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He is RELENTLESS!

Kenzie

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I understand that he doesn't like to step up... however, if he ever feels the need to fly away instead of stepping up, then you are hurting your training by him feeling the need to fly away... You need to figure out a way to get him to comply without flying away. For example... why do you want him to step up? Could it be to move him to his cage? Can you get him to target to his cage instead of having him step up? If you need him in a carrier, can you teach him to go into the carrier himself rather than putting him in the carrier?

How can you change what you are asking to get the desired behavior while avoiding the undesired behavior?


Can you describe the steps you took on getting recall through target training?


Definitely try changing up his training regime!
Step ups are random. At times I do it just to give him a chance for reward. His cage is upstairs behind a couple of doors, so unsure how I could target him to his cage, but when it's time to go up for the night, he happily steps up! He loves his cage and is ready to go back gladly. This has always baffled me - I have NEVER done anything funky after he stepped up. I won't force cuddle him, grab him, touch him. I held his feet at one point BECAUSE he would fly away, but I had stopped doing that because I felt it was hurting our trust. Occasionally he goes in a carrier but never battles me. He steps in, gets a treat. He won't try to fly away when going in a carrier. 9/10 he's getting put in because we're going outside to receive some sunshine, a bath, or going to a friends house. He enjoys going out.

For the steps, I'd of course trained him targeting and he LOVES the target game! I would initially be working on step up training with him, so targeting started taking place over my hand. He did not have to touch my hand, nor step on/over it to target, I just had him target near my hand and got it closer each time. He at first would side eye my hand, assuming I am up to no good but decided that nah, I am NOT trying to do anything funky and he'd gladly target all around my hand - hand under him, hand above him, hand next to target stick point.

From there, I wanted him to start stepping onto my hand to touch the target. This is where we reached a hiccup and I had on multiple occasions scrapped that to have him target next to my hand more, as I felt he was needing more repetitions and sessions of target close to hand. After a while, I had decided he definitely knows what I want of him and we resumed targeting to try and get him on my hand. He never really did. He knew the request to step up, so I had gone away with the target stick and for a while, we had a pretty good thing going - he would step up when asked almost all of the time. If he didn't want to, he'd waddle away occasionally and I'd step back, give us a moment to reflect, and ask again. He either would, or would refuse again and I would do a couple of target sessions to end the session. Additionally, at some point during this time, he was actually coming TOWARDS my hand a good 3-4 steps away to willingly step up and earn reward! Then during one session it was as if he had unlearned it all. He would start flying away from my hand again. At this time, I was doing 1-2 sessions everyday for a month at that time (with basic target training mixed in because he finds it fun, of course). During any step up training, I would click and reward for him staying on my hand without flying off - that was a huge issue we had. He'd grab a treat and fly off but I had him sitting there for a good few seconds, knowing a treat was coming for remaining. He has never got truly comfortable remaining on my hand.

After I started seeing this regression, I was recommended by the free flight person I look up to and seek advice from a lot, to start trying to target him to my hand from a distance. He would fly at me, hover for a second, and decide there was nowhere to land. After various attempts, various changing up things to see if other ways would work, I done away with the target stick. I'd use his favorite treat to lure a first recall and miraculously he did it. The wheels turned and he had successfully done some repetitions but would not do many at all before he was back to making his impatient noise, acting once again as if he hadn't a clue what I wanted of him.

I would do these recall sessions daily and had decided no target stick because he seemed uncomfortable landing on my hand with this stick poking towards him - I would usually be starting with some fun simple targets with Safflower seeds as a very small treat. He would only get his favorite, Papaya bits and tiny pieces of Peanut for successful recalls. I would also give him additional Safflower seeds to remain on my hand during this time, typically only 1-2 before I would ask him to fly or step back onto his perch.

We would change distance and my positioning so it was not always the same ol' A to B same spot but at my old house I had little to work with in a tiny house. In the new house, I'm keeping it simple as he seemed to regress so much DURING our stay in the previous house, I wanted to get him back on track.

100% He always receives a click for flying to my hand, and a reward immediately. I never had NOT given him a reward and would even give a whole peanut if he flew to my hand without a treat wedged between my thumb.
 
Last edited:

Monica

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The cage/carrier is just an example of perhaps working *around* a behavior. Great that he does enjoy going to his cage or going into a carrier! Pretty sure my mitred conure would happily live in a tiny cat carrier given a chance! :rofl: Much more fun in that than a "parrot cage" (32x23) or larger cage!



Target for step up - it honestly sounds like you did everything right when you were having him target with one hand over the step up hand.


