleeping or doing something that's unsafe for him.) So really give me ways that I can show him how to entertain himself.

5 HE DOESN'T LIKE TO FLY? He only flies off and comes back to me when he gets spooked, or when he wants to follow me upstairs. I don't get why he's not eager to fly like the budgies, because his previous owner said he used to fly all over the house. So I need a tad bit of help with this as well, because I want to start doing positive reinforcement training (next week after I graduate and am home more) and I want to recall flight train him (just indoors, I live somewhere too cold to do it outdoors).

Thanks for any advice given. I'm just frustrated because I didn't think he would come from a home that neglected him for so long, and let his bad behaviors run rampant like this. I'll try anything to get him to be the sweet bird he is 17% of the time.
 

Doublete

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Oh jeez that's a tough one.

No real advice as I got my baby at 8 weeks and he's stuck with me for life.

Good luck and there will be plenty of people with ideas!
 

Calpurnia

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I'm sorry you're so frustrated with Cooper. I can see how his bad behaviors can seem unbearable but I think the first step in beginning to fix you problem is taking a deep breath. Cooper absolutely will pick up on your irritation and send it right back at you. I think you've got a lot of work ahead of you and any change is going to come in weeks, if not months. So it's important to remember to have patience.

Cooper just spent the last 7 years of his life with people who strongly reinforced his bad habits. He's only had a month to settle in and adjust to his new home, so you really can't expect to see a lot of progress yet. Trying to turn around 7 years of ingrained behavior is difficult, so you have to try to be as consistent as possible.

Honestly I think you need to modify your training by trying to avoid bites, instead of just punishing him for them. If you know for a fact that he is going to go after feet or your face then don't put him near these body parts, plain and simple. Instead, leave him on a nearby play gym and reward him for playing/preening/any good behavior. Eventually you can try handling him more closely. Cage territoriality too is not uncommon. And since it is an innate behavior it can be difficult for you to completely eliminate it (you can't really punish them for trying to protect their "home"). Instead, I think it's best to just work around it. Teach him to use a perch to move from place to place. Put him on the play gym when you clean the cage. Our p'let was extremely territorial and I taught him to walk up to the door when I opened it so I could move him out of the way before sticking my hands inside. Overall, start rewarding as much good behavior as possible. If he does bite, a short 1-2 minute time out is enough! Finally, remember that when he does bite you really want to try to not react. If you jerk back or yelp he will start to learn he can bully you around with the aggression.

On a similar note, for the contact calling you'll want to make sure you aren't reinforcing it. Every single time you go get him out of his cage when he screams it is being reinforced. And it doesn't matter that this is only every 5th time that he tried screaming. Studies have shown that a rat will continue to press a lever even if it only rewarded rarely (like every 20+ presses). In the same way your conure knows that as long as he keeps screaming, eventually you'll end up giving him attention. Instead try teaching him a more desirable noise. When you are out of sight and he starts screaming, respond to him with your own "contact call". If he switches to the nicer noise go back in and give him attention.

Here's a thread from a few days ago of another member getting advice on how to teach their bird to play with toys. Also definitely consider starting to teach him how to forage! It could be as simple as covering his food with paper or wrapping treats is tissue paper but the more he learns the more complex you can make the tasks.

As for the flight training, I say just start off teaching him to target. Then start targeting him back and forth between two perches. Slowly increase the distance between the perches. He may just need time to build us his confidence. Eventually you can replace one of the perches with your hand.
 

AYA

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Okay, so I can't give you advice for everything, and I think a more experienced member would be a better source anyway, but I can share how my GCC is in relation to your points (which might help you idk) :

#3 -- How do you react to the calls? Lawrence makes a big song and dance about me being home, and I make one in turn, calling her name and whistling when I get home-- and yeah, some nights she goes on a bit while I get changed and wash my hands before going over and getting her out of her cage, but it's at most a five minute ordeal and I honestly find it rather endearing :)

However, this is the most noise she will make throughout the day, and she copies my whistle instead of shrieking, so it really is a good idea to teach Cooper a call if you find the sound upsetting.

