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Training Our Senegal Parrot (we are new parrot parents).

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

Training Our Senegal Parrot (we are new parrot parents).

Postby lac575 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:22 pm

Please give us your thoughts with regards to a few training questions we have. Apologies that this is a bit long.

To give you some background, My husband and I adopted a 2-year-old male Senegal parrot about 2 weeks ago. We had no prior experience with birds but we did A LOT of research before we adopted one.

When we first brought Darwin home, he came out of his cage right away but did not want us to get close to him. Over the course of a couple of days, he allowed us closer and we taught him to step-up on a dowel. It looked like he had not been taught step-up before and was quite uncomfortable doing so at first. He did get comfortable with it fairly quickly (a couple of days) and began stepping up on our fingers when we asked him to. He now knows 'step-up', 'turn-around', 'wave' and 'target' quite proficiently.

Darwin is flighted. He voluntarily rides around on our shoulders, flies to where we are to check things out/get treats, and sleeps on us when we watch tv in the evenings. This tells us that he likes us and that our bond is growing. Darwin is a great little bird and we love him.

Darwin has however bitten me twice and bitten my husband twice in the time we have had him. We believe that all of the bites were due to fear and not aggression (we moved too fast or sent confusing signals). He has some phobic tendencies- he is wary of new things that are introduced to his environment and does not like his body being touched. He likes beak scratches and allows us to scratch his head for a few seconds at a time but he is not at all comfortable with us trying to touch the rest of his body with our hands (he does allow us to snuggle our faces into the side of his body when he is on our shoulders which seems like a positive sign). Darwin also has a short attention span when it comes to training-5 minutes is about as much as he can handle at a time.

1. We have gotten Darwin an Aviator a flight harness and would love to be able to take him outside one day. How can we encourage him to allow us to touch his body so that we can get his harness on one day?

2. We have heard that in some cases, clipping a bird's wings (at least temporarily), can make it easier for owners to handle the bird as well as make it easier to desensitize the bird as it cannot instantly fly away, thereby learning that there is nothing to fear. Darwin has a vet appointment for beak and nail trimming. Should we get his wings clipped and try it out temporarily?
- we are very torn about this as Darwin flies away a lot which makes things difficult but at the same time we also don't want to take that choice away from him.

3. He sometimes confuses the sign for 'step-up' with the sign for 'wave', though we are no longer using the same sign for both (we point at his foot for wave and offer a finger for step-up). He waves when we signal 'step up' and then does not want to step up. He actually regressed on stepping up when we taught him to wave as he did not trust that we would pick him up. How can we clear up this type of confusion?

Thanks in advance!
~Darwin's parents~ :senegal:
lac575
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 9
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal parrot (Poichephalus senegalus)
Flight: Yes

Re: Training Our Senegal Parrot (we are new parrot parents).

Postby Pajarita » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:54 am

Hi, Darwin and parents, welcome to the forum. I do not believe that clipping helps anything. For one thing, it's unhealthy because the only way that the posterior pair of air sacs inflates and deflates properly is when in flight so, when you clip, you are not only taking away the only mode of transportation that nature gave the animal, you are also impairing his respiratory system functions. For another, parrots are extremely smart and if you think for one second that he won't know that you were the one that got him clipped, you are dreaming. He will know and he will hold it against you. Parrots are forgiving animals but they are VERY smart, make their own conclusions and have loooong memories. Last but not least, we have the unavoidable chronic stress caused by taking away the ONLY predator-avoidance mechanism from a prey animal. Flight is not only a mode of transportation, it's the only way a bird has of getting away from danger or from a situation he dislikes so taking this away does NOT teach the bird that there is nothing to fear, it actually makes him anxious and nervous because he knows he can't get away. Besides, if he cannot get away from you when you are doing something he dislikes, he might bite - why? Because you left him no recourse when you took away the ability to fly away. Parrots are not naturally aggressive. They are not predators [where aggression is necessary for survival] or evolved to live in a hierarchical society [where aggression is necessary to occupy an alpha role] and the only parrots that bite are the parrots that were given no other choice to get their point across by the humans that handle it. So be careful not to teach him that he can only tell you he doesn't want something by biting you.

