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I gave Taco a bad fright; his fear of sticks is getting worse...

hrafn

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Taco, Kamara and Kraz are all afraid of sticks, but Taco's fear has been getting worse and it's come to the point where anything even resembling a stick being in his line of sight is terrifying. Kraz and Kamara are only afraid when sticks are in their space or coming near them, but Taco will go into a panic now if he sees the broom innocently leaning against a wall as we walk past it.

Recently I had the idea to slowly demonstrate to Taco that sticks aren't dangerous, by interacting with them myself in harmless ways (walking past them, leaning toward them, etc.) and Taco seemed to react positively. I then figured I might try picking up sticks and moving them, and he wasn't a fan so I went back to the first step.

But last night a toy got stuck under Réy's cage, and without thinking I used an old spare perch to pull it out. Neither Kraz or Kamara cared, but Taco went ballistic. He started thrashing and screaming, pinning his eyes and striking the cage bars, and when I hurriedly dropped the perch and pushed it out of view, he ran and hid in a back corner of his cage.

I went over to comfort him, since he's normally a big weepy mama's bird, but he pressed his back against the cage and stared at me like I was a monster. I backed off until he calmed himself down, gave him his favourite mangoes, and then put everyone to bed.

Today, Taco is still afraid of me. He isn't terrified and hiding anymore, but he won't approach me and he's making his sad little "I'm scared" croak. He backs away when I open his door, and when he ventures out he won't come near me.

I scared the heck out of him, the poor guy. What can I do to help him? There are too many stick-shaped objects in the world to hide them all.

I'm also down with the flu this weekend and I'm not spending as much time in the bird room as usual, half because I don't want to spread my germs and half because I keep zonking out for hours. I doubt that's helping my poor baby to get over his traumatic experience. :(
 

Shezbug

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Poor Taco, I guess he has had some really horrifying experiences with sticks :( I do not know how to help you with this problem but I really feel for you with all these challenges.

Just curious how is is with things like pens/ pencils and chopsticks which essentially are really tiny sticks. I am thinking if he is ok with those maybe you could start off desensitizing him with them starting from small sticks like pencils/chopsticks and working your way up to thicker and longer sticks as he learns they are not going to be used against him in your home/care. You could get a heap of dowels ranging in sizes and work your way up from the smaller ones once he is comfortable with each new size. There is probably a better and more logical way of helping him through this problem but this is the way I would most likely tackle this problem if I had this issue with Burt.

Gosh I hope you can sort this out fast and that you start to feel better soon too. :hug8:
 

Begone

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First. I will start with this.
I went over to comfort him, since he's normally a big weepy mama's bird, but he pressed his back against the cage and stared at me like I was a monster.
Don't do that again. You will only increase a fear if you interact with them in that kind of way when they are scared. It is like telling them that they are right = Good boy, be scared.
Next time. Act normal, no eye contact, breath in and out. Be calm. No interaction. Do things that he normally thinks are OK.
And the same thing if he is scared and come to you. Don't comfort him, just be their for him in a calm way. For that he will later always chose to be with you, because you will be his safe spot.
If you are upset too it helps if you are telling yourself that he is safe with you, you love him, you will protect him, and nothing bad will ever happen him. Animals can feel that emotions if you radiates them. (I hope you understand my bad English)
Recently I had the idea to slowly demonstrate to Taco that sticks aren't dangerous, by interacting with them myself in harmless ways (walking past them, leaning toward them, etc.) and Taco seemed to react positively. I then figured I might try picking up sticks and moving them, and he wasn't a fan so I went back to the first step.
That is only working if the bird trust you to 100%.

You should let him investigate the stick without any kind of interaction that can remind him of something bad.
Place the stick near where he is used to be, place some things he likes on it. Do that to all birds in the house that are afraid of sticks. The stick should not be so near so they are afraid, but in a distance so they can see it and wants the treats that you have placed their.
Then just wait. It can go days or weeks. But let him build a confidence on his own.
If he take the treat, just place new ones their. And place them later so he must go/passing on the stick too.
The day you can put the stick in their cages and they chew on it like a toy, they are ready for training with it again.
All things you use for training they must see as a safe tool. If they are afraid of it, or angry don't train with it.

For every new things they are afraid of, do the same. They will soon learn that everything you placed near them are safe and will investigate them directly.

He backs away when I open his door, and when he ventures out he won't come near me.
Let him do that and don't take it personal. A soon as you act normal in a non demanding way he will stop to be afraid of you. Do things he like, do things that wants him to join what you are doing. And spoil him, but don't interact with him. You can place some things he like in his bowl for an example. Let him beg for interaction with you, then you know when he is ready again.

I'm also down with the flu this weekend and I'm not spending as much time in the bird room as usual,
And get well soon! ♥ :hug4:
 

faislaq

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It sounds like it's only when you're holding the sticks? That sounds like Scott & we can all guess where they learned that fear. :(

I like the idea of starting with small sticks and working your way up. And I also like the idea of putting treats near the sticks. Maybe you could combine the two? Start with chopsticks (toothpicks if you have to) and make a mango kabob out of it. :D Let him see you assemble them in the other room (can he see you in the kitchen from his cage?) and them leave them there at first. Bring him into the kitchen as long as he's okay with it and let him pick up the kabob. When he's okay with that you could start bringing the treat sticks closer to him, then start with a slightly larger dowel? There are so many varying sizes, it might work. :shrug2:


And is he afraid of multiple sticks together? Would a handful of chopsticks be as scary as just one? What if they went in different directions? That might be a different shape to him.
 

hrafn

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First. I will start with this.