5 -- Lawrence hates flying. She only ever does it when she's gotten a fright, slipped off of my shoulder, or if I ask her to with treat in hand and only within a maximum distance of 2m from her location. She's been fully capable of flying for over a year now, but she'd rather walk. This may be because she wasn't fledged properly, but I don't know if that's true or not, and she was also clipped when I got her. Regardless, as long as she is happy and healthy, it doesn't matter to me if she wants to fly laps around the house of if she'd rather trundle her way around, climbing all that can be climbed.

Some other things: does Cooper know any tricks at all? Have you given him any foraging toys/shredders? Have you tried giving him ambient attention, such as sitting nearby and reading a book to him?

Oh, and just so you know, for the sake of comparison, Lawrence is a two year old female GCC that I've had since she was about eight weeks old :)

Hope something in this mess helps, and good luck!
 
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Reggie

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I'm sorry you're so frustrated with Cooper. I can see how his bad behaviors can seem unbearable but I think the first step in beginning to fix you problem is taking a deep breath. Cooper absolutely will pick up on your irritation and send it right back at you. I think you've got a lot of work ahead of you and any change is going to come in weeks, if not months. So it's important to remember to have patience.
I didn't realize he was going to be irritated back at me. I try my best to be patient around him, but sometimes I even have to step out of my room for a few minutes to avoid getting angry. I know it's going to be awhile, but I thought these "bad" behaviors were just him not being used to his surroundings and needing time to settle in. I didn't realize that they were his normal behaviors.

Cooper just spent the last 7 years of his life with people who strongly reinforced his bad habits. He's only had a month to settle in and adjust to his new home, so you really can't expect to see a lot of progress yet. Trying to turn around 7 years of ingrained behavior is difficult, so you have to try to be as consistent as possible.
His last home was awful, and I hope he does make progress. I'll try to be consistent. Do you think keeping a training journal type of thing would help? So I remember what I'm doing?

Honestly I think you need to modify your training by trying to avoid bites, instead of just punishing him for them.
If he does bite, a short 1-2 minute time out is enough!
Finally, remember that when he does bite you really want to try to not react. If you jerk back or yelp he will start to learn he can bully you around with the aggression.
I do avoid bites as much as I can, but it's like he's got separation anxiety. He does that scared/frightened wing-shake thing whenever he's not on my shoulder or my leg or at least four feet away from me. I didn't realize at the time what I was doing (tapping my stylus on a hard surface so he would do it with his beak) would get me a bloody lip. I'll try to keep him away from my shoulders or face, but it's going to be hard because that's his favorite spot.
I'm worried that putting him back in his cage for those time outs will teach him to hate going in his cage? Is there any other way to give him a "time-out"?

Teach him to use a perch to move from place to place. Put him on the play gym when you clean the cage.
The problem isn't necessarily that he's cage aggressive; it's that when I try to move him - as suggested by several people - he doesn't want to step up and instead tries to bite my arm. Unless he's offered a shoulder to sit on, he bites. I couldn't move him from his cage unless I towel him, and that's not helping the situation.

On a similar note, for the contact calling you'll want to make sure you aren't reinforcing it. Every single time you go get him out of his cage when he screams it is being reinforced.
I kinda started to get that idea. What should I do to make sure I'm not reinforcing it when I come home from work and he's loudly contact calling? I assume going up to my room and saying hello will reinforce it?

When you are out of sight and he starts screaming, respond to him with your own "contact call". If he switches to the nicer noise go back in and give him attention.
What if he just continues to scream at me? I'm just worried that's not going to work because he's so stubborn and his behaviors are so ingrained - as you said.


#3 -- How do you react to the calls?
Normally I ignore them. It's just anxiety-inducing for me to hear squawking wherever I am in the house. I'm probably going to go buy a set of earbuds to avoid that, but if I let him know that screaming/contact calling me gets attention then he won't ever stop, and I can't live with that consistent of an annoying noise.