Only thing I can really think of is having your hand on a flat surface and having him step up and off your hand while your hand remains stationary... aka your hand is on a table, on the top of his cage, or any other flat training surface (heck, a perch could work, too! if he's willing!)

Simple as "step up" - treat
"Step down" - treat
"Step up" - treat
"Step down" - treat

etc

Even though it's not exactly stepping up, it's still the concept of getting on and off your hand


If he's comfortable with that, then move on to the next part.... keeping your hand flat and stationary on whatever surface you are using

"Step up - wait" - treat
"Step down" - treat
"Step up - wait" - treat
"Step down" - treat

etc


That is, if you haven't tried that already?



If he's not okay with the target while recall training, maybe implement your index finger instead? Although Merlin, a green cheek here, isn't as hands on, I can point to a spot and he'll fly/climb to that spot to get a reward.


Will see if I can think of any other ideas in the mean time!
 

Kenzie

Sprinting down the street
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The cage/carrier is just an example of perhaps working *around* a behavior. Great that he does enjoy going to his cage or going into a carrier! Pretty sure my mitred conure would happily live in a tiny cat carrier given a chance! :rofl: Much more fun in that than a "parrot cage" (32x23) or larger cage!



Target for step up - it honestly sounds like you did everything right when you were having him target with one hand over the step up hand.


Only thing I can really think of is having your hand on a flat surface and having him step up and off your hand while your hand remains stationary... aka your hand is on a table, on the top of his cage, or any other flat training surface (heck, a perch could work, too! if he's willing!)

Simple as "step up" - treat
"Step down" - treat
"Step up" - treat
"Step down" - treat

etc

Even though it's not exactly stepping up, it's still the concept of getting on and off your hand


If he's comfortable with that, then move on to the next part.... keeping your hand flat and stationary on whatever surface you are using

"Step up - wait" - treat
"Step down" - treat
"Step up - wait" - treat
"Step down" - treat

etc


That is, if you haven't tried that already?



If he's not okay with the target while recall training, maybe implement your index finger instead? Although Merlin, a green cheek here, isn't as hands on, I can point to a spot and he'll fly/climb to that spot to get a reward.


Will see if I can think of any other ideas in the mean time!
Thank you for your input! I had already done the "step up - treat" before I attempted to do waiting, too. I don't treat for stepping down since he's so eager to get off :p.

I may try pointing training, too. For now we have begun working on Spin + Wave and he's way too smart because he got them both with a hand cue the first time each. Now to just clean them up and make his wave last longer.
I'm also trying to capture wings, but each time he did, I clicked, he flew away when I started getting up to hand him a treat. So much for that... will keep trying to capture.
 

Kenzie

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Update: We successfully learned Spin + Wave on hand cue in 2 sessions! He is too quick and I have to think of other tricks to train his little mind. Harder things. I've been doing more random "step-up"s and only like 1-2 every few like hours or so, so he doesn't get upset at me asking so much uncomfortable-ness from him.

Additionally, I got back 2 days ago to training my Amazon recall. She picked up where we left off, but due to her past she has always been in poor physical shape and can't do too long a session. She does TRULY enjoy it, though! Everytime she lands on my hand, she flares her tail, pins her eyes, and ushers a happy "HHHIIIIIII!!!!" before taking her treat and I send her back to her perch lol. Shes fun to train. Hopefully we'll be back in physical shape and an excellent recall to go back to the batting cage.

WITH THIS, though, Poptart has been watching, getting jealous that she is getting treats, and I got multiple successful recalls yesterday AND today. While he had in the past done well with consistency, it was because we were doing food management. I have NOT been managing his food this time, but he has been consistent with successful recalls now WITHOUT a treat sitting on my thumb. So I really think him seeing Pi, my Zon, training with me, he feels left out and wants in on the attention + treats. He's doing great. I will continue teaching him new tricks for now, and not focus much on recall- only when he shows interest (i.e when I'm doing training with Pi, and he wants in).
 

Monica

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Sounds like a great update! You'll get there in time! Maybe not free-flight, but in other ways! :)

Please keep us updated!
 

Kenzie

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I have been doing recall with my Zon pretty focused on her. Poptart watches and I can usually tell if he is willing to participate, so will offer him some "Here!" and he has gotten a little better about recall. I've been either A: Feeding small dinner night before for ASAP training in morning or B: Feeding small breakfast to train later in day - just depends on my plans for the day and how busy I plan to be.