Don't do that again. You will only increase a fear if you interact with them in that kind of way when they are scared. It is like telling them that they are right = Good boy, be scared.
Next time. Act normal, no eye contact, breath in and out. Be calm. No interaction. Do things that he normally thinks are OK.
And the same thing if he is scared and come to you. Don't comfort him, just be their for him in a calm way. For that he will later always chose to be with you, because you will be his safe spot.
I honestly know better, and I don't know why I did that. I make a point to never coddle my pets when they're scared, but my immediate thought was that Taco might have hurt himself in his panic, and I hurried over to check whether he was okay. He was fine, but running over probably didn't help the situation at all. :bash:

Let him do that and don't take it personal. A soon as you act normal in a non demanding way he will stop to be afraid of you. Do things he like, do things that wants him to join what you are doing. And spoil him, but don't interact with him. You can place some things he like in his bowl for an example. Let him beg for interaction with you, then you know when he is ready again.
Outside of initially hurrying over to check on him, this is exactly what I've been doing. I really must have really scared the bejeezus out of him. He'll watch me now while I go about my business and play with the other fids, but when I approach to fill his dish or rotate a toy or talk to him or whatever, he moves as far away as possible.
Ah, well. Patience, patience, patience.

You should let him investigate the stick without any kind of interaction that can remind him of something bad.
Place the stick near where he is used to be, place some things he likes on it. Do that to all birds in the house that are afraid of sticks. The stick should not be so near so they are afraid, but in a distance so they can see it and wants the treats that you have placed their.
Then just wait. It can go days or weeks. But let him build a confidence on his own.
If he take the treat, just place new ones their. And place them later so he must go/passing on the stick too.
The day you can put the stick in their cages and they chew on it like a toy, they are ready for training with it again.
All things you use for training they must see as a safe tool. If they are afraid of it, or angry don't train with it.
Clever! I'll try that. Thank you! :)
 

hrafn

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It sounds like it's only when you're holding the sticks? That sounds like Scott & we can all guess where they learned that fear. :(

I like the idea of starting with small sticks and working your way up. And I also like the idea of putting treats near the sticks. Maybe you could combine the two? Start with chopsticks (toothpicks if you have to) and make a mango kabob out of it. :D Let him see you assemble them in the other room (can he see you in the kitchen from his cage?) and them leave them there at first. Bring him into the kitchen as long as he's okay with it and let him pick up the kabob. When he's okay with that you could start bringing the treat sticks closer to him, then start with a slightly larger dowel? There are so many varying sizes, it might work. :shrug2:


And is he afraid of multiple sticks together? Would a handful of chopsticks be as scary as just one? What if they went in different directions? That might be a different shape to him.
Nope, I have become a mama-monster, stick or no stick. :shrug:

I actually tried making him a mango kebab, figuring nothing on this Earth could scare him away from his favourite treat, but no dice. He knew that dastardly skewer was there!

He's even afraid of Q-tips and toothpicks. I don't know how he makes the connection between a cotton swab and the sticks his old owners hit his cage with, but boy does he! :(

I can't blame him. He's been through a heck of a lot in twelve years, and he's only been here two and a half months. Trauma holds on for a looooong time, which is something I can identify with. My poor baby.
 

Begone

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I honestly know better, and I don't know why I did that.
Sometimes we do things without thinking, it happens to all of us. So don't be hard on yourself.

And your poor baby will realize that you can be what he needs if you just give him time.
So again I say, don't take it personal, see it as a necessary journey you have to do to get there.

:hug4::hug4::hug4::hug4::hug4::hug4::hug4:
 

rocky'smom

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Try popsicle sticks that you have colored with food coloring, like Easter egg dye.
Bebe is afraid of sticks too. But by putting favorite treats on the sticks he is getting pass it.
 

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Just go easy...These things take time...lots of time. Who knows maybe he was threatened with a stick to keep him in place. I do use a perch to direct Penny when she is out & going for some place its better she keeps away from.

Shes not afraid but will avoid it.

I can step her up on a wood perch if she is on the floor & put her back on the cage which was supposed to be something she did not do.

My Penny is very good! I love that bird. We are not on the cuddle stage but she is such a good girl & the way she talks to me & the sounds & whistles & laughs...even her whines & occassion LOUD jungle sounds are endearing...

Maybe a chunk of fruit pierced on the end of a chop stick...Donlt hold it but secure it somehow to her cage so she he has time to think about it & see its not biting her & then maybe the fruit will entice her to go closer...just an idea.

What about a SS skewer? Thats like a stick
 

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I think it might best to go back to how things where in beginning when you brought him home since any kind of stick is causing him some form of distress. Just take it slow and easy with him. For now I would remove the sticks and brooms from the area and when having to sweep I would cover his cage until you are done. He is in a bad place right now and is scared. Two months is not that long for him to be with you and willing to whole heartily trust you. So just start from the ground up and when he is feeling a bit better I would start with the toothpicks and go from there.
 
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