Some other things: does Cooper know any tricks at all? Have you given him any foraging toys/shredders? Have you tried giving him ambient attention, such as sitting nearby and reading a book to him?
I don't know if he knows any tricks. He wasn't interacted with much in the last two years (that's how long his previous owner was trying to rehome him), so I doubt she ever tried to stimulate him in that way. But he does do something that sounds like a wolf-whistle off-key? He also makes kissy noises and knows a few words. When I tap or pat anywhere near me and say "Come Here Cooper!" he immediately comes over to me. I was going to start teaching "tricks" next week when I have more time and can be more consistent.
I've tried giving him many kinds of toys but he seems frightened of almost everything. It took him three weeks to realize the platform perches, rope perches, and willow balls in his cage weren't going to kill him. I'm going to have to read a thread on how to teach him that toys are fun.
His cage is less than three feet from my desk where I spend most of my time. I play music for him, talk to him, and let him sit on the rope perch on the outside of his cage while I'm in the room. But that doesn't seem to make him any less aggressive.

Lawrence is a two year old female GCC that I've had since she was about eight weeks old
That's probably why her behavior is much better than Cooper's. Cooper is a seven year old, male GCC that I've had for a month. From what his owner told me and from what I gathered while picking him up - he's been pretty neglected the last two years.
- Cage was in disrepair and it took me an hour to scrub it down enough to be considered "clean"
- Cooper came with two or three OLD, OLD toys. Like shredded, faded from sunlight exposure, crusted with poop old toys.
- His food dishes could've given someone the black plague, and I swear on that.
- He spent most of his time alone in a dimly lit, almost completely silent bedroom for the last two years
- He wasn't interacted with much outside of the cage
- He wasn't socialized properly.
You get the idea. I quite literally rescued this bird from a smoker who had no business owning him.
But I appreciate every bit of advice offered. I don't mean to sound short, angry, or irritated in any of these posts!
 

camelotshadow

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:sadhug2:
Good Luck

 

Calpurnia

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Don't worry, we know that you're feeling overwhelmed. I think a training journal is a great idea. You can try and make a point of writing at least one good thing that Cooper did that day, or one bad thing that he didn't do. It will help you savor the little victories along the way and not get too caught up in the monumental task before you.

You can use a small extra cage as a "time-out" area. Or you can literally just put him down and walk away for a minute. I totally understand the separation anxiety thing; our own adopted Sennie gets that way when her "bf" (aka my bf) walks away. She can't fly and so shakes and "dances" and begs for him to come back and take her with him. Cooper is probably so anxious because he is not used to consistent attention and so feels like he needs to cling on you so you won't leave him alone. The problem is, giving in to their begging only reinforces it. You see where I'm going here? :) It can be really really hard to NOT reinforce behaviors inadvertently, and you may not be able to start unless you simultaneously begin teaching him to enjoy toys or foraging. Then you can reward him for sitting and playing nicely (away from your shoulder.... the privilege can be returned later if he learns he doesn't need to bite to get his point across).

You can still say hi to him and hang out when you come home. I never begrudge my birds being loud when I come home; it's only natural that they are excited. But I do try to teach them when screaming is and is not appropriate. I think it's something Cooper can eventually learn too.

Again, I don't think you should be letting Cooper on your shoulder at this time, even if it's the only way you can pick him up from his cage. Though he may not know how/want to step up on a perch to be moved he can certainly learn. In that way, hanging out closer to you becomes one more reward for stepping up nicely on the perch. At this point I'd start something like clicker training. Teaching him how to "target" a stick can help you lure him in and out of his cage, or onto a perch. It could also help you start teaching him to play with toys.

Finally, I know for a fact that he's just going to keep screaming at you on occasion. I've heard stories of people being forced to wait hours for their bird to finally stop, at which point they quickly rewarded them. They then began the slow process of decreasing this time. If you need to be around him try wearing earplugs to start. If it helps you ignore the screams the more consistent you will be with training.

I know these answers are not super satisfying but there is nothing else to do but have patience. Good luck!
 