We had a 3 day streak which is great for him - yesterday I even did 2 sessions for recall! Usually his recall is full of gaps - we would get a couple one day, zero the next, maybe zero the next after that, and maybe some the next. Now, there has been some consistency! But I'm not getting my hopes too high - I'd like to see long term progress but I am very proud of it so far.

These sessions are still very tiny... and he ends them, I don't. He may do 3-5 recalls before deciding he is done and looking at me like I am asking him to do backflips through a flaming ring.

No training today cus I started my new job and it kills me to wake up at 6:30 AM.... so I feel horrid for potentially getting a 4 day streak. But I think we're getting somewhere!!!!!

I am aiming for hopefully around 1 month for batting cage.
 

Kenzie

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@Monica Hey you, I wanted to tag you since you're a this forums goto trainer lady (thank you for your service lol)!

I am interested in restarting recall training with Poptart. I have a freeflying friend who told me that a lot of freefliers don't put a ton of importance on step up and if he is bad about it, to not focus on that and instead try to focus on Recall exclusively. She has a ton of experience and even has started professionally mentoring people for freeflight- her idealology and everything is excellent and I have a ton of respect and trust for her - I just wanted to say that to let you know that I am confident in her abilities and her advice I do take to great value.
And to add, he isn't ABSOLUTELY horrid about step up. I can step him up when absolutely necessary save for a fly away once or twice. He still gets treats everytime for stepping up and a handful of treats to gorge himself on for extended step ups (i.e when I am walking him back to his cage).

With starting with recall again, my trainer friend suggested attempting to use a perch to get started - having him recall to perch and overtime making this smaller space where my hand is on the perch. But first, I've got to get him interested in a perch. What steps should I take for this, do you think?

I cannot even begin to explain my frustrations with how he was having a good streak and then we just lost that short streak of 3 days (when usually, he would refuse to recall train the following day after a successful day). After losing that streak and trying for a week more, I stopped and focused on other tricks with him.

We learned wings! Proud of him for that and it took a ton of patience on my end to sit there with a clicker everytime he'd enter a preen session (he'll only ever stretch his wings once or twice a preen session) and he I saw the moment his lightbulb came on lol.

What do you think I should do to prepare him and myself for the most successful session????

And sorry for asking this of you! I am confident in my advices for other people where need be and techniques with other people, but when it comes to my own birds (specifically Poptart) I feel stumped and I have no idea why.
 

Monica

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I have a freeflying friend who told me that a lot of freefliers don't put a ton of importance on step up and if he is bad about it, to not focus on that and instead try to focus on Recall exclusively. She has a ton of experience and even has started professionally mentoring people for freeflight- her idealology and everything is excellent and I have a ton of respect and trust for her - I just wanted to say that to let you know that I am confident in her abilities and her advice I do take to great value.
With someone who has quite a lot more experience in this area, it sounds like a great idea to follow your friend's advice! Maybe it could help break through that area you are struggling in with Poptart?


With starting with recall again, my trainer friend suggested attempting to use a perch to get started - having him recall to perch and overtime making this smaller space where my hand is on the perch. But first, I've got to get him interested in a perch. What steps should I take for this, do you think?
If he's okay with wooden dowels, you could always try those - although many parrots are terrified of one being held by hand. Not sure if it may help to try recalling to a very simple and basic wooden perch and gradually having your hand on it, then moving from that perch to you holding a dowel?

Alternatively, maybe a rope perch with the ends held together in your hand wont be as scary?

It's something I probably ought to work with on Merlin, a little green cheek conure, as well! ;) He's gotten down the point and fly (or climb!) means treats and he enjoys it! But like Poptart, isn't crazy about hands... probably even less so! He wont step up at all - he hates hands that much! Doesn't help that I have a lot going on right now so training is one of the last things on my mind at the moment.


And sorry for asking this of you! I am confident in my advices for other people where need be and techniques with other people, but when it comes to my own birds (specifically Poptart) I feel stumped and I have no idea why.
Don't fret it! I've got a lot to learn myself! Remember once years ago I got a flock of 5 adult budgies flying to my hands and eating from them without being terrified. Took about a month or so to achieve this but they seem to enjoy it once they realized I wasn't so scary after all. At one point in time, I had a female cockatiel that started following me around while I was making sure everyone had food and even landed on me a couple of times. I was rather confused... two weeks later, it finally clicked! She wanted the same interaction I was doing with the budgies! I felt pretty stupid... :facepalm: She on the other hand was quite happy I finally figured it out! :wacky:



Probably best way to attempt to succeed is making sure you know Poptart's reinforcers, knowing what he is and is not willing to do, what he is and is not afraid of and go from there. As a basic example, if you know he'll fly 3' but not 5', then start working at 2-3' and slowly build up over time. Keep distractions minimal (these can be built up over time) and work with him when you know he's most likely to respond.
 

budgieluv3

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Good luck!
 

