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Preventive Training for Young, Nibble-Happy Senegal

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

Preventive Training for Young, Nibble-Happy Senegal

Postby owlyssa » Sun May 08, 2016 11:15 pm

Hey, all! I feel like I've been posting and posting with a ton of questions ever since I found this site, so apologies in advance. Image

Just to give a quick backstory, I purchased a young (still in process of being weaned) Senegal on Thursday, and I've had the opportunity to meet with my baby Kona twice now. I've noticed Kona is very tactile with their beak, either nibbling on fingers/ears/eyes or opening her beak to "taste" a face or a hand. From what I can glean from other sites, this is normal behavior for a young bird. That said, I wonder how I might go about ensuring that this does not become a painful problem down the road. I'm guessing it has to do with teaching/training Kona basic commands like "Step up" and using "No," tone, and body language to convey my displeasure with such behavior, but I want to know where I draw the line between accepting curious behavior and not tolerating aggressive/unwanted biting as my Senegal grows older.

Let me know if you need any further context. Thank you! Image
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owlyssa
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Re: Preventive Training for Young, Nibble-Happy Senegal

Postby Wolf » Mon May 09, 2016 9:35 am

For me the line is very simple, if it causes pain to me it is unwanted and we work on changing it. There is very little that you can do in advance of the bird doing the behavior other than being patient and building a good relationship with your bird through trust. Step up should never be a command, it should never be more than a request with your bird being allowed to say, no, not now to. It may sound silly to you now, but the truth is that the best way to train a parrot to not bite you is to not get bitten.
Wolf
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Re: Preventive Training for Young, Nibble-Happy Senegal

Postby Pajarita » Mon May 09, 2016 10:03 am

Yes, Wolf is correct. The only way to not get bitten is never to do anything that would make the bird bite you because parrots are not naturally aggressive and they only bite when we give them no recourse.

Now, what he is doing is called beaking and it's exactly the same thing a baby does when he puts everything to his mouth. Beaks might be hard on the outside but they have nerves inside of them and are actually very sensitive so they use them to 'feel' and learn about different textures, shapes and degree of hardness. Unavoidably, the beaking will turn to a bit of unwelcome pressure - not quite a nip but almost there. Again, this is like a baby who is teething grabbing your chin or finger in his mouth and clamping down hard. It's not aggression, it's the baby learning how much pressure it can be put on a certain object before it 'dents or breaks'. When he does this, you should gently touch the top of his beak with your finger tip and say something like "Geeeently, geeeently" and immediately praise and give his head a good scratch when he eases on the pressure. It's not something that must be avoided completely or the baby scolded or punished for in any way because it's part of the baby's psychological and physical development, it's something that needs to 'guided' in the right direction (notice that I don't even use 'trained out of' but 'guided' because, the same as it is for babies, it's a natural behavior they outgrow as they get older.
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Re: Preventive Training for Young, Nibble-Happy Senegal

Postby owlyssa » Mon May 09, 2016 12:15 pm

Wolf wrote:For me the line is very simple, if it causes pain to me it is unwanted and we work on changing it. There is very little that you can do in advance of the bird doing the behavior other than being patient and building a good relationship with your bird through trust. Step up should never be a command, it should never be more than a request with your bird being allowed to say, no, not now to. It may sound silly to you now, but the truth is that the best way to train a parrot to not bite you is to not get bitten.


I can definitely appreciate "Step up" being more of a request an a mutual expression of trust between owner and parrot. I think, after years of handling my late 'tiel and having permission granted each and every time sort of desensitized me to the fact that this is very much about their agency. This is something that I'll be keeping in mind moving forward. Thank you for the reminder, and for your advice, Wolf! Image

Pajarita wrote:Now, what he is doing is called beaking and it's exactly the same thing a baby does when he puts everything to his mouth. Beaks might be hard on the outside but they have nerves inside of them and are actually very sensitive so they use them to 'feel' and learn about different textures, shapes and degree of hardness. Unavoidably, the beaking will turn to a bit of unwelcome pressure - not quite a nip but almost there. Again, this is like a baby who is teething grabbing your chin or finger in his mouth and clamping down hard. It's not aggression, it's the baby learning how much pressure it can be put on a certain object before it 'dents or breaks'. When he does this, you should gently touch the top of his beak with your finger tip and say something like "Geeeently, geeeently" and immediately praise and give his head a good scratch when he eases on the pressure. It's not something that must be avoided completely or the baby scolded or punished for in any way because it's part of the baby's psychological and physical development, it's something that needs to 'guided' in the right direction (notice that I don't even use 'trained out of' but 'guided' because, the same as it is for babies, it's a natural behavior they outgrow as they get older.


Thank you for the appropriate terminology! "Beaking." Yes, this was what I gathered from what some sites could tell me during my Googling. The sites, however, failed to include the measures I should take in response to beaking that might get a bit too rough, unintentionally so on Kona's end. I've been doing similar actions during our time together, so I'm glad I'm on the right track. Again, I do understand the necessity to respect and foster Kona's curiosity--which is why I turned to the community at large for advice. It was Kona's inquisitive nature that reeled me in, after all! I don't want to crush his spirit, or make him think that it's a bad thing to be adventurous. That would definitely be the exact opposite of what I'd hope to accomplish this early on in our relationship.

Again, thank you Pajarita for your feedback! I'll be acting accordingly, now that I have a definitive direction and response to overenthusiastic beaking from Kona. Image
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owlyssa
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