Reggie

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I think a training journal is a great idea. You can try and make a point of writing at least one good thing that Cooper did that day, or one bad thing that he didn't do. It will help you savor the little victories along the way and not get too caught up in the monumental task before you.
That's a great idea! I'm going to start doing that right away. I really want to record his progress so I know that he's actually making it, haha :D

Or you can literally just put him down and walk away for a minute.
I wasn't sure if this is an option. I'll try doing this too.

Cooper is probably so anxious because he is not used to consistent attention and so feels like he needs to cling on you so you won't leave him alone.
The problem is, giving in to their begging only reinforces it.
I can see that. It makes sense that he's got separation anxiety because he's not completely used to the attention yet.

Then you can reward him for sitting and playing nicely (away from your shoulder.... the privilege can be returned later if he learns he doesn't need to bite to get his point across).
Again, I don't think you should be letting Cooper on your shoulder at this time, even if it's the only way you can pick him up from his cage. Though he may not know how/want to step up on a perch to be moved he can certainly learn. In that way, hanging out closer to you becomes one more reward for stepping up nicely on the perch.
That's a really smart fix to an awful problem. I'll try clicker training to a perch first and see how that goes.

But I do try to teach them when screaming is and is not appropriate. I think it's something Cooper can eventually learn too.
I've heard stories of people being forced to wait hours for their bird to finally stop, at which point they quickly rewarded them. They then began the slow process of decreasing this time. If you need to be around him try wearing earplugs to start. If it helps you ignore the screams the more consistent you will be with training.
Since he has a problem with screaming should I be offering him scream time? I give scream time to the budgies when I shower/my last hour class after lunch where I leave music on in my room and let them scream, vocalize, sing, and imitate the music as much as they'd like. Would that be encouraging the screaming behavior?
 

Calpurnia

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Since he has a problem with screaming should I be offering him scream time? I give scream time to the budgies when I shower/my last hour class after lunch where I leave music on in my room and let them scream, vocalize, sing, and imitate the music as much as they'd like. Would that be encouraging the screaming behavior?
I think this should be fine. All just starting to teach him when the behavior is appropriate. I've heard of people with larger birds especially setting aside scream time each day, when they just dance and hollar and let their birds go crazy to blow off steam. I've never tried it myself but it's worth a shot!
 

Distaff

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I've been learning some things from Barbara Heindreich (spell?) videos. Vimeo. $20, but the trailers have good stuff and are free. I haven't bought any yet, still just watching trailers. She has a screaming one that might be helpful to you.
 

AYA

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Okay, so, after reading your responses I have few more things to say:

By 'scared wing shaking' do you mean that Cooper hunkers down, draws his feathers in tighter, and opens his wings while twitching them? And does he do all of this while leaning forward? Sort of like he wants to take off in that direction?

The way I got my conure into foraging was by putting a layer of seed under her pellets so she had to dig for it, and then upgrading her to having paper between the seeds and pellets, and then by putting twisted up balls of paper filled with food in her dish.

As Calpurnia said, teaching 'tricks' like moving to specific places or playing independently is a great way to start. Recall training would be best done after you build some bridges with Cooper with more simpe tricks and positive interactions-- eg try teaching him something easy like turning in a circle or even simpler, just reinforcing stepping up and down. Of course, you may not be able to do these until after you've managed to reduce his biting behaviour.

This is just my personal opinion, but I don't think a bird should be kept in the room you spend most of your time in-- a room with good traffic, yes, but I feel that it can breed codependency. Just a thought, as I don't know your situation.

And when it comes to reinforcing calls, we're usually talking about calling/screaming for attention throughout the day, rather than the situation you're experiencing when you get home-- you bird is greeting you, so greet him back in a way you find favourable, as he'll likely pick up your 'call' in time (as best he can, such as with Lawrence's main greeting which is a garbled 'hey buddy' or a copy of my whistle), which can result in him no longer using his more grating shrieks.