Kenzie

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With someone who has quite a lot more experience in this area, it sounds like a great idea to follow your friend's advice! Maybe it could help break through that area you are struggling in with Poptart?




If he's okay with wooden dowels, you could always try those - although many parrots are terrified of one being held by hand. Not sure if it may help to try recalling to a very simple and basic wooden perch and gradually having your hand on it, then moving from that perch to you holding a dowel?

Alternatively, maybe a rope perch with the ends held together in your hand wont be as scary?

It's something I probably ought to work with on Merlin, a little green cheek conure, as well! ;) He's gotten down the point and fly (or climb!) means treats and he enjoys it! But like Poptart, isn't crazy about hands... probably even less so! He wont step up at all - he hates hands that much! Doesn't help that I have a lot going on right now so training is one of the last things on my mind at the moment.




Don't fret it! I've got a lot to learn myself! Remember once years ago I got a flock of 5 adult budgies flying to my hands and eating from them without being terrified. Took about a month or so to achieve this but they seem to enjoy it once they realized I wasn't so scary after all. At one point in time, I had a female cockatiel that started following me around while I was making sure everyone had food and even landed on me a couple of times. I was rather confused... two weeks later, it finally clicked! She wanted the same interaction I was doing with the budgies! I felt pretty stupid... :facepalm: She on the other hand was quite happy I finally figured it out! :wacky:



Probably best way to attempt to succeed is making sure you know Poptart's reinforcers, knowing what he is and is not willing to do, what he is and is not afraid of and go from there. As a basic example, if you know he'll fly 3' but not 5', then start working at 2-3' and slowly build up over time. Keep distractions minimal (these can be built up over time) and work with him when you know he's most likely to respond.
Thanks for the advice. It's been a frustrating road. Like I said way earlier in this post, our 3 day streak was mind boggling and I really though we made a breakthrough- and maybe we did, but something happened. I haven't a clue what it could possibly be because I change up VERY little and immediately back track if he doesn't respond. I know the distance he prefers - it's not super far away, but it's not close as he was unable to do close recall. I pretty much stayed at that distance, changed up the position once in a while when we had a decent streak but he didn't shy away when I changed position. It was always at random when we've done the same pattern multiple times and suddenly he's acting like we're back at day 1 and I'm asking him something impossible.

His favorites are Peanut + Papaya and Safflower Seed a lot, too. I rewarded him profusely with his favorites, even offering a handful of them all to get the best response.

And it's not like I would hold him for long, he would fly off instantly (though at one point he wouldn't fly off instantly and would grab his treat and allow me to put him back or ask him to go back, instead).
 

Kenzie

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UPDATE: I randomly decided yesterday to restart this. I clearly know he CAN fly to my hand as he has before. So, instead of doing our typical trick training session before he gets his full meal, I gave it a go for a recall! It took A LOT of trying random things - I put his favorite treats in a bowl (almonds, peanuts, and random junk from a birdy Cocktail bag). This was VERY tempting to him and he flew towards me multiple times, deciding to fly by instead. So I got an idea! He LOOOVESS the BAG of those junky treats - he loves paper and plastic crinkling on top of it being his favorite treats... so I held my hand in front of the bag, crinkling and shaking it with all those delicious treats inside.

It really did not take him long to decide to fly to my hand! After that, I moved back to the bowl and it was much smoother this time. I asked for two more flights to my hand and even though he was VERY eager to go again, I gave him a jackpot and put those delicious treats away to work with Safflower Seeds on his known and enjoyed tricks. His limit was always around 3-4 so I really did not want to push it and I wanted to leave him wanting more.

Today, I start our day with the same thing - bowl with those yummy treats - it took a tiny bit of persuasion for the first one but really, not much at all. He flew to my hand and we did two more. Then I gave a jackpot and once more, worked on our usual training routine. He wanted to go again, too! But I really need to not get too excited and get AS MANY AS POSSIBLE out of him. I'm gonna keep it to 3 flights for now, one session a day, and jackpot at the end. When I feel much more comfortable about it, I'll change the distance slightly and then add an additional recall into the routine.

This is going great - a 2 day streak. I am stoked and hopeful. This time, I plan to not mess up. Before, I think I was just asking for ONE extra than I should have, changing up distance + location.
 

Monica

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I hope that's the simple 'trick' to get him to focus and work! Please do keep the thread updated on your progress, or lack there-of! :D
 
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