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I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

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

I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:55 pm

I like to wear huggie style earrings more or less all the time as my everyday earrings (these are those little round ring ones that have a friction catch). I have tried to remember to remove my earrings whenever I'm going to spend time handling Scooter, but one day I forgot. And he tugged on the earring and off it came. Boy was that fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was even better than throwing bottle caps on the ground and watching me pick them up! It was so much fun that now I have to be constantly on guard... if I lose concentration while wearing earrings, next thing I know the bird has snuck up on my shoulder and stolen it. Were I wearing a different style, the outcome could be far less comfortable. Is there any hope of teaching him not to do this, or am I just SOL? He's so darned smart!
Scooter :gcc:
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby Michael » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:47 pm

Remember the discussion about human toys like computer and such? "If you want it, it's mine." There is no way you can get the parrot NOT to do that if you want it not to do it. We can teach parrots what to do but not really what not to do.
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby Suzzique » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:35 am

I quit wearing earrings all together. I have Alex with me to much. It really doesn't bother me I'm not big on wearing jewlery anyway. Sorry to say your ear rings are shinny. Birds love anything shinny.
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby bmsweb » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:40 pm

Its great being a guy!

The only issue I have with Jazz is my Wedding ring. He tries to twist it off my finger while I'm wearing it. It hurts me and I'm afraid he might hurt himself. I tend not to wear it anymore :(
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby Suzzique » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:32 pm

Rings are just as shiny as ear rings! Totally fair game as far as our birds are concerned. The same can be said for buttons, sparklies on shirts (for us girls anyway). It's all shiny so must be chewed on. :lol:

I do a lot of baking so I tend to now wear my wedding rings as well. Though I do put them back on before I leave the house. You could always leave your ring buy the door so you take it off as you come in the house and it is there for you to put on as you leave.
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:30 pm

I have a side business as a jeweler, so I don't think I'm going to stop wearing jewelry altogether. The rings (wedding and engagement) are an issue, but he's learning to let them go when I ask. The watch comes off so he doesn't mess with that.

I am, I guess, a little surprised by the notion that we can't teach limits at all. They are so smart and they do learn... do parrots not impose behavioral limits on other parrots? How do they do that?
Scooter :gcc:
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:44 pm

They bite each other.
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:08 pm

Michael wrote:They bite each other.


Do they do that as punishment -- if you do that, I will bite you -- or as negative reinforcement -- I'll keep biting you until you stop that?
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:33 pm

Bit of everything. They do it as a warning too. They'll lunge at each other and bluff bites and give that off as a warning. You should observe multiple parrots to learn more about that. I'm sure folks here with multiple parrots of same species can explain the flock dynamics in greater detail.

However, the reason you cannot teach your parrot that something is off limits is this: basically there are 5 forms of operant conditioning you can use:

-Positive reinforcement
-Negative reinforcement
-Positive punishment
-Negative punishment
-Extinction

You cannot use positive reinforcement to not do something. You would have to be reinforcing 24/7 except when bird does wrong. So that's out. Same with negative reinforcement. So reinforcement cannot be used to make the bird not do something. You can teach alternative behaviors and positively reinforce those but there is no guarantee that the bird will still not do the unwanted behavior unless one completely overrides the other.

Now we come to punishment. If you use positive punishment, the bird will hate you. If you inflict pain or discomfort on the bird it will become fearful of you and you will not be able to teach it anything because you won't be able to get close enough without it flying away or biting in self defense. Negative punishment is taking something good away. This is generally hard to do. You're not going to take your bird's food away and starve it for being bad. A timeout is a common method of negative punishment, however, I have found it pretty ineffective. By the time you get the parrot back to the cage, it forgets the behavior that triggered being put away. It just remembers the last thing that happened... YOU putting it away. So punishments hurt your relationship with the bird and just make it avoid the punisher rather than not doing the unwanted behavior. So when wild parrots squabble with each other, if one parrot is stronger and hurts the other parrot, that other parrot just avoids the bully rather than avoiding "bad behavior"

This leaves us only with extinction as a tool for dissuading unwanted behaviors. Extinction can be achieved by two means:

-Prevention
-Flooding

What I mean is you can either make sure the parrot never has the opportunity to do the unwanted behavior so it will soon forget it (this may mean not wearing earrings any more or never letting it on your shoulder). The other method is flooding the bird with so much of the experience that it gets tired of it. Basically you let it get it out of its system. Take a pair of non-toxic ear rings that you don't need and let the bird have a blast with them and get it out of its system. Ignore the behavior, do not reward it or react to it. You can only hope that the bird doesn't want to do it any more. Of course you can also achieve extinction by allowing the behavior to go on and just ignoring it completely. This is what we do in the case of young birds being nippy. We ignore the nips and once their curiosity is satisfied and since there is no reaction, they don't nip any more.
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Re: I made a tactical error, is there any recovery?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:04 pm

Yeah, I know the types of conditioning. I guess what I would question is the notion that ANY form of positive punishment would destroy the relationship and create fearfulness. If it doesn't do this between birds, it's not hard-wired. Therefore it might be possible to concoct a negative stimulus that discourages a behavior without ruining the relationship. The word punishment has bad connotations these days, but it isn't inherently bad. I'm not planning to take up biting Scooter (although my father did once bite the cat to get it to stop biting him, so I suppose I have a certain insane genetic component) but I am trying to capitalize on everything I have learned working with horses and cats, including questioning common wisdom and looking to natural behaviors to get insight into effective training methods.

I've yet to find a non-messy handheld treat Scooter actually likes to commence formal training and hopefully therefore introduce many more rewarding interactions to the detriment of the non desirable ones... he's even been dubious about sunflower seeds. Millet spray he likes, and fresh fruit, but those are messy.
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