I understand that Cooper's is a very different situation from Lawrence's, but she has only recently become what one could call be behaved, as she was a bite-y little monster whenever the planets weren't appropriately aligned, liable to chase and bite if you touched her cage or her dishes, and is also slowly being coaxed out of a barbering habit. Her changes took time, both in training and with her simply getting a little older or moving through hormonal periods, though I didn't really want to try and give advice on such things as I knew that Cooper was a far more complex case and would need advice from someone better suited/experienced in difficult birds :)

Just don't stress too much, as many of Cooper's behaviours are common in GCCs to varying degrees and frequencies, and you two will get past this in time :)
 

Reggie

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I think this should be fine. All just starting to teach him when the behavior is appropriate. I've heard of people with larger birds especially setting aside scream time each day, when they just dance and hollar and let their birds go crazy to blow off steam. I've never tried it myself but it's worth a shot!
It worked for my budgies and I know they're completely different birds, but I'm hoping starting that up again will teach him some manners! :D

By 'scared wing shaking' do you mean that Cooper hunkers down, draws his feathers in tighter, and opens his wings while twitching them? And does he do all of this while leaning forward? Sort of like he wants to take off in that direction?
Yeah, and he does it at the vaccuum, at anything I put directly in front of his cage (if on accident), and when I walk too far away.

The way I got my conure into foraging was by putting a layer of seed under her pellets so she had to dig for it, and then upgrading her to having paper between the seeds and pellets, and then by putting twisted up balls of paper filled with food in her dish.
This is a really good idea! Maybe then he'd decide to eat some of the pellets instead of flipping them onto the grate of his cage like an irritated child! :lol:

As Calpurnia said, teaching 'tricks' like moving to specific places or playing independently is a great way to start. Recall training would be best done after you build some bridges with Cooper with more simpe tricks and positive interactions-- eg try teaching him something easy like turning in a circle or even simpler, just reinforcing stepping up and down. Of course, you may not be able to do these until after you've managed to reduce his biting behaviour.
That's what I was thinking. I just thought after I get him used to stepping up and down I'd have a plan in place to keep him stimulated and I'd move onto recall flight training. I probably won't even get to it until the summer time.

This is just my personal opinion, but I don't think a bird should be kept in the room you spend most of your time in-- a room with good traffic, yes, but I feel that it can breed codependency. Just a thought, as I don't know your situation.
The only reason I have them in my room is because I'm moving out in the fall, and I don't own this house. I'm trying to minimize the messes they make so my parents don't kill me. When I move out their cages are going in the living room of my apartment. :)

And when it comes to reinforcing calls, we're usually talking about calling/screaming for attention throughout the day, rather than the situation you're experiencing when you get home-- you bird is greeting you, so greet him back in a way you find favourable, as he'll likely pick up your 'call' in time (as best he can, such as with Lawrence's main greeting which is a garbled 'hey buddy' or a copy of my whistle), which can result in him no longer using his more grating shrieks.
When I say contact calling I mean throughout the day. It is him yelling for attention. The only reason I brought up him and my budgies doing it when I get home at all was because I'm afraid that greeting him back reinforces the shrieks to get out of the cage and get attention.

Her changes took time, both in training and with her simply getting a little older or moving through hormonal periods, though I didn't really want to try and give advice on such things as I knew that Cooper was a far more complex case and would need advice from someone better suited/experienced in difficult birds.
Oh no I understand! I really do appreciate your input, I just was telling you the difference between your bird and mine! :hug8: I didn't mean to sound rude, or short with you in any way.

Just don't stress too much, as many of Cooper's behaviours are common in GCCs to varying degrees and frequencies, and you two will get past this in time
I'll try my best not to stress about it, but I'm a clinically diagnosed worry wart! :laugh:
 

AYA

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Yeah, and he does it at the vaccuum, at anything I put directly in front of his cage (if on accident), and when I walk too far away.