Now, please don't take what I am going to say the wrong way because I don't mean it to be offensive but to clarify something that, going by what you posted, it seems to me that you are not aware of - and you seem to be very caring people who want to do right by your bird. You never start training an adult rehomed parrot during the honeymoon period. You need to wait until the parrot bonds with you before you do this because parrots are not naturally subservient, they simply do not understand the concept of obedience or discipline. It's not in their genetic make-up because they evolved to live in completely democratic groups where there are no bosses, no alpha roles, no leaders, nobody they need to follow or listen to. Every bird is the same in a flock. Of course, there are birds that are younger, stronger, bigger or whatever than others and those are the ones that usually get the best food and nests but they don't make decisions for the other birds. So, to a parrot, training is something completely unnatural and, because of this, you need to be VERY careful when and how you do it. A parrot needs to WANT to obey you and the only way this is going to happen is if the bird loves you to pieces. Because although it's not in their nature to obey, it is in their nature to please their mate or loved ones. See, the thing is that although the parrot might obey you during its honeymoon period, as yours is doing now, it's likely to stop doing it when he feels comfortable and backfire on you big time! The bird needs to know you, trust you and love you before you start training it so the training is just an extension of his love for you and not an unnatural imposition that he will end up resenting. And I warn you, adult male senegals can be, in my personal opinion and experience, one of the most aggressive parrots there are when unhappy. They need to be kept at a super strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk [so the watching TV on your shoulder in the evening is a no-no for a parrot], fed right [fresh food diet with limited protein] and treated with the outmost respect or you will pay the price. I would rather deal with an aggressive macaw than with an aggressive male senegal - that should give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Please, do not clip him. And, please, stop the training immediately. Give the bird the time to learn to trust you and love you and then and only then start the training. The honeymoon period is the very foundation of your relationship with a parrot and you do NOT want to build on a shaky foundation - especially taking into consideration his age! At two years of age, he is only now developing sexually so, right now, he is kind of like a teenager - he might look like and even act like an adult but, deep inside, he is still quite insecure. In the next year and he will become quite self-assured and, if you don't develop the right bond with him, he can become much more aggressive than he is now... In reality, he should not be aggressive at all during his honeymoon period so his biting you within only two weeks is a sign of a problem that will only get worse in the long run so I would strongly recommend you nip this problem in the bud by doing everything possible to make him love him love you without showing that you have any expectations whatsoever of him. Parrots can be excellent companions but they require the kind of care and mind-frame we, pet owners, are not used to so we need to change our lives so as to fulfill their needs and learn how to deal with them from scratch. In a new human-parrot relationship, It's the human that needs the training, not the parrot.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 13169
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Training Our Senegal Parrot (we are new parrot parents).

Postby lac575 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:41 am

Darwin has a damaged beak. We think this is due to the fact that he is flighted (looks like he flew into a wall) so safety is our main concern. I guess I thought it went without saying which is why I didn't mention it. You make great points which are the same reasons why we don't want to clip his wings.

As for training. It seems like every bird is different. I honestly believe that training has helped us to bond and develop a relationship. Darwin has not bitten us since the first few days and all I can say is, he acts like he trusts me and wants to be with me. We took him to the vet for a check-up; the vet and nurse had no problems handling him. He was well behaved and cooperative. He left with a clean bill of health and everyone was pleased with him. I believe this is because I have been working with him. I don't push/force him to do anything but encourage him with rewards and praise instead. We stop the session as soon as he loses interest. He has figured out the difference between 'step-up' and 'wave' now. He is no longer confusing the two. I really think training has been good for our bird and our relationship with him. I am his person now and I can tell he finds comfort in me.

Thanks for your response!
lac575
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 9
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal parrot (Poichephalus senegalus)
Flight: Yes

Re: Training Our Senegal Parrot (we are new parrot parents).

Postby Michael » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:29 pm

Cool, great job discovering the benefits of training! :thumbsup:
User avatar
Michael
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 6146
Location: New York
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal Parrot, Cape Parrot, Green-Winged Macaw
Flight: Yes

Re: Training Our Senegal Parrot (we are new parrot parents).

Postby Pajarita » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:59 am

Well, I tell you, I've never had a single problem with parrots misbehaving when they go to the vet. Even the ones that I cannot handle in the house do great when they are at the vet. This is entirely normal behavior and to be expected. As to starting the training before the parrot learned to love you... well, it's not what I would recommend. I actually do not believe in 'training' animals. I think it diminishes them. I believe in treating them like sentient beings - I would not try to train a human friend so I don't train companion animals. Don't misunderstand me, it's not that I don't teach them, I do, they know and obey a large range of commands and understand a huge amount of phrases... they are all incredibly well behaved! I just don't have training sessions with them, give them food rewards or teach them tricks. My parrots all came from somebody else and the greatest majority of them came with behavioral and/or medical issues [babies and well-loved birds are easy, it's the ones that were neglected or abused that are hard] so I've learned that, in the long run, I and them are better off giving them time and space without imposing. It works for me... my parrots are all healthy and with strong immune systems, don't scream, don't bite, they all eat very well and they all obey me whenever I give them a command - even the pair of bonded mean amazons during breeding season!
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 13169
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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