See, I've never taken this behaviour to be a solely negative one-- Lawrence does this to me when someone who hasn't been around for a while walks by her cage, when there's food she wants but can't get to (including treats before a training session starts), if there's a bird she likes at the feeder, and yeah, at the vacuum too. In most of these cases, she's excited and wants something but can't get to it (she's fallen off her cage before doing this because I was pouring juice in the kitchen), though she does want to murder both the vacc and its dastardly wielder :D

When she does get a fright, she gives her alarm call, draws all her feathers in and leans away (or she falls off of her perch and yells at the evil cocky that just landed in the feeder). If something new is in her cage that she's uncertain of, then she'll aviod the area around it or retreat up to her sleep platform and watch it for any signs of ill-intent before she'll go check it out. So Cooper may not always be upset by the things he does that first pose at :)

That's what I was thinking. I just thought after I get him used to stepping up and down I'd have a plan in place to keep him stimulated and I'd move onto recall flight training. I probably won't even get to it until the summer time.

I think that that'd be a great idea, the poor soul just needs to go slow :)

When I say contact calling I mean throughout the day. It is him yelling for attention. The only reason I brought up him and my budgies doing it when I get home at all was because I'm afraid that greeting him back reinforces the shrieks to get out of the cage and get attention.

Fair enough, and that is something to be discouraged-- though don't be afraid to return his calls when it's appropriate, like when you come home, or to try getting him to have a scream sesh like you mentioned in another post.

Oh no I understand! I really do appreciate your input, I just was telling you the difference between your bird and mine! :hug8: I didn't mean to sound rude, or short with you in any way.

Don't worry about it, I didn't think that you were being short with me! I was just trying to let you know that even a GCC that's had a cushy life can be a little monster when the mood takes her, and since all the birds I've ever had were either from pet shops or a breeder and were young when I got them, I don't really feel too comfortable when it comes to giving more direct advice when it comes to a rehomed bird :)

Best of luck to you though! :D
 

Lady Jane

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I too have a Cooper that bites. It seems to be an automatic thing with her. When she sees skin she bites! One thing I did is to perch train her if for no other reason than to gain a bit of control.
She is good with that now. Millet and a perch in your hand and a sleeve of some sort on your arm. You know its going to take a long time to tame this bird. I guess now you know why the bird was re homed. I hope it works out well.
 

Reggie

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When she does get a fright, she gives her alarm call, draws all her feathers in and leans away
So Cooper may not always be upset by the things he does that first pose at
It's usually stuff he's seen more than once (even the toys I put in his cage), and he takes way longer to go "check things out." But I know for a fact that Cooper is afraid of the vaccuum, the blender, and the ceiling fan (when he's caged I turn it on sometimes and he can see it).
And what Lawrence does is almost exactly what Cooper does.
 

Laurie

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I read a bit of what others have written but I didn't get to read it all so please forgive me I repeat what others have said.

First of all I do want to reiterate that with his history and the short time you have had him you will need to be very careful to build trust. It has been said that building trust with a bird is like putting and taking money in and out of a bank. The higher the trust balance with your bird, the better your relationship will be. For every interaction that your bird has with you that he views as positive you are making a deposit into his trust bank. For every negative reaction you are making a withdrawal. How do you think your balance is? Have you put more in than you have taken out. You really want to avoid a negative interaction that remove trusts.

Examples of positive interactions might be giving your bird a treat and him eating it, opening the cage door for him to exit on his own, talking to him from across the room, a head scratch, responding to his contact call. It is not the action itself that makes it positive or negative, it is how the bird perceives the action.

Negative interactions might include forcing him to step up (even presenting your hand for him to step up if he doesn't want to), putting him away in his cage (unless that is where he wanted to go), toweling, getting closer to his cage then he wants you to be, talking quietly to him near his cage if he is scared of you, grabbing him.

The fastest way to gain trust is to take is slow.

The downside to putting him back in the cage when he bites is that he learns that biting will get him taken back to his cage. If he wants to be with you then putting him back will decrease the biting, but if he is wanting to go back you could be making his biting worse (by unintentionally rewarding the bite by taking him back to his cage). I had a totally tame and sweet parrotlet who I unintentionally taught to bite me when he wanted to go back. Every evening at about 7 PM he would bite, bite, bite until I took him back. It is funny now but was not as funny at the time :)

A better strategy as was suggested was to use a carrier as a time out cage. A time-out should only be 1-2 minutes and quite often a few seconds is enough. Any longer and your bird has long forgotten that the time-out was a consequence of the biting. Personally, I do not even recommend the carrier for a time out. All you really need to be effective is to remove your attention from the bird. If he bit me, I would set him down on a table and turn my back and walk away for a few seconds. Then try again. The thing is that this will only work if he actually wants to be with you. If the biting is an indication that he does not want to be with you then not strategy of removing him from your company will work because you will only be rewarding him with what he wants.

The training journal is an awesome idea. Try and write down these things:

A - what happened immediately before the B (behavior)
B - Describe the behavior in detail
C - what happened immediately after

E - what was the environment around the bird

Here is an example:

A - Bird was sitting on my finger
B - Bird lowered his head and bite my finger
C - I screamed and shook my hand

E - I was alone in my room sitting on the bed with music playing

Recording the behaviors is more useful then trying to assess the emotional state of the bird or yourself. Write down what you see not what your think about it. You can draw conclusions as after you collect some data.

Here is what not to write:

A - Bird was happily sitting on my hand and then suddenly got mad
B - Bird bit me because he was mad
C - I screamed and shook my hand because it hurt and I wanted to get him off as soon as possible

E - I was just holding him not doing anything :mad:

Do you see the difference? How can you know the bird was happy or mad? If you are basing it on body language then describe what he did not what you thing it means. It will be more useful when you look back and compare.

I could talk about this all day but it would be overwhelming for you so I will just sum it up by saying to work really hard on having as many positive interaction and no negative. If you can't let him out without causing a negative experience then it is better to work on positive interactions and with a hands off approach. Be patient and give it time and don't give up on the little guy :)
 

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First of all I do want to reiterate that with his history and the short time you have had him you will need to be very careful to build trust. It has been said that building trust with a bird is like putting and taking money in and out of a bank. The higher the trust balance with your bird, the better your relationship will be. For every interaction that your bird has with you that he views as positive you are making a deposit into his trust bank. For every negative reaction you are making a withdrawal.
That's a really good way to remember it and that way of thinking simplifies it for me. I think for the first month I'm going to be working on positive interactions, just to set a baseline and see how it goes. I just don't know what kinds of things count as interactions? What could I do with him that would count toward us having bonding time?

The fastest way to gain trust is to take is slow.
I have a little bit of trouble taking it slow because I get excited when his reactions to things are positive or affirming that he *likes* whatever I'm doing. I'll have to really work on this one consciously with him.

The downside to putting him back in the cage when he bites is that he learns that biting will get him taken back to his cage.
but if he is wanting to go back you could be making his biting worse (by unintentionally rewarding the bite by taking him back to his cage).
Personally, I do not even recommend the carrier for a time out. All you really need to be effective is to remove your attention from the bird. If he bit me, I would set him down on a table and turn my back and walk away for a few seconds. Then try again.
I was wondering if that's what it would do! When I first started doing it I didn't know what else I could do, but I'll try setting him down and waiting about 2 minutes and trying again. Thank you for a solution to that problem! :)

The training journal is an awesome idea. Try and write down these things:

A - what happened immediately before the B (behavior)
B - Describe the behavior in detail
C - what happened immediately after

E - what was the environment around the bird

Recording the behaviors is more useful then trying to assess the emotional state of the bird or yourself. Write down what you see not what your think about it. You can draw conclusions as after you collect some data.
This is also a great point! I was wondering how to do that effectively and I'll try your method out to see if I can narrow down maybe some causes of the behaviors?

If you can't let him out without causing a negative experience then it is better to work on positive interactions and with a hands off approach. Be patient and give it time and don't give up on the little guy :)
Thank you so much for your advice! :hug8:
I wouldn't dream of giving up on Coop! He just leaves me frazzled sometimes haha.